Summary: God’s breath of life made humankind a living soul despite how the world wishes to equate humans with animals.
Currently an exhibition at the London Zoo features humans as animals. Four adult females and four adult males wearing fig leaves over bathing suits frolic for zoo-goers. Descriptive signs describing human habitat, world populations and diet also read, “Warning: Humans in their Natural Environment.” Zookeepers feed and water the volunteers as they sunbathe on rocks and wave to spectators. Unlike their ape neighbors, the humans play board games and go home to sleep at night.
One of the males on display is quoted in an MSNBC story as saying, “A lot of people think humans are above other animals. When they see humans as animals, here, it kind of reminds us that we’re not that special.”
Not that special, really? To me, humans become “animals” only when they cease to be special. We can be reduced to an animal mechanism if we choose, but in truth we are not just the sum of our parts. It is true sometimes in society humans act like animals. Human behavior can be uncivilized, savage or ignoble. But I believe God and most humans would call this beneath humanity not akin to it.
God has a very distinct angle on humanity according to the Bible, His Holy Word in Genesis 2:7 “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
Here is the translation of thoughtful Biblical paraphrase The Message “7GOD formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive--a living soul!”
Of all the creatures He created, only one variety was made in His image. Only one type was brought to life by His very breath. Only one kind of creature walked and communed with him in the garden: The human being. There was an intimate spiritual union had in that place before the rebellion and pride of the whole eating the forbidden fruit debacle.
In addition, no animal species was suitable as a sufficient match for the first man to be his mate and helper. God had to go back to the man creature made in His image and produce from that prototype an appropriate counterpart. Genesis 3:22 “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken from the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.” Adam was beyond delighted with the gift of woman from God. She was literally part of who he was. She was made in God’s image just as much as him. No mere animal would ever do.
Some in our world are quick to elevate animals to human standing or dehumanize people to be seen as merely biological machines. We are rather creatures made special in God’s own image. There is a difference. With close observation this is obvious even to children. Children visiting the London Zoo are routinely heard commenting, “Why are there people in there?” It seems odd to them for people to be lumped in with a cross section of various animals from around the world.
Surely our human position bears the responsibility to treat all God’s created creatures without cruelty or malice. It is an insult to God to ever harm His creation except when we need them for our basic necessities such as food and clothing. Still, promoting animals to a human’s status is to say that God’s own breath of life is not special. On the contrary, it most certainly is.