We humans are different from other living things that populate the earth. While we have all the survival instincts, reflexes and some of the emotion-related behaviours of animals, we also have several distinct features that set us apart from animals. Human beings are formed of an earthly body and a soul that is eternal.
The body, which is made out of earthly elements (also called ‘dust’), is the perishable component of a human being. It has been perfectly designed for this world where it is subject to the influence of physical laws. Many other living beings, too, share a great deal of our anatomical and physiological characteristics because they, too, have to face the same earthly elements and physical laws. However, the human body, with its unique brain, anatomical intricacies and physical and physiological capabilities, stands apart from the rest of the creations.
The soul comprises the mind, emotions, intellect, free will and conscience. The soul is the non-perishable component of a human being unlike the body, which is perishable. The mind works through the brain, which makes decisions, and commands the body to execute the decisions. In other words, the decision-making process takes place in the brain, which then sends the decisions as electric impulses to various parts of the body through the motor nerves. In making any particular decision, the mind takes into consideration various inputs that are continuously received from the body, the emotions, the intellect, and the free will that has recourse to the conscience. Reflex actions are not included in this discussion.
The mind, emotions, intellect and free will are intricately interwoven into the body in order for us to undertake life on earth. All these constitute an interactive whole, which is hard to take apart as long as the body is alive. Click this page of our website to read more on soul.
The distinct features of humans
The distinct features, which make human beings stand out as different from, and superior to, the rest of the living things on earth are:
A Conscience, which is the moral touchstone that helps us to distinguish what is morally right from what is morally wrong.
An Intellect that can put together several factors and facts, and make decisions and conclusions based on rational analysis of these materials.
A Free Will to make morally right or wrong choices after taking inputs from Conscience.
What about certain animals such as apes, dogs, elephants and whales? Don’t they show abundant evidence of emotions and also intelligence and capability to make conscious decisions? They of course do. However, the three attributes listed above take humans to a different plane altogether. Coopersmith’s discussion on ‘Animals and Free Will’ is highly thought-provoking.
There is yet another interesting thing about humans as a unique being. Those who have read the Tarzan stories may believe that the leopard considers humans as its prey and stalks them. It is far from the truth. The higher land predators such as the lion, tiger and the leopard, do not consider humans as their natural prey. Rather, they avoid humans. Man-eaters are rare and unnatural as you may be aware of. I have found walking in deep jungles inhabited by leopards and tigers or lions much safer than walking alone on certain stretches of city roads and lonely beaches.
No wonder it is specifically mentioned in the book of Genesis that human beings are created in the image of God; which means we humans have the personality of God.
Please visit the following pages of this website for further information on body, soul and mind (where mind has been treated separately for convenience)
Body Mind Soul (includes Mind)
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