Dr. Craig: I mentioned that despite thousands of hours by these primatologists to teach chimps language of some sort, they can’t learn it. And yet you can take the most uncivilized aboriginal, put him in a cultured situation and, as you said, he’ll learn the language. He’ll even learn Polish, as difficult grammatically as that might be. In fact, my colleague Josh Swamidass has pointed out to me the remarkable fact that you can take primitive man and put him in a modern environment and modern culture and he’ll get along just fine. He’ll learn how to learn the language. He’ll learn how to adapt. A great example of that would be the Indian, Squanto, who met the pilgrims when they came to Massachusetts. Squanto was, in effect, a Stone Age person. The Indians never got beyond Stone Age tools. They didn’t even have a wheel. And yet Squanto was able to learn the language. He was able to go to England and work as a servant and butler, and then eventually finally did go back to his native people. But despite his primitive origins, he had these innate capacities that we talked about for language and for culture. It’s quite extraordinary when you think about it, and very, very different than animals.
Clarifying this a bit. Squanto was much farther along than a stone age technology, because he had agriculture! He wasn’t really “primitive.” A better way to put it is that though he was “apparently primitive” he wasn’t at all. He was just like us. In fact, he wasn’t even a hunter gatherer, and they are just like us too!
This is pretty fraught language, but WLC’s point (and mine) is that we might have though Native Americans were are primitive, but they are really not. They were just like us, and far beyond the great apes. We are, in the end, all the same degree of “human.”
Note: it was clarified below that native Americans might have been Stone Age, but I still emphasize that doesn’t mean they weren’t technologically advanced in important ways.