Updated: Nov 26, 2020
A Continuation of Age Six (Day Six): Mankind (p. 54-47). “Let us make man in our image…’So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27
A. The only Hebrew noun used for mankind in Genesis 1 is ‘adam. This noun, used frequently in Hebrew literature, refers exclusively to the first individual human or to the first human couple and their descendants. In the report of God’s creation of ‘adam, we see the third and final usage of bara in Genesis 1. Just as in the case of the nephesh, a second verb, asa, is used. Again, something about ‘Adam is completely new, and something about him is not. Because creatures with body and soul (meaning that they had emotions) already existed, the spiritual dimension of this one creature set him apart from all others. Only the human, God’s final work of the creation days, bears “the image of God.” This distinction applies to no other creature. B. For the moment, let’s investigate the spirit component of ‘adam. From the rest of Genesis and all of Scripture, as well as from a study of human culture through the ages, we see that the human spirit includes the following characteristics, among others:
Awareness of a moral code “written or impressed within a conscience.”
Concerns about death and about life after death.
Propensity to worship and desire to communicate with a higher being.
Consciousness of self
Drive to discover and capacity to recognize truth and absolutes.
These traits find expression or conscious repression in every human being, regardless of time and place and intellect. They can even be seen, to some extent, in infants and in people with severe mental or emotional impairment. These qualities help defined human uniqueness, and any creature who lacks them cannot be considered ‘adam.
C. Biblical genealogies serve as one indicator of how recently humans appeared. However, they provide only a loose measure. The problem lies in the flexible usage of the Hebrew words for father and son, ‘ab and ben. ‘Ab also refers to grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, and so on. Similarly, ben may mean grandson, great-grandson, great-great-grandson, and so on.
D. The challenge in deriving a date for the creation of Adam and Eve is to ascertain, or even estimate, the completeness or incompleteness of the biblical genealogies. Comparative analysis of overlapping genealogies throughout the Bible suggest that they may range any where from about 90 percent complete at best to about 10 percent complete at worst. Using genealogical data alone, we can place the date for the creation of Adam and Eve very roughly between about seven thousand and about sixty thousand years ago. The date might be stretched a little further back but cannot justifiably be stretched far enough to accommodate the early bipedal primate species (circa five hundred thousand to four million years back).
E. More reasons than this matter of timing can be given for excluding early primates from consideration as “humans,” members of ‘adam’s race, spiritual beings as well as soulish. Evidence of man’s spiritual dimension would include relics of worship, such as idols, altars, and temples. From a biblical perspective, painting, musical ability, burial of the dead, and use of tools could represent evidence of soulishness, not spirituality. Birds and primates even elephants, have been observed to engage in such activities, which reflect mind and emotion, not spirit.
Although bipedal, tool-using, large-brained primates roamed Earth for hundreds of thousands (perhaps a million) years, religious relics date back only about eight thousand to twenty-four thousand years. Thus, the anthropological date for the first spirit creatures agrees with the biblical date. (For further discussion on this issue, see chapter fourteen.)
F. Though most anthropologists still insist that the bipedal primates were “human,” the conflict lies more in semantics than in research data. Support for their views that modern humans descended from these primate species is rapidly eroding. Evidence now indicates that all bipedal primates went extinct, with the possible exception of Neandertal, before the advent of human beings. As for Neandertal, the possibility of a biological link with humanity has been conclusively ruled out. (See chapter fourteen for more details.)
Clare’s notes: Dr. Ross wrote before the mapping of human DNA, which we discussed weeks ago in my June 17, 2019 blog. I highly recommend a wonderful little book published by Zondervan, Seven Days That Divide the World, by Dr. John Lennox. Dr. Lennox is an Oxford professor and close friend of Dr. Francis Collins, a committed Christian who led the Human Genome Project, the team that first mapped human DNA. This book summarizes a number of old-earth theories in addition to those in my blog.
My hope is that this series of blogs actually helps you appreciate more that Christians who believe in an older earth and are also serious about the Bible and their faith. They’re not all a bunch of liberals. They are followers of Jesus.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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