Human Exceptionalism Proven by Science!

A study released earlier this year of DNA strands from a large variety of species and millions of different individuals reveals that, while species genetically differ from one another markedly (there are no “blurred” lines among species), individuals within a species show very little genetic diversity. Scientists are drawing many fascinating ideas from this — e.g. 90% of animal species started off with a primary couple sometime within the last 200,000 years, suggesting a cataclysmic event, possibly a viral pandemic.  But the one stands out, as revealed by the title of the Phys.Org article:

Far from special: Humanity’s tiny DNA differences are ‘average’ in animal kingdom

One of the lead scientists suggests profound anthropological consequences:stoeckle-thaler_orig

Says Dr. Stoeckle: “Culture, life experience and other things can make people very different but in terms of basic biology, we’re like the birds. By determining the genetic variety within species of the animal kingdom, made possible only recently by the burgeoning number of DNA sequences, we’ve documented the absence of human exceptionalism.”

The director of the research institute overseeing the study draws ethical and sociological implications:

“At a time when humans place so much emphasis on individual and group differences, maybe we should spend more time on the ways in which we resemble one another and the rest of the animal kingdom.”
With a little more imagination and a lot better education, these scientists might have considered what stands out to me: The extraordinary diversity among human individuals and cultures has little to do with biological diversity. Being much less biologically diverse than other species, we completely blow them out of the water in terms of life diversity. Human exceptionalism was never more clear.
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About Andrew Seeley

With over 30 years of immersion in a Great Books based, fully integrated curriculum at Thomas Aquinas College in California, I enjoy sharing the fruits of the discussions I have with students, colleagues and friends about authors and ideas. As the Director of Advanced Formation for the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education and a founding member of the Justin Martyr Fellows, I work to share my good fortune with Catholic educators and students around the country. As a lover of God, Church, family, America, Tolkien, Shakespeare, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, I like to write about them in particular ways.
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