The Nature of Human Existence

Tomiwa O
4 min readDec 31, 2019


All definition is comparison.

In essence, to truly know or understand something, you need a familiar point of reference for comparison. Essentially, definition relies on comparing something unknown, to something known.

So, if I were to inquire about the definition of ‘dancing’ as a concept, you would likely respond with a description like “moving your body rhythmically to sound or music.”

Implicit in this explanation is the assumption that I already grasp the meaning of terms such as movement, body, rhythm, and sound or music.

And mind you, that’s just scratching the surface.

Now, you may wonder, where am I going with this? The Bible and humanity’s claim to existence.

Now, if you’re familiar with the Bible, you probably have heard of the story where Moses encounters a burning yet-not-really-burning bush; and is given the grand task of freeing Israelites from Egyptian slavery and tyranny.

Anyone who’s read my thoughts about God and life may have some idea of where I’m headed. Think of this as a mini-treatise on an aspect of those thoughts.

So, back to God and Moses. In Exodus 3:14, Moses asks God what he is to say to the Israelites when they ask what/who sent him to them, and God replies, “I am that I am” — which translates to, “ehyeh ’ăšer ’ehyeh” in Hebrew.

This Hebrew phrase actually can be translated in more than just one way*.

“I am who I am” — an evasion of Moses’s question?

“I am who am” or “I am he who is” — a statement of the nature of Israel’s God [‘Elohiym]

“‘I Am’ is who I am”, or “I am because I am”

Now here’s where the really fun stuff starts…

Recall my earlier statement about the essence of all definition lying in comparison, where a subject in search of its meaning requires a relatable point of reference to grasp the concept being defined?

Now, let us embark on a quest to define the word “I” in the context of our very existence. According to Google, it is described as “the subject or object of self-consciousness…”

Essentially, every time the word “I” is uttered, it is an affirmation of one’s existence, a declaration of reality. You are asserting that you exist. That you are real. And everything you interact with also exists by extension.

As so succinctly put by egbon René Descartes, “I think, therefore I am”.

Now, let’s head back to the Bible.

I posit that God chose to define him/her/itself as “I am that I am” or “I am he who is” — ’ehyeh ’ăšer ’ehyeh; because there was no frame of reference for Moses to understand that could then be used as a basis for comparison.

The phrase “ehyeh ’ăšer ’ehyeh” and it’s translations are all peculiar because they all have one thing in common. It’s God basically stating “I exist as myself” or “I exist alone”.

Point being, God asserts his/her/it’s existence yet chooses NOT to acknowledge that of Moses (& other humans) by not using our supposed existence as a basis for comparison when defining himself** to Moses.

Instead, God arrives, tasks Moses with the monumental duty of saving an entire nation of his people, yet doesn’t deem it fit to say something like:

“Oh, I exist, just like you do man. Totally same thing. I’m just like, super, extra powerful and all that. Peace out.”

Why not?

Why did God choose this approach? Because Moses could never fully comprehend. Moses did not exist in the same manner as God did.

God could not find a reference point to explain or define Himself based on Moses’ limited existence.

So, “I am he who IS”

He is. God IS.

Moses is not.

You are not.

Not like He is.

To simplify what I’m trying to communicate, I sorta believe that we exist, to some extent. I suppose.

We think, we create and remember past memories and conceive future notions. We build things that outlast our lives.

We just exist LESS than a being like God.

Just as Superman or fictional characters like Paloma/Diego or Suara/Toyin Tomato exist to a lesser degree in our reality, we are but characters in the grand story of a greater being.

That is the essence of our existence.

**Sorry got tired of the him/her/it thing. 1–0 to the patriarchy



Tomiwa O

Product Designer. Brand Strategist. Problem Solver.