Human exceptionalism Intelligent Design

At Evolution News: Man, with His Special Place in Nature, Was Designed to Use Fire

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Michael Denton gives a fascinating excerpt from his new book, The Miracle of Man.

As I show in my book The Miracle of Man, the path followed by our ancestors from stone tools to our current technological civilization was, in broad outline, the only possible path, and it was a path only possible because of yet another stunning ensemble of prior environmental fitness in nature. Not only was the “chosen path” unique, but only a special type of unique being very close to our own biological design could have taken the first and vital step to technological enlightenment, fire-making.

From first principles, a creature capable of creating and controlling fire must be an aerobic terrestrial air-breathing species, living in an atmosphere enriched in oxygen, supportive of both respiration and combustion. This fire-maker must have something like human intelligence to accomplish the task, and while it is true that other species — e.g., dolphins, parrots, seals, apes, and ravens — possess intelligence and remarkable problem-solving abilities, as far as is known, no other organism comes close to the intelligence of humans. 

The species in question also needs to be mobile and possess high acuity vision in order to be able to create and master fire, and follow the subsequent route via metallurgy to an advanced technology.

Being a social species possessed of language would also have been essential for the peripheral tasks associated with the regular making and controlling of fire among small tribal groups, including the hewing and collecting of the necessary wooden fuels to initiate and sustain the fire. While many other species are social, none possesses a communication system remotely as competent as human language for transmitting information, including abstract concepts.

In addition to being terrestrial, air breathing, sighted, mobile, intelligent, social, and possessed of language, a fire-maker also needs the right anatomy. And in keeping with the anthropocentric claim, only humankind of all the creatures on Earth is properly endowed with the right build to make and control fire. Neither a giraffe, nor an elephant, nor a parrot, nor a cat, nor a chimp nor any other terrestrial organism has the right anatomy to master fire, none apart from humans.

The perfection of the [human] hand was a popular topic among 19th-century natural theologians such as Oxford Professor of Medicine John Kidd, who quoted liberally from Galen. Charles Bell, in his Bridgewater Treatise, also waxed lyrical about the hand, while citing one of the ancient Greek thinkers: “Seeing the perfection of the hand, we can hardly be surprised that some philosophers should have entertained the opinion with Anaxagoras, that the superiority of man is owing to his hand…. it is in the human hand that we have the consummation of all perfection as an instrument.”

So our size is right for approaching a fire, for generating the necessary kinetic forces to hew the wood needed to fuel high temperatures fires, and for mining metal ores from rocks. We could be neither fire-makers nor metallurgists if we were significantly smaller.

 As matters stand, the evidence increasingly points to a natural order uniquely fit for life on Earth and for beings of a biology close to that of humans, a view which does not prove but is entirely consistent with the traditional Judeo-Christian framework.

Evolution News

12 Replies to “At Evolution News: Man, with His Special Place in Nature, Was Designed to Use Fire

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Elephants seem to understand how fire works. There are stories of sugarcane farmers setting fires to drive elephants back into the jungle. The elephants simply formed a bucket brigade, sucking up water from a nearby pond and hosing down the fire. (Did humans get the idea of firehoses from elephants?)


  2. 2
    chuckdarwin says:

    The author forgot the most important thing that humans must have to master fire building—matches

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    forgot the most important thing that humans must have to master fire building—matches

    Swing and a miss!

    Haven’t you heard of Zippo? Ask one of your attendants the next time they come back to bring one to show you.

  4. 4
    Bob O'H says:

    If we were designed to use fire, you would have thought we’d be a bit more heat resistant.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Bob O’H states: “If we were designed to use fire, you would have thought we’d be a bit more heat resistant.”

    And there you have it. Darwinian Theology in action. i.e. Ignore the amazing scientific fact of the “stunning ensemble of prior environmental fitness in nature” that makes it possible for humans to utilize fire in the first place, this “stunning ensemble of prior environmental fitness in nature” is to be completely ignored because, by golly, if a Darwinist were god he would also have made humans with asbestos skin.

    “(Darwinian) atheists have their theology, which is basically: “God, if he existed, wouldn’t do it this way (because) if I were God, I wouldn’t (do it this way).”
    – David Klinghoffer


    Daniel 3:19-28
    19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore, because the king’s command was [a]urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

    24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”

    They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”

    25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

    26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.
    28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!

  6. 6
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    “(Darwinian) atheists have their theology, which is basically: “God, if he existed, wouldn’t do it this way (because) if I were God, I wouldn’t (do it this way).”
    – David Klinghoffer

    They can’t manage with science so they try with “theology”.
    I’m puzzled : they are not smart enough to understand all life processes in a cell but somehow are smarter than Designer of that cell?

  7. 7
    chuckdarwin says:

    Matches are eco-friendly, Zippo lighters, not so much…….

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    Flint and steel, updated to ferrocerium. Then there is the fire piston and the fire drill before that. KF

  9. 9
    jerry says:

    Zippo lighters, not so much

    Au contraire!

    99.9% of a match is thrown away. A Zippo is reusable and environmentally friendly.

    Another whiff.

  10. 10
    ET says:

    Bob O’H:

    If we were designed to use fire, you would have thought we’d be a bit more heat resistant.

    Most of us were designed to be smart enough to keep our distance and use fire intelligently.

  11. 11
    jerry says:

    use fire intelligently

    This example is in the context of what can be done in an oxygen environment as opposed to a water environment.

    Denton argues that a water environment which obviously houses a large number of species would not allow a lot activities that a very intelligent species could do. Water is limiting and would limit opportunities for advanced species.

    Use of electricity, metallurgy, chemistry are also essentially impossible in water

  12. 12
    chuckdarwin says:

    Actually, a match, whether wood or cardboard, including the cardboard box or book, is virtually 100% biodegradable. Again, a Zippo not so much. I haven’t seen a reusable lighter in decades, not to mention lighter fluid and the metal cans it comes in.
    Grand Slam……….

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