To bring it to a short denominator: What distinguishes man from the animal is consciousness. It is what makes man "divine" or "equal to God".
Consciousness is the unique ability of human beings to look at themselves as if "from the outside", to reflect and instruct themselves and thus to stand creatively (creatively) in their own lives and to shape them.
Automatic functions and the animal in man
Humans are stuck in a formerly "animal" body that is controlled "automatically" over long distances. (For example, you don't have to think about which nerve tracts and muscles have to be activated so that you can lift a glass from the table and guide it to your mouth. Or if a branch comes dangerously close to the eye during a walk in the woods, the eye has already closed for protection before one has even consciously perceived the branch).
The evolution from unconscious to conscious
[S. Life and the snake: ascent and descent..]
Animals; unconscious life
In contrast to humans, plants and animals still have unconscious, physical-material life. Self-preservation and species preservation are laid out in them as "programs". Higher developed animals, however, also have a soul. This means that they are capable of learning and, in addition, can show feelings such as joy or anger or even shame.
Man: from unconscious to conscious life
Growing up, man first develops his soul existence before he learns to exercise control over both his body (drives, emotions) and his soul (will, mind, feelings) by means of his consciousness. (As long as he cannot do this, that is, as long as he is in the grip of his urges or, even worse, of the ego, he is not much better than an animal).
[S. Man 3-in-1, body, soul and spirit and What is the soul and where in the body is it located?.]
Man and his drive
As long as man is in the grip of his instincts, he does not live consciously, then it simply goes off with him. Thus, the animal instinct of preservation of the species has developed into the sexual instinct and the instinct of self-preservation has developed with the help of consciousness into the Egoperverted to the identity of power. So this now pushes the own (power) interests with cunning strategy without consideration of loss.
[S. The 3rd Eye and Serpent's Tongue | The account of the Fall of Man and the mystery of the serpent and The dragon, the ancient serpent and its overcoming.].
The ego, the old tyrant
The ego is boundlessly greedy and phobically suspicious, is the animal in man that sits on the throne. In traditions, it is symbolized by the dark shadow ruler who enslaves man. (For example, in The Lord of the Rings, see also. The negative animus as devil or beast).
The mythological goal for man and the forces of wisdom
The mythological goal for man, however, is that he "like God" creatively shapes his life as well as his resources. Thus already the Sumerian tradition contains a long list of divine creative abilities, the so-called ME (powers of wisdom)which are given to the people.
The human consciousness and the meta-level, level of the mind
Man can get an overview of his life and his resources by going in his mind as if outside himself, to a so-called "META LEVEL". From here he can look at himself in his mental imagination like a neutral observer from the outside.
In doing so, he perceives himself in his environment, thinks about what and how he could change circumstances and things in order to influence the situation according to his ideas. According to the knowledge gained, he can instruct himself in a next step, i.e. give impulses to his body and also to his feelings (e.g. "keep calm"!) and thus direct his behavior according to his will.
In this way he exercises kingship or "reign of God" in his own life. in his own life. This is the high goal for man.