Who Are We?

Norman Rockwell's "Girl At Mirror" (March 6, 1954) © SEPS

“Girl At Mirror” (March 6, 1954) © SEPS

From an anthropological, genetic or physical perspective we are able to determine with a fair degree of accuracy that we have evolved into what we call “Homo Sapiens,” the highest order of development in the animal kingdom.

This mostly agrees with Darwin, who theorized that we are animals merely in degree, through evolution. Darwin correctly observed that in nature there is a continual contest between species until near perfect equilibrium exists, like between lions and wildebeest or wolves and caribou who continually seek an evolutionary edge over the other.

Biological thought in the 20th century supported Darwin, but the more we have been able to delve into micro biology the larger the differences have become between Darwinian thought and reality. Marc Hauser, director of the cognitive evolution lab at Harvard University, states “there is mounting evidence that, a profound gap separates our intellect from the animals.” Hauser identifies four abilities of the human mind that distinguish us from other animals: Generative computation, promiscuous combination of ideas, the use of mental symbols, and abstract thought.

Though Darwin remained a Christian to the end of his life he was never able to reconcile his theories with his relationship with God. This prevented him from realizing that while we are creatures, we are created differently by God, for a separate purpose.

Unfortunately our education system and much of our intellectual society has chosen to ignore this discussion, conveniently labeling the issue as a controversy between Evolution and Creationism. This avoids the problem, denies a debate, and subjects our children to an inferior and illegitimate education.

Our existence may be viewed broadly or minutely, but either way we arrive at the same profound question. How did all this happen?

The Universe and the World we know is a panoply of wonders. When we consider everything to be self developed we find that there are no satisfactory natural theories that begin to answer any individual question. Even after the explosion of discoveries in the nineteenth, twentieth and now the twenty first centuries, we find ourselves virtually at the beginning of knowledge on this subject.

We have arrived at an age where it is impossible to comprehend the whole of our physical existence since every stone we turn over we find additional questions that rapidly consume the intellectual capability of any one person.

Conversely, if we resign ourselves to the existence of a Creator, though we may be overwhelmed by the attention placed upon our own creation, everything conveniently falls into its own designed place. At that precise moment we should pause to contemplate ourselves, our entire selves, of body and soul. Like the animals our bodies chain us to this world, but our transcendent souls await our recognition of our Creator and an awakening to his spirit, to become children of God, for the Glory of God.

Man has always known about the existence of our mystical being, our soul. Throughout all of written history our spiritual selves have been fundamental features in every religion. Darwin became so engrossed in his own theories that he failed to see that the defining difference between Man and the animals. While animals are committed to a worldly life of competition, always seeking self first, Man has the ability to choose to become a child of God – a lover of God, a selfless being.

As children of God our soul is the most important part of us, Catechism (363), created to assist us in becoming the body of Christ performing his work in the World. The importance of our being is profound in the extreme. This World, this Solar System, this universe, every animate and inanimate thing is created by God for one purpose – for Man, for God. This is a boundless expression of love, which we are meant to internalize so that we may see both the hand and the handiwork of our Creator.

Though it is the most intimate and powerful part of ourselves, we know little about the soul. It is what allowed Peter to walk on water and what causes Mothers to freely give their lives for their children. We may physically see it in the aura around saintly people. It is the power of God, with which Jesus said we could move mountains. When we see the soul in action, we feel it. It draws us to that other person’s soul like a magnet, attracted by the transcendent love of God. It wants to be home with it’s Creator.

Because it is inanimate we tend to disregard it, yet we are masters of our souls. For a moment let us think of ourselves as souls and our souls as a sealed cylinder with two automatic/manual valves. One valve controls water (good), while the other controls oil (bad). When we are born our cylinder is empty, but it soon begins to fill with both water and oil – the water is pressurized by love, while the oil is pressurized by want or attention. Parental example likewise may produce either within us. The process continues through childhood with inputs from teachers, friends and other students and our studies. All the while we receive the influence of the wider world,, the culture in which we live.

We may add water ourselves through prayer and worship, the sacraments, or behaving well and doing good deeds for others. In the meantime the oil valve has learned to work on automatic, influenced by the attractions of the secular world, and adds oil at will. By the time we are adults we probably have a full cistern with varying amounts of water and oil.

A full cistern of water is under the total influence of The Holy Spirit, while a full cistern of oil is under the control of the devil. The only way the water valve will work automatically is when the cistern has much more water than oil, when there is a natural collaboration between the Holy Spirit and our soul, which is called Living in Christ.

The oldest story in the world was Eve making the choice between living a life with God or rejecting God and assuming responsibility for herself. We have kept picking the apple ever since. This is where the proverbial fork in the road is located, where we have to decide which path to take. We must choose between our bodies and our souls and decide the level of investment we make in each. You would think we would make a decision based upon the longest lasting beneficial value?

We would if the playing field were flat, but the odds are stacked against us due to our five basic senses of Touch, Sight, Hearing, Taste and Smell. These are switched on all the time and react to every input – the automatic valve. These primordial sensors are there for our benefit and literally surround our brain seeking instant answers, but our subconscious mind, ever a quick learner, remembers every nuance and immediately locks on to every relevant memory instantly bringing them into focus. Our brains evaluate the data, anticipating something new, to which it gravitates, initiating an urge. Those nearly uncontrollable urges becomes the tantalizing motivations in our lives, which makes us do crazy things.

A large part of the American economy is driven by consumerism, the consequence of an ability to produce far more than we need. We are called a throw away society and create industries to dispose of our excessive waste. We have become role models of a secular self indulgent society.

Consumerism is an appropriate word for a society such as ours, which eventually turns upon and consumes itself. We display our obesity and suffer from self imposed diseases. We impoverish ourselves through an insatiable appetite for “stuff,” none of which satisfies for more than a moment. Our physical relationships are now media encounters and sex has become a selfish organic function. Media agitates and controls our stress levels beyond what is natural.

A common sense analysis of contemporary secular behavior defies logic, finding that we are exploiting ourselves at our own expense. We have reached a point of dwindling returns, which guarantees dissatisfaction. Even if we try to seek a way out, the exit is occluded. We have not only locked the door, we have disguised it so that we pretend that it does not exist. The only way out is to accept the reality of who we really are.

Why does God insist that we have to make a deliberate choice? Why are we not allowed to simply wander into salvation? It is a question of relationship. Would you call someone a friend if they only sought you to service their wants?

The spiritual alternative of life is seldom explained to us as a practical alternative. Most people regard sainthood as a final destination as something beyond their reach. The truth is that the quest for holiness is designed for sinners, those who have the most to gain. God lavishes sinners with his love all the more, because the presumption is that they are lost ( Luke: 15:11-24). All twelve Apostles were ordinary people, only one was lost.

Another false assumption is our erroneous view of God, believing him to be a strict judgmental disciplinarian. God is pure love. He wants close, intimate and loyal friendships. The kind that are selfless, require discipline and an investment in time. He knows we are sinners and that is why he gives us His Holy Spirit to give us strength. It is necessary that we make a conscious effort to satisfy our soul, which is not easy in our secular society.

Could you imagine a world where our priority was feeding our souls? Jesus spent three years of ministry providing us with the game plan to nourish ourselves, our souls. His teachings are faithfully transcribed for us in “The Way” – “The Good News,” a record of oral history which is conveniently available to us in The New Testament – It’s an investment that keeps on giving – forever.

We are designed to fail until we seek the welfare of others.

Randal is a retired Aviator and Real Estate Executive that now lives with his bride, close to their children and grandchildren, in Sunny Florida. Randal is an author: "Caribbean Flite Guide," and "A Day in the Life of a Pilot," who currently writes a Catholic activist blog - randalagostini.com.