The Human Miracle

Humanity is an amazing thing.

One thing that humans can do which is nearly miraculous is look at pictures and see them as hat they depict. Most species, including apes, are not capable of looking at a photograph and putting two and two together, like, “Oh, that’s a ball,” or, “Oh, that’s a toy.” Not only can humans look at direct representations that looks exactly like the object, like a photograph, and recognize the object, but we can also look at things that only vaguely look like the object and recognize the object. We see a stick figure and think, “Oh, that’s a person.” A stick figure does not look like a person at all, but we still recognize the scarcely alike features, and those tiny similarities click together in our brain.

Another thing that humans do which is amazing is building things. Apes can build tools for breaking rocks and coconuts, and that’s about as advanced as it gets for a non-human species. But humans an make little grooves on a black piece of vinyl sound like Elvis Presley. We can make words, sounds, and images into numbers and put those numbers onto tiny strips of metal so that they can be transferred and then again viewed as words, sounds, or images.

It’s really amazing, once you think about it.

There are so many things that humans can do that we can barely understand ourselves. And it’s fascinating, astounding, beautiful, maybe even miraculous.


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