The UK Bible Students Website
Christian Biblical Studies
In the Image of God
All references are to the NIV-UK.
Q. Gen. 2:7: ‘The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.’ Explain.
A. In order to understand God’s plan of salvation, one needs to accept that the first man, Adam, was not a by-product of evolution. He was a purposefully ‘manufactured’ entity, complete and perfect from the outset. He fell from an exquisite state into sin and imperfection.
2:5 [N]o shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground–
These verses suggest a garden or agricultural scene. The statements in verse 5 that no ‘shrub’ or ‘plant of the field’ had ‘sprung up’ cannot mean that there was no vegetation in evidence at the creation of man, for Gen. 1: 11 shows plainly that there was. The Garden of Eden was lush with growth (Gen. 2: 8, 9). The intent may be, rather, that the work of subduing the earth had not yet begun.
2:7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.
The stated purpose of Eden was to provide a home for Adam, which he was to look after (‘work it and take care of it’; 2: 15): As steward of the Garden of Eden and, by extension, steward of Earth, he was God in miniature (in God’s image and likeness; Gen. 1: 26, 27). His job was to cultivate and develop the soil and exercise active, benign rulership over his dominion, as God ruled over His.
The fall in Eden, in addition to introducing human death – including physical degeneracy in the form of genetic mutations and disruptions in human biology – plunged the race into a downward spiral of mental and moral corruption, sickness and ageing, ending in death. As foretold to Adam, this ‘sweat-of-your-brow’ existence has taken an immeasurable toll on his progeny, the human race (Gen. 3: 19). Science and Technology, the twin sisters of Progress, can ameliorate but not eliminate the vexations and inefficiencies of the human condition. Divine grace and power alone will lift humanity’s collective burdens only when the lessons of the permission of evil have been learnt. This restoration is a future work for the kingdom of God on earth.
The language employed in some of the verses quoted above seems to imply the start of an automated development and adaptation of species and sub-species in the animal and plant world (‘God said . . .’).
11. . . Let the land produce vegetation:
20 . . . Let the water teem with living creatures . . .
22 . . . Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas and let the birds increase on the earth.
24 . . . Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds.
Nothing is indicated in this narrative about predators and prey – the ‘tooth and claw’ of observed nature – but it is likely that various flora and fauna became extinct as life exploded and competed on land, in the sea, and in the air, and as the make-up of earth’s atmosphere shifted over the long creative periods required to populate the pre-human earth. At this point a limited form of Evolution may have been set in motion, but only so far as plant and animal life are concerned.
Man started off as perfect –
Made, not coaxed from pools of slime,
He stood at God’s command.
Perfect – crowned with grace sublime,
A likeness, from the Master Hand.
His very degeneration proves that adaptation and modification to the environment is a valid principle, for he has learned to cope. Were it not for the fact that the human species is capable of accommodating itself to all types of climates and conditions, the race may very well have become extinct or incompetent centuries ago. Man’s Maker subjected man to the hardships and random deprivations of a dying condition, in the wise foreknowledge that it would not destroy him. Rather, the experience, when it is over, will have prepared the human family to return to the original state of perfection. Such a thorough restitution will undo whatever damage sin and death has brought.
Romans 8: 20, 21: [T]he creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.