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Human beings are exceptional.  I honestly don’t know how anyone can begin to deny it.  In the known universe, there has never been a species possessing our unique attributes, which are distinctions that make a moral difference, such as rationality, moral agency, the capacity for noetic thinking, creativity, etc. beyond etc.

These differences distinguish us from other creatures, and now scientists have have begun to discover how our brains develop and express genes differently from our nearest genetic relatives—which may be at least partially responsible for the profound distinctions between us and all other discovered life forms.  From “Brain Evolution at a Distance” published in The Scientist:

Scientists and philosophers alike have long grasped for the essence that makes humans human, and one answer lies in the brain. Specifically, human brains express genes in different patterns than those of related species, but what causes those changes is unknown. Comparing gene expression in three primate species—human, chimpanzee, and the rhesus macaque—across post-natal development, researchers, publishing today (December 6) in PLoS Biology, found that the most drastic expression changes are found in genes that are controlled at a distance by trans regulators, instead of locally by cis regulators...

Despite the minute genetic differences between human brains and their primate relatives, Homo sapiens cognitive ability is significantly more advanced, enabling us to “make complicated tools, come up with complicated culture and colonize the world,” said lead author Mehmet Somel, a postdoc studying human evolutionary genomics at the University of California, Berkeley.

So, we are different in the way our biology works, and it appears this difference is at least partly responsible for the exceptionalism of the human species.  Whether these differences resulted from purposeless evolutionary forces, intelligent design, or creation—or a combination of the three—doesn’t matter.  What counts is who we are.  And that is truly exceptional.

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