Question 3: What is Man?
I've discussed matter, it's origins and why we experience it the way we do, but there is a very important construction of matter that forms a human being. To understand your worldview you need to ask yourself what really is a person, or human being? Is it the $12 of 7 octillion atoms that make up an adult body or is the sum of the items greater than the atoms individually?
We can all agree that a person cannot be replaced in the same way we can get a new home window or a car tire. When we loose a loved one to death, we know that nothing will replace them. We may want to drown our sorrows to help us numb the pain or to help us forget what happened. But nothing can replace the love of a mother or father or a spouse or child, and there is no consoling a grieving loved one at the funeral with the fact that the sum of their matter really was only worth about $12 anyway. That is because the construction of the atoms is more than matter, there is a personality, a sense of humor and a flare that cannot add up to dollars or cents.
There are a couple of subcategories of this question that help us understand how we would answer.
1. The first is, do you believe that a person is more than the sum of their physical body. If not than like Karl Vogt who stated, “The brain secretes thought as the stomach secretes gastric juice, the liver bile, and the kidneys urine.”, then you are willing reject the whole spirit of a person.
This school of thought does not believe in a soul and is more prepared to understand that a person is just the sum of their parts and not a container of something more. They are more willing to accept evolution at face value. They may call a human being a hairless ape, or revel in the fact that man is 'just another' animal. They may even consider the abortion of a human less tragic than the destruction of the egg of a bald eagle because a human is not on the endangered species list. They don't have to wonder if there is an evolution of the soul or how a soul enters into the whole matter equation anyway.
Signs of this thought can be glimpsed in 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens. He wrote it this way to make fun of the character Scrooge and show how cold and calculated he was. Today we miss the 'jab' and take it as 'yeah, that makes sense.' Towards the beginning of the movie Scrooge states that seeing the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley 'may just be a bit of undigested beef.' and not really a visit of a soul of a formerly biological human.
It is important to emphasize that in this school of through Man really isn't considered much greater than any other animal if at all.
More Western cultures hold to this first view fairly strictly. There was a curious interest in eastern thought when the Beatles made Buddhism popular in the 70's and again a just a few years ago when New Age brought a belief of angles to the masses. But those were really in-grafts of eastern cultures. Eastern cultures are more willing to accept an open worldview where the spirit world is always interacting with the physical and souls migrate from one existence to the next. Eastern culture is call an open universe, the physical and spirit interact. The west is called a closed universe and the physical has no interaction with a spirit world, if there even is a spirit world.
2. The second school of thought believes that a person is more than the sum of the parts of their physical body. All people in this school of thought believe that a person is a body and a soul. This allows for the component that can explains how a person can be elated and joyous one moment and then within an hour, or minutes, be completely in the depths of despair when nothing but a couple thoughts, or a dream, have crossed their minds. No other external events, just thoughts. Such a thought, for example, can be Love. It can be a dream. How can you explain most of the emotions; love or hate or guilt or happiness or grief or pride or fear, unless there is a variable in addition to the physical? Most in this school believe that Man is created differently than all the other animals. Some students of the school of thought hold that Man stands above other animals in their intelligence, their creativity, their skill and technological advancements. Some students of the school hold that the soul migrates from one physical body to another via reincarnation. Christians hold this view: that Man is unique, due to the fact that they are created in God's image and have been given dominion over all the earth to care for it and maintain it like a gardener that cares for fruit trees, vegetables and their flowers like member in the Hudson Garden Club.
I could guess what school of thought you are in if I knew where you were born. My pleading to you would be; question how you know what you know and can you prove to others how reliable your sources are? Or have those sources taken the data and manipulated it for political or financial reasons? The human institution of the church has received a bad rap for distorting truth for gain, and rightfully so in the medieval period and even today with tele-evangelists, but today I think some blame can be put on the Green crowd that pushes saving the planet and throws guilt like holy water on people, forcing them to go without and paying more for less quality, all in the name of saving the planet, while the leaders of the movement have more and use more. An example might be Al Gore who created the movie 'An Inconvenient Truth' complaining that consumerism is destroying the world and yet he owns multiple houses, airplanes and cars and puts little effort into conservation in his lifestyle. Even the images in the movie were computer generated to make things look worse than reality.
Do not become the skeptic that 'believes nothing' because no one can believe nothing. You must believe, 'the God that created me doesn't love me and therefore leaves no manner of restoration to him.' or 'that God doesn't care or interact or can't interact' or 'as a humanist, you believe random chance and 'natural' selection produced something undesigned with cause and effect locking you into a hopeless predetermined life without deviation of previous causes. (Like a ball bowled in cricket, once it leaves the hand of the bowler it's trajectory isn't going to change.) Also consider then what is 'natural' and who sets the standard of natural?
Summary of differences:
1. Man is just another animal.
1a. Man is just another animal a bit more advanced on the evolutionary scale.
2. Man is a special creature that stands above all others because God created Him in His own image with creativity, relationships, intelligence.
1. Man is only a physical body.
2. Man is the combination of the physical and a spirit.
I sure wish there was an easy way to crystallize a worldview but there isn't. It takes holding on to the same thought for several days to really understand who you are, where you are, what you are doing and where you are going. You might not read these long posts every year but please read them once every few years, teach them to others because I find just asking the 7 worldview questions to people is a great way to introduce them to the gaps and holes in the own worldview and the loving kindness and truth to the Biblical worldview.
It's important to think of one more thing in this question and that's, 'why is man so grieved in life?':
1. Man faces grief, pain, suffering, death because evolution hasn't produced perfection yet. But man is improving, the ancients were primitive but somewhere our ancestors will get there. There is no hope for me though, living before the time this is achievable.
2. For Man, God says Man was created perfect, in a garden, as a couple. Man chose to walk away from God, I called this the door he left for us to show our devotion, which introduced corruption and death. Death was introduced so that we don't need to live in this state forever. (Some choose to stay in this corrupted state as they resist God.)
2a. Man is decaying in his thinking and physical ability. 4000 years ago Men could build pyramids and amazing things with very little technology. We have decayed enough now that even with amazing technology we are amazed at previous accomplishments that we would consider impossible.
DETAIL: It's understood that in that first couple there was the lineage of all mankind. Their DNA was the most complex holding all skin colors, eye colors, hair colors, intellects, abilities in creative thinking, and from their offspring the DNA or gene strands started to distill into distinct looks and feels. BUT before even the next generation was produced they walked through the Door talked about yesterday. The door that God left available for Man to show his choice in obedience or disobedience to his creator. When that happened Man fell from his relationship to God and was isolated on earth in a way the leaves him lonely, some call it a hole in the heart that can only be filled by God. At this point death was allowed so that man would not have to live in a contaminated universe forever. Scripture says better is the day of death than the day of birth. Ecclesiastes 7:1
In the end when justice is meted out a person will either be destroyed (the term used in the original language meaning that they can no longer perform their purpose so life becomes futile. Think of a aluminum Coke can crushed with holes and dents never to hold Coke again. That's the meaning of destroyed in Hebrew.) or be restored to accomplish their purpose which means they will be able to follow the 10 commandments without deviation or rebellion. (Not that they won't be able to rebel, but they will choose not to rebel.)
All world views must point to a single couple of humans, traced back to the not so distant future, why, well because if you look at the averages of births per couple on the earth, things haven't changed much and if you extrapolate the population or look backwards in time, it shows when the population growth started. And all worldviews must explain the existence of just a few persons at the beginning of modern times. Evolutionists will just say, it just happened that way, it was just a big global event that killed everyone off, leaving a very few people from which everyone we now have can be traced back.
Quote of the day
“To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
2 Corinthians 2:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.