Chimps Learn Math
“O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.”
Many people think that man’s intelligence is what sets him apart from the animals. This idea is built on the evolutionary theory that as the most recently evolved creature, man is the most intelligent. It is also built on the evolutionary idea that man has no such thing as a soul.
Researchers now know that just because chimpanzees are not able to talk does not mean that they have learned nothing from language training. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania tested the mathematical abilities of chimps that had language training against chimps that had learned only to do simple jobs. All of the chimps without language training flunked their tests.
However, the chimp that had graduated from 18 months of language training seemed to understand small numbers, fractions, and showed analytical skills. When asked to match equal numbers of different objects, the language-trained chimp was correct 91 percent of the time. Then the chimp was given wooden disk fractions. Half a disk represented one-half, a quarter of a disk, one-quarter, and so on. The chimp was then asked to match those fractions with glasses of water that were half full, a quarter full and so on. The chimp scored 88 percent correct in this exercise.
Human math ability is far beyond the level of a chimp. Moreover, human beings not only have a soul but a soul that is made in the image of God and that sets us apart from the animals. The fact is that God gave us the ability to have a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
I thank You, Father, that when I was lost to You and held captive by sin, death and the devil, You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to rescue me. Help me to grow ever closer to You as I read, study and apply Your Word to my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
“Teaching an Old Chimp New Math.” Science News, Dec. 5, 1981, p. 363. Illustration: Human and chimp skulls and brains, not to scale.