What Does It Mean to be Human?
According to Professor C. E. Joan, a human is nothing but: “Fat enough for seven bars of soap; Iron enough for one medium-sized nail; Sugar enough for seven cups of tea; Lime enough to whitewash one chicken coop; Phosphorus enough to tip two thousand two hundred matches; Magnesium enough for one dose of salts; Potash enough to explode one toy crane; sulphur enough to rid one dog of fleas.” However, we know that we are much more than that. Of all God’s creation, the human was the only creature to be handcrafted by God himself. So what makes us different? Humans are unique in that we possess analytical thought, speak a complex language, bury our dead, record our own history, and hold definite morals.
God gave humans the most highly developed intellects out of all His creation. With that, we are able to create, reason, and think all for ourselves; whereas animals depend heavily upon instinct. They are born with pre-programmed knowledge of what to do in almost every situation. Because they are controlled by this knowledge, they rarely, if ever, actually think for themselves. On the other hand, humans are independent in their thoughts and actions, not controlled by something else. It is clearly seen that God equipped man with a vastly different intellect than all other creation; our job is to harness and use it for His glory.
Our ability to communicate clearly and precisely is another quality that makes humans unique. Dolphins are said to have the most advanced communication of the animal kingdom. They communicate with phrases of different whistles and clicks and even have specific names for each other. Although this is vastly impressive for an animal, it is nothing in comparison to the vocabulary God has equipped the human race with. Human language was first demonstrated when Adam was given the task of naming the animals (Genesis 2: 19-23). Since then, our vocabulary has immensely expanded. In the English language alone, there are over 228,132 words; this does not account for the other 6,500 known languages throughout the world. The ability to communicate on such an advanced level is a key aspect of identity in a human being.
Man is different in that we are the only creation to bury its dead. Such a burial is often the result of strong emotions affecting the human soul during difficult times. Emotions play a major role in each of our lives; they affect our thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Animals have some forms of emotion, but they are not nearly as developed as a human’s. The fact that humans bury their dead shows a level of respect that animals lack. This respect sets man apart from God’s other creation as a special, hand-crafted being.
Since the beginning of life on earth, man has kept record of his life to benefit and profit generations to come. All other forms of creation have no concept of such a thing. They are incapable, both physically and intellectually, to record their kind’s actions, duties, and stories. Humans have been given a special gift and ability in this area. As stated before, God has equipped man with the most complex intellect of all His creation, helping us record this data. This recorded history helps us learn from other’s mistakes and appreciate past theories and ideas.
Maybe the most important characteristic of what makes a human a human is the ability to uphold absolute morals. Man is an ethical being that is aware of his own circumstances and consequences. God has given man the ability to distinguish between right and wrong; whereas animals, as previously discussed, act mainly upon reactions and instinct. Because God has given us this gift, He has the right to fairly judge us for our actions. Second Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” The gift of absolute morals does not come without its repercussions; this is why we must honor and glorify God with them.
Humans are unique in that we possess analytical thought, speak a complex language, bury our dead, record our own history, and hold definite morals. To be a human is special privilege from God, and we should not take it lightly. God picked us to be the way we are, and to glorify Him. No matter what, we will always be a human created by God Himself.
Article written by Jack Borke of Parma, OH, 3rd place winner of 2018 Essay Contest