There are six essential qualities a thing must possess to be considered alive. All living things:
- Respond to stimuli
The iPad or laptop you’re using to read this post is not alive. You, most likely, are.
Most organisms do these things without a great deal of consciousness. Mold doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about whether or not the corner of your shower is an appropriate place to make a home. Saccharomyces cerevisiae doesn’t marvel at itself as it works its way through the tasty sugar in your whole-wheat dough.
But we humans sure do.
As a young mom, it felt like ninety percent of my life with my babies revolved around eating – finding stuff to eat, making stuff to eat, helping babies eat, cutting prepared stuff into tiny enough morsels for little hands to eat themselves (sweet freedom!), cleaning up the stuff and surfaces used to eat, cleaning up the, ahem, consequences of eating. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.
As much as I love food, there were many days when my kids were tinies when I would have paid good money for some kind of collective IV system that I could have just plugged us all into. Get essential nutrients into us, as quickly and painlessly as possible so we could Just. Move. On.
At a young moms’ gathering a couple of weeks ago, I asked the women if they’d ever stopped to ask, like I had, why we eat at all. Why such a laborious process, so many times a day?? They looked at me somewhat blankly. (In their defense, they were mostly moms of babies – their dominating thought was likely “why won’t my baby sleeeeeppp”, God bless ‘em.)
The answer I usually get, if I get one, is some version of “we eat so we don’t die.” The Bible-y version is “Because of the Fall.” And, technically, both answers are true.
No eating –> no living.
But when we look at the creation story in Genesis 1, we see that the reason we eat isn’t about not dying. In Genesis 1, after God has created Adam and Eve, God tells them the work He wants them to do (make lots more Adams and Eves, be faithful stewards of the earth), and then He tells them about what He has given them to help them do it.
He gives them food.
Not so they won’t die, because death isn’t even in the picture yet.
God gives them food because they are alive.
We don’t eat so that we stay alive.