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Human Capability

There are several, lets say ‘laws’, which ultimately govern life on earth as we all know it. Firstly, all living beings need to extract energy from some source, in order to live and grow. The food chain: stemming from all forms of life on earth, from single celled organisms, to blue whales. The pathways through which energy and nutrients can be transferred are wide and varied. They interconnect and overlap to make a food web, split into trophic levels (National Geographic). We might first visualise this as almost hierarchical, but energy sources can come from all trophic levels. For example, krill, a tiny shrimp type of marine animal, source their energy from single celled organisms called phytoplankton (Nat Geo). Krill themselves make up the main food source of blue whales, who reside at the third trophic level. Interestingly, all living things excrete their waste products.

Naturally, we all follow an identical life cycle. Essentially, this life cycle can be split up into growth and development, reproduction and death. We all need the energy and nutrients to survive and follow this path until the eventual reality.

Briefly, let us explore human capability as well. Extraordinary! What truly differentiates us, then, as homo sapiens, to other living animals? Such is the question that scientists, philosophers and theologians have struggled with over the centuries. Various branches of ‘homo’ have demonstrated increases in brain capacity, growth in intelligence and progress in tool use over time. Eventually, we arrive at full Homo Sapiens capability somewhere between 100,000-200,000 years ago. We continue to physically evolve, with studies suggesting that our species is evolving into traits such as delayed menopause and out of traits such as goose bumps (Emmanuel Fabella). Like other living beings, the physiological man follows the same evolutionary factors that cause animals to evolve. So, what is the essential difference?

Let us first assume that it is our underlying ability to devise and employ mental concepts, as well as physical tools. Taking Descartes line of thought, do we distinguish other living beings as “automata”, machines, the product of their basic biology? For example, the stomach organ may inform an animal that he is hungry, triggering a response in him to feed. Perhaps, at least in most cases, the rest of nature is simply governed by this kind of disposition of organs. Whilst birds, fish, insects and other living things do show some limited capability of tool use and manipulation of their surroundings also, this capability seems to remain static over huge periods of geological time. In which case, what principle of motion sets us apart?

Primarily, the ability to self-reflect springs to mind; our ability to think virtually, to have an understanding of our own consciousness, our own purpose, our choices and feelings. This might explain why humankind is not threatened by nature, but why growing concerns over threats posed by Artificial Intelligence become more poignant.

However, our ability to use tools such as machine learning might also differentiate us from other living things. In his book ‘Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential’, Chu identifies technology as being one of the structure-building processes that makes us unique. He also sets out two other human traits that we have vaguely touched upon; symbolic abstract thinking and higher consciousness. These self-reflective qualities have allowed us, as humans, to not only Higher Consciousness Symbolic Abstract Thinking Structure Building 22 question ourselves but to ask questions. This ability has enabled humanity, through enormous scientific and microscopic progression, to ‘see’ to the edge of space and time, as well as down to the smallest particles of matter. Our ‘meta-wondering’ capability unleashes “a way for the cosmos to know itself” (Carl Sagan).

However, as Chu points out, our uniquely human traits might also represent a realm that is teeming with untapped potential. In the modern world, how much time do we truly spend self-reflecting? What is our purpose? What is the meaning of life? Where do we come from? With more distractions in the new age than ever, these deep philosophical questions appear to hold less significance for millennials and so forth.

It is our ability not only to reason, but to imagine, to see beyond what the eye beholds, that makes us human. Given so, the question of the Trinity and Christ in light of where we are now and where we could be is one of great substance. Today, our global perception of God and Faith is vastly different to what it once was. Quite simply, a strongly antireligious trend has developed in our society since The Enlightenment. One fundamental aim of this booklet is to counter these arguments by reasoning that our human potential may best be uncovered by using current scientific developments to advise how we believe in faith, rather than to discount the existence of God himself.

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