Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Celebrating the evolving ape

Today is a sad day for many as Washington Redskins professional football player Sean Taylor has died from a gunshot wound he suffered yesterday. May the Lord have mercy upon Him and let His face shine upon Him in love.

It raises, however, a existential question about the human being. We're told in this day and age that there is no such thing as an eternal soul; there is no spiritual aspect to man. Many would have us believe that we have all just evolved from apes since, after all, we look similar to them in some ways (although over time we ditched the excess hair). We may also have evolved from fish, it seems to me, since human beings swim in water. Fish swim in water. Perhaps we just lost the fins over time too.

Natural selection is beyond dispute while no evidence exists of its process in time.

Yet a funny thing remains: death. Suddenly the professed atheist and the strict Darwinian evolutionist weep. They stand with us at candlelight vigils. They are profoundly affected by the death of a human being. But why?

If a human being - any individual human being - is simply skin and bones, evolved from our foreapes (nevermind forefathers), then why does the death of a single human being matter? Why should anyone care? We do not experience the same sense of profound loss over an animal dying. An ape could die at the zoo but we don't post it on all the news sites as we do with a human being. All of a sudden, the death of a human being creates a profound sense of loss - as if something extremely unique, special and lasting has been taken away. While the person is alive, we act as if they will always be but once they are gone we experience a deep loss. It is as if we have always believed they would live forever but now we have been deprived of them unexpectedly.

It is as if we thought they would live forever, as if there is something profound about a single human being. There is a general understanding, perhaps at times falling into the subconscious, that this human being is different from all other life on the planet. He is not an ape because we would not morn the death of an ape in the same way nor would we experience a loss that borders of deception. The deception is our belief that this person should live forever but then they have left us at their death. Yes, we believed he was eternal. He was far too special, too interesting, too unique to ever entirely be gone from existence. He was far too something, a something we cannot quite explain.

The human being is ultimately eternal. Yes his body may rest in the ground until the Day of the Lord but that deep something we cannot explain, express or grasp cannot ever cease to exist. It must continue on. We were right - all of us - and not a one was deceived, except that some of us believed he was a hunk of matter without an eternal soul. The spiritual reality of man, that soul, is what differentiates him from the apes, the fish, and the dirt. It is that reality, which makes the person, that we weep for at the moment of physical death. Therein was the person and the person is gone from this temporal sphere.

The atheist, the materialist, the Darwinist, all must face death. It is convenient to ignore it and rationalize it away before the reality hits. One may be able to convince himself that man possesses no eternal soul so long as the reality of birth and death, particularly death, is pushed from the mind. When death hits, however, I know of no man that treats the individual human being who has left us as mere matter, as an evolved ape. If they did - if they were truly internally consistent - they should not weep or hold candlelight vigils or even have a funeral, unless you really believe you'd do the same for a spider, an ape or your favorite tree. Why not? They would be no more unique, no more eternal than a human being since they would only be, in the very same way, just a group of matter composed in a certain way.

No, the truth confronts us all within. We either fight against it and struggle to convince ourselves otherwise, finding ourselves inconsistent, or else we embrace it as truth, finding ourselves not only alive but on the path to the fullness of truth.

They are right to remember Sean Taylor, to weep over his death, and to experience a profound sense of loss. May His eternal soul be welcomed by Our Lord and may we all prepare for the moment when we will leave this temporal dwelling.