WHAT IS HUMAN?

RESPONSIBLE

Responsibility, or we could call it ‘accountability’ or ‘answerability’, distinguishes human beings from all other creatures and aspects of the physical universe.

Evolutionary theories deny this accountability for two reasons: Firstly they deny the existence of an intelligent Creator to whom we owe our existence and to whom we are therefore answerable. Secondly, they lead to a deterministic understanding of human behaviour in which all of our choices, including our emotional choices, are the inevitable expression of our genes.

The inanimate physical universe functions in a purely mechanistic way. It is pre-programmed by what we call ‘the laws of nature’ embedded in it by its Creator. The animal world functions mechanistically, but also instinctively within the freedom of movement consistent with their existence as living creatures. They cannot change these instinctive behaviours programmed into them by their Creator.

That our physical human bodies function mechanistically is obvious – our various organs are constantly working without the involvement of our will. That we also react instinctively in certain situations is also true. But there is in the human this additional level of freedom and choice: that we have the ability to distinguish between one action and another, to make up our own minds what we will do and will not do, to assess a proposed action in terms of whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, to choose our behaviour on the basis of what we value most. We are personally responsible for these choices and actions.

To describe humans as ‘responsible’, ‘accountable’ or ‘answerable’ raises two important questions: Responsible for what? And responsible to whom? Responsibility does not exist in a vacuum. It has at the very least this three way relationship: that I, the human, am responsible for something or someone and responsible to something or someone. I, the human, exist in this triangle of responsibility.

In the atheistic postmodern society that has resulted from evolutionary propaganda we are answerable only to ourselves, either as individuals or corporately. What I say is right is right. What we, collectively, say is right, is right. And that bar is consistently changing. When I am responsible to myself alone that very responsibility becomes meaningless: I end up being responsible to nobody and for nothing.

To preserve that high level of accountability that distinguishes us from everything else in the physical universe it is necessary for there to be an objective, absolute, changeless, authoritative something or someone to whom I am accountable. Human responsibility is meaningless apart from a sovereign and personal Other. The Bible tells us that this sovereign, personal Other is the one true God.

In the original, perfect world of Genesis 1 and 2 God gave human beings two distinct responsibilities: to multiply and fill the earth, and to rule over the created world and its creatures [Genesis 1:26-28]. At that point there was total freedom regarding how these two responsibilities were met; at that point humans were still in a positive relationship with God in which all of their choices reflected his being and his purpose.

In that original perfect world there was also a definitive point of choice: to so acknowledge and trust God that we obeyed him, or to set ourselves as judge over God and his word and to doubt and disobey him [Genesis 2:17]. Therein is the original question about human responsibility: Am I responsible, accountable, answerable to God? Or are humans responsible, accountable, answerable to no one but themselves? Is God sovereign? Or am I? Do I have freedom within and under the umbrella of God’s sovereignty? Or do I stand alone, answerable, accountable, responsible to no one?

The devil’s deceptive suggestions in Genesis 3 overturned the ordered world of Genesis 1 and 2 in which we lived in peace and perfection under the sovereign rule of God. By his lies he convinced us that to discard our accountability to God and exalt ourselves as sovereign was the better option [Genesis 3:1-6]. By exchanging our accountability to God for what we thought was personal freedom, we exchanged order for chaos, we exchanged clear direction for disarray, we exchanged human integrity for human disintegration.

Biblical repentance and faith involves a return to this original position of responsibility under the sovereign Creator: that I, the human, acknowledge that I am accountable to him, my Creator, to live my life under his authority and in obedience to his word.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2013, 2016