The UK Bible Students Website
Christian Biblical Studies
By A. Prentice
All Scripture citations are to the King James (Authorised) Version
WE ENDED Part II of this series with the question, What makes man unique? Evolution answers that Man has origins in common with ‘other’ animals and is, therefore, an elaboration on a recurring theme, and that only man’s brain-mind truly sets him apart. Assuming this to be the case, it would nonetheless suggest a vast chasm between the human being and the next most complex creature beneath him. And with so many billions of mutations and alterations in evolutionary development across hundreds of millions of years, it seems most remarkable that only one rational, self-conscious, feeling, speaking being has emerged from the process.
Such a chasm in man’s development is inconsistent with the opportunistic, mindless advance of an evolutionary process, for it suggests aspiration – an attribute capable of exercise only by the mature human psyche. The capacity for speech depends on the precursory, silent, self-aware language of the mind which precedes the act of speaking. There would seem to be little or no survival advantage to any creature in ‘cultivating’ a faculty of speech which isolates it from all other non-speaking creatures around it, unless some advantage could be foreseen. And being blind, Evolution cannot foresee anything.
The book of Genesis offers a straightforward answer to the question of Man’s uniqueness, at the same time acknowledging his similarity to the animal world. We quote relevant sections from Chapters 1 and 2. The words in bold are followed by a literal rendering drawn from the Hebrew.
12 And the earth brought forth [bring out] grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth [breed] abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created [made]great <marine ‘monsters’>, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth [bred] abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply [increase] in the earth.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth [bring out] the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image [as a representative figure], after our likeness [resemblance]: and let them [the genus, man] have dominion [rule] over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue [conquer]it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
7 And the LORD God formed [moulded (as a potter)] man of the dust [clay] of the ground [soil], and breathed [puffed] into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul [came to life as a human being].
It is true, as evolutionary science has observed, that there is a link between animals and Man, for all living creatures are comprised of earth-elements. However, the Biblical narrative makes a clear distinction between plants and animals on the one hand – which appear to have been produced by an automated process – and Man on the other, who was the object of purposive and fixed design, and intended to be their superior. The flora and fauna were ‘brought forth’, an expression which is, perhaps, broad enough to allow for evolution at the macro level, but each after its own general species (Genesis 1: 11, etc.; ‘kind’; Heb., miyn). [fn] However, only Man is said to be fashioned as a deliberate act of creation by God. And, just as Evolution puts the order of Man’s appearance late in the process, Genesis also states that Man is last in the series of animate life, created near the end of the sixth creative day: he is similar to, yet not the same as, the creatures which preceded him.
This similarity arises mainly from the fact that all living beings, including Man, occupy the same general environment, each subject in kindred ways to the effects of atmospheric or oceanic pressure and gravity. Such conditions dictate, for example, the permissible structure or size of each, and the mechanical means necessary for locomotion. Thus man’s skeleton and general organic composition has numerous components in common with other creatures, from articulated joints to a system of excretion, to the sensate properties of a nervous system, or arterial circulation and genetic coding. Experiments on rats or mice, which yield human-applicable data, or the fact that the valve from a pig’s heart can be used to repair a human heart – xenotransplant a cross-species transplant – demonstrates a degree of compatibility. Whether such traits prove inheritance is the sharp point at which Evolution and Scripture disagree. God may have dipped into the existing anatomical parts bin, but in making Man He accomplished something remarkably different and original.
Man’s brain-mind may be remarkable, but it alone is not what truly sets him apart from all other creatures. Man is the representative expression of God. Made in God’s likeness and image, Man was fashioned to portray his Creator in miniature. This is not the same as saying that God looks like a man. The Biblical term, ‘likeness’, connotes both man’s relationship to earth as similar to God’s relationship to heaven: that of Ruler. That of ‘image’ suggests personality, with all that that implies: morality, self-awareness, intelligence, foresight, the capacity for judgement in the abstract and the concrete, and so on. Nothing in the Genesis narrative tells us that at his creation the first man, Adam, got ‘a soul’; rather, he became ‘a soul’ when he was activated by the inhalation of breath. In Genesis 2: 7, the word ‘breath’ is the translation of the Hebrew, nshamah – puff, or ‘wind’. The same word is used of all air-breathing creatures, human or animal (Genesis 7: 21, 22).
To be continued
[fn] Evolution is said by its advocates to require thousands of millions of years in which to work its magic. Students of the Bible vary in their interpretation of the length of each of the six creative ‘days’ of Genesis, ranging from as little as twenty-four hours, to a few thousand, to tens of thousands, or millions. This article does not tackle these assumptions.
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