In the first part of this series, we looked at one example of using cryptozoology as a springboard into theological and philosophical discussion, namely the nature of God. We now focus on a more mundane philosophical topic, that is, human nature. For that, we turn to the debate over a potential hairy bipedal cousin of ours, who has a penchant for leaving big, barefoot footprints.
One of the points discussed by Jimmy Akin in the Bigfoot episode of Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World is whether or not Bigfoot has a soul. The idea stems from debates over what Bigfoot is supposed to be. Some hold that Bigfoot and other mysterious hominids are proto-humans, our close biological relatives. Others hold that these creatures are just undescribed primate species. Some even hold that Bigfoot, Yeti, and the like are relic populations of Neanderthals, hiding from Cro-Magnon men like us.
The debate over Bigfoot and his ilk and whether they have souls really depends on two points. First, what exactly are these creatures, assuming they exist? Second, is there such a thing as an immortal human soul?
If hairy bipeds like Bigfoot are not quite human, but still our ancestors on the evolutionary tree, then they more likely than not would be mere animals, that is, not gifted with intellect and free will. As intelligent as they would be, they would not have reason. In essence, they would not have an immaterial, immortal soul.
If these creatures are of some undiscovered species of primate, then they would likewise just be animals.We have studied known higher primates (such as gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees) for a while, and much has been written about their intelligence and ability to communicate through sign language. It would seem at first glance that this indicates that such primates are like us, having intellects and wills.
Yet they do not have the same level of abstraction we have. Gorillas taught American Sign Language sign and describe what they want, and even combine signs to coin, so to speak, new words. However, they cannot describe ideas like fundamental rights or virtuous living. That, it seems, is still the realm of human reason, even if we do not always follow such logic.
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