Thursday, September 25, 2014

Person vs. Being vs. Human Being

Person vs. Being vs. Human Being vs. God

What is the difference between a person, a human being and a being?


A being is a conscious entity that has self awareness. A tree does not have consciousness, so it cannot be a being. A fly has consciousness, but it lacks self awareness, so it is not a being. Some higher animals such as apes appear to have self awareness, so they may or may not be beings. Humans and God are beings. Imaginary aliens that drive interplanetary flying ships would be beings, provided they are not programmed drones.

Human Being

A human being is any individual that belongs to the homo sapiens species. A human being that loses consciousness or has not yet achieved consciousness does not cease to be a being because the organ, the brain, that performs the function of consciousness can heal or develop so that consciousness can be achieved or restored. Otherwise, we would cease to be beings every time we fall asleep!


Person has more meanings.

  • It can refer to the whole of the being. A human person has a body, mind, and if you accept it, a spirit.
  • It can refer to the body. If I say "he assaulted my person," I mean that he attacked my body.
  • It can emphasize the individuality of one being among many. "He didn't just attack the group, he singled out one person."
  • It can refer to a collective entity such as a business, union, or political party. This one drives "liberals" nuts. Organizations must have legal rights and obligations, or else they could not sign contracts, own property, or be held accountable for their actions.
  • In Trinitarian teaching, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God. They have identical natures (characteristics) and one shared substance (the spirit-stuff that God consists of). Within that substance, three conscious personalities have unique roles, perspectives, and memories.

God and Person -- but avoid Being

God is a being because He has consciousness and self awareness.As Creator of the universe, God exists in more dimensions than we do. There is an eternal dimension like time, but it existed before God created time. There are other spiritual dimensions like space that spirit exists in. Some existed before God created time and space, and some, God created along with time and space. We cannot observe the spiritual dimensions, so we cannot fully imagine who and what God is. However, God has revealed that He exists as three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those three persons share the same nature (spirit) and the same substance (God), yet each has a separate, unique consciousness.

We try to think of God in terms of what we experience, but God transcends even our wildest imagining. Because we impose our perception of being, it is best to avoid using the term to describe God. It is best to stick with the terms God and Person.

No comments: