It was pointed out that there is a fundamental difference between the human animal and the other animals, or pre-human forms living and developing . Homo sapiens simply means thinking man because learning , remembering, knowing, thinking , imagining and creating new ideas, transmitting knowledge over long distances of space-time makes us human. The basic distinction therefore marking the human animal is the power to think, to invent, to create new ways of living and developing all kinds of gadgets and machinery helping humans in their gradual conquest of nature. Only humans developed conceptual thought, articulated and propositional speech, and also develop a whole new universe of symbols, which help to interpret and deliver meaning to human thought and mutual communication between people. Man is not only a thinking animal , he/she is also a symbolic animal . Human beings live with awareness of death and the passage of time, and use their minds to unravel and make intelligible their existence: it’s origin, it’s value and it’s possible destiny. Only human beings develop moral values as guidelines of their behavior and only humans develop some kind of religion. They pray, perform religious rituals and expect some existence beyond the grave. The human mind reaches toward the Absolute . All those above characteristics make human beings unique among all other terrestrial living forms.
However man is an animal and in many fundamental ways he/she shares the needs similar to the other animals. He/she is a body, a living organism subject to all the conditions and circumstances of his material and biological existence . Those needs are imperative and must be satisfied if he/she is to survive in quite often hostile environment . That’s why man must fight for food, a place for development, create some form of family life to prolong his/her existence in children and transmit life from generation to generation . Most of those needs are simply biological and physiological in nature and the individual goes through the stages of life from birth through childhood , mature development , aging and dying like any other form of life on earth.
After Darwin’s book “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” published in 1859 most biologists gradually accepted the theory of evolution as the explanation of the phenomenon of man as one among so many other living forms on the ladder of evolution from the most primitive forms of life like the bacteria, through gradual increase of complexity, and almost invisible changes of different organisms to the appearance of some highly developed one like the pre-human primates, to the appearance of man. The theory of evolution is generally accepted and most biologists are dedicated evolutionists .
The universe is also a process in development from the big-bang, that is it’s beginning through gradual formation of subatomic particles , atoms , molecules and finally galaxies and constellations of stars . The physicists tell us that the process of development began about 14 and ½ billion years and is still going on . The universe is in the process of becoming and in constant expanding . The galaxies move away from each other with tremendous speed approaching the speed of light . Some galaxies come into existence and some may end up vanishing into what astronomers call black holes . Our galaxy that is the heliocentric system is very insignificant and by no means extraordinary in any way. Our earth one of the satellites of the sun is a small insignificant speck compared to the unimaginable dimensions of the known universe. The distances between different stars and galaxies are so immense that our minds seem to be unable even to imagine the space time immensity . For example the speed of light which is the fastest phenomenon in nature is three hundred thousand kilometers per second or hundred eighty six thousand miles per second. For example when I look at the sky at night and see a star in some place among other stars, the star I am seeing may not exist in reality because what I see really is the light which is hitting my retina and it’s source that is the “star” may already a long time not exist. It shows how limited is the power of our senses and their perceptions although we have electronic telescopes to look far into the distance in space and also microscopes to look into the infinitely small structure of matter. With all this our knowledge is and remains limited and the prospective of growths of knowledge is practically infinite. How would we see the universe if instead of our five senses we would have ten or fifteen ? Would we perceive different aspects of reality?
But what about the evolution of man?
Biologists belong to two groups: those who admit evolution and also the qualitative difference of man from other highly developed animals. This group of biologists belong to defenders of some kind of design intrinsic to the living biological organism and therefore demand some information at the basis of development of different kinds of living organism . For those thinkers there is a fundamental difference between man and other forms of life because there exists an intrinsic principle in man spiritual and immaterial. It is the personality of man , his awareness and self-awareness and his intellectual powers with which he is not only able to create concepts , articulated in propositional speech, but also to acquire analogical knowledge of the absolute source of all finite reality. This last ability creates the underpinning of religious beliefs . In all other respects man is subject to the laws of biological evolution.
The second group of biologists explains evolution of humans as just another form of life , not different in any significant way from other living organisms . They maintain that human intelligence differs from the intelligence of men- like- primates only in degree but not otherwise . They draw the conclusion that all activities and accomplishments of man can be explained without the rest by the size and complexity of the brain and it’s physiological and neurological functioning . The bigger the brain , the more complex the neural interconnectedness of the different centers in the brain , the more intelligent behavior is developing in the human being. The important thing is that they do not deny the difference between man and higher primates but they admit only the difference in degree and not in kind . This explanation ultimately is based on scientific reductionism and the assumption that all reality including man must be explained as matter in the process of change.
It is crucial to see the consequences of such interpretation of evolution of man. If man is nothing else but matter in movement , anything spiritual or immaterial is simply automatically rejected as unreal. The consequences of this view again, although seemingly concerning man and his nature only, have very radical impact on the question of the existence of God. The radical evolutionists admit only what the scientific methods show . That is the conviction that only scientific knowledge is true knowledge and consequently no other forms of knowing are accepted as valid and sound means to reach reality . This is radical naturalism and materialism which to the radical evolutionist is the basic fundamental outlook on reality . Therefore the evolution of man is presented as only one among many forms of matter in movement although living matter . The consequences of such interpretation of evolution lead of course to radical atheism . In the monotheistic religions God is considered an immaterial , supernatural , creator of all reality through His Omnipotent power to makes something non-existent to become a being . Creation is absolutely unique and proper exclusively to the infinite power of God . All finite beings material or not are creatures that is dependent entities maintained in existence by the continues act of creation. Creation did not begin some fourteen and ½ billion years ago as physicist believe but it is a continues maintenance of each even the smallest being in existence and in it’s action . God is Infinite Spirit , Immaterial and not discoverable directly by human senses or even by direct intellectual insight . As such God cannot be the object of any scientific investigation because science requires some form of sense experience , measurability and repetition of the experiments . God therefore although eternally present is beyond the reach of any scientific method of investigation. The only way to know something about God is the philosophical analysis of the nature of being as such and even then human knowledge about God always remains on philosophical level only analogical in it’s very essence. It is obvious therefore that if man is nothing else but a little in degree only not in kind higher primate animal, religion , knowledge of God, and any talk about supernatural spirit or soul is already from the beginning radically rejected .
The central question here is whether science explains or is able to explain reality. There are those who believe that science would help towards complete understanding of all that is. All problems , sooner or later will be solved completely by science. The word “science” became very ill defined in meaning and extremely charged with emotions. It is applied to all fields of human knowledge and all kinds of all unsuitable subjects as the new idol of contemporary man. This attitude is the reason also of interpreting the nature of man within the context of evolution of life as homo sapiens the higher thinking animal. The word higher used here indicates that in comparing the “ intelligence” of animals and the mental accomplishments of man, there is no fundamental difference between the two. In most activities we share our way of living with other forms on the planet. Animals, birds, reptiles, fish and even insects also struggle for power the way humans do. They organize themselves in social groups, many build shelters, nests, and some control their environment by ingenious inventions . Not only that, but some of them collect wealth . They fight , they procreate, and their sense perceptions in many cases are far sharper and better than human sense perceptions . Nevertheless neither the individuals or the group of the animals make any substantial progress , discover new ways of acting, and basically remain on the same fundamental instinctual level of living .
Man however possesses a new way of life, the power of inventiveness , symbolic communication and thinking , articulated and propositional speech , logic , mathematics and technological production of all kinds of machinery . All of this creates the universe of man . Man is also aware of his limitations , his transition of life , the presence of suffering, aging, all kinds of sickness and the inevitable death . Man is a searcher for meaning and the only known living being praying, and adoring some kind of divinity or God. The basic difference between other animals and humans is man’s concern for the meaning of his/ her life. All the above characteristics point directly to the immaterial spiritual principle in man which does not exist in other animals .
The conclusion therefore is obvious. The difference between man and other forms of life, even those highly developed forms is the difference in kind, in essence , not only in some small degree.
Evolution seems to be a well-founded scientific theory although it has many weak points, for example the Cambrian explosion which remains unexplained until now. The most fundamental question discussed here is the gap between the concept of man in the philosophy of being and the Christian idea of man . For example : in Christianity there is the dogma of man’s personality:
1. Man alone is made in the image of God and having a spiritual aspect he/her has the dignity of special creature of God.
2. The dogma of man’s special creation , the origin of a human race cannot be explained on purely natural basis in the process of reproduction but requires an intervention of the Divine causality.
3. The dogma of individual immortality of each human person that means that the human soul is capable of subsisting after the decomposition of the human body and needs reunification with the body in God’s resurrecting action and,
4. Finally man possess free will and is responsible for his/her relationship to God’s will and he/she has the power of free choice between good and evil, between loving his/her Creator or turning against Him.
Evolution seems to be a well established scientific theory and as such it is like any other phenomenon the effect of God’s action. The existence of God is proved by metaphysical arguments : The Prime Mover, the First Cause and the Cosmic Intelligence. The Judeo Christian God has all those attributes plus personality. There is one God and three Persons in One God. The crucial point however is that God, the Creator revealed Himself to humans as a Person to created persons. Only a Personal God established the covenantal relationship with the Patriarchs of the Old Testament (Abraham and his descendants) and the choice of Moses and God’s revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai) . The liberation of the Jews from the oppression of Egyptian slavery was the first phase of the liberation from the power of sin and death accomplished by God the Second Person of Trinity, Jesus Christ, who became incarnate God in flesh . Christ , the God-man was in everything human except sin . The redemption accomplished by Christ is far greater than the exodus of the Jews from Egypt because Christ’s redemptive action on the Cross embraced all mankind and gave the possibility of anyone who believes in Him of Eternal life in a resurrected body. In Christianity man is created as an image of God. This image does not relate to the bodily form but to the inner spirit . Man is a person and as a person he/she can relate freely and meaningfully to the Personal God.
The observational data which we mentioned above concerning the nature and activities of homo sapiens clearly show that the human soul is qualitatively different from the other animals, even the highest primates.
1. Abstract thinking
2. Articulated speech
3. Propositional language
4. Self-consciousness and self-knowledge
5. Search for the meaning of existence
6. Freedom of choice and judgment
7. Awareness of eternity and death
All the above show that man is a person endowed with intelligent knowledge, conscious of moral obligation and values and also able of self-control and evaluation of himself as moral agent. Objective moral values and human conscience make of human beings responsible agents. None of the above is found among other animals . That is why the human soul or form is different in kind from those of the souls of lower animals
It is important to remember that evolution although it is the well-founded scientific theory is nothing more but scientific theory, and consequently subject to modification , change or even replacement with the progress of science. Homo sapiens as a partner with God in the adventure of existence is called to eternal life granted to him/her through the grace of God . Being however free human beings have the ability to turn hostile to God . Lying to themselves and not willing to acknowledge their hostility to God and their own depravity they will try to create their own theories and pseudo-explanations of the meaning of life. All atheistic attitudes ultimately are based on unproven assumptions that the only reality is somehow material and no other can be admitted. However one must always remember that this materialistic dogma has never been convincingly proven by anyone although it in many points violates the fundamental principles of sound thinking.
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