Survey:

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Discuss

Explain these statements:

  • All other natures on earth are commands; only human nature is an invitation.
  • Guilt is one of the many qualities that separate humans from beasts.
  • Baby : cub = acorn : marble
  • Whatever makes us grow as knowers and lovers is good; whatever makes us shrivel as knowers and lovers is evil.
  • Unless you choose to know and love, you automatically choose to be less than human.

Ruby Petunia Fawn felt less than human, even though objectively she surely was human. What is the difference between “feel” and “be”?

Why is guilt often a very good thing?

What objective norm would tell you whether guilt is appropriate or inappropriate?

What makes humans specifically different from all other species?

 

Bible Readings:

Skim these Scripture passages. Pick one that appeals to you and

  1. summarize its main point,
  2. tell how it relates to the theme “Understanding Humanity”,
  3. list one or two thoughts that entered your mind when you read it.
  • “The Good Samaritan” Luke 10:30-37
  • “Come Higher!” Luke 14:15-24
  • “Different Gifts” Genesis 49:1-28
  • “The Giving Soul” Hebrews 5:11-14
  • “Degrading” Isaiah 1:2-6

 

Reflect:

No human is merely a higher-level animal. Each human has the potential – which no animal has – to be far far more.

  • What is the difference between being human and acting human?
  • What test is there that you can apply to an entity to see if it is human – and not something less?
  • When does a baby start being a human entity?
  • When does a person in a coma stop being human?
  • People in mental hospitals, children who murder without any remorse, mob hit men – are all less than fully human, but are they less than human?

 

Quotable Quotes:

“What is man that you think of him; mere man that you care for him?” – Psalm 8:1,3-9

“No man is free who is not master of himself.” – Epictetus

“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” – William Ernest Henley

“Vision … It reaches beyond the thing that is, into the conception of what can be.” Robert Collier

 

Faith reflection

The psalmist described the dignity of humans this way:

Psalm 8:1, 3-9 http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=385540891


You have set your glory above the heavens. 
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established; 
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?


Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honour. 
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet, 
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field, 
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.


Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Pope John Paul II echoed that human dignity when he addressed the united nations in 1979. He said:

It is a question of the highest importance that in internal social life, as well as in international life, all human beings in every nation and country should be able to enjoy effectively their full rights under any political regime or system.

If reason alone and Scripture and the church attest to the dignity of every human being, what effect does that have on arguments about abortion, war, capital punishment, and euthanasia?

 

Activity:

Choose:

  1. Read aloud – or even memorize – Shylock’s response to Salanio and Salarino an The Merchant of Venice, Act 3, Scene 1, that begins “To bait fish withal…” What is Shylock trying to justify? What arguments does he use to justify it? Debate the points for and against Shylock’s argument.
  2. Lord of the Flies embodies the thesis: Human beings are evil at the core, and the only things keeping humans from open savagery are control by civilized society and its law enforcement agencies. Catcher in the Rye embodies precisely the opposite thesis: We are all born innocent and are corrupted – or even driven mad – by the wickedness of the society we are thrust into. Which thesis is true? Why? Or are they both true? Why?
  3. Explain these statements:
    • All other natures on earth are commands; only human nature  is an invitation.
    • Guilt is one of the many qualities that separate humans from beasts.
    • Baby : cub = acorn : marble
    • Whatever makes us grow as knowers and lovers is good; whatever makes us shrivel as knowers and lovers is evil.
    • Unless you choose to know and love, you automatically choose to be less than human.
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