We humans are important but not, perhaps, in the way we might imagine. We tend to think everything revolves around us. Last week, I suggested that we are not the sole reason for the creation of the cosmos.
But even so, surely we are an important part of creation? Maybe even indispensable? After all, we are the creatures with the big, complex brain. We do all sorts of things other animals don’t do. Surely we’re important.
Well yes, in a certain way we are important. But in another way, we are not important. We are not biologically important. Better said, we’re not biologically necessary.
Imagine for a moment that humans were gone from the earth. What would happen to the rest of creation? Would things fall apart without us? Things built by humans would, but most of creation would do quite nicely. Most of creation would flourish. Plants and trees would return to their native habitats. Eventually buildings and infrastructure would decay, crumble and fall. You may have seen the way nature takes over abandoned buildings. Pollution would dramatically decrease. No cars, no jets, no power plants. It would take some time but at some point our impact on the environment would diminish and then disappear. Honestly, from a biological point of view, the world would get along without us quite nicely.
Bacteria on the other hand- critters with no brain, just one-celled creatures -are essential for creation. Humans and other animals cannot live without the bacteria in our intestinal systems. Bacteria in the soil and water are indispensable to functioning ecosystems.
In the biological scheme of things, bacteria are crucial and we are not. So if we are not the point of creation and we are not essential, well what about us? Why are we here and what are we here for? There are many ways to answer that question. But theologically speaking the answer is:
That’s why we are here. We live and breath and have our being, along with the rest of the cosmos, because God loves us. We are here to love God and to love each other. Our worth doesn’t come from our place in the natural world. Neither does the worth of cats or chickens or wolves or tapeworms. All of us, people, and dogs, and mosquitos, matter because we are loved by God.
It’s almost too simple to believe. It’s almost too wonderful to believe.
This means that we don’t have to be worried about “science” somehow making us less important, less critical for the functioning of the world. Our value isn’t based on what we do in the world. Our value isn’t based on our being smart or clever. Our value isn’t based on our bearing the image of God.
Yes, we matter simply because God loves us.
I’d like to know, what do you think?