|Who is Man?
Did man descend from the apes ?
Two questions are often confused. Namely: Who is Man? and How did man come about in the history of the universe? Paleontology and other sciences can give us indications when man appeared. But these sciences leave unanswered questions that go deeper, such as: Why man? Who is man?
The Turning Point of Evolution
Thinking that the answer to these questions lies with our ancestors, some are still frightened by the thought that man originates from the ape. However, the ape is not an ancestor of man but rather a very distant underdeveloped cousin. The lineage of the hominid from which man came and the lineage of the apes both proceed from primates. Thus, it would be better to say that man originates from animals but has benefitted radically from more vitamins and phosphorus than the dolphin and the gorilla which missed the key turning point of evolution.
Who am I?
Some fear, while others claim, that the relationship between man and the animal kingdom denies the fact that God created man. One could answer by saying that the Bible, in its first book, Genesis, offers a view of evolution which is more radical than making man a descendant of the ape. It claims that he came from the dust of the ground.
However, the truth is that this is not the real issue. The ancient Bible narratives written long before any scientific outlook, address the following issues: Who is man (in the final analysis)? Why was he made? Who calls him? And where is he going?
God created man in his own image... male and female he created them. And God blessed them... (Gen. 1:27,28). It is interesting to note that if the question is put to God : Who is man?, He answers, He is in my likeness. If the question is put to man: Who are you?, what can he say about himself?
Physiologically, man is near the animals, but his genetic inheritance is different.
Man, moreover, is completely distinguished from animals by his intelligence. Even more than intelligence itself and his aptitudes, man possesses something entirely unique: man is the only creature in the universe capable of self examination. He alone can ask the question: Who am I?
He can judge and understand what others are doing in terms of right or wrong. He has the same ability within himself, of being aware of good and evil in what he does. In his more or less perfect attempts to define what is right in human relationships and what we call human rights, man is aware that his personal dignity, his right to life and his claim for respect derive from the very fact that he belongs to the human species.
Now to really know who man is, requires an answer to the question: Why was he made? Which means the same as: Where is he going? (See also Q 23)