"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." Genesis 1:26
What a surprise to find evolution on the debate-plate recently in political discussions. How did that topic work its way to the top when it has barely been on the national radar for decades?
True, it has been a hot topic for school boards and local or state governments but I never before remember a presidential candidate being asked: "do you believe in evolution?" But it's happening now. Moreover, did you know that 42% of all American adults "say that humans and other living things have existed in present form only. In other words, life did not evolve, but was created in its present state." (August 2006 poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.)
Forty two percent is a monumental number considering that evolution has been the only curriculum taught in public schools and universities in recent memory. How has anyone (let alone 42%) survived a public education without firmly and unequivocally embracing evolution? Evolution, a theory, is presented as truth by its proponents with implication that only the very ignorant and uninformed would deny it.
The Bible of course teaches that God had a hand in creation - a very personal hand. Science sees it one way and faith sees it another way. Does science prove God's Word wrong? Does faith foolishly ignore the findings of astronomers, geologists, physicists and other scientists?
Since evolution is back in the news, let's discuss some legitimate places for people of faith to draw their line in the sand. I believe there are two principles we can stand by in the evolution debate regardless of scientific findings - even those that are yet to come.
The first is that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). It was God who divided up time and did certain creation work on each "day" and this is true regardless of whether you hold that the creation days were literal or figurative. The Lord ordered the heavens and the earth in a very logical, thoughtful way. The division of labor speaks to a separation in the creatures rather than one that is "evolving."
The second thing is that man is a unique creation. This is shone in scripture in a number of ways. Just as God created the sky and sea creatures on one day and the land animals on a different day, he chose to create man last - all by himself on a day separate from everything else.
Man was separate and unique in another way too. He is the only creation made in God's image and likeness. Man has more affinity with the Creator who is in heaven than with any creature who lives on earth. Though he was formed from dust (and his body will return to dust), he was created to be heaven bound.
As God reviewed all that he made he kept saying that "it was good." So what did he do when the whole thing was finished? He presented it all to man to rule over. He entrusted his creation to man. He even invited his first man to name every other creature "and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name" (Genesis 2:19).
Real science is not at odds with faith because God is the Master Scientist. He knows more about creation in his little finger than all the scientists in history will ever know with all their brains put together. God, in fact, constructed every atom in all those brains.
In the past, the church has often made the mistake of drawing inaccurate scientific conclusions because of faulty reading of scripture. Then, when irrefutable proof displaces flawed dogma they are left with egg on their face and the derision of intellectual communities. Remember that the Catholic Church made Galileo stand trial for heresy for holding that the earth is not the center of the universe.
Let's be honest about the fact that God did not tell ALL when he wrote Genesis for us. Let's be careful about drawing conclusions from inferences that are not there regarding the ins and out of God's creative work. BUT, let's not give up the principles that clearly are there.
God himself is the creator of all. "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being" (John 1:3). Man is a separate and unique creation. Not for birds or fish or cattle did Jesus come and die on the cross but for human beings only. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Let the evolution debate rage on but let people of faith hold fast to those truths.