I am contemplating the concept of "human identity" and I have never really heard anyone talk about this, nor have I read anything pertaining to this topic so I am left with braving the unknown and casting off into the sea of reflective analysis. It seems to me that every article I read on the idea of "identity" ultimately reduces it to an individual. I am fully persuaded that individually we all have a unique identity, but that identity is undergirded by a much larger identity: The identity of the human race.
The fascinating thing about topics like this is that if one holds to an atheistic or agnostic viewpoint these topics become ultimately meaningless. Yet in a theistic worldview the idea of Human Identity becomes essential and justifiable. Think about it, from a naturalistic point of view humans are truly no more than cosmic accidents. The product of chance and random variation. If this is the starting place for Human Identity then what really can you say? Humans are simply the by chance product of natural processes, just like every other biological lifeforms that inhabits the planet. There is therefore nothing special about humans and no reason to search for some unifying identity.
One could reason that it is our highly evolved state, our ability to reason, to show compassion, and so on that distinguishes us from other lifeforms and as such our identity lies within these realities. Sure, we could say that, but the problem is that Naturalism cannot justify these realities. It cannot give us good reasons why we can reason at all, nor can it justify compassion, love, mercy, or any other morally preferable expression. In fact if Naturalism were true these realities would not exist.
Only in a universe in which things have meaning and purpose can the question of human identity even be asked. For the question implies that humanity and our shared traits and characteristics are meaningful. There is some discernible purpose underlying the uniqueness of man. This is obvious to all of us even those who deny life has meaning and purpose. The denier can be caught red handed reflecting on past experiences and drawing from them some sort of lesson, purpose, or meaning.
I assert that the unifying Human Identity is expressed in our shared traits and characteristics, but do not make up who we are, they merely demonstrate aspects of a far deeper and more penetrating reality. Indeed we are rational moral agents, innovative, creative, and beautiful, but this is not who we are at our core. They are attributes, expressions of who we truly are.
I am still working this one out and probably will for quiet some time but as of now I posit that our common human identity, who are we as a species, race, or what have you lies in the reality that we are the image bearers of the Divine. Humans at their core are reflections of the heart of God, His person and His character. We are rational and moral because He is. We are creative and compassionate because He is. We are relational and vocal because He is. What sets humans apart is that they hold a special place in the heart of the Creator. We were handcrafted, intentionally designed, and purposefully brought into existence to reflect Him. This is the foundation of our human identity.
Now some will object, "Poppycock! Bullocks! That is mindless religious drivel!" Well the alternative is humans are nothing special, nothing unique, mere beasts who miraculously evolved to a heightened state of intellect and reason. Thus the quest for a unifying identity for mankind becomes futile, for in truth there is no unifying, absolute identity of which to find. Again the atheist, a flame in his ignorance, replies "We are amazing creatures! We can invent and love, we can create. All of this is our identity!" Oh my dear friend, how cute you are! If this is our identity then we are forced to say those that have mental disabilities and thus of a lesser intellectual ability are not truly human for they do not exhibit the qualities you have described. Further those who do not create, innovate, or invent also are not displaying these unifying attributes and as such we must either make an exception or realize these qualities and characteristics you have described cannot be the foundation of human Identity, but rather must be attributes of a more foundational reality. In short if we derive identity from specific characteristics that are not shared among all humans then we must conclude that some are indeed not apart of that identity. Thus there must be an undeniable, inescapable underlying reality that all humans share that unifies us and identifies us as truly human. Again I say this can only be found in the Christian worldview. We are all image bearers of the Divine. This and this alone defines all of us and truly unifies us as a people.