Non-Human People

(First time posting, so hopefully I don’t mess up the formatting too much; that would be a bit much after folks were kind enough to invite me to post!)

Time for a bit of Catholic applied to geekery! (Not to be confused with straight up Catholic Geekery, which is more the Holy Father’s area– does anyone doubt that he dearly loves thinking about, playing with and elaborating on Catholic theology? You just don’t end up writing THREE books on the life of Jesus without the love, intellectual interest and deep enjoyment of a geek for his geekdom.)

There’s something about Catholics and blogs that always ends up going into the old question of what makes a man– or, more correctly, a person. “Man” in this context would be a human, and there are several examples of people that aren’t humans– like most of the Trinity. Sadly, the topic usually comes up in terms of abortion; even the utterly simple-science-based reasoning that all humans are human and should be treated thus will bring out the attacks. (Amusingly, the line of attack is usually that someone is trying to force their religious beliefs on others, rather than an attempt to explain why a demonstrably human life is objectively different from, say, an adult human. The “bioethicist” Singer is famous for being open about valuing life in a utilitarian manner, but there aren’t many who will support that angle.[thank God])

Slowly looping around to the point, one of the topics that got me interested in Catholic blogs in the first place was the Catholic musing on what a “person” is; Jimmy Akin’s post on zombies was probably the first time I’d ever seen it discussed. (I think I actually found his writing while looking for a good site to explain to my driven-away-Catholic geek friends that D&D wasn’t antithetical to Catholicism.) I’d never heard anything about an organized Catholic theory of…well, much of anything, but that’s a different topic. I had– of course– seen a bit of Catholic theology on EWTN, but I seem to remember that I had the impression that theology was more focused on explicitly religious things, rather than theoretical musings.

Deathly dull and serious, not fun.

Option #2, that of a non-human, rational soul was very interesting to me, since– being a geek– I’d read a lot of stories with elves where a big to-do about how the local church (which always looks familiar) holds that non-Humans don’t have souls. Sometimes they go really anvilicious and have the dark-skinned, mystical non-local humans be counted as not being human. (Mercedies Lackey is really, really bad about this.) It hadn’t sounded right, since it was really obvious that the story-elves (usually repackaged Tolkien elves, with a smattering of some Irish legends) were people. Heck, half the time they could even have families with normal humans, and there are quarter-elves, or all magic-using humans have “elvish” blood, so they’re more a sub-group of humans than another species. (Homo Sapien Pointy-Eared-Magica, to riff off a similar notion?) It’s a staple of fantastic fiction to have a normal person that the reader can relate to meeting up and befriending– at the very least– nonhuman people, often with a sub-plot about how the people who don’t agree are misguided at best or evil at worst.

I pointed folks to the explanation for non-human people for a few years, and at some point a blog I ran into mentioned St Augustine’s definition of “man”. (That blogger has thought a bit on the matter of non-human intelligence and Catholicism.)

The author John Wright recently republished an article he wrote about space Christians and their impact on Catholicism– prefaced with the sly warning that “The Magisterium of the Church has yet to rule on the theological implications of intelligent extraterrestrials. Perhaps they are wisely awaiting for alien intelligent life to be discovered first.

Mr. Wright’s reason for re-publishing is actually what got me thinking on the subject again– one of my many peeves is being the established mythology of fandom that the Church would have mad issues with, well, pretty much anything that’s outside of the currently accepted mundane, or the “cool” parody of it. (It’s to the point where I half wonder if Laura K. Hamilton is making a really, really sneaky point… her first “Anita Blake” book mentions that the namesake character was born and raised Catholic, but switched because the Church said that doing what she does for a living is immoral and would lead to degeneration; umpteen books later, the series is…uh… rather notorious in fandom for breaking any moral reservation she expresses in a book or two, and the main character has become a sort of necromancer-vampire-wereanimal succubus.)

The most frequent reminder in every Catholic discussion I’ve seen about non-human, physical, rational beings is that charity requires that we assume those who show evidence of being a rational being have a soul. I don’t know if that’s supposed to jump out, or if it just jumps out because most explorations of the “what measure makes a man” question tend to either hand-wave things so that it comes out so that of course so and so is really a person, or utterly violate it. (Looking back, it would’ve been really nice if someone in a teaching position in my Catholic education had used that Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where they almost decide that Data is StarFleet property that can be chopped up for research, not a person, as a launch block for the whole moral being discussion…or even just an abortion, ESCR or personhood type discussion…. Um, any moral discussion, launched for any reason, come to think of it.)

This sort of moral question is perfect for science fiction and fantasy– you can set up any variation on the theme that you want, play with it, use “what if” to your heart’s content. (This sometimes means that all a story does is tell you what the author wants you to think.) What if the non-humans look like humans, but live a lot longer? What if Neanderthals survived to the modern day? What if we can interbreed with aliens? What if we can’t? What if aliens– or dragons– are so mentally different that it’s hard to wrap your mind around their thought processes? What is the impact on dealing with a species that considers you food? (A question that’s sometimes touched on in vampire novels, usually either indirectly– by unstated emotional appeal that helps you not hate the mass murdering blood suckers– or simi-directly, by making the dividing line between good and bad vampires a question of who kills intelligent beings to survive.)

Somehow, though, these opportunities usually go by the wayside, both with pro apologists (a few exceptions like Jimmy, of course) and with just-people-who-are-Catholic. (As clumsy as I am, I managed to get folks thinking without being bored by working things like Natural Law into my character stories– or by choosing my Paladin’s god based on who was most compatible with Catholic theology, and playing that way.)

I can count on my fingers the number of fantastic fiction authors that are friendly to religion, let alone ones that work Catholic theology (or natural philosophy) into into the stories.

Meanwhile, I was the only practicing Catholic in my geek group in no small part because the rest had been told that such things were against Church teaching. (Other factors: they’d never been introduced to any of the reasoning behind various teachings, or even been told that there was reasoning; different people had told them different things were binding, and none had offered justifications. The Harry Potter/B16 thing is an example of the sort of thing that seriously damaged their childhood faith. “Helpful” relatives that saw “Mazes and Monsters” and went straight into a mode Darwin commented on before.)

I’d bet that anime has done more to make geeky folks, ones who could so easily become as fascinated with Catholicism as our Pope is, sympathetic to Catholicism than…well… actual Catholics have done. Blogging is (maybe?) changing that, slowly, and it’s hard to figure out the right sort of touch to use when talking about religion. Thankfully, geekdom is pretty forgiving if you’re obviously a fanboy about a topic. I sincerely believe that if we could just folks to listen to what the Church teaches, a lot of those geeks would end up being great apologists.

164 Responses to Non-Human People

  • Fascinating. If there are other sentient races in the universe then there arises the question as to whether God would provide ways for them to attain salvation other than through Christ. CS Lewis was intrigued by this question as demonstrated by his Out of the Silent Planet trilogy and the Narnia books.

  • pat says:

    When I think of what differentiates us as humans, Donald, I think of how we are spiritual beings. We yearn for God (whether we know it or not). And we of course look over the horizon to find something that will fill that gap. So we’re spiritual. As Augustine said, Thou hast made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless til they find their rest in Thee. We are at the center, too. There is a great chain even while Sir Lovejoy charted its intellectual demise. Regardless of our physical location in the universe, our spiritual plight places us right at the center. As far as we can tell, we alone are consciously troubled and preoccupied more than any other creature. We know of no others comparable to us.

  • pat says:

    Whether God created other beings than those mentioned in Scripture cannot now be known. Depsite what scientists have said, we live in a human-centered, geocentric universe till this day.

    C. S. Lewis was a fascinating, imaginative man, of course. His works are all classics. I appreciated The Abolition of Man. When we divorce our concept of man from the Christian worldview, we get a distortion. Our understanding is still dependent on the Christian worldview (to some extent). We’re at a transition, surviving on borrowed capital. But there are those who argue for a different view, and that other viewpoint is gaining in acceptance. So we have our feet in both worlds. Are we beings of worth and responsiblity? Or are we animals of instinct determined by forces?

    So what separates us? I don’t think it’s reason. I think it’s spirituality. We are accountable to God. He made us as priests over creation, to offer up sacrifices pleasing to Him. We failed in that assignment. So He initiated a rescue mission to restore us to that role. Once again we can be “priests of God and of Christ,” and we can reign with him (have dominion over creation). It’s the marriage of heaven and earth, where God, the temple, comes down to the garden never again to depart.

  • pat says:

    Priests and kings. We were created as priests and kings. To that we are restored if we are in Christ. This priestly and kingly role to which we’re assigned, then, is what differentiates us from all other created beings that are known.

    To possess dominion over creation, offering it back up to God, is the essence of the human being, I believe, when restored to God’s image. After all, who is God in whose image we were made?

  • Foxfier says:

    Pat-
    I would agree “we” (culturally) are living on borrowed worldview– one of the things that this kind of discussion does is get people to realize how many of the things they assumed were just universal human views are Christian, and not shared by other cultures. (This is a major, major issue in dealing with time off the ship in the Navy–utterly ignoring the applications in terrorism!)

    I think the difference you draw between reason and spirituality might be an artifact of definition. Short version: you can’t be spiritual if you can’t choose.

    St. Augustine got it right in general, although I don’t think his biological detail is required:
    But whoever is anywhere born a man, that is, a rational, mortal animal, no matter what unusual appearance he presents in color, movement, sound, nor how peculiar he is in some power, part, or quality of his nature, no Christian can doubt that he springs from that one protoplast. We can distinguish the common human nature from that which is peculiar, and therefore wonderful.

  • pat says:

    Well, Foxfier: People have long distinguished us on the basis of reason. But do not animals reason? I have before me a dog that reasons. She’s not apparently spiritual, though. So I guess that’s the sense in which I meant to get that difference across. (Also, people vary in mental capability and sometimes profoundly so). I trace ‘the reason thing’ to the Greeks, Aquinas, Western phil., Victorian sensibility. I don’t think of it as a purely Christian notion. We’re spiritual beings, I know. I don’t know that reason really separates us from other seen beings. First of all I don’t know that we all reason. Secondly, I’m not sure all other seen beings don’t.

  • pat says:

    It’s that priestly and kingly role to which we were assigned that separates us from the rest of creation. We were to reign over it and offer it back up to God. We failed in that mission. He in His goodness, came down to us as high priest in Jesus Christ offering up a perfect sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. He thereby restored us to Himself. We are atoned for. We find in Christ our roles re-established. Priests of God and of Christ who reign with Him. There’s a polis in a garden that God has sanctified. He’s Immanuel forevermore.

    The human being is made in God’s image, fallen in Adam, and then redeemed and restored in Christ. Made by a triune God, we find our fulfillment in Him and in His community, the New People. The world is very old and is passing away.

  • pat says:

    You know I’ve been tempted to use reason and/or morality to separate us from other beings. It just doesn’t make any sense. Unless you’re living in one of the better parts of Victorian London. No. People are different from animals because they are spiritual beings, made in God’s image, and fallen from thence, though redeemable in Christ. This is our essence.

  • Foxfier says:

    But do not animals reason?

    In this meaning of reason, no, they don’t reason, are not rational beings. Mental capacity of an individual is likewise not involved– we’re talking classes, groups, not individuals. I don’t remove your soul if I do so much brain damage that you’re unable to express the rationality of said soul.

    I’m not sure how you figure your dog reasons, since you don’t explain it, nor how you’d be able to tell if she felt a yearning for something greater than herself– after all, dogs do tend to desire a pack.

    You might want to go read Jimmy’s post that I linked.

    It’s that priestly and kingly role to which we were assigned that separates us from the rest of creation.

    Problem being, who is “we”? Rather the whole point of the exercise….

  • pat says:

    Well I think we are that: beings made in God’s image, fallen, and redeemable. Priests before and after. Lords before and after. We are spiritual. In Christ our identity is reclaimed. We find our place again in God’s creation: kings and priests. Does God need us? Of course not. But this is what he created us for. He loves us and engages us in his creative work.

  • pat says:

    In the Western world beginning wiht the Greeks, we at the height of culture/ civilizaTION HAVE thought of ourselves as rational beings. I think it’s old.

  • pat says:

    When we think of human beings, we must think not only of what we were, but of what we are and what we will be (assuming we are Christians). Our essence is this: Made in God’s image, fallen, and redeemed in Christ. This is what separates us from vegetation, animals, angels, etc. I do not mean to say creation in general is not redeemed. I believe very strongly that it is. I simply mean to point out our difference. Our essence. We are spiritual, with souls as well as breath, accountable spiritually since we were made in God’s image, since we failed his assignment, since we find redemption in Him through Christ, and restoration.

  • Foxfier says:

    Well I think we are that: beings made in God’s image, fallen, and redeemable.

    Who is included in “beings made in God’s image”? That is the point of this post.

    Obviously it includes male, female, a huge range of hair, skin and eye colors, a huge range of body types, a huge range of mental abilities… we often use the short-hand of human, or homo sapiens; as we learn more about homo neanderthalensis, that becomes less reasonable.
    Like St Augustine reasoned, if “monstrous” births are still people, would it not be possible for there to be “monstrous races”?

    YOu see, the problem is that we’re not rational. We’ve found that out. We just have to accept it.

    That people don’t use the ability doesn’t mean that we don’t have it. It would take a lot of proof to “show” that your dog is rational, but humans aren’t!

  • pat says:

    Hmnn, I think you might be looking at it a bit too literally or precisely. Whether one is profoundly retarded or genius level is irrelevant. God made human beings in His image. We failed in that. But we have souls as well as ‘breath’ or life. We are spiritual. We were and could once again be priests and lords within the context of this creation. Whatever else is going on way out there is another topic, really. As for prodigies, unusual differences, etc., we still know they are human if they are. Otherwise it’s an animal. Darwinism and evolutionary thought has us confused on this. Secular scientists would like to blur the boundary between animals and humans by focusing on ‘deep time’ and theorizing.

  • pat says:

    Reason became a distinction, and perhaps the one distinction of the human being because of the Greek inheritance. Acquinas was reason-oriented within the western heritage. But the Bible’s dinstinguishing mark for the human is what? The soul, created in God’s image, fallen, redeemable in Christ, priests and kings. This is the pattern. It’s our essence. I was made by God, in God’s image, for Godself, and can be restored to that image in Christ the Redeemer. This is what’s central about the human.

  • pat says:

    Yes, that’s it. Animals have breath. Life is there….there’s blood. Human beings have souls too, however. We were made in God’s image. We were meant to be that. We can be that again. That’s the marker.

  • Foxfier says:

    I think you’re bypassing the point entirely, Pat– who is “we”? Who has souls?

    To our knowledge, people/men/humans have souls, animals do not, but that makes for a circular definition– or for abject horror, when you consider that it’s pretty standard for a culture’s word for their own group to translate as “people,” “mankind” or “humans.” Just as with “rational,” the meaning of a word in context is very important.

    A person is one with a soul; how do we figure out if someone who is outside of our previous experience is a person or not? Appearance won’t work, obviously, and we are not God so we do not see their souls. Obviously, we have to assume that those who seem to have a soul do in fact have one– but what are the markings of having a soul?

    Can you argue against Augustine’s ‘rational, mortal animal’ definition? Actually argue, not assert?

  • pat says:

    Too much classification….why order it like that? Not necessary for our conception. No little green man will come by to confuse us. It’s just us. If it looks like a human, walks like a human, and talks like one, it’s a human. That includes the Elephant Man, the circus workers, those referenced by Augustine in the City of God, and anyone else who’s uniquely interesting and remarkably different. They’re all human. The trinity teaches us that there is diversity in unity, vice versa. The Fall teaches us that we’re not as we should be. Yes there’s variety. But I know a human when I see one. And I’ll bet the farm that they possess breath and a soul, and the same origin and destiny too, if in Christ.

  • pat says:

    No. The soul is not eternal. That’s a Greek error. Christ alone has immortality. That’s where the Christian gets it. Soul and body resurrect. We’re not eternal. No portion is. But the soul gains immortality in Christ. The body is resurrected in Him.

  • pat says:

    Our first parents were made in God’s image. The animals were not. Plants were not. The earth was not. Neither was the sky. We alone were made in His image. We fell. We’re restored if in Christ. That image manifests in the priestly and kingly role. Exercise dominion. Offer up creation. And St. John said, they came to life and reigned with Christ. Kings and priests.

  • Foxfier says:

    Too much classification….why order it like that?

    Because meaning is important. You can’t say that only humans have souls, because everyone who has a soul is a human. That’s circular.

    We can’t say it’s obvious who is human and who is not, because it’s sadly not obvious– a quick glance at history will show that, and a moment’s thought on the current pro-life issues of abortion, eugenics and euthanasia show it’s ongoing. People are very, very good at making themselves believe things that suit them. God made this world in a manner that we can learn about systematically– why would he have not done the same when it comes to who is a person?

    If it looks like a human, walks like a human, and talks like one, it’s a human.

    And what constitutes “like a human”? From your prior statements, you mean “being made in God’s image”– which we cannot define by the standard use of “human,” which is a biological term.

    That question is the entire point of this post.

  • Foxfier says:

    No. The soul is not eternal. That’s a Greek error.

    From Catholic Answers:
    The glossary at the back of the U.S. version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines “soul” as follows:
    The spiritual principle of human beings. The soul is the subject of human consciousness and freedom; soul and body together form one unique human nature. Each human soul is individual and immortal, immediately created by God. The soul does not die with the body, from which it is separated by death, and with which it will be reunited in the final resurrection.

  • pat says:

    Humans give birth to humans. Animals give birth to animals. Both have life. But the human was initially created in God’s image. We are now fallen, but redeemable. What’s the question? I think you’re trying to argue with secular ethicists and pragmatic people who represent what the late John Paul II termed a culture of death. I understand that if you are. But these people make distinctions the Bible does not. We shouldn’t. We know life. We continue to know life. Not everything can be proven. God only holds us responsible, in those casses, for maintaining faith and conviction and obedience to truth. If they press us, we may not be able to answer. They want to know what is special about a fetus. I don’t know exactly. It’s a human. God knits us together in the womb. They won’t believe that, though. And there’s no strict definition of the kind for which you’re searching. If they don’t have faith, it won’t be life to them. But we know it is, and will continue to say so.

  • pat says:

    Christ, who alone has immortality, be glory forever. Forgot which epistle. But we are ‘clothed’ with that immortality. It’s not ours. We ‘died’ because of sin, the fall…the soul would live on in death or die forever, however you wish to say it. But that’s not the same as “being eternal by nature.” The Greeks thought we were. Plato thought that. Some of it’s semantic. But those not saved in Christ are not immortal. They don’t live forever. They die forever. Christ is the Life.

  • Foxfier says:

    Pat, where does the Bible define made in God’s image?

    Where does it define soul?

    Where does it define human?

    It’s obvious that people– from the embryonic through the senile, sound of mind and body or not, in all our wide range of characteristics– are different than animals because we’re made in God’s image. The question remains: who is “we”?

  • pat says:

    Why is that a question? I’ve never been confused over whether a created being was a human or an animal. I’ve always distinguished the two. I’ve never yet seen a demon or an angel. No aliens either. “We” are those two-legged creatures that walk upright, etc., though we sometimes are born with issues. “We” may be Siamese, etc. Humans though. ANd we all know them. What’s the question? You want a definition? Don’t tell me you dont’ knwo one when you see one. I can’t kkeep from laughing. I jsut don’t udnerstand where you’re coming from, Foxfier.

  • pat says:

    The Genesis myth tells us about our first parents, who they were, what happened. Who we are now. Who we can be in Christ. The new creation. Humans are at the center because made in His image and capableof being restored to that. It’s the focal point. Well, God is really, but then we in Him and He in us forever. That’s at the center of the story.

  • Foxfier says:

    I jsut don’t udnerstand where you’re coming from, Foxfier.

    I noticed.

    Why is that a question?

    Because you claimed that the Bible has said the soul is the “dinstinguishing mark for the human.”

    You claimed that I’m making distinctions where the Bible did not– you still haven’t supported that claim.

    I’ve never been confused over whether a created being was a human or an animal. I’ve always distinguished the two.

    So? I’ve never had to splint a broken arm– doesn’t mean that the information isn’t important, or will never be used.
    As I pointed out, there are several times where people mistakenly classified other people as non-persons; more amusing are the times when people mistakenly classified non-persons as people. (Was it Mark Twain that wrote about a town mistaking an ape for a Frenchman?)

  • pat says:

    Admittedly, apart from the Biblical story, there is no way to define and separate people fromm the rest of creation. Paganism blurs the distinction. IT’s through the light of Scripoture that we learn of who we are. Our identiy is derived from our Creator who communicates revelation. Otherwise we wouldn’t know. And people today don’t know. The Christian identity of the person is wearing off. You can’t fix a defintion of the human for the non-Christian. It won’t work. It’s through Scritprue that we find out who we are. The Greeks tried and all they came up with was reason. No good. Priests and kings. Not simply reason. If only reason, why preserve a human?

  • Foxfier says:

    Humans are at the center because made in His image and capableof being restored to that.

    To repeat myself a final time tonight:
    you can’t define “human” as “those made in God’s image,” then say that those who are made in God’s image are human.

    Bring in actual quotes, with citations. Make an argument for what you’re saying, rather than just claiming it.

  • pat says:

    You wihs to go with Etienne Gilson’s choice? Do you wish to have a universal sense of the human, that can prove to everyone, that can force everyone to believe it and be OK with it rationally? Then it would be watered-down. It would not be the udnerstanding given by Scripture, the identity we have within the narrative of God. It would be something far less, something paltry.

  • pat says:

    Well how coherent do you suppose you can become on something like this? It’s not that kind of a thing. Either you’re human or an animal in our visible realm here. I do not have to create new definitions because someone feels like they might face an alien soon. It’s simply either an animal OR a human. If you approach it, talk to it, and stay with it for about five minutes, you ought to know which classification it falls within. If it has two heads and two permanently separate personalities and identities, it’s two humans joined from birth. Two souls, not one. Otherwise, one soul per human. And that’s about it.

  • pat says:

    You see, it’s through God’s story that we learn who we are, why wer’re here, where we could go, etc. Apart from faith there is no correct definition of the human. God alone gives it. If you are willing to accept it then that’s what it is. If not, you live in ignorance as pagans always have. It’s nothing complicated. Very simple. No God, no man; Lewis wrote “THe Aboliton of Man.” That’s what he meant.

    If ever there’s confusion as to whether a creature is human or animal, I’d like to know why. I’ve never heard of someone being confused in our time.

  • pat says:

    God’s story is our story too. It’s our meaning, our identity. We are told everything that way. It IS circular. That’s why it’s faith. If it were otherwise, it would be human philosophy. What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? Jerusalem saved Athens, and so we continue to think as it did.

  • pat says:

    I always thought of people as possessing dignity. Then I read of a minister who visited the dying. He said that dying is the most undignified thing. He’s right. I feel we should be thankful that God made us for himself. Life is a gift. It’s precious. We’re responsible for how we live it. We need to be good stewards of all that God gave us. To live again is possible. But it happens in Christ alone. This is being human.

    I experience no despair over my lack of a scientific definition. Humanity cannot be defined philophically or scientifically. And that’s OK, since we gain our understanding from Scriptural revelation.

  • Mike Petrik says:

    pat,
    It is basic Catholic teaching that we gain our understanding of God and His Creation not only through Scripture, but through reason as well. I don’t know you and perhaps you are a sola scriptura Protestant, and this thread is not intended to debate that point. I only point out that the notion that humanity cannot be defined philosophically or scientifically, but only by reference to Scripture alone is a singularly unCatholic point of view.

  • Foxfier says:

    It would not be the udnerstanding given by Scripture, the identity we have within the narrative of God.

    What is this understanding? Lay it out.

    And that’s OK, since we gain our understanding from Scriptural revelation.

    If it’s in the scriptures, it can be cited. Go for it. Jesus Himself, if he said “is it not written,” would then give the actual quote.

  • pat says:

    In Genesis, it says that God created our first parents in His image. Let us make man in our image, after ouor likeness. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. That’s the actual quote. This is NOT true of animals or the rest of the visible creation.

    The understanding is arrived at through progressive revelation. As the story unfolds, we learn of who we are: where we came from, where we’re at, and where we can go. It’s not fixed. It depends on who and where you are within the story. That’s our identity. It’s what it means to be a human being. But it cannot be abstracted to be a precise, universal idea. That’s reason at it’s best and it still falls radically short of scriptural revelation. Don’t baptize it. Don’t synthesize them.

    You’re trying to arrive at a universal, modernist understanding of the human, analytically or philosophically abstracted from concrete time, space, and the story that changes as it unfolds and moves eschatologically, or teleologically, toward its fulfillment, the story that informs us and gives us our understanding. We cant do that.

    The Greeks abstracted from the concrete because they beleived in the heraclitean/parmenidean split, the platonic this world of change versus that world of static reality, etc. No, we see it eschatologically.

  • Foxfier says:

    So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. That’s the actual quote. This is NOT true of animals or the rest of the visible creation.

    Now, where does it say what, exactly, His image is? Clearly it’s not too physical, since the difference between male and female in the human species is rather large. The wisest idea would be to read the original, or as detailed an explanation as possible of the known meaning of the original.

    Given that information, we could very easily come to the conclusion that being able to create things is what makes us “in God’s image.”

    But it cannot be abstracted to be a precise, universal idea.

    How do you come to that conclusion? Much like the other claims you make, you don’t support it– you just state it.

  • pat says:

    No….we’ve wound up talking past one another because we’re starting with different assumptions. I’m assuming that Scriptural revelation is what we are given, and that that’s meant to inform all that we think and find elsewhere. I don’t hold to two separate categories. There is faith and it seeks understanding. I don’t maintain that reason or tradition are separate or reconcilable compartments. Never thought that way.

    Citgations, quotes….what good would that do? You prooftext with one set of references. Somone else uses another set. Everyone has their own pattern. That still doesn’t answer the question. It simply reveals paradigms. It’s like the Methodist who finds all the proofs. They back it up. Then the Calvinist does it with their proofs. The Catholic wiuth theirs. The Mormons have their documents from which to prove their arguments, and they are coherent within their own system, more or less.

    I advocate a better way. Let’s transcend these systems and get back to the BIble. Not Sola Scriptura per se. But let’s go back to the narrative first and foremost. That’s our story. Let’s learn it and allow it to inform our thinking. That’s what I’ve tried to do. I’ve tried to get across the Bible’s sense of who we are in relation to the one who has made us. We are humans, and the story tells us what that means. We happen through the story. It’s eschatological, that is to say that we are ‘on the way.’ We are pilgrims if we are Christian. We’r'e in transition. If not, we’re part of an old world that’s passing away, and that means death. Definitions? Not really. But definiately a reality that is wondrously amazing!

  • pat says:

    Once again: priests to God and kings over creation. Sacrifices acceptable, our creative service. Worship. That’s the image reflected. It’s the life we’re called back to. He’s not jsut the Creatior. He’s the Redeemer too. We participate redemptively in his plan. Also, He’s triune. So we exist in community. All this is what’s meant by being in his image. If we are in Christ, we are alive again! We see signs of that now. It will come about fully when the Lord returns in glory.

    A scientific or philosophic definition of the person that I can insert in Merrium-Webster’s? I really and truly don’t think it’s possible. There are two kinds: the saved and the unsaved…two very different definitions, and within each there is the telos—they’re in flux. You can try….I used to attempt that sort of thing. I find at the end of it soemthign like this: You learned all this information and wonder to yourself what you know. Then you come to realize that what really matters is who you know. The path, the truth, and the life is a person, Jesus. Not some abstract set of propositions. Propositions exist. But Chrsitianty is life. Our faith is never in truth itself. It is in Truth itself. Do you get what I’m saying? It’s not in the written word, but in the Word. Christ was the Word who spoke. We beleive the One who spoke. We therefore speak.

  • Foxfier says:

    No….we’ve wound up talking past one another because we’re starting with different assumptions.

    Yes.

    I assume that when you say “the Bible says X,” that you can actually show where it says ‘x’.

    You seem to assume that when you say “the Bible say X,” that is enough– because you think that’s what it means.

    Perhaps you should try to mimic Christ in how He taught– as I said before, when He said “is it not written,” he followed with what was actually written.

  • pat says:

    Christ spoke things without quoting too. BUt the fact is that we have a Bible and it presents a story. We have to let that story inform our life.

  • pat says:

    To learn of the human, we must read the WHOLE story. Where we came from, where we’re at, and our destinations. I cannot quote the whole bible. We have to read it from cover to cover. You would never do that with a movie or another book. SO why would you only take a part of the Bible? I don’t like that.

  • Foxfier says:

    Christ spoke things without quoting too.

    When teaching things on His authority as the Son of God, not when trying to explain his position as a guy in a compbox….

    SO why would you only take a part of the Bible? I don’t like that.

    Jesus Himself quoted. Don’t like it, take it up with Him.

  • pat says:

    We know from the Bible that the human is created in God’s image, made to reflect him. We are fallen. But we can be redeemed and this is life. Not everyone is redeemed. So in this sense the definiton of what makes us human is being redeemed. To be human is to be all that God has called us to be and do. And what is that? What the Bible says. You know the quotes. I don’t have the time to offer them now. But we see throughout Scripture that we are called to service and worship.

  • Foxfier says:

    I don’t have the time to offer them now.

    You’ve spent roughly three days failing to offer them, Pat; small wonder you have no time left!

    The one quote that I asked for and you partly offered was out of context and didn’t actually say what you implied it did. (1 Tim 6:16.)

    Still, you beg the question- who is “we”?

    So in this sense the definiton of what makes us human is being redeemed.

    This contradicts what you’ve said before– that being made in His image is what makes us both people and able to be redeemed.

  • pat says:

    Yes, three things. We were made in his image. We fell. We can be redeemed.
    Some are. Some aren’t. Where you are in that defines who you ar as a person.

  • Foxfier says:

    We were made in his image. We fell. We can be redeemed.

    Good start! Mr. Wright’s post touched on these aspects, pointing to aliens that never fell as being something that would actually cause trouble with folks’ faith.

    So, “we” are those made in God’s image, who fell and can be redeemed; how do we identify those who fit that category? Objectively– as I pointed out, there are a lot of people right now who can’t recognize a baby as a person, just because of where they happen to be located. (Be it in the womb or inside of Israel’s borders.)

    Where you are in that defines who you ar as a person.

    Has nothing to do with the conversation.

  • pat says:

    Well, we have not yet seen aliens. To be honest, I don’t really believe we will. We’re the focus now. We’re accountalbe to God. We must deal with this fact. What God chooses to do elsewhere is His business. We musn’t evade our responsibility for service and worship, to come home and accept his embrace, to arrive spiritually with God.

    Yes, if we’re redeemed, then we are a new creation. Old things have passed. New things have come. Otherwise we are part of a world grown old and dying.

  • pat says:

    So there are two different kinds of peole. Those saved and those unsaved. Again, a precise definition for the ‘universal human’ will allude you.

  • Foxfier says:

    The only alluding going on here is your alluding to there actually being something to back up your claims; somehow, the notion that you actually have to support your assertions eludes you…..

    You’re still saying “we.” Of course people are “we” in a religious context. How to go about figuring out who is “we” is the point of this post.

  • pat says:

    Yes, in Genesis we learn that God created various creatures. And human beings were initially made in his image. Having given us dominion, he launched us into that priestly and kingly endeavor. God knew what would happen. The plan was built in so we can find restoration as it unfolds. We can find redemption in Christ. So the image is restored, as well as our initial purpose. As Augustine said in The City of God, though, it’s on a higher level. There’s a garden, now a polis, and a temple—God is with us forever. New Jerusalem. It’s taken to a higher level.

    What distinguishes the human being? Made in his image, responsible to Him for what he requires. We fell. The law came. The kingdom has come; now grace. Human beings can respond to their Creator as he engages us in a relationship with Him. This is special. Nonhumans, i.e. animals, don’t share in it in this way. How do we knwo? Revelation. Without it we are unenlightened as the pagans. A rational way to affirm? I don’t think so. A scientific way? I don’t think so. We sort of had that but it wares off without revelation. Science and rationality turn unscientific and irrational as our hearts and minds are darkened once again. They still call it science and ratioanlity, but it’s not. Apart from Revelation we simply wouldn’t know what human means. We wouldn’t accept it.

    So abortion, euthenasia, suicide, etc. is wrong. He gives us life with his plan in view. If an animal is put down do to severe complications or rabies, it’s just not the same thing. The animal is not made in His image and designed for this plan I described. THAT IS WHAT DISTINGUISHES US FROM THE OTHER VISIBLE CREATURES OF GOD. Then there are angels elect and fallen. That’s a different matter. The Bible gives us a sense of what that’s about too, but it’s different. Another order. Other life? If so, a different order. So yes, there is a classification.

    So to define it would go something like this: Human beings are made in God’s image, responsible morally. Can’t meet the law’s requirements. We tried. We’re responsible for “going through the eye of the needle.” How do we do it? Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. Grace. He sent Jesus Christ, the atoning sacrifice. The human is responsible to God’s law. The provision is in Christ alone. With God all things are possible: we go through the eye of the needle. Our humanity is restored. That’s really human. New people. New community. New creation.

  • pat says:

    To clarify the kingdom, Christ is King and we His subjects. He reclaimed the world, creation. (When the strong man is tied, his place is looted by one stronger.) The nations are no longer deceived. Now we can live and reign with Christ a thousand years. It was promised. So it is.

    When we acknowledge Christ as the Lord, the King, the Messiah, we yield our political allegience to Him. Our inclusion in His kingdom is marked by the acknowledgement that He is Lord to whom we bow. Ours is a polis…an outpost in the world as it passes. So we are the New People. Creation waits for us to find itself again.

  • pat says:

    Creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. Who are the sons of God? Those redeemed in Christ. Creation too, is liberated from its bondage to decay and set free in the glorious liberty of Christ. God’s re-creation of the New Day. Humanity restored in Him. To be human is to be created by God in his image to worship and serve Him. But we fell. How to we reclaim our humanity? In Christ there is a new creation. Old things have passed away and new things have come. So we can be human again. I think this is the best way to answer the question of what defines us. It’s our essence.

  • Foxfier says:

    You still don’t get it, Pat.

    You jump from those made in His image to “human”– without either defining the word or giving a reason why.

    Also, I thought you were out of time? Where are the verses you owe me?

  • pat says:

    Genesis Chap. 1 versus 26-28. That’s the part that explains that human beings were made in His image. Revelation Chap. 20 verses 1-6 describes the reinstatement of dominion, as these are “in Christ.” They reign with Him.

  • pat says:

    In his image, dominion over creation, creatively offering up sacrifices well-pleasing. Worship and service as kings and priests. This is not given to the animal kingdom. Extra-terrestrial life doesn’t figure into this. It’s our story for now, so it doesn’t include what God may be doing elsewhere.

  • pat says:

    So we find our understanding of the human in the unique way that the Creator has made us, and for the unique purpose to which we’re assigned. And that’s what I’ve been detailing throughout this thread.

    That identity was given at the start of creation in Genesis. It is reclaimed in Christ.

  • Foxfier says:

    Gen 1:26-28
    l Then God said: Let us make* human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.
    27
    God created mankind in his image;
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female* he created them.
    28
    God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.* Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.m

    (With many, many footnotes.)

    That does not say:
    So in this sense the definiton of what makes us human is being redeemed. To be human is to be all that God has called us to be and do. And what is that? What the Bible says.

    It’s only the same tiny snippet you’ve offered several times before, in various phrasings, still not defining who is human.

    How about we go back before you started just repeating yourself– how do you conclude that your dog both reasons and does not yearn for God? Evidence?

    Can you explain this phrase?
    You know I’ve been tempted to use reason and/or morality to separate us from other beings. It just doesn’t make any sense. Unless you’re living in one of the better parts of Victorian London.

    Justify this one?
    YOu see, the problem is that we’re not rational. We’ve found that out. We just have to accept it.

    Can you justify why we should abandon reason when all you can offer is

  • Foxfier says:

    So we find our understanding of the human in the unique way that the Creator has made us, and for the unique purpose to which we’re assigned. And that’s what I’ve been detailing throughout this thread.

    No, it is not. You’ve been asserting various things, and failing to follow through the reasoning or offer justification for why you have reached various conclusions.

    You can not even explain the incredibly simple, basic question, the entire point of this post:
    why do you assume that ‘we’ consists of only those you have personally identified?
    You don’t even apply that consistently, since you’ve also said that only those who have been redeemed are truly people!

  • pat says:

    No, I do not beleive we have seen or will see extra-terretrial life. Humans are those who were created in God’s image, fallen and redeemable in Christ. Each human is somewhere within that story. Either we’re still fallen or we’ve been redeemed. Two entirely separate destinies, regardless of the same origin.

    What we were, what we are and what we will be are not necessarily the same. Once, again, it depends on where you are within the narrative.

  • Foxfier says:

    You wish to abstact a definition so it will be static. That is not possible. You have to read the story to find out.

    No.
    I “wish” support for the assertions you keep making, especially when you claim they are Biblical. Your track record on the Bible actually saying what you think it does really isn’t very good.

  • pat says:

    I don’t know what you’re referring to. In the scriptural narrative, human beings were created one way, fell to become something else, and are heading somewhere else if “in Christ.” I’m not sure how you would define that philosphically or scientifically. You have to read the story and find your place within it.

  • pat says:

    We need to understand that Scripture is a narrative. In any story things change. It’s in flux. We need to find out where we are in the story and decide what that means. What the implications are.

  • Foxfier says:

    I don’t know what you’re referring to.

    That explains why you aren’t making any sense….

    By the way, you still haven’t supported your claim that your dog reasons, or any of the other claims you made that were actually related to the topic.

  • pat says:

    You want to know what makes a human and what differentiates them from other created beings. I told you: God made us in His image to reflect Him. We failed in that mission. He promised restoration in Christ. Some people claim that by being recipients of God’s grace. Others don’t.

    Animals stand outside that category. We have not seen, and I think we will not see extraterrestrial beings. So I’m content with the answer I gave. It’s biblically informed. It makes perfect sense. What part of it don’t you understand?

    On a broader level you can say that we are spiritual. This separates us. Not the ability to philosophize like the Greeks on a sunny day. No, but the fact that we were made for God in the unique way I described. As Augustine said, You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you. This makes us spiritual and that is what’s most profound about us. People have that need.

    From a non-Christian, Western vantage point, people often feel driven to say it is reason that separates us. But reason is merely a part of the ‘image.’ It fails, furthermore, to describe the person adequatly. It only mentions a facet, and does not get at our essence. Also, there are people who do not reason because of some predicament, e.g. severely low mental capacity. Animals can reason: they put two and two together to reach an end that that person I described would not. My dog sees someone and is hungry. She picks up her paper plate and growls as she moves toward you. Other animals are smarter yet.

    So you see it is not reason that separates us, but that we are spiritual beings, and in the way I described based on Genesis and the narrative’s development.

  • pat says:

    The quote from Augustine you gave earlier is not satisfactory. Mortal, rational? No, this is what I’ve been saying is not the case. Mortal, yes. Rational, no. Reason or rationality is a facet. That is not our essence, though. Our essence is that we’re spiritual, with souls, originally created in God’s image, fallen, and redeemable through Christ. This is what defines us if you look to the Scriptures. And any sense of the human that derives from elsewhere must be checked against that. I don’t even think the Greeks held reason or rationality to be central. Only aristocrats or freemen of their kind. They beleived that the rest of the world were Barbarians. And then there were slaves. No universality there. The universal notion came much later with Christianity. That’s because Christianity recognized a common descent for humanity and borrowed heavily from the Greeks for ideas. What the Greeks said was appropriated wrongly.

    It is true to say that reason or rationality is generally a facet of human beings. But it’s not the defining characteristic. It’s not our essence.

  • pat says:

    Foxfier, I’ve supplied an udnerstanding of the human in line with Scripture. It’s pretty scripturally-informed. I can’t see getting any more exact than that. I’ve supplied reasons and explanations. I even quoted Scripture. I’m not sure what else you’re looking for. This is best I can offer based on my understanding of the Bible:

    We were created in God’s image. We experienced a fall from that first estate. Christ can restore us to that. That’s human.

    All other visible created beings we usually see were placed under us.

    Angels are God’s ministers. They are (usually) unseen. Demons are angels who also fell.

    Extra-terrestrial beings: I don’t believe they’ve been mentioned in Scripture.

  • pat says:

    If you wish to engage in a thomistic exercise, and write the way he did in the Summa with quotes, citations, unreasonable and dramatic logic, I cannot afford you that kind of an experience. I don’t even udnerstand the Summa myself. I have a copy of it but it’s become a dust-collector.

  • pat says:

    Support? We have the weight of Genesis and the whole Bible in fact. How much support do you want? I won’t go outside Scripture. I’ve quoted verses from Genesis. You know the story as it develops. The Fall, Redemption, Restoration….the themes speak for themselves. This is the basic Christian narrative. What is more central to the human person than this? Can you please tell me? I’m quite satisfied with what’s said. If you went to any Christian book to find answers to who we are as persons, you will find this. It is what Christianity has always taught.

  • pat says:

    Since you like quotes, I came upon this one from Laurens Van Der Post, quoted in L’engle’s Walking on Water: “The extreme expression of his spirit was in his story. He was a wondrful story teller. The story was his most sacred possession. These people know what we do not: that without a story you have not got a nation, or a culture, or a civilization. Without a story of your own to live you haven’t got a life of your own.”
    I introduce this to underscore the importance of ‘story.’ It is through ‘story’ that our meaning and purpose is derived. That is where our identity is found.

  • Foxfier says:

    Support? We have the weight of Genesis and the whole Bible in fact.

    Great! So show your work.

    I’ve quoted verses from Genesis.

    Yes, and I’ve pointed out that it isn’t sufficient for your claims. Heck, you’ve quoted it to establish something not related to the topic!

    It is through ‘story’ that our meaning and purpose is derived. That is where our identity is found.

    That doesn’t mean what you seem to think it does, that your “the whole thing” sourcing is good… it’s a statement on personal identity.

    Nobody forced you to come here and start making claims, or dragging the conversation away from what could have been an interesting, fun route. Seeing as you decided to insert yourself, why can you not do the incredibly simple task of supporting your claims? In a manner other than just saying them again or ignoring that you ever said them!

    How do you figure your dog reasons, but isn’t “spiritual?” Etc.

  • pat says:

    I think that would be taking scripture out of its context. To see it as a whole, to catch the grammar or morphology of things, is rather the aim for me. The story is our story, yours and mine. It teaches us about origin and destiny, and where we fit within all of that.

  • Foxfier says:

    I think that would be taking scripture out of its context.

    Now that is funny, since the very first quote you offered was out of context and clearly didn’t say what you claimed….

  • pat says:

    Hmmm, I’m not sure what you mean. I know I quoted something from Genesis about being made in God’s image. But the thing you raise goes to the heart of what I’m saying regarding definitions. We are not as our first parents (humans) were; we (humans) fell. But we (humans) can reclaim the position in Christ. Or rather, he can reclaim us (humans). So here is the quandary: how to fix a definition of the human given this dynamic reality. I feel that cannot be done scientifically or philosophically. So I let the story inform my understanding. And stories move from a begining to an end. As said Lewis Carroll, I like to begin at the beginning and end at the end.

    You see, here is the problem. If I say that human beings are creatures made in God’s image, well, that’s not true. Adam and Eve were. Then they fell. We can be among the redeemed or the unredeemed at this point along the story. At the consummation of things, those redeemed will be raised up body and soul, resurrected as a unity. You see the problem? No definition fits throughout, unless of course we include everything. That is why quoting just parts of the Bible doesn’t work. Gotta read the story. I do appreciate very much your spirited debate. There is a new (or not so new) trend known as narratival theology. It stresses the fact that Scripture affords us a story. It is less concerned with universal statements and propositions than with how this story shapes our lives and how we find our place within it, letting it inform us. I’ve been somewhat influenced by narratival theology. I find that the Bible makes much more sense this way. I used to think like a Fundamentalist, always wanting to locate a verse or two, or a passage in order to feel like I had proof. Yet those parts of Scripture are part of an ever-widening context, until we find ourselves within the broadest circle of the Word itself. And that Word presents us with a story.

  • Foxfier says:

    When you tried to claim that immortal souls were a Greek invention, using a quote about the resurrection of the body.

    The reason you don’t want to offer text to support your claims is because, based on the evidence, you can’t. All you can do is make claims and hand-wave that it’s all there, somewhere.

  • pat says:

    To get back on track, you wish to define the human. I’ve told you that the meaning and purpose of the human is found in the Christian story. By reading any story, you learn character development. We must do this witht the Bible.

  • pat says:

    Foxfier, you’ve not listened to a single thing I’ve said. You continue to insist on supporting things with verses. People do this all the time. And they’re often wrong. To give you an example: i had a discussion with a man the other day who said alcohol was sinful. I said why? He said let me show you, and he brought me a gigantic King James Version of the BIble, and he pointed to a line where it said “do not be givne to strong drink.” Well, upon reading the epistle, I was reminded that this was advice for bishops/elders of the church. It was not a pronouncement on alcoholic beverages. Anotheher version reads “not a drunkard” which of course is binding upon all Christians anyway. It was horrendous. I just couldn’t explain it to him. THe understsanding simply wasn’t there.

    So no, I strongly feel, and this is my conviction (no proof here) that we should read the whole Bible and let its meaning come forth.

  • Foxfier says:

    No, Pat, the “problem” is that I have listened to what you said– and asked you to actually support your claims, with something besides waving at the whole Bible.

    Every time you try to get into detail, you fail.

    Small wonder you try to change the subject, especially when asked to support your claims.

    I do not care what you strongly feel. This is not a post on “what Pat strongly feels.”
    This is a light-hearted, whimsical post about applying Catholic personhood theory in imaginary situations, which is a useful exercise for dealing with the darker, real situations that show up in day to day life– such as the trans-human embryos already in England.

    You’ve shown that you’re not going to defend the few statements you made related to the topic, let alone discuss the actual topic.

  • pat says:

    Too often it degenerates into prooftexting. Here a verse, there a verse, pick and choose them, divorce them from their contexts and use them to prop up an idea. Why? Because you hold a beleif prior to Scripture which you wihs to prove, whether it’s temperance, forms of church polity, views on baptism, or whatever else people subscribe to. They go to the BIble to prove things, and they uproot verses from their context. I can find ‘proof’ of the congregational politiy, the presbyterian government, the episcopal form, etc., for example, depending on which texts I use. Likewise, I can find ‘proof’ for many other things. There is always a tendency to do this in Chrisitnaty.

    Instead, I choose to read the BIble from cover to cover as a story, and to let that story inform me. And if something is unclear i don’t go back and try to find the verses that fit the belief I hold most dearly becasue of sentiment or preference. I let the story unfold. I find where I belong in it. I become enveloped by the story. The story then dictates to me. As Tom Wright said regarding our time, we are called upon at this juncture to improvise, to pick up where the apostles left off, and to play out our role until Christ returns (paraphrase). I do not solely conform to propositions, though those exist to which we give assent. Christianity is more importantly a living faith.

  • pat says:

    Can you give me an example of Catholic personhood theory? I’m not aware of this. I don’t see personhood in specifically ‘Catholic’ terms. I view the human in a Christian light as I’m informed by the Bible.

  • Foxfier says:

    Too often it degenerates into prooftexting.

    The irony of you warning of is amazing…..

    You are still trying to change the subject away from your failure to support a single claim when challenged.

  • pat says:

    YOu say this is a light-hearted, whimsical post. I can see that. We move back again and again and again to your need for supporting versus despite all I’ve said. I wonder if you’ve really been reading my remarks, or simply skipping over them. Do you understand anything about what I’ve said thus far? About the narrative and the need for us to find our sense of ourselves within that structure? Or the need to take into account where we are along the timeline? Has any of that meant anything to you?

  • Foxfier says:

    Can you give me an example of Catholic personhood theory?

    Read the post. There are several different examples, multiple links, many phrasings.

    For love of little green apples, you claimed to disprove it by assertion.

    We move back again and again and again to your need for supporting versus despite all I’ve said.

    That happens when you claim the Bible says something: people say “where?” Shockingly, the rest of us aren’t willing to accept the word according to Pat as a binding source of enlightenment.

    I notice you’re trying to change the subject to your favorite– “Pat.” Amazing how your sources all seem to be by your own authority, and every attempt you make to justify that with evidence fails.

  • pat says:

    The human being cannot be distilled into a definition such as would be broadly understandalbe and acceptable. I don’t wish to play fast and loose wtih Scripoture by engaging in prooftexting.

    Revelation teaches us who we are. Our identity develops through the narrative that is the Word of God.

    Whatever verses one has, another has theirs and so on. It just keeps going. There’s no way out until we discover truth. And that truth is in a person, the Truth, Jesus Christ. Once our God engages us, we learn who we are. We know it. The world cannot know this as we do. It’s spritually discerned.

  • pat says:

    I believe you misudnerstand what I’ve said. I’ve tried to explain my position: I read the Bible as story. That story informs my life. I find myself within that story. Before you know it, I’m a living part of that reality. I speak this way because this has been my experience. It’s wonderful. It’s truly human. And I think that’s what I’ve been trying to get across. Our experiences, if they relate to the Word, demonstrate that humanity we strive for. It is not what we were, and thank God we will not always be what we are. As tge past and present are taken up in the cross of Jesus Christ, we are transformed. We’re a new breed.

  • Foxfier says:

    Pat, I don’t think you’re getting the point:
    You already showed that you’re not able to quote scripture–or anything else– without prooftexting.
    You already claimed to define what makes people be people, but couldn’t defend your objection to a rational soul or your support for “spirituality.”

    The thing that keeps going on and on is your attempt to change the topic to being all about you.

  • pat says:

    We each see things from our perspective. Hopefully we come to see those things accurately. I’m able to quote scripture and other sources. I have with regard to the human, by going back to Genesis. That’s classic. Nothing peculiar.

    Yes, I maintain that we are spiritual beings, and that this separates us off from the rest of creation. Having been made in his image, yet fallen, we’re accountable for that kind of creaturehood which we possess.

    I don’t prefer the ratioinal soul idea. I just don’t see it as getting to the core. I see it as Greek. I know we absorbed the Greeks. But I don’t agree with it, which is one of the reasons I welcome postmodernism.

  • Foxfier says:

    We each see things from our perspective

    No, we’re not just seeing things from different perspectives.

    You made claims. You still haven’t backed them up. You misquoted, you still haven’t corrected yourself. You try to change the subject… in pretty much every post.

    What is so difficult about this topic? The simple fact that it’s not “Pat,” or something else?

  • pat says:

    I appreciate the spirited discussion on what makes us human. I of course don’t go at it the way you expect. For me, defining the human is not a logical exercise or a rational sort of thing. It’s not really about quoting a verse or a passage either. But when I think of what defines a human, or what their essence consists in, I think of how we’re spiritual. We live lives based upon our beliefs. Our convictions. We can’t prove such things. But if we have faith in the Word despite appearances to the contrary, we develop conviction. As John Ortberg has said in “Faith and Doubt,” we bet the farm on it. On all that we’re told throughout the Scriptural narrative about God, ourselves, and His ongoing interaction with us. I feel that life is worth it. That all that happens occurs redemptively in Christ. That our suffering, loss, grief, pain, uncertainty and all our trials are taken up into the cross of Jesus Christ and sanctified. That we’re loved by him and that being a recipient of his grace makes us entirely gifted and priveleged. I hope you can come to see that being human means recognizing what we were created for and finding our home once again in God. There are those who wish to remain apart from their Creator in darkness and alienation and confusion. I don’t totally understand how all this can be. But I’ve “bet the farm on it,” I know all that God’s story says, and I believe it. To present this to the world as an “ambassador” I believe I must share this in life, in love, and in action. I cannot communnicate all of this in a way that resonates wiht those who wish to keep their ears shut. I can only hope that “whosoever will” listens.

  • pat says:

    It is true that Christianity is confessional. And the world seeks after wisdom. But to define the human in a way that’s embraced by everyone on the basis of proof is not possible. So to get right to the topic, here it is: The human cannot be understood outside of revelation and faith. Call me fidiestic, I don’t care. But it’s our story and we’re convicted it’s true because we persevere in faith.

  • Foxfier says:

    You’re still trying to change the topic.

    Guess it’s pretty embarrassing to have evidence that you’re willing to quote things only when they don’t say what you claim, right above where you claim you wouldn’t do that? Probably annoying to find a place that keeps asking for more support than what you “feel.”

  • pat says:

    Hmmm….I just can’t seem to figure out what you’re getting at. If the purpose of this thread was to work toward an understanding of the human as differentiated from all other creatures, I think we’ve been pretty successful. If the purpose of this thread was to do so on the basis of scriptural evidence, I think we touched on that when I quoted Genesis and spoke about the Fall and Redemption. But more important than single verses is the narrative as a whole. We find meaning and purpose and identity for the human in that story. It’s our meta-narrative, if you will.

  • Foxfier says:

    Pat, the only thing you’ve done here is make unsubstantiated claims, misquote the Bible, complain about how you don’t understand what I’m saying and how I’m not listening to you, and go off on tangents to try to change the subject.

  • pat says:

    Thanks for the example. Yes, indeed it’s a problem. But I think you’re assuming all people share in this rational thing that can be expressed and agreed upon.

    God chooses to make himself known to HIs people. THe world does not know him. They therefore see things from the perspective of that world.

    How would the nations have known of the one God and his ways? Revelation. How would we know of his plan? who we are? the anser is revelation. ONce known, revelation informs our reason and we go on to develop further understanding. But we remain people of faith whose minds have conformed to revelation and the way that revelation shapes our “reason.”

  • pat says:

    Thomistic philosophy cannot hold onto the one while retaining the other; either we must accept that revelation is requisite always or we must reject the light that enlightens. There is no ‘reasonable’ concept of the human. Our ‘reasoning’ apart from the story of God will be to no avail.

  • pat says:

    The issue does not relate to that at all. It relates to our approaches. I’ve explained that for me, the narrative of God tells us who we are. Read the story and find out. I give precedence to revelation.

  • pat says:

    For some people, faith and reason are equally valid categories, reconcilable systematically.

    I am not a thomist. Never was. Never thought that approach worked. God reveals himself to us personally through the Word and Spirit. Then revelation informs our lives and our minds are transformed. So our ‘reasoning’ is altered after conversion. Without this experience one would think from a worldly vantage point. You simply could not tell them what being human means, its implications, its worth, etc.

  • pat says:

    Calvinism, Thomism, all these systems want to be logical and universally compelling. They want their understanding to reach the world. To make sense to everyone. It’s as if the faith were a matter of common sense explanation. As if those who rejected it could be laughed at. That’s not how it is. Two radically different positions exist: we are either darkened in our minds and lost in sin, or we are enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Two viewpoints and no bridge but that of the Holy Spirit and of Christ.

  • pat says:

    I don’t know what you’re looking for in a thread. I tried to tell what it means to be human based on an informed biblical understanidng. I feel I have done this. I have no regrets. I would like to know what you specifically disagree with and why.

  • pat says:

    If you point to something you don’t udnerstand or highlight a disagreemnt you have, I can address that. But to ask for quotesand citations for everything stated is a bit odd. That’s something that might happen in an official debate. I would not expect to see that in a compbox. That’s just too much. When a priest offers a homily or a pastor delivers a messsage, it’s true they quote scripture. They do not do this constantly though. It does not go on from beginning to end. If operating on a calendar, tehy have the passages. They build from there. I know that fundamentalists are fond of quoting more often. I’m not fundamentalist. I don’t agree with that approach. I find it unnecessary and even confusing. Too often people quote scripture without understanding what it means and this confuses people. I told you about the gentleman who argued against alcoholic beverages. I spoke with another person who quoted verses in support of Sabbath-keeping for Saturday. No, the entire story must be reaed. That’s my approach and I’m sticking with it. Once againm, if there’s anything you wish to debate specifically, tell me what that is.

  • Foxfier says:

    You made claims; the few times you’ve tried to support them with quotes, you failed. When asked for details or support, you try to change the topic.

    Your only approach is to try to change the subject to “Pat.”

  • pat says:

    I’ve expressed a lot throughout this page. I’d like you to glance back at it and see what’s there. Especially since you haven’t necessarily found soemthing you disagree with or can prove wrong.

  • pat says:

    First read through what I’ve written one more time. Try to get the gist of it,the basic idea. Then cite what you disagree with, if anything at all. And I’ll try to substantiate it. But we have to get this narrowed down.

  • Foxfier says:

    I already pointed out where you misquoted, where you failed to support your claims and where you changed the topic. Two or more times for some of them. I even provided the quotes you misused.

  • pat says:

    I don’t see that. What I’ve stated is pretty classic, although it’s admittedly said in a different way at times. I don’t believe I’ve said anything contrary to the Bible. I believe I’ve communicated the sense of being human based upon our controlling narrative. I’m not sure what could be there that you’d disagree with or be uncertain about.

  • pat says:

    Foxfier, are you interested, really interested in what makes us human? If you are, I would think you’d look back on what I’ve said to get the basic idea. Do you really want to know our essence? It’s there.

  • pat says:

    Creation, the fall, redemption and restoration, these themes and our relation to them define us. We must of course trust the narrative. I believe it’s true. So I’m perfectly settled in my notion of the human. I know of no other source that can get to the heart of who we are. Acceptance of this requires a faith response.

    Now I know that people disbelieve this. I know that ‘Christians’ sometimes believe in macro-evolution and hold to variations of Darwinism. They say that human beings and animals possess a common descent. That at some point humans evolved. I just don’t beleive this. While the creation portion of Genesis is mythic in one sense, I see God intentionally creating creatures after their kind, with humans alone made in his image having dominion over all others. That kind of language doesn’t sound evolutionary.

  • pat says:

    I’m trying to get you to think. I want you to see what I said about faith in revelation, and about finding our place in God’s story. Our sense of ourselves must derive from this. Not from attempts at reconciling the Bible with knowledge from a worldly vantage point. Spengler, the historian, knew that evolution was a Western projection.

  • pat says:

    This is not about me. This is about what defines us as human beings. It’s about the story we’re given through revelation, the story that we find ourselves a part of. For those who can accept it, it’s ‘Everyman’.

    I’ve said nothing eccentric or heterodox to my knowledge. If anything strikes you as untrue, point it out and we’ll get to the bottom of it.

  • Foxfier says:

    This is not about me.

    The topic isn’t; your posts are.

    I have pointed out your misquotes, incorrect claims, unsupported claims and where you keep trying to make the subject you, you, you. The Word According to Pat is not the topic, but it’s about the only one you’re willing to expound on– at great length.

  • pat says:

    I don’t see this as being about me. However, Christianity is a faith that involves the person. We experience it. There is no subjective/objective split. What the Bible says it says to all who would listen. For those who do, their experience is at one with what’s been said.

  • pat says:

    I’m not a fudamentalist. I don’t see the point in throwing out verses here. Anyone can find verses to support their view. That’s prooftexting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been upset by people who do just that. They grab hold of some verse and use it to support their belief or claim as you put it. So we have people going aroudn saying it’s sinful for Christians to drink alcohol. There’s a thousand years of bliss in store for the Jews when Christ returns to the David throne and reinstates the sacrificial system. A rapture will occur that will beam us up to the sky because Christ won’t come all the way down. We’re not allowed to eat anything with blood in it. Vegetarianism is God’s best. David and Jonathan were homosexuals together. We can literally move mountains if only we believed we could. We must practice footwashing. Ministers should support themselves through their own means because Paul did, and on and on it goes. All these things sound like true statements for all time. They’ve been abstracted from the Story.

  • pat says:

    This is not about me, Foxfier. It’s about what makes us human. It’s applicable across the board. Now this has become about prooftexting. You don’t accept something unless someone cites a chapte and verse. I don’t see that happening on any of the other threads.

    If you disagree with what I’ve stated, then say so. Tell me what you don’t believe in and why. Then we’ll take it from there. I’m fully ready to tackle that. I’m totally confident about what I’ve stated.

  • Foxfier says:

    This is not about me, Foxfier.

    Nice of you to realize it, finally. So, when are you going to stop making it all about you?

    It’s about what makes us human.

    Close, but no– it’s about what makes us people.

    If you disagree with what I’ve stated, then say so. Tell me what you don’t believe in and why. Then we’ll take it from there.

    I’m not going to go back over all this again and collect up your unsupported claims, prooftexting quotes and attempts to shift the conversation.

    I’m fully ready to tackle that. I’m totally confident about what I’ve stated.

    Again, it becomes all about you. Same as the last several times.

  • pat says:

    Hmmm….don’t know what to say. But again, Christians are people of faith, of conviction. We have revelation from God, his Word, and we have faith. I don’t know what else you want to hear, but this is the most I can offer.

  • Foxfier says:

    I don’t know what else you want to hear, but this is the most I can offer.

    Scroll up to the top of the page.

    See the post? See how it has a topic?

    Notice how it’s not “the word according to Pat”?

    Frankly, I doubt your sincerity. You were vaguely on topic up to the point where I started asking you to support the claims you made, such as that your dog is rational, or to explain the off-handed comments you made, such as about Victorian England.

  • pat says:

    Foxfier, dogs reason in a sense. They figure things out. SOme humans don’t. For example due to a profoundly low IQ or some other state they’re in. I mentioned Victorian England because people think of humans as rational—I intended my allusion to hit home, in other words, we’re not the rational people we tend to think we are. CIvilziation is precarious. Rationality adn civility are not givens. Intellectual edifices and official definitons based on rationality come and go, and people may or may not be willing to accept that understanding for long. In the end we have our faith, the revelation from God whom we place our faith in, and the convictions that develop as we persevere through life.

  • Foxfier says:

    1) Wrong kind of rational
    2) You’re still not supporting your claim that dogs aren’t “spiritual”– pretty hard to do, since they clearly do have a desire for something larger than themselves, most obviously their pack, and the God-shaped hole is traditionally detected by that yearning.
    3) How does Victorian England show that humans, as a group, are not rational?

  • Foxfier says:

    Intellectual edifices and official definitons based on rationality come and go, and people may or may not be willing to accept that understanding for long.

    Fallacy. Truth isn’t determined by how popular a belief is.

    In the end we have our faith, the revelation from God whom we place our faith in, and the convictions that develop as we persevere through life.

    Again, you try to change the subject.

  • pat says:

    I don’t believe I have to support a claim that dogs aren’t spiritual. True, they are created by God. But they are not spiritual in the sense humans are. When it comes to something like that, I believe the burden is on the oteh person to prove that they ARE spiritual, i.e. made originally in God’s image and responsible to him in the way we are with the central purpose for which we were made.

    What God-shaped hole lies in the animals?

    Victorian England doesn’t necessarily show in itself that we’re not rational. World Wars and genocide do. Rebellion against the very Creator that made us creatures does. That’s irrational.

    Truth is not determined by popularity. Well said. But the acceptance of truth waxes and wanes throughout a civilization. The popularity level alters. What society is willing to take from the church changes. And it is for that reason that I remark on faith, revelation and conviction. Truth is spiritualy discerned. If civilization is not Christian, don’t expect it to heed truth from revelation that once was accepted. It’s wearning off. We can again see the separation of those who know and those who don’t, or to be more precise, the righteous and the wicked.

  • Foxfier says:

    I notice you don’t believe you have to support most of the claims you make, or define your terms, or even hold with what you’ve previously said.

    You’re trying to change the topic again, too.

  • pat says:

    That separation occurs during times like this. Christianity and culture are not one and the same. They interact. It’s dynamic. The church is influenced by society and culture and also influences society and culture. This happens in varying degrees at different times.

    Thomism, Etienne Gilson’s choice, seems to some Christian philosophers to be the anwwer to our troubles. I just don’t see that. I think it creates more problems than it solves. Thomism, Calvinism, and all these scholastic methods don’t work out.

  • pat says:

    Foxfier, the conversation has remained the same throughout–the human–what makes us so. I’ve stated that we’re spriitual, originially amde in God’s image, fallen yet redeembable, and we have souls. That’s our identity, our meaning. Our purpose too. We were made to be priests and kings, to offer up sacrifices pleasing and acceptable, lives of service and praise, as we participate as co-creators, creatively engaging the world to God’s glory. Under God, over the earth.

    I’m sticking by this. It does not pertain to the animals, plants or othe aspects of visible creation. If extra-terrestrial life exists beyond angels and demons, we haven’t seen them yet and I suppose they’d be for another chapter. Thats’ God’s business, not ours. As of now, they exist as products of our creative imagination. We can posit other worlds and beings. It’s fabulous, but irrelevent to the discussion of what makes us human (except insofar as we can imagine other beings).

    You did not explain how a dog is spiritual. You only explained how they seek out things beyond themselves. Other aspects of creation. You didn’t prove they seek out or know God the Creator of all.

  • pat says:

    Yes, we are creative, and i’ve addressed that throughout the thread. We imagine other worlds, better worlds, more powerful beings. We hypothesize in all kinds of different ways. We have the creative capacity to invent new things. God engages those he calls in his plan. He invites us to work redemptively alongside him. He restores us. We live and reign again. Lords of the earth. That’s why we love myth. A new world’s coming and we’re going to reign as priests and kings in the kingdom of God.

  • Foxfier says:

    Foxfier, the conversation has remained the same throughout–the human–what makes us so.

    No, it has not. Partly because the topic is not “what makes a human,” and partly because you keep dragging it off into The Word According to Pat.

    We’re now in stage three– stage one was making assertions until challenged, step two was offering quotes that didn’t say what you claimed or weren’t related to the topic, step three is you demanding that I do this or that.

    All of that, rather than just reading the post and responding to that.

  • pat says:

    As far as I can tell, and it’s not totally lucid, you’re trying to understand the human and to distinguish the human from the non-human who may also possess intelligence. Is that correct?

  • pat says:

    I don’t beleive it centers on intelligence or being rational. I beleive the Creator created a world and arranged it according to a plan. The plan, I believe, is what tells us about each being, who they are and what their purpose is. As the story unfolds, we learn of that in detail. We see where it goes and we get a glimpse of the outcome.

    That we are creative means we can posit OTHER worlds and beings similar too but not the same as us. I’m not sure what can be said beyond that. The dramatis personae in Scripture is pretty straightforward. We have the script, etc., and we live in that world.

  • pat says:

    We are characters in a story already underway. Through revelation, we learn that story and who we are. We wouldn’t know this otherwise. We otherwise wouldn’t know what being human versus being nonhuman meant. The distinction would not be clear.

    The world we inhabit is understood, if at all, through scriptural revelation. Otherwise it would be an existential exercise. We’d wonder about it. And we’d worship creation rather than the one Creator whose plan we are a part of.

  • pat says:

    I think I’ve ansered everyuthing as best as I can. I ‘ve told you how I feel concerning the whole thing. I’ve given you my very best understanding about who we are and what separates us from other biengs. I’[ve asked you to point out any paritcular disagreemnets you had with me and I told you I’d address them one by one. I answerreed several of the items you cited. What more do you expect? Yes, this should have been a fun exercixe, an enjoyable discussion aobout what makes us human and what separates us from other seen and unseen aspects of God’s order. Instead, this has become about reducing what I say to nothing by insisiting on literal quotes, citations, hair-splitting logic that would make a Presbyterian seem mild, and a sense that what you say matters and what isay does’nt. I don’t know where you learned to debate, but using terms like beg the question and so on when it’s a nice talk among Christian-minded people is not necessary. Straw-man, and all ofthis is used among adversaries or within debates that surpass this level. I’m a bit disappointed. I wish we could have discussed this thing in a fun way like you said without it becoming so literal and exacting.

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