After taking an Anthropology course (which is preceded by my philosophy course) I have to wonder what reasons are there for God creating Bonobo’s with such striking similarities to humans? Viewing footage of Jane Goodall’s work and other anthropological studies I saw, although through a biased lense, that bonobo’s and other species of primates are incredibly similar to us (man) in their social behavior as well as genetically. This makes me wonder, are we all just animals, we as humans say we are different because we read/write and create such things as the internet, but primates aren’t far behind in terms of innovation… Or is this a humbling sign from God of our similarity to animals, and His love in fearfully and wonderfully creating us with that breath of life that sets us apart…?


First of all, I believe you should view the work of Jane Goodall ( and I would add the Leakys) with a good deal of skepticism. I do not mean to dismiss their work. Not at all. Goodall and the Leakys are good, professional, dedicated scientists. However, these folks have a strong presuppostion that there is no God and that we are merely evolved primates. This world view has a huge influence on their interpretations. They have a very personal stake in making humans into just another animal. This is philosophy, not science. These folks have a philosophical commitment toward denying the reality of human consciousness, the existence of anything other than physical reality, the soul and the spirit. They are philosophical naturalists. I believe that naturalism is bad philosophy for many reasons (not to be discussed here).

Having said that, I believe that there is a rather large body of evidence that the great apes and humans have a "common ancestor." This is not a fantasy, invented by atheists, inspired by Satan. The evidence for this is especially strong from genetic data. The fossil evidence is not as much of a slam dunk, but it is fairly strong as well.

This brings up a couple of questions. Might humans be evolved, intelligent primates into which God put a soul, a spirit, gave a self-awareness and consciousness to–in other words might God have used evolution to create a creature which he could miraculously transform into the "image of God" (quoting from Genesis 2)? For myself, I certainly do not rule this out. I am prepared still to hold out for the possibility that Adam and Eve were botton-up special creation, but I am at the same time open to the possibility that God implanted his image into evolved primates.

Either way, although it is my strong opinion that Goodall tends to exaggerate the similarities and anthropomorphises quite a bit, there is an undeniable similarity between bonobo and human behavior. This does not surprise me. Bonobos have brains which are about 1/3 the size of human brains, but we can assume that the connections in their brains are not completely dissimilar from those of humans. It seems unreasonable to deny the genetic similarity between chimps and humans. Therefore it is not a huge surprise that there is parallel behavior.

Here is the question (one which will be completely dismissed without a hearing by our friend Jane Goodall). Is there any qualitatively decisive difference between humans and bonobos? Do bonobos have consciousness? Do they have a soul? Do they have a spirit? Are they accountable before God for their behaviour? Are they eternal? I say a definite no to all of these. Of course, Goodall would agree, but add that humans have none of these things either. Well, I disagree for many reasons. The Bible speaks for itself. The resurrection of Jesus has no parallel in the bonobo world. I hope this helps.

John Oakes

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