The Architecture of a Human Being, Part I

(This is the first in a three-part series on the subject of “The Architecture of a Human Being,” By James R. Fergusson.)

As an undergraduate science student in the late 1950s and early 1960s, one of the things I sought was a way of understanding both myself and people in general. Both biologically and mentally, people in general seemed unbelievably complex, with much left to be discovered about them in both realms. Also, I now see, I was engaged in the process of growing up and trying to understand myself in particular – just who was I?

Within a year or so after graduation I came to answers about myself. I was a good person who should use all my talents and abilities for the benefit of mankind, as far as possible, and in the process find a satisfying life. I believed the pursuit of knowledge, goodwill toward others, and hard work would lead to a better life for all, as more and more people pursued them. Physical pleasures such as drinking, smoking, and sex were appropriate if pursued in this framework. Finally, I believed when life was over, it was over – there was no God, and no afterlife. The universe was simply a physical system, and all human thought and emotion would eventually be explained in purely physical terms. As yet, though, I believed no such explanations had been found.

By 1981, about 20 years later, my ideas about myself had totally changed. I had acquired a doctorate in operations research and had worked in government, with the idea of possibly going into politics and leading Canada, in accordance with my views. These efforts had led nowhere. I had been diagnosed as suffering from a severe depression, and was battling with family problems. In the process I had come back to belief in God and the resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ from death. I had realized I was not a good person despite my best efforts, but a sinner – someone who did wrong things, was separated from God, and needed His forgiveness. I had just recently surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and experienced His presence and forgiveness in a wonderful way. I had also come to accept and was beginning to understand the Christian view that, although the present age of human history would eventually end in disaster, Jesus Christ would indeed also return to Earth to deal with this disaster and rule the world, bringing in the benefits that I had sought to help realize solely by human effort.

At that time I had also joined Bell Northern Research (BNR), the R&D subsidiary of Northern Telecom, which in 1996 was absorbed into its parent company known now as Nortel. I had also started to attend the meetings of the BNR Christian Fellowship, now the Nortel Christian Fellowship. In one of the first meetings I attended, the way to understand people in general came to me. It was by no means a complete theory explaining everything about people, but rather a framework – what an operations researcher would call a model. I have come to refer to it as “The Architecture of a Human Being”, using terminology common in the computer and telecommunications industries. There, the basic framework of a system, or the essence of its design, is called its architecture.

The architecture of a human being is found in the Bible, in I Thessalonians 5:23: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Clearly, this verse is saying that a human being has three basic components – spirit, soul, and body. Some further discussion will reveal the full value of this concept as a description of the basic framework, essence, or architecture of a human being.