The Order of God's Creation

In Luke 12:24 Jesus clearly teaches us that humans are more important than animals. Many people do not realise the hierarchical nature of God's creation. Certainly, we must preserve the planet. Social Justice causes aimed at protecting animals and the environment are praiseworthy, but the Church teaches that priority must be given to saving HUMAN life, wherever it is threatened, because humans are simply of more value to God our loving Father. See table below. [A. Carroll; F. Sheed; CCC 2415 - 2418]

LEVELS OF EXISTENCE

ATTRIBUTES (ie THE CHARACTERISTIC QUALITIES OF EACH BEING) ARE GIVEN BELOW IN DESCENDING ORDER

GOD

DIVINE BEING is spiritual. God is the one all knowing, all powerful and all loving supreme Spirit Being who never needed to be created because He has always existed. All creation receives existence from God the Holy Trinity. God is the first uncaused Cause, the first unmoved Mover. God is Love.

ANGELS

ANGELIC BEING is spiritual. An angel is a pure spirit, "the most excellent of creatures because he bears the strongest resemblance to God," says St Thomas Aquinas. An angel does not have the limitations of matter: he is not subject to growth or decline, he moves at the speed of thought, he cannot be hampered by matter, he can control any material thing. St Thomas teaches that an angel "is where he acts and is instantaneously present where he decides to be." His intellect is far more powerful than man's but infinitely inferior to God's. Angels don't need to study or learn as we do because they have infused knowledge. They can, however, acquire knowledge through experience. The intellect of an angel presents a full picture to his will of any choice to be made. The will of an angel is equally powerful, so, once having made a choice, the angel cannot change his mind. Each angel is so unique that each is said to be a different species. Humans are one species only.

HUMANS

HUMAN BEING is spiritual & material. Like animals, humans have a material body, sensory knowledge and some instincts. But there are fundamental differences between men and animals. The basic difference between humans and animals is that the human soul is spiritual, the animal soul is not. Because of his spiritual nature, the faculties of intellect and will by which a man knows and loves tower above the highest faculties of an animal. Humans can analyse, generalise, reflect, write poetry, crack jokes; animals can do none of these. Animal knowledge is only a faint parody of human knowledge, as is animal love. Unlike humans, animals produce no vital activities which rise above matter. Humans are free; animals are instinctual.

ANIMALS

ANIMAL BEING is non-spiritual. Like vegetable being, it has the power to perform growth, nourishment and reproduction. However, animals also have senses and motions. Animals can sense pain and pleasure, hence they can be trained by means of rewards and punishments. But, it must be remembered that humans train monkeys, not vice versa.

VEGETABLES

VEGETABLE BEING is non-spiritual. All forms of vegetable being such as plants, trees and shrubs have a vegetative soul which does not exist independently of the plant and ceases to exist when the plant ceases to exist. The vegetative soul gives a plant the power to perform acts on its own power, specifically growth, nourishment and reproduction.

NON-LIVING

NON-LIVING BEING is non-spiritual. It includes: rocks, minerals, elements, gases and liquids. The most obvious difference between living and non-living is that non-living can't act itself; it can only be acted upon. A rock can't suddenly roll itself down a hill. It must be acted upon by an external force such as a push or gravity.



* Please note that this text should be read in the context of the whole work and in recognition of the appropriate paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church highlighted in the index.