Saturday, June 2, 2007

Reason, Benevolence and Free Will

In recent days I have been dwelling a lot on what makes man similar or in the image and likeness of God. Most of the time I come to two general conclusions. The first is that man is in the image and likeness of God because he has the use of reason. The use of reason is what helps man distinguish himself from the animal kingdom and it has served man to put him above the natural realm. The whole "I think, therefore I am" line of reasoning often times is the line that i follow. Becuase it makes sense. The reason argument is safest. It is safe because no one has been able to prove that other animals rationally think. Heck we have a hard enough time determining if other humans rationally think. Hence the whole criminal insanity or temporary insanity cause that so many criminals use. So when we say we are like God in that we can think and reason we are selfish in a sense because we are arguing something that only we can prove to ourselves and we never have to leave our comfort zone. What if dolphins or bears actually reason? Maybe not to the same level that humans do or else there would be more evidence in nature; but what if they did? We are all creatures of habit. What if our idea of reasoning or to reason is simply a blueprint as Plato would have it. It may be we just have more wires in there, not really more ability just more of whatever wires or connections in our brain that make us think we are thinking when in reality we are just following instructions. This line of questioning will obviously lead to questioning the universals. Which I do not have the desire to pursue at this time. However...

I take a step back and i think well maybe it is like the eastern philosophers have said. The reason humans are different is because we can be benevolent. The idea that we can give that which we need or that which we shouldn't for the benefit of another is a big thing. i know in recent days i have given things that should never be given. I have done things that should never be done. But the idea that doing something that you shouldn't for the benefit of another is a huge deal. The fact that you can. Animals we know will eat and then share, or the dominating male or female will eat first then the others. As humans we choose. Anyone ever heard of "women and children first"? Its that whole idea that the more defenseless of people should be taken care of first. In nature we see the opposite. I am not saying women are defenseless in any way. I know a lot of women who could wipe the floor with me but the point is that we as humans will seek to be benevolent.

But in recent days a third item has come to mind when considering the same question. That is that humans have free will. As humans we have the ability to chose what we want to do. We can come to grips with the world in any way that we want. The last few weeks have been very tough on me. I have thought a lot and done a lot in the name of benevolence, reason and free will. i have made choices that many would call foolish or stupid and others would call genius. But the combination of my choices has come down to a choosing itself. If I was only a rational being i would have chosen via reason and for myself or if i was choosing via benevolence i would be choosing in the best interest of another. In either case the ability to choose i think is what makes me most human and most like God.

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