Monday, April 23, 2007

Well here is my long, very interesting essay that i wrote in two days! =) Enjoy! And don't forget to leave a comment if you make it the whole way through!!!

An essay by the prolific Tyler Joseph Patty on the exigent subject of: "Who Is Man???"

Our view of the question of “Who is Man?” is a crucial one. It affects not only ourselves but also the billions of people around us.

A devastating example of this is Adolf Hitler. He believed in “survival of the fittest” and his view of “who man is” resulted in the slaughtering of millions. According to him, he was doing the world a favor – weeding out the weak (in his view: Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals) and creating a stronger, more pure world.

However, Abraham Lincoln, one of the United States of America’s most influential presidents, believed that men were created in the image of God, that all men were created equal - people of white skin and black skin. With the “Emancipation Proclamation” he declared the freedom of all slaves in the Confederate States of America. It was a radical new law, and not everyone agreed with it. Contradicting views partly resulted in his assassination in 1865.

There are three basic understandings of man’s inner self. One view is that man is basically good - that we are born pure, and that we learn how to sin. Another is that man is basically bad – that anything man does will eventually turn to destruction and there is no hope for the human race. The third view, the one I agree with, states that man has the potential to be incredibly good, but also to be incredibly evil.

Genesis 1:27 states: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” If this is true, as I believe it is, then this supports the fact that man does have the potential to be incredibly good, for what can come from God but good?

But later, sin entered this world, and man was given a choice: Do good? Or do evil? This is a question that haunts all of us every single day and we are forced to choose; there is no neutral ground. According to Romans 3, every person has sinned and will sin again; and furthermore, man is actually a slave to sin as there is no getting around it.

Returning to the question of “Who is man?” - many believe in Darwin’s theory: that man is the highest on the evolutionary ladder; that we’re lucky that we are highest on the ladder, and that man is the highest of all animals. According to this theory, life is a chemical reaction and man is comprised of a body and a mind.

An alternative to this theory is that man is God’s creation, created in His image, comprised of a body, mind and soul. So what does the fact that God created man in his image have to do with us? Is there a difference between man and animals? What is so important about having a body, mind and soul?

Out of all the creatures that God made, only one creature, man, is said to be made “in the image of God” in the Bible. This doesn’t mean that we are identical; merely that God gave us some of his characteristics. Some differences between man and animals are these:

a. Moral Aspects: We have an inner sense of right and wrong that sets us apart from animals (who simply respond from fear of punishment or hope of reward). From a small age we know what we should and should not do (and even from that small age we are drawn to doing what we should not).

b. Spiritual Aspects: We not only have physical bodies but also immaterial spirits (souls). No animal will ever pray to God and thank him for its food – it has no soul and therefore no way to connect with God as we do.

c. Mental Aspects: We humans have the amazing ability to think logically and to reason. Animals may at times exhibit amazing behavior in solving puzzles or working out problems in the physical world, but certainly do not engage in abstract reasoning. No group of chimpanzees will ever sit down and discuss Socrates’ philosophical views or the differences between the Evangelical and the Catholic church!

Here we find another major difference – abstract language. I could tell a small boy to go find the big red book on the table in the kitchen, and without ever seeing it before, the young boy could piece together the words and find what is needed. No chimpanzee in history could ever perform such a task – a task that is not learned by repetition with reward but simply described with words. No animal will ever write a letter to its grandparents, or give the past, present, and future of even one Czech verb, or read a children’s story and understand it, or understand the meaning of even one passage from the Bible.

Creativity is also a major difference between man and animals. Not even the smartest dolphin will write a story about a young wizard named Harry Potter or paint a painting of the mountains, or cook a simple meal.

The complexity of human emotions is also different than with animals. After watching a movie I could be sad that it’s over, happy that it was acted exceptionally, angry that my favorite character died in the closing sequence, thankful that we have a movie theater in Frydlant and anxious because I’m going to be late for dinner if I don’t hurry up! It is doubtful that an animal experiences anything even close to this complexity of emotional feeling.

d. Relational Aspects: Even though animals no doubt have some sense of community amongst each other, marriage or the depth of family relationships do not exist. People can belong to not only one social group but many, i.e. I can belong to a music band, but also belong to a church and attend school five days a week. Animals are usually limited to one social group, if any.

What does it mean for man to be the bearer of God’s image? It should amaze us that when God wanted to create something “in his image,” he created us! We can look around at all of God’s wonderful creation – stare at the shining stars, smell the mountain air, swim in the blue ocean – and think it is all remarkable and magnificent. Yet we are the most like our Creator, more than any of these created things. Even though sin has a hold of our lives, we nonetheless continue to reflect God’s image.

It is vitally important to remember that not only are we created in God’s image, but also the people we love, as well as the people we hate. Every single being, no matter how badly marred with sin, or illness, or weakness, age or any other disability still has the status of being in God’s image and therefore must be treated with respect and dignity. This heavily impacts how we interact with the world; it means that people of every race deserve the same rights. It means that the elderly deserve just as much as the young do – no matter how productive or pleasant they are. This means that the mentally retarded, the seriously ill, even unborn children deserve full protection and honor as human beings.

If we ever deny this status in creation as God’s only image-bearers, the appreciation and value of human life will severely drop as we start to see humans as merely a higher form of animal. This view will reflect in the way we treat others and we will lose our sense for the meaning of life.

It is amazing how much our view of man affects this world. Racism, hate and wars are at the center of this planet, and all because many people have a skewed view of who man is. Because of that they do not treat him with the dignity and worth he deserves. I believe that man was created in the image of God and therefore must be treated with dignity, while at the same time realizing he is depraved and in need of a Savior. But that is for another paper!


  • Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem (Zondervan 1994)
  • The Holy Bible NIV

Special thanks to mom and dad for proofing my paper and giving me ideas!


Unknown said...

Way to go, persevering on the writing of that paper! I'm proud of you! Good thing we set 8 PM tonight as the deadline for getting it done. Now you can actually be in bed by 11:30...ha ha!

You're a good writer and have good thoughts - I think your teacher will be pleased!

Love, mom (AKA Editor at large!) No, no...not that I am large...I'm just a roaming, roving editor for any and all who ask!

Anonymous said...

very well written tyler
i like how well u included many different views in ur paper yet kept the main focus.
Who knows i might even copy and paste it into a .txt file onto my desktop

and points for having the Illusionist on "cool movies".

"no thanks i already ate"

Im very annonymous

Unknown said...

awesome job, tyler! what did you have to do this for?

Tyler said...

Thanks guys!
Sus - i wrote it for fun fun!

Mike France said...

Yes, what truly sets Man apart is that Man has a conscious realization of Himself. It has been the philisophical question of the ages to determine where that self awareness comes from. It is in that awareness of himself that Man's inner nature is determined. Like you discussed does Man have freewill, the choice to choose good versus evil, or is our nature per-determined.

It seems like you've reasoned through what takes some a lifetime to figure out, that Man's self awareness comes from our Creator, God, and that God made Man unique among all other living creatures in that we have the ability to choose our actions.

Well done.

Uncle Mike

Anonymous said...

Hi Tyler...

Your paper rocks! You developed your themes thoroughly yet stated them in succinct ways. That is the mark of a true writer. I love that you shared it with me/us. Feel free any time to send more papers you write...I LOVE reading them because it shows me where you're at and about how your mind is developing and growing.

I've often said that Christian parents mean well but can easily teach their kids WHAT to think and not HOW to think. What's cool here is not only the fact that you are demonstrating that you are learning HOW to think, but that you used your parents as your sounding boards through the process. That makes me smile for you!

Finally, you said, "man has the potential to be incredibly good, but also to be incredibly evil." This is a concept I've contemplated quite a bit. If man can choose to be good in such a way that it goes off the charts, doesn't man also have the choice to choose evil that is just as intense but off the charts as well? I believe so. Many times people will ask, "why doesn't God stop the evil?" or "If there was a God, He wouldn't allow all the evil things in the world to take place." But because God gave us free will, we get to choose good or evil in such opposite yet equally intense ways, right? I wish God would swoop in and stop the evil, but He would be denying Himself if He did that because then He wouldn't truly be giving us free will. Hmmm....

Love you lots, Michelle