Skip Navigation Links

What is Man? And what makes him unique?

MAN IS the most complex, truly unique physical mechanism ever designed and made.

With such a marvelous mind and body, we might expect it was only natural that our Maker send along his "Instruction Book" — just as a manufacturer sends along with the instrument or device he manufactures an instruction book describing what his product is designed to do.

That Instruction Book God did send. It reveals the missing dimension in knowledge — the incredible human potential.


God's Instruction Book

This Instruction Book tells us what we are, why we are, where we are going, and the way to get there! We call it the Holy Bible.

It reveals that God first created angels — composed of spirit, though lesser than God and lacking in ultimate creative power. It reveals that the physical universe, including the earth, was next brought into existence. A third of the angels were then placed here on earth. They were put under the rule of the government of God, which was administered on earth by the great archangel called Lucifer.

Under the government of God — which is in reality the administration of God's way of outgoing love as spelled out in the Ten Commandments — the earth was initially filled with peace, happiness, joy and wonderful accomplishment. But ultimately, Lucifer led his angels into rebellion. The government of God was rejected, no longer enforced. As a result, the earth became waste and empty, in confusion and darkness (Gen. 1:2). Then in six literal days God renewed the face of the earth (Ps. 104:30). He made physical life forms — the flora and then the fauna — that reproduce themselves. These life forms were created without the thinking, reasoning, decision-making processes, and without ethical or moral capabilities — except for man, God's masterpiece of creative workmanship.


What Man Is

In the FOUNDATION of knowledge, God's Instruction Book for man, the Creator God reveals much knowledge about man himself that is totally beyond man's ability to discover for himself — including the knowledge and understanding of what man is, why he was made that way, and what he is to become.

God created the first man. And he tells us how he made him so there would be no doubt as to what we really are. The first man was made from and therefore composed of earth — the dust of the ground! (Gen. 2:7) It was the whole man "thou" — that was composed of the dust of the ground (Gen. 3:19).

After God had formed the manmade all the cells in his body — God imparted to him physical life (Gen. 2:7). God blew into the man's lungs, through the nostrils, air — "the breath of life" — containing oxygen, and the man began to live! Notice that the verse does not say God breathed an immortal soul into the man.

The source of physical life in man and all animals is the same. Not once does the "breath of life" even remotely refer to an "immortal soul" or life apart from the physical body. Otherwise animals, birds and even insects — gnats, fleas, mosquitoes — have immortal souls, for they all have the same "breath of life" (Gen. 7:21-22).

When God breathed the breath of life into the nostrils of the first man, what did he become? "A living soul" (Gen. 2:7).

Man does not have a soul — man is a "soul"! (See the accompanying article in this issue "What Do You Mean . . . 'Immortal Soul'?" for an in depth explanation)

Since man is a soul, and the soul is mortal — then man is mortal, subject to death. That is why the Scriptures call human beings "mortal man" (Job 4:17).

When an animal dies, it is dead. When man dies, he is completely dead, too. All men and animals alike go to the same place at death! (Eccl. 3:20) Why? Because they all have the same temporary source of life — air. All men and animals become dust once again.


Why Created Mortal

Past issues of The Plain Truth have revealed that the government of God ceased to be administered on this earth after the rebellion of a super-archangel, Lucifer (now Satan), and one third of the angels. Later, God created the first human, Adam, with the potential of qualifying to replace Satan as ruler of the earth, thus restoring the government and way of God. But to qualify as successor to Satan, the human successor had to reject Satan's way and come under the government of God!

God's master plan for accomplishing this purpose in the human race took form and shape even before man was made. If mortal man sinned by rejecting God's government — as all but Jesus have — God would make it possible for him to REPENT — to turn from sinning, to be reconciled to God and to live God's way of life, finally to be born of God as members of his eternal family!

Repentance is turning from the way of Satan to the government of God. It is accepting God's rule over our lives through his law of love. It is accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and coming King — the "second Adam" who finally qualified (where the first Adam failed) to reestablish the government of God on the earth by overcoming Satan. Those who are to reign with Christ must turn from or reject Satan's way, overcoming that way day by day, and actually live by God's law of love. If they continue in this way, they will be born of God — become immortal spirit at the first resurrection (I Cor. 15:42-54; John 3:3-8).

But those who will not repent and accept Christ's sacrifice in payment for their sins — those who refuse to turn from Satan's way and voluntarily come under the government of God in their lives — will ultimately perish (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:14-15; Mal. 4:1-3).

God wants every human being who has ever lived to have the opportunity to repent and live forever (II Pet. 3:9; I Tim. 2:4). But God will not force anyone to choose life. For those who refuse to follow God's way to eternal life there will be the "second death " — the fate of all unrepentant sinners. They will cease to exist forever. They will be as if they had never been!

We can now see that God chose to make man first out of physical matter instead of spirit for a great purpose. Before the creation of man, he had made angels out of immortal spirit — not mortal flesh and blood, subject to death. And one third of these angels sinned by rebelling against the government of God. But the punishment of sinning angels is not physical death.


Angels Were Created Different

Angels are composed of spirit and therefore cannot die. Since one third of the angels chose the way of sin, their punishment is eternal loss of the glorious opportunity God gave them to accomplish his purpose on earth. And their sins have resulted in hopelessness and frustration, their minds being filled with resentment, bitterness and rebellion. Happiness and joy have left them forever!

God planned in advance that if man, composed of matter, sinned and refused to repent, he would die — he would be as though he had not been. God will not allow any incorrigible human being to live forever in mental anguish and torment like the fallen angels. This plan reflects the great mercy of God toward mortal man!

When called by God and made to realize that he has sinned, man can REPENT — turn from his sin to God's way. And once his course is changed, with God's help he can pursue a life of obedience to God. He can grow in spiritual knowledge and develop the character of God — overcome wrong habits, weaknesses and faults. And this is all done through the free will and choice of each human mind.

Only man, of all God's physical creatures, has the seemingly miraculous ability to think, reason, plan and design, come to conclusions based on acquired knowledge. Animals cannot comprehend the concepts of good and evil. They don't repent.

Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever thought about the vast difference between animal brain and human mind, and what could possibly account for it?


Animal Brain vs. Human Mind

There is a great, uncrossable GULF between animal brain and human mind. The evolutionary theory assumes that humans are animals. But one thing evolution can never explain is the total difference between animal brain equipped with instinct, and the human mind with creative reasoning powers of intellect and devoid of instinct in the strict sense that animals possess it.

Some animals have physical brains as large or larger than man's brain, and with similar cerebral cortex complexity — but none has the powers of intellect, logic, self-consciousness and creativity.

The physical brain of a dolphin, whale or elephant is larger than the human brain, while a chimp's is slightly smaller. Qualitatively the difference between them and the human brain is very little — not enough to remotely account for the vastly superior intelligence and output of the human brain. The gap between animal brain and human mind is incredibly vast!

When God molded Adam out of the dust of the ground, he was made in the "likeness" — the out ward form and shape — of GOD himself (Gen. 1:26). God didn't make any of the other creatures to be an exact clay replica of himself. This unique form and shape was given to man alone. This is because man was created with the potential to become God!

Each animal was created with a brain suited for its particular animal kind. But animals do not have the potential of MIND and CHARACTER that God gave only to man. No animal was ever given the gift of mind power — ability to think, to reason, to make choices and decisions as was man!

It is this very SPECIAL ATTRIBUTE OF MIND AND CHARACTER that separates men from animals!

Animals possess what we call instinct. Their brains are programmed, so to speak, by God with particular instinctive aptitudes to live and perform in a certain way. They follow instinctive habit patterns in their feeding, nesting, migration and reproduction. Thus beavers build dams, birds build nests. These aptitudes are inherited — they are not the result of logical, cognitive or thinking processes.

For example, thousands of birds flock south each year as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere. They don't stop to reason why, they don't ask themselves whether they should, they don't plan ahead an itinerary for the trip. At a given internal signal — like the preset alarm of a clock — they leave their summer feeding grounds in the north and travel thousands of miles south. Scientists don't fully understand why — they merely observe the operation of this animal instinct.

Each species or kind of bird builds different types of nests, feeds on specific kinds of foods, and migrates at different times to various destinations. But none of these actions is planned in advance by the birds as humans would. Birds merely have the capability and proclivity to do that which Almighty God built into the instinct of each at creation.

But man's mind is vastly different from animal instinct. Man is able to devise various ways to do any one thing or to achieve a predetermined goal. Man can acquire knowledge and reason from it. He can draw conclusions, make decisions, will to act according to a thought-out plan.

Man can design and build different types of houses, using different designs and different building materials. Some houses are built of wood, some of brick or stone, and some people living near the North Pole even live in ice houses called igloos. Men also eat different foods, prepared in many different ways. Men may live entirely different life-styles from one another. And if a man wants to change his way of life — he can! Man is not subject to instinct. He is not governed by a set of predetermined habit patterns as animals are.

Man can choose — he has free moral agency. He can devise codes of conduct and exercise self-discipline. Man can originate ideas and evaluate knowledge because he has a MIND that is patterned after God's own mind! Man can devise, plan and bring his plans to fruition because he has been given some of the very creative powers of God!

Man alone can wonder, "Why was I born? What is life? What is death? Is there a purpose in human existence?" Man, unlike the animals, not only "knows" how to do certain things, but he also KNOWS that he knows — that is, he is aware that he has "knowledge. “ He is conscious of the fact. He is self-conscious, aware of his own existence as a unique being.

These attributes of mind and character make man God's UNIQUE physical creation. God has shared some of his own qualities with man. And God expects man to develop and become conformed to the spiritual "image" of God's perfect mind and holy character (Matt. 5:48) — just as man now is formed in the physical "image" of God.