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THE COMMON DESCENT OF MAN

 

All Scriptures are from the New International Version-UK, unless indicated otherwise.

 

Question: Is Man related to animals?

 

Answer: The human being is a unique creation of God and is not, therefore, in any evolutionary sense related to animals. However, Man does have in common with animals his elementary, material substance. For God fashioned both animals and Man from the soil, the ‘dust of the ground’ (Genesis 2: 7, 19):

 

The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life . . . [and] formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. [Italics ours.]

 

According to the book of Genesis the creatures of the sea, sky, and land had developed and adapted themselves to their respective environments long ages before Man appeared on the scene, made in the ‘image’ of God (Genesis 1: 26, 27). (This fact is at least accidentally or otherwise consistent with that part of evolutionary theory which puts Man as the final development in the chain of life.)

 

There are numerous similarities between ‘lower’ creatures and the human being, such as the breathing of oxygen, the recurring necessity for food and water, the elimination of waste matter, or the need for sleep. And there are anatomical and skeletal similarities (homologues), dictated by the performance of functions such as grasping, walking, breathing or seeing. These morphological similarities, and those found in the genetic information common to all living things, are implied by the statement that Man was formed of the ubiquitous ‘dust of the ground’.

 

However, the essential difference between the animals which preceded him and Man himself is enormous. With a highly complex brain, Man possesses mental and emotional faculties far ahead of the capabilities found in the animal world. Man’s imagination; his self-awareness (conscious that he is alive and who he is); his rational facility; his appreciation of humour, music, literature; his capacity for self-sacrificing love (as opposed to instinctive love); his faculty of speech and, interestingly, his capacity for ‘pre-’ speech – the ability to mentally form and anticipate expressed thoughts prior to uttering them – all of these (and more) belong to Man alone. In these important respects, then, Man was made in the ‘image’ of God.

 

Of course, the Curse intervened. Man is now fallen and imperfect, a vague resemblance to what God designed him to be. To study the present human condition and conclude that there can be no Creator-God because He apparently did not do a very good job of making Man is to judge an architect by a derelict, weed-infested building.

 

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