Being Human (2 of 7)

What does it mean to be human? Are you just the most recent genetic iteration of the species – your birthday, nothing more than a commemoration of the year you rolled off the line? Are you simply an accident of genetic, behavioral, socio-economic, or geographic happenstance? Is sentimentality all that there is to your significance – the way you feel about yourself, or the way others feel about you, or perhaps the sentimentality that constitutes the most recent social contract of our current anthropological mores? Were you just lucky enough to have a mother who saw you as more than just a mass of cells? If you’re like me, such a quantifying data assessment strikes you as an empty reductionism . . .  devoid of the most essential distinctive – the human spirit.

What if I told you that every work of art you ever experienced in your whole life has actually been asking you this very same question — what does it mean to be human . . . would that surprise you? If you’ll take a moment to allow this truth to settle in, it will no doubt, ring true. Everything from the most nuanced detail of perception, to the ever looming ontological questions of why we exist, are all found ruminating in the artistic disciplines. Whether the artist is keenly aware of his own philosophical underpinnings, or follows a far more unfocused muse, adrift — he can’t help but burn with a longing to reconcile who he is with the world in which he lives . . . which is the very practice of being human.

So just what is it about being human that has made it an enigma for the ages? I would say it resides in the mystery of imago dei (image of God). It only stands to reason that in attempting to ponder the inscrutable details found in the otherness of God, that being created in his image, we would discover an opaque lens filtering how we understand ourselves. It is in this indelible imprint where we find the source of our irrepressible longing – a longing to know who we are, intuitively believing there must be more. It is a longing relentlessly at work in our subconscious — incessantly asking of everything we do, whether it has meaning and purpose . . . and where is it taking us?

imageThis longing is like an abiding and persistent homing device meant to navigate us back to where we belong — in this regard, what it means to be human is inextricably bound to our sense of belonging. Now, knowing that we belong to God may not solve the whole puzzle of what it means to be human, but it’s decidedly the best primer for how this mystery is solved. Because logic dictates, that if you have a question about the design, that the likeliest answer will come from the designer.

Therefore being human, by design, is largely about finding our way back home. You can hear it in every melody, in every story being told, in every image created and shared. So let us spend our days savoring what it means to belong – to the one who calls us beloved, calling us to abide in his presence . . . for me, this is what it means to be human.


. . . that’s what the lonely is for

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Being Rational (1 of 7)

It never fails to amuse me, while in the midst of a conversation, someone feels the need to point out how they are being rational. I find it to be a rather uniquely curious bit of self-referencing absurdity. I imagine it’s not unlike the way it would strike me if someone were to spontaneously confess how they had decided to wear clothing that day. Unsurprisingly, my reaction to both scenarios is identical. My first response is to be happy they decided to make their choice, which invariably leads me to wonder exactly how the alternative choice would have played out.

The first thing a crazy person wants you to know about themselves, is how they’re not actually crazy – that they are in fact, rational. Such a pronouncement is no doubt a compensation for what they intuitively know to be their deficiency. But what their disturbing insistence reveals is exactly how existential we can be when establishing a baseline understanding of rationality. Which begs the question: Is rationality simply something we pronounce out of personal assessment, or does rationality require a transcendent rational framework?

If we lived in an irrational universe, one without discernible pattern or design creating a rational context – then any notion of rationality would be nothing more than the circular logic of a self-referencing perspective . . . which of course would be inconsequential, as we would clearly be living in, what Albert Camus described as, an absurd universe. But as it stands, we live in a rationally constituted universe, one in which science seems to be constantly identifying new layers of pattern and design.

Which is supported by this cosmological syllogism on rationality:

1st Premise – Rationality can only exist in a universe which is rationally constituted (otherwise there is no context for determining anything as rational).

2nd Premise – In order for a rationally constituted universe to begin to exist, it must have a rational first cause (chaotic random nothingness cannot usher into existence a rationally constituted universe).

3rd Premise – A rational first cause inescapably implies both a transcendent rational agent, and a transcendent rational reason/ purpose.

Conclusion – Because rationality does exist we can assume that we live in a rationally constituted universe, and that such a universe came to exist because of a rational first cause. Therefore, it is a reasonable (some might even say rational) assumption that a transcendent rational agent and purpose exists.

piberationalnavy_fullpicSo I guess it shouldn’t really surprise me that it’s in the midst of philosophical conversations with non-theists where I experience most of those amusingly curious outburst pronouncements about being rational. But I’m suspicious that it is more of a rhetorical gambit, a sort of passive-aggressive intimidation tactic meant to imply that it’s irrational to believe in God.

So naturally, I’m inclined to introduce them to my syllogism, as a way of making the case for how theism is in fact a rational position, while simultaneously underscoring that the most plausible explanation for why rationality would even exist in the first place is predicated on theism. Then I ask them if they have a cosmological syllogism on rationality they’d like to share – no doubt they’ll be getting back to me any day now.