‘What is man, that thou art mindful of him?’ asks the Psalmist. It’s a good question.
God Himself doesn’t give a very satisfactory answer. In one breath he insists that humans are a little lower than the angels, made in His own image, but also (in a formulation as bleak and more terse than any modern reductionist’s) that they are made of dust, and to dust they will return.
Darwin tells us a similar story. We don’t have to flip back too many pages in our family albums, he says, before we see furry, feathered and scaly faces. But then he draws an exuberantly branching tree of life, rooted in stardust, and tells us that we’re perched on the topmost bough. It’s not surprising that we’re confused.
This confusion is at the bottom of all our neuroses.