Among all the creatures in the physical universe, humans seem to be more than simply physical, because they are aware of being creatures in the universe. Human beings essentially belong to the world of nature, yet stand out as the most complex and fascinating of all living beings. Like and also unlike other animals, they respond to what happens to them; they make plans and carry them out; they recognize one another, sometimes lovingly; they make friends and enjoy their company; they shape the world around them for convenience and for delight; they ask questions both practical and theoretical; and many of them try to praise God.
In What a Piece of Work, Helen Oppenheimer considered humankind as part of the natural universe which Christians believe God set in motion, asking how human beings stand among other creatures and how they are to be valued. In this volume she leaves aside comparisons with our fellow creatures in order to attend to our own experience. It makes a good start to think of oneself as a human animal, but then we need to go further and ask what does it mean to be a person, to be counted as someone?
Keywords: Humanity, human, creatures, nature, God, religion, Christianity, Christian, humankind, experience, person, people, spirit, spirituality, values, life, self, selves, sacred, sacred souls, soul, divinity, plurality, unity, generosity, divine