THE STATUS OF MAN IN NATURE


A collage of organisms.
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MICHELANGELO’S FAMOUS PAINTING IN SISTINE CHAPELMAN IS ADDED TO NATURE BY A SPECIAL ACT OF CREATION

MAN IS A CREATED BEING  : 

“You turn things upside down, 

as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! 

Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, 

“He did not make me” ? 

Can the pot say of the potter, 

“He knows nothing” ? ( The Book of Isaiah, Chapter 29, verse 16) 

The Place of Man in the Order of Nature : 

Does man have an animal ancestry ? 

Could we view the behavior of man and animals and the phenomena of intelligence or mind and the constitution of psyche in confirmation with the doctrine of evolution ? 

There are two different views about the place of man in nature. 

I.Man is a special creation in body and soul : 

Plants and animals did not actually exist when the world began. The Book of Genesis speaks about the successive appearance of the various forms of life. The actual production of plants and animals in their various kinds was an act of creation. An increase in the number of species upon earth is merely a matter of addition, they attribute stability to each species new as well as old. Man is simply added to the life forms already in existence without any change in the status as species of the pre-existing forms. To quote from the Book of Psalms, 104:24 

“How many are your works, O LORD ! 

In wisdom you made them all; 

the earth is full of your creatures.” 

The first appearance of man at a historical moment was an act of spontaneous generation, due to a special act of creation. Man is created as an individual human soul. 

So God created man in his own image, 

in the image of God He created him ; 

male and female He created them. (Book of Genesis 1:27) 

Man is essentially and abruptly distinct from animals. Man and ape as they now exist in the world, are essentially distinct – different in kind. 

“the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Book of Genesis 2:7) 

The Law of LIKE generating LIKE : 

An important fact about generation or reproduction is that a species always breeds true; its members always generate organisms which can be classified as belonging to the same species however much they vary among themselves as individuals within the group. Furthermore, the subgroups the races or varieties of species are able to breed with one another, but diverse species cannot interbreed. If crossbred, like the horse and the ass, they produce a sterile hybrid like the mule. 

Species are distinguished by their stability from generation to generation. Species are thus self-perpetuating, they in turn give stability to all the larger groupings – the genera, phyla, families – which remain as fixed from generation to generation as the species which constitute them. Nobody has actually observed or demonstrated the transformation of one species into a different species. Species of living things appear to be fixed in number and immutable in type throughout the ages. 

By the Law of Natural Generation, offspring will always be of the same species as the parent organisms. No origin of species would be possible except by a special act of creation. If in the course of ages new species have arisen, their appearance cannot be accounted by natural generation. 

Modern science tends to affirm the Bio- genetic Law that living organisms are generated only by living organisms. 

II “Life could have sprung up from the nature of what is void of life ” : 

In the words of Aristotle, “nature proceeds little by little from things lifeless to animal life.” In terms of structure and function, animals and plants tend to demonstrate a common scheme and this analogy of forms seem to be produced in accordance with a common type. They have an actual kinship due to descent from a common parent. The facts of comparative anatomy and embryology reveal affinities in organic structure and development between organisms distinct in species. The geological record of earth indicates the great antiquity of life upon the earth, also gives evidence of the cataclysmic changes in the earth’s surface with consequences for the survival of life. The fossil remains of forms of life now extinct are not dissimilar from species alive in the present age. The Theory of Evolution describes a developmental or genetic relation among the various forms of life. 

Charles Darwin had claimed that new species do originate in the course of time. He had described the circumstances under which new species arise and other forms become extinct. He formulated the various factors in the differentiation of species. A new species does not require a special act of creation and it is entirely the result of a natural process which requires no factors other than those at work every day in the life, death, and breeding of plants and animals. According to Darwin, new species arises when, among the varieties of an existing species, certain intermediate forms become extinct, and the surviving varieties become more sharply separated from one another in type, and in the course of many generations of inbreeding, also tend to breed true. The process of natural selection may exterminate the parent-forms and the intermediate links. Thus the origin of species is associated with the extinction of intermediate varieties, combined with the survival of one or more of the extreme varieties. This theory requires the existence of an infinite number of intermediate members lying between two given species. 

Man is a by-product of the evolutionary process and has arrived from already existing organic forms by “descent with modification.” Man is a species and differs from other animals only by continuous variation. Man and ape differ only in degree and intermediate varieties have existed to account for their descent from a common ancestor. The genetic code of man and other primates is nearly identical and they also share the same pseudo genes( genes that are present but their character is not expressed). Man and the anthropoid apes have descended from a common ancestral form which is now extinct as are also many of the intermediate varieties in the chain of development-some fossil remains supply some of the missing links. Some of the transitional forms which are described as part-ape, part-human are identified as ‘Australopithecus’, and ‘paranthropines’. Man has become a distinct species through the extinction of intermediate varieties and he differs from animals in an accidental manner. 

THE LAW OF INDIVIDUALITY AND CREATION  :

Ultimately, each individual living creature differs from every other in the same group with whom, at the same time, it shares certain characteristics of the race, the species, the genus, and all the larger classes to which they belong. This uniqueness is important to describe the intrinsic value of human life and the notion of “INDIVIDUALISM”. Man has arrived as an individual and essentially exists as an individual as per the Law of Individuality, a biological characteristic of all living organisms and creatures. 

We have two choices about the position of man in nature. There is an aspect of human existence which is not governed by our choice. Man, when viewed as a physical being, the physical being is mortal and would eventually die and everything that is born comes with its own plan for its dissolution. If man is a created being, he would exist as a spiritual being, and spirituality describes the connection between man and his Creator. If an immortal principle is involved in the creation of man, the nature or essence of man would describe the nature of that immortal principle. 

“By the sweat of your brow 

you will eat your food 

until you return to the ground, 

since from it you were taken; 

for dust you are 

and to dust you will return.” (The Book of Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 19)

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham,

Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, A.P., India,

M.B.B.S., Class of April, 1970.

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One thought on “THE STATUS OF MAN IN NATURE

  1. Comment contributed by Prof. R. Subbarao :

    Our scriptures say emphatically,” JANTOONAM NARA JANMA DURLABHAM.”(Amongst the animal kingdom, to obtain the birth of man is extremely difficult)It clearly says that man is an animal by nature and to get birth as man is most difficult among animal kingdom. Obviously, because, man is endowed with the power of discriminating intellect. Animals may not have that faculty of discrimination. man is special in that way. Yet, man is only an animal in nature and can move up the consciousness ladder. Or, man may slip back to the lowest of animal world- a worm or even worse.

    Like

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