What is Man?


Throughout the ages, humankind has asked the question, “What is man’s role in the universe?”  Overtime, four different answers have presented themselves.  What a person chooses to believe depends on his worldview.

Basically the four views are:

1) Man is subject to fate and the will of the universe.

2) Man controls the universe.

3) Nothing is certain and man is only subject to chance.

4) Man is created by God with a purpose.

A person who believes that man is subject to fate might try to figure out his destiny and influence the way he wants to, always battling the universe for control.  This view has influenced many movies and novels where the heroes try to live their lives in such a way as to avoid their destiny and it’s consequences.

A person who believes that man controls the universe would believe that he has the duty and empowerment to make certain decisions.  This person would be very driven and aspire to do great things.  However, this person would also be very proud.  This view must have dominated much of the Western world in the late 19th – mid 20th century.  Men like Friedrich Neitzsche believed that man would eventually become superhuman and could control all his actions and the world around him.

If someone believed the third position, that man is subject to chance, this person could be very apathetic.  After all, if one’s actions do not really do anything to influence his life, and only chance affects his life, why would one be moved to do anything?  A person could go from poor to rich or rich to poor with the snap of his fingers.  The philosophy of that person would be to “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die.”  This view has dominated the West today, for many people, especially of the millennial generation, waste much of their time enjoying themselves.

The final view states that God is in control and that every man has a purpose.  In this view, men do make choices which affect their lives, but ultimately, God knows what is in store for them.  In some ways, this is similar to the view that fate controls everything, but fate is unpredictable, and God is unchanging.  The Bible outlines God’s plan for the world as a whole.  It says that all things work together for the good of those who love God.  Even though that does not mean that everything will always be easy, in the end, those who place their hope in God will receive a reward.  This is probably the most hopeful of all four views.

These views are all different, and have different ramifications.  For example, one’s view of authority is influenced by one’s view of the place of man.  If one believes that man is in control, then man is the ultimate authority.  If everything is controlled by chance, there really is no authority.  If everything is controlled by fate, then fate is the ultimate authority.  If God directs the lives of men, then he is the ultimate authority.

So which is the right view?  Does God control the world, does man?  Is everything subject to fate?  These are important questions that each person must answer at some point in his life.


3 thoughts on “What is Man?

  1. This might help as well.
    A Human Being is;
    A. One who follows the ethical path of leaders and ancestors (Confucianism)
    B. Highly evolved animal or complex machine (Naturalism)
    C. Self-creator of meaning and morality (Postmodernism, Existentialism)
    D. A soul that gains experience (Hinduism)
    E. Created in God’s image, but with no responsibilities to him (Deism)
    F. As complex machines, humans have neither dignity nor freedom (Nihilism)
    G. One who is created to submit to God (Islam)
    H. A powerless being who gains power through the spirit world (Animistic Folk Religion)
    I. Potential god (New Age)
    J. A being caught in an illusion created by desire (Buddhism)
    K. Created in God’s image to glorify Him by caring for creation and creating culture (Christianity)

    • Wow! that is a much more broken down chart of what I have. Thanks for your comment! It is a great summary of these different beliefs.
      My post was based on chapter 5 of Keith Ogorek’s “A Clear View.” This book is a great introduction to basic worldview.

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