by Robert Brow (www.brow.on.ca), Kingston, Ontario, March 2006
You cannot tell a computer from its box. My first box of hardware was a Kaypro. My present one is a Compaq Presario. What counts is not the shape of the box but the power of the hardware inside and, most importantly the operating system.
Mine goes by the name of Windows XP. But that tells you nothing about the hundreds of software capabilities that could be downloaded and installed upon it. You can buy software for studying the stars and planets, translating from other languages, predicting the weather, sending digital pictures, composing music, managing apartment complexes, adding material to this website, and a host of other astonishing activities.
Now let’s try out this model to see what we can make of the creature I called Genesis Man (Christianity Today, XVI . 24, Sept 15, 1972, pp. 6-7). The human computer box is called a Hominid, and that has been around for at least two million years. Like many other animals it had what it takes to walk and navigate, hunt and eat, have sex and have children. Each of those activities requires millions of bits and bites to make them work. An interesting software development was the ability to depict other animals in the form of statues and paintings on cave walls (Cro-Magnon Man, C. 18,000 BC). But this is hardly more complicated than the ability of monkeys to mimic and use a paintbrush.
But with Genesis Man (possibly as recently as 4000 BC) there was a totally new quality of development, which we might call Image of God Software. "Let us make human kind in our image, according to our likeness . . . So God created humans kind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them" (Genesis1:26-27). The computer box that housed Genesis Man was hardly different from that of Homo Erectus (1.6 million years before). But there was now the ability to know and communicate with God.
That is qualitatively different from being able to communicate with others of the same species. This can be done easily by ants. Bees can farm aphids. When more than a hundred termites get together they can organize the complex systems needed for their colonies. Two termites can begin building from opposite ends of an arch and meet exactly at the apex. A dog can be a friend, play with humans, mind the sheep, sniff out drugs, track footsteps through miles of bush.
But Genesis Man was suddenly able to think the thoughts of his or her creator. Totally new questions could be asked. "What am I made of? What am I made for?" We can engage in moral discussion. "Is capital punishment, abortion, or mercy killing wrong?"
The other animals are programmed to do this or that. For thousands of years every species of spider has spun exactly the same pattern of webs. We have the awesome freedom to choose and engage in dozens of alternative lifestyles.
Death is no problem for other species. Some humans wonder if the Creator we know now will be there to greet us on the other side. But one thing is certain. If we reject our God-given software to function in the image of God, we miss what human life is really about.