Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Humans are Animals: But Not Just Animals

At the end of yesterday's post, I said I'd get back to Genesis 1:22. That's the verse that starts, "God blessed them, saying, 'Be fertile, multiply....' (Genesis 1:22)

Sounds like what God told our first parents to do, doesn't it?

This "be fertile" command, though, was directed at critters:
"God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw how good it was, and God blessed them, saying, 'Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth.' "
(Genesis 1:21-22)
We come a little later, and got the same basic instructions, plus a sort of special assignment:
"God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: '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 move on the earth.' "
(Genesis 1:27-28)

Oh! Horrors! I Think Humans are Animals?!

I'm about as sure as I can be, that human beings are animals. When I look in a mirror, I see eyes, nostrils, and a mouth. That means I've got a physical form, one with characteristics of an animal: the hair tells me I'm looking at a mammal; other characteristics peg me as a primate.

That's assuming that the mirror, my body, the room I'm in, and everything else, isn't a figment of my imagination. Which is another topic.

Does my acknowledging that I'm an animal mean that I 'believe in' Godless science, Communism, and fluoridated water?


I'm a Catholic, so I don't have to check my brain at the door when I enter church. I've discussed science, religion, and being Catholic quite a bit.

Bottom line? It's faith and reason.

Human Beings: Animals, but Not Just Animals

As I wrote a couple weeks ago, I like animals. (August 13, 2011) I also noted the basics of what the Catholic Church has to say about what sort of creature a human being is.

Human beings are:
  • Animals
    • A special sort of animal
      • Endowed with reason
      • Capable of
        • Understanding
        • Discernment
      (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1951)
  • People
    • Rational and therefore like God
      • Made in the image and likeness of God
      (Catechism, 1700-1706)
    • Created with free will
    • Master over our actions
      (Catechism, 1730)

Animals?! Eww! That Sounds so - Beastly

To hear some painfully 'spiritual' Christians talk, a person could get the idea that Jesus came into the world to let us know that His Father had blundered. And that we should shun and despise the physical world. Especially sex.

I don't see things that way. At all. Partly because I like physical things, partly because I think God is competent.

I'll get back to that.

God Made a Mistake?!

I worship the Eternal God who is:
  • All-powerful
    • Created everything
    • Rules everything
    • Can do everything
    (Catechism, 268)
  • The source of
    • Every good
    • All love
    • All truth
    (Catechism, 1723, 2465)
  • The great HE WHO IS
    • From everlasting to everlasting
    • Without origin and without end
      (Catechism, 212-213)
  • A "mystery without words"
    • Even after revealing Himself
      • "If you understood him, it would not be God"
        (St. Augustine)
    (Catechism, 230)
If I said that the physical world was bad, I'd be claiming that the great I AM goofed. I do not need that kind of trouble.

Fallen, But Basically Good

The world as it is today, human beings included, isn't in ideal shape. Our first parents made a choice: and we've been living with the consequences ever since. (Catechism, 390, 391, 402-406, particularly 405)

But God made a creation that's basically good.

God, by the way, after finally getting the descendants of Abraham and Isaac to acknowledge that there was one God: let us know that there are three of him. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit aren't three gods. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 659, 689) (July 2, 2011) Yet another topic.

'Darkness and Light, Locked in Combat' - Nifty Slogan, and Wrong

I'm a bit of a nerd. More than a bit, according to #3 daughter. (Apathetic Lemming of the North (April 15, 2011))

My interest in matters of the mind could lead me into Gnosticism: the notion that what matters is knowing the 'inside secrets.'

That would be a very bad idea. The Church has been affirming that Jesus is Man and God since the 3rd century. (Catechism, 465)

Where was I? Creation. The physical world. God doesn't make junk. Right.

"Utter Pessimism" - Not For Me

Gnostics thought (and think) that knowledge is important. That, I don't have a problem with.

But they took that truth, and ran with it straight off the edge of sanity's map:
"...The Gnostics, it is true, borrowed their terminology almost entirely from existing religions, but they only used it to illustrate their great idea of the essential evil of this present existence and the duty to escape it by the help of magic spells and a superhuman Saviour....

"...This utter pessimism, bemoaning the existence of the whole universe as a corruption and a calamity, with a feverish craving to be freed from the body of this death and a mad hope that, if we only knew, we could by some mystic words undo the cursed spell of this existence — this is the foundation of all Gnostic thought...."
(Catholic Encyclopedia)
Sounds like some radio preachers - who inspired me to take a long, hard look at Christianity and other major religions. Which led me to become a Catholic. Yet another topic again.

Dualism and Weekend Grilling

For full-bore dualism you'd have to go to Manichaeism. I've put links to background resources under, what else? "Background," near the end of this post.

There are different sorts of dualism. There's the idea that there's a good god and an evil god in opposition to each other, or light and darkness, or some other pair of equally-powerful principles. Then, there's the notion that matter and spirit, body and mind, are radically different - and that one's inherently good, and the other evil.

It doesn't take a degree in theology to guess whether terribly 'spiritual' folks decided which of those pairs was evil. Matter and the body, 'obviously,' are basically icky.

Again, I can't see it that way. God made the physical world, and God doesn't make junk.

That's not just my opinion:
"Because God creates through wisdom, his creation is ordered: 'You have arranged all things by measure and number and weight.'151 The universe, created in and by the eternal Word, the 'image of the invisible God', is destined for and addressed to man, himself created in the 'image of God' and called to a personal relationship with God.152 Our human understanding, which shares in the light of the divine intellect, can understand what God tells us by means of his creation, though not without great effort and only in a spirit of humility and respect before the Creator and his work.153 Because creation comes forth from God's goodness, it shares in that goodness - 'And God saw that it was good. . . very good'154 - for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him. On many occasions the Church has had to defend the goodness of creation, including that of the physical world.155"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 299) [emphasis mine]
Looks like I don't need to writhe in agony because I enjoy grilling burgers on weekends. As God was creating the physical world, He "saw that it was good. . . very good."

Spiritual People: There Ain't No Other Kind

Ever hear someone talk about 'spiritual' people? In contrast with not-spiritual people, I suppose.

Turns out, I'm a 'spiritual' person. So are you. So is everybody. It's how we're designed.

Spirit is 'built in' to the human person. (Catechism, 363) And because it's animated by a spiritual soul, the human body "shares in the dignity of 'the image of God': it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul...." (Catechism, 364)

And, 'spiritual' or not, I'm still an animal. It's the way God made me: so I'm not going to complain.

Related posts:

1 Don't get me wrong: 'spirituality' is okay. I've gone over sense, nonsense, common sense, and spirituality before:

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.