Meditations – May 8, 2013

By Christopher Simon

The Human Condition

“No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.” ~ Ecclesiastes 8:17

The Bible provides us with many good examples of humanity. Adam, Moses, and Jesus are archetypes of humanity. But, it is also true that being human is radically different now than it was in Biblical times.

Culture and technology have changed us to such an extent that being human in the modern world is fundamentally different than it was in the ancient world, or even a few hundred years ago. Our species may not have changed much in terms of biology, but in terms of psychology and culture, the differences are vast. This goes beyond such superficial questions as whether Jesus would have a Twitter account or a Facebook page were he alive today.

Part of what defines us as human is that we are cultural beings. That is, we grow up within a culture and that particular culture is grafted onto us. This is one of the reasons why the humanities are important as an area of study. They help us to understand what it is to be human.

Works of fiction are sometimes denigrated by those with a practical bent, but good fiction is often an exploration of what it is like to be a human being. Humanity is constantly reinventing itself, all the while questioning the implications of that reinvention. One reason to study the Bible is because it gives a number of very deep answers to the question of what it means to be human.

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