Why Man?

One of the great mysteries of the Universe for me, since my earliest excursions into abstract thought, has been why humankind exists on this earth.  My puzzlement arises from the fact that everything in nature was perfectly balanced, in beautiful harmony, up to the moment that the first human emerged. Sure, animals eat one another, but you don’t find monkeys mining and processing natural resources or dolphins building submarine cities. They don’t wilfully destroy their habitat for personal gain.

Mankind probably didn’t make much impact – negative or positive – in the first stages of his existence. It was when we started fiddling about inventing bronze and iron, domesticating animals and establishing settled farmsteads instead of sticking to hunting and gathering, and fighting tribal battles over territories, that we began to disturb the delicate balance of our environment.

Old Testament Bible stories and myths from around the world tell of natural disasters that wiped out a large portion of humanity. Unfortunately for the planet, Noah and his family (or their counterparts) managed to survive and re-populate the earth. Since that time, we have left a trail of destruction wherever we have set foot.

That is a horrifying fact. Personally, as a Christian, I believe that everything was somehow brought into being by God. The issue of whether we are the result of evolution, intelligent design or God just snapping his fingers and saying “Hey presto!” is irrelevant here. I believe there is an intelligence and purpose behind this creation, and hence of necessity a Creator. I have my reasons for my faith, and that is not in dispute here.

However, nobody so far has been able to give me a satisfactory answer to the question of why God didn’t stop at lunchtime on the sixth day after creating the animals. But no – Genesis 1:24 – 31 tells us that he went on to create mankind “in his own image” and put these men and women in charge of everything. And, according to Genesis 1:29, all living creatures at that time were vegetarian, so green rather than red in tooth and claw, which is another topic worth thinking about.

The scene was set and Man suddenly appeared. Don’t now try to fob me off with the tale of the Fall and free will. That is all beside the point. An omniscient, omnipotent God outside of time and space and whatever other dimensions may exist in the universe or multiverse knew perfectly well what was going to happen. Here he had created a beautiful planet, filled with all kinds of wonderful things, able to exist only by virtue of the incredibly finely tuned balance of its ecosystem, and what does he do but chuck a spanner in the works. Man. Created in God’s own image?

If we look at man as a reflection of the deity, that is, if we reverse the process and create a god in Man’s image, I can understand why there are atheists.

Back to Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve. Some people believe this literally, others take it as an allegory. In any case, Adam and Eve were certainly flawed – gullible, greedy, disobedient and cowardly.  Is that the image of God?

The New Testament tells us that Jesus, the perfect Man, was “the second Adam”. Does that mean that the first Adam was a sort of imperfect prototype? Was God nodding off after a week of hectic activity, resulting in a “Friday afternoon product”?  Answers on a postcard, please!

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17 thoughts on “Why Man?

  1. This is a thoughtprovoking article and deserve some contemplation, perhaps even with a glass of wine while the sun slowly sets on the horizon. I think most of us have struggled with this same question and “dilemma.” I do not have a satisfactory answer; just some personal thoughts. Science tells us that our planet will one day be too cold for us to live on. In the meantime our destructive path appears to speed up the process of destroying our “habitat.” Perhaps the “ying and yang” will be that in the end we understand nature’s limitations, our own, and find a way to reverse the process. Thus, becoming “good” in the sense of bringing balance back to the planet and humanity. Sounds a bit far fetched, but on most days my “glass is half full.” I have the eternal hope that people will do the right thing at the end.
    I look forward to reading the comments about this one.

    • My glass has always been at least half full – many times running over! So I’m not agonising over this. Maybe it’s just one of those things that nobody can really answer?

  2. I would have to say quite a lot to this article. But you prefer not do discuss the issue online, do you? What a pity… could be very interesting…

    • Go ahead, Carola – discussion is always interesting, often useful! I have no objection to discussing this online and it may be an open forum. For anything really private. I’ll e-mail you!

      • I am pretty sure that humans are NOT an image of God! I think, God gave us our brainpower to recognize that we are NOT “creation’s crowning glory” and to take responsibility for all the others (humans or animals), but unfortunately, mankind is a bit slow in understanding. Knowing that the earth is not the only planet in our universe gives me hope for the “rest” of the creation. It will manage brillantly without us. And by the way: I am very confident that the earth will survive the invasion of humanity. So (yes, I start a sentence with “so”! ;-)), there’s possibly a little chance that the little lasting rest of humans will care better, one day…
        BTW Nr. 2: we must not forget that the bible was written by humans. I am very careful in interpreting it.
        P.S.: jeder, der Fehler findet, gleich welcher Art, darf sie behalten.

      • Subjectively speaking, I’m glad I’m here and that I’m not alone! But if I had been God … I’d have had Friday afternoon off!

  3. I shall jump into the discussion for a moment. I liked your comment Carola. “Jeder der Fehler findet, gleich welcher Art, darf sie behalten.” This really could be an interesting discussion. Yet I sense a hesitancy –

  4. mmmhhh. That’s an interesting perspective. I have to think about that on my bike ride to the farmer’s market.

    • I am Christian by chance. I don’t know anything different, I learnt it from my parents. Jesus is – frankly speaking – not so important for me. I believe in God, with or without his son having been on earth. I’m struggling with the idea of Trinity – for me, God is just one “person”. Thinking about God’s love, it’s never Jesus’ love that crosses my mind. (That’s why I don’t think about Jesus as a second Adam. I don’t even understand the respective logic.)
      Pondering more about why life on earth was created, and why the humans are supposed to be the most important parts of it, I consider it possible that we are just “second qualitiy”, a faulty design. Perhaps, we only are on earth in order to die off?

  5. Interesting to me is that before the creation “The second Adam” is God and was with God; ” [B]y him [Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth…all things were created by him, and for him.” Colossions 1:16
    Eph.3:9 “And to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:”
    “THE PLAN OF THE MYSTERY” ! … I now and then get a glimpse of the “plan” when I focus on the love of Christ, when i open my heart to the Holy Spirit. That tiny little glimpse of glory, unconditional love, indescribable pureness, and holiness is enough to keep me believing that Jesus is God indeed! How will I ever be able to comprehend God’s full glory?!….Generally I feel like an ant not being capable to fathom the mind nor being of man.

      • Will your question ever be answered dear Catherine? I have so many unanswered questions to add. Why life on earth at all?

  6. To me life is a miracle. Death is also necessary, otherwise there couldn’t be life.I don’t want to know ‘why’ there is life on earth. I just accept it that there is life and there is death. To my mind any life as well as death is a gift from God.
    I like this discussion and have to think a bit more about it before I comment. more.
    I came today to this discussion via the blog of Judith who wrote about how we can view life as a miracle.

  7. Pingback: Unexpected Honour (Part III) | catterel

  8. Pingback: Schrödinger’s Cat, Omega Point and the Tree of Knowledge | catterel

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