Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Naked Ape, or Animals of Reason

I had an interesting exchange this evening in what turned into a roundtable discussion with a couple of fellow-guests of my good friend Douglas V. Gibbs on his BlogTalkRadio show. The subject of tonight's show was the role that a creator-god played in the founding of our country, and the future (or future-absence) of that role.

The discussion got me thinking the sort of things that I felt quite compelled to write. For you atheists and agnostics out there, I'm not going to hammer on the particulars of Judeo-Christian philosophy. Instead, I hope to be able to address a fundamental question that I believe is posed by all religions: How is humanity different from the other creatures of creation?

The following list is by no means comprehensive, nor can I claim that it is 100% correct with any philosophical certainty. Comments are welcome, but as always, will be moderated.

Islam: Humans are slaves to Allah, and will submit to his will or be destroyed in a torrent of otherworldly suffering.

Judaism: Humans are made in the image of God and share in his dominion, but can choose to live as animals and reject his grace. (cf. Adam and Eve, from the opening chapters of the Biblical book of Genesis)

Christianity: Essentially the same as Judaism, but the sacrifice of God's son in the person of Jesus paved the way for personal relationships with God that transcend traditional Jewish notions of nationalism and law.

Buddhism: Humans are unique among creation in their ability to rid themselves of of the impurities that drive their rebirth.

Taoism: Humans are unique among creation in their ability to resist the "tao," or natural flow of the universe (literally "the way").

Additions? Corrections? Critique? Feel free to comment, but please keep it civil.

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