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Introduction to "The Great Human Problems"
The great human problems are those that cannot be resolved by human ingenuity and common sense. They bring us face to face with the limitations of our understanding and powers. Ever since man has become aware of past and future, he has felt the need to know where he came from and what will become of him when he dies. He has seen great natural processes, both beneficent and destructive, that he cannot control. These made him feel the need to know if some Greater Power controls nature and if so, whether that Power is benevolently disposed towards man. When civilizations arose, this question developed into the religious search for God and raised in its turn all the problems of faith, obedience and sin. More recently, another great question has arisen concerning the future that concerns the progress of mankind towards a better state. It seems to be well established that we have evolved from a lower state, but we cannot be sure that evolution will continue to operate in our favor. All these problems are intimately linked with the basic question: WHAT IS MAN? Is man a machine with neither will nor feeling? Is he an animal with feeling and thought but no will? Is he in some decisive way more than an animal? If so, has he completed his evolution and will he continue to reproduce his kind with at most genetic improvements or does some higher destiny await us? If man is more than an animal, does this mean that he has a ‘soul’? If so, what is the soul and why can we not verify its existence?
J. G. Bennett