Here are some Questions I ended with on my last post (http://peacewithinreach.com/repent-of-that-thinking/), and my attempts at answers (I take a moment to remind readers that I write as someone who’s biggest passion is seeing the spread of the Gospel.):
- If we humans evolved from other, lower species, then how do we have the all-important,uniquely-human image of God in us?
- For me (Fred), I believe what God’s Word the Bible tells me, that people are made in the image and likeness of God. In Genesis 1:26-27 of the Bible (NLT), God said, “Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves….So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.” After reading that, I look for evidence of what is written, and I see it in people. People are uniquely spiritual compared to the rest of things. They can have a personal relationship with God, in which they pray and exercise all kinds of unique spiritual gifts, and they can be in relationships with each other that is beyond instinctual. People, unlike all other things, reflect the wisdom of God. (Yes, people make plenty of bad choices, but still, they clearly can make choices, including moral choices, and not just live by instinct.) God has given people the responsibility to manage His world, to be stewards, and by in large we have at least the aptitude to do that.
- So, I’m one who definitely believes each human being has the image of God within them, which makes each person of great value and worth. Here’s the challenge….if humans possibly evolved from other species, how did they uniquely get the image of God?….on to the next discussion point which seeks to deal with that issue….
- Some, including the late Pope John Paul II, seemed to believe that everything, besides us humans, evolved.
- As I noted in the earlier post, “maybe that sounds more kosher, but isn’t that scientifically weak logic?” I don’t think we should draw lines like that just to make us feel better as humans. Do I think we uniquely have the image of God in us? Yes, based on what I see as evidence of that as described above. Do I think we could be unique in having the image of God and yet be evolved from other species? Well, a lot of evidence shows that as a strong possibility.
- If we evolved from something, doesn’t that take the literal Adam and Eve out of the equation? (there’s a lot of information in the following answer from Dr. John Walton. If too much, just skim it.)
- In my book A Search for Common Ground: Let’s Talk (http://peacewithinreach.com/my-books/), I referenced John Walton, the Old Testament scholar at Wheaton College, much to help sort this out. At the end of these quotes from Walton, I have provided a YouTube video link of him doing a lecture, which is where most of the following quotes came from.
- Old Testament scholar John Walton of Wheaton College explains that the Hebrew word “a-dam” in Genesis 1:26-27 means “humanity” in general. In that passage, humans are described as made in God’s image and called to be stewards over the rest of the creation. As well, those humans described in that passage may have been people who existed before the historical people, Adam and Eve.……The Bible states in Genesis 2:7 that “the Lord God formed the man [a-dam] from the dust of the ground.” From Genesis 2:7-3:24, the use of the definite article “the” with a-dam occurs several times. Walton describes this use of a-dam as an archetypal individual—a typical example or representative of humanity. Humanity was given the task of serving and keeping the Garden (of Eden).…….According to Walton, the description of a-dam being formed from the dust of the ground is a means of identity rather than as a physical description of material from which he was made (Genesis 2:7). He goes on to describe humanity: “We are mortal, we are frail, we are earthy, we are dust.”……….The above descriptions—that the humans described in Genesis 1:26-27 may have been people who existed before the historical Adam and Eve, and that “dust” is a means of identity rather than physical description—allow for the possibility that humans may have evolved like the rest of living species…….Walton further describes that mortal humanity had a remedy that kept them from dying. It was the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. However, in regards to the reality of their fall into sin, in Genesis 3 we read that the humans chose to sin. The ultimate consequence of their sin was death, because according to Genesis 3:24, they were banished from the Garden and therefore from eating of the tree of life. Since that time, the rest of us humans have also been subject to sin as well as death……..Walton explains that Adam and Eve were real, historical people, but in the original Hebrew language, at least for Adam, his personal name was not used until Genesis 4-5.……..Scholar John Walton summarizes his teaching: “The view I offer says the Bible doesn’t make claims that are necessarily at odds with science. I don’t see a chasm between the Bible and science that either keeps people from coming to faith or leads people away from faith. That doesn’t mean we have everything resolved. But concerning biological human origins, we’ve sometimes made the Bible say things that it was never saying.”
- https://Youtube.com/watch?v=8fn1ESgtNi4 (Video of John Walton’s lecture)
- No literal Adam and Eve means no Fall into sin, right? Then, what is the need for our Savior Jesus?
- I believe Adam and Eve were literal, historical people who made choices to sin, and because of that, the ultimate consequence was their death. Since that time, people seem to inherit the problem of falling into sin, and ultimately they all die.
- Because we sin, our need for a Savior Jesus is as great as ever!
- What about the truth of Scripture, including the creation story?
- I believe Genesis 1 is truth–God designed and created the world. However, I don’t think it needs to be read as a scientific account of exactly how it happened. When we desire to be too “black and white” on how it happened, often for the sake of our own sense of security, or our insecurities, in wanting to wrap our heads around something, or in desiring to honor our Creator, is it possible that we can actually limit our understanding of His greatness?
- Due to the amazing brain power that God has designed within us, we humans have been able to discover evidences of how God may have done the actual creating by evolution. As well, we are learning that there can be good harmony between science and faith.
Much of my thinking above comes from the approach of Dr. Richard Mouw, former president and professor of Fuller Theological Seminary. As a Reformed theologian, he wrote a short article titled A Worldview-ing Approach to Faith and Science. It can be found at this link: https://issuu.com/dordtcollege/docs/voicefall2016-issuu/14. He has a great interest in science, including the theory of evolution, and to stay grounded as a Bible-based believer, he discusses the need “to bring to our intellectual pursuits certain control-beliefs that guide our efforts to engage in scholarly investigations. These control beliefs are biblically-based convictions that provide non-negotiable reference points for our intellectual explorations.” (You would be blessed by reading the article at the link in this paragraph!)