“When and How Did Apes Become Human Persons?”
This article will deal with the complicated question of becoming human. This question can be approached from several different perspectives, as it is usually done in the scientific literature: biologically, what evolutionary features became essential for the emergence of Homo sapiens sapiens? Socially, what social patterns and behaviours evolved in the apes that eventually led into the human lineage? However, these are not the questions we will worry about in this article. We will, rather, analyse the question from a theological perspective: why can we call human a lineage that evolved from other apes, that shares a multitude of characteristics with modern apes (not to mention at least 95% of its DNA with some), that follows the same pattern of evolutionary change as all other animals? And more importantly, when and how, in the process of evolution, was that lineage worthy of receiving the name human? This question raises many interesting unfoldings, which we hope to explore.
To shed light in these puzzling questions, we will establish a dialogue with theology, drawing from the doctrine of the Imago Dei, analysing some of the interpretations given to this doctrine that may be related to modern understandings of human evolution. We will explore questions surrounding the implications of evolutionary theory with the biblical account of creation and the origin of humankind, such as when God “inserted”, if this is the case, his Image in the evolutionary line of development of humans, and what to make of the doctrine of original sin and the Fall in light of recent discoveries that humans did not come from only a pair of genetic progenitors.