Science textbooks like Miller & Levine Biology use the fact that humans are classified as mammals in the primates group to argue that we are related to chimpanzees, gorillas, and gibbons, leading many to believe that man is only a “highly-evolved” animal.1
Although the inventor of the classification and naming system for living things, Carolus Linnaeus, did classify humans as mammals and primates, he was also a committed Bible-believing creationist who held that mankind was distinctly created by God separate from the animals.2 The reason why he classified humans as mammals and primates in particular is simply because we share many physical similarities with other creatures, especially monkeys and apes.
It is not hard to understand why Linnaeus did this; every time we visit the zoo, we love watching monkeys and apes as they display their humanlike behaviors and abilities, often in humorous ways. However, we also recognize that humans are special.
Although we share much in common with animals, what sets us apart is how God describes humankind in Genesis 1:26-27, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Being created in God’s image, humans alone are capable of rational thought, scientific discovery, building complex structures and devices, communicating using spoken and written language, practicing medicine and surgery on each other, composing music, creating works of art, and most importantly, enjoying a loving relationship with his Creator through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. And it was for mankind alone that God sent His Son to come and pay the death penalty that we deserved for breaking God’s law, providing the way for us to live with Him forever.
Free Resources for Further Learning:
Are Animals Different From People?
God’s Image: The Difference-Maker
1Miller, Kenneth R., and Joseph S. Levine. Miller & Levine Biology. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2006. 766-767. Print.
2Jerry Bergman, Ph.D. 2014. Carolus Linnaeus: Founder of Modern Taxonomy. Acts & Facts. 43 (11).