top of page

What is a Human?

hu·man be·ing


  1. a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance.

Homo sapiens is the binomial nomenclature for the only extant human species. Homo is the human genus, which also includes Neanderthals and many other extinct species of hominid; H. sapiens is the only surviving species of the genus Homo.


Scientific name: Homo sapiens

Higher classification: Humans

Rank: Species

The poet asked God, “What is man that you are mindful of him?

"Close your eyes and imagine yourself alone at night, outside the city limits, where nothing separates you from the star-studded sky but an expanse of clear, crisp air. In the quiet stillness, you feel more aware of yourself and begin to ponder your place in the universe.

Thousands of years before you, a Hebrew poet gazed at the same night sky and found himself in awe of the thousands of stars overhead. With no knowledge of astrophysics, no measures of light-years in mind, no concept of deep space, he nevertheless felt dwarfed by it all and asked one of the big questions of life:

When I consider your heavens,the work of your fingers,the moon and the stars,which you have set in place,what is mankind that you are mindful of them,human beings that you care for them?

1As far as we know, human beings are the only creatures on earth that possess a brain developed to such an extent that they can ask this question of themselves: What exactly am I—what is a human being? We can hardly imagine a dog reflecting on its “dogness.” But we, as people, are compelled to ask and answer the significant question of humanness, for the way we live our lives comes, in large part, from the answer that we give.

Historically, over the centuries there have been three main responses—which have surfaced in various forms—to this question. These answers can be found through three different cultural narratives that people have used to make sense of what they, as human beings, are.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts