On Being Human

Over the past thirty years each computer I have purchased is a little faster than the previous one. Computer scientists predict that within the next twenty years a desktop computer may achieve parity with the processing power of the human brain. Already research computers can emulate human speech even conversations.

But is there more to being uniquely human than mere processing power? If brain size indicates intelligence, we would be out classed by many larger animals as brain mass is generally proportional to body mass.

When we ordain and install pastors, elder, or deacons, we ask them to promise to “seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love?” I believe that imagination and sacrificial love differentiate people from machines and other creatures.

People have a unique ability to contemplate the unknown and then act on ideas about the future extending and creating new relationships. Humans do more than merely build on past trends but envision new possibilities and participate in creation.

And most importantly people have an immeasurable spiritual connection with one another and with God; a connection we can confirm only by its unpredictable indirect effects, by serendipity.

 For what human being knows what is truly human
except the human spirit that is within?
So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s
except the Spirit of God.
Now we have received not the spirit of the world,
but the Spirit that is from God,
so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.
And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom
but taught by the Spirit,
interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

— 1 Corinthians 2:11-13 (NRSV)

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