Angels vs humanity: differences in creation

We see in the Bible that God created (at least) two intelligent classes of beings: one, the human race and the other, his messengers, the angels. Both have been given intelligence, free will, the ability to worship God, and the capacity to sin.

Where does the biologos community stand concerning the creation of the Angels? Is it that the Angels were created by a direct, instantaneous act of God or through a spiritual process somehow comparable to human, biological evolution? Admittedly, the biblical evidence is slim and, almost by definition, there can be no physical evidence.

If by direct, instantaneous divine action, then why not humanity? In other words, how can I show that the theory that humans are a product of evolution is the best fit for the evidence available to us – so much so that I must reject a direct, instantaneous act as others believe?

I do not believe in free will as a magical addition to things, but as the essence of the self-organizing process of life. This describes us and not the angels. It is we who learn and grow from the tiniest beginning not the angels who are created spirits with power and knowledge that are simply given to them from their creation by God. The angels are the first logical easy step in the creation of others with whom God could have a relationship. Consider the challenge facing an omnipotent being when seeking to create something which does things for its own reasons rather than simply what He has designed it to do. This is what required the creation of an environment which operates according to fixed rules which we call the physical universe. It is essentially the principle of automation from these mathematical laws which we know from the science of chaotic dynamics can give rise in complex interactions to self-organizing phenomenon. This gives us a basis for existence independent from the whim and design of God so that we unlike the angels can make our own choices not only about what to do but what to become as we learn and grow – therein lies a freedom of will that goes far beyond anything found in AI we have designed or in the angels which God designed.

Of course, I do not speak for Biologos. But I think it is a mistake to treat Biologos as a religion, philosophy or theology. It simply seeks to support Christianity in the context of the findings of science, particularly evolution. So it certainly advocates various versions of EC, evolutionary creationism. But to ask its opinion on unrelated theological issues doesn’t really make any sense. The most you can expect are various people to provide their answers to at least demonstrate that answers to this question are possible.

Clearly my answer is that the angels were created by design and not by any sort of evolution.

Exactly! That is precisely why I do not believe that angels have free will comparable to human beings! If that were possible then I don’t see the point in creating human beings at all.

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You will have various views of angels and spirits. For me personally, these are spirits created by God in a manner unknown to us. The difference between us and the spiritual entities is that humans are biological creatures while the angels are spiritual entities and thus outside of out realm of reality and laws. While God “could” have made human spontaneously, the evidence shows that God made humans via evolution.

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I would tend to agree with you. We simply don’t have any information about what methods God used to create angels, but then, we didn’t know much about God’s methods for humans until pretty recently in the grand scheme of things.

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A pretty big distinction in the means by which God brought us about versus angels is that we’re made in the image of God, they’re not. And angels, of course, would have had to be created directly (there is no reproduction among the angels obviously - Mark 12:25) whereas we seem to have been brought about over a period of evolution.

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Correction. They do not marry. This is because they are not male and female.

And yes they are created directly. But I would not be too sure that they do not reproduce in some sense. I think it is possible that some angels can create other angels. They have whatever powers and knowledge God gives to them and I think the ability to create lesser angels could be among the abilities of some of them. It would be like computers with the ability to create more computers. It is a rather logical way for God to have done things.

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Since you can’t know the answer to this question from the Bible or science, I would say I’m fine not having an answer. Imagining all the possible details about the creation and beyond-Earth activities of angels makes a fine subject for Madeleine L’Engle-esque speculative fiction.

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This has been a great discussion so far! Still my primary question is, if Angels were created by a Divine act, then why is that not also a satisfactory method for the creation of humankind? What key pieces of evidence support the evolutionary creation model vis a vis the Divine act model?

The bible God in heaven from the Angel of God experienced on Earth. God himself directly remains ever aloof in remote heaven such that no one has ever seen him John 118. However, he can send his Angel to influence Earth. His Angel is his remote telepresence if you would.

Likewise, the Angels we experience on Earth are the remote influences of heavenly beings. The Angel of God, we experience on Earth is distinct from God in remote Heaven, who sends his Angel to Earth. Likewise, the other angelic beings humanity experiences on Earth are distinct from the actual heavenly principalities and powers who send them to our planet.

Not marrying should be seen as synonymous with not reproducing. Suggesting that angels reproduce seems like a pretty silly personal theory to me. Certainly doesn’t have anything to do with the Bible.

Well, doesn’t the NT say that angels in heaven do not reproduce? Sounds like the angels (according to the NT) are direct creations of God.

There is also Hebrews 7:3, which seems to imply that Melchizedek, whilst not God, is some sort of eternal being, compare this with 11Q Melchizedek, which identifies him as the 'Elohim who judges in the council of 'El, and is distinct from 'El.

Though not a Christian, I think co-eternals with “God” are theoretically possible, provided these eternals still emanate (outside of time) from “God’s” essence. I believe in an eternal, Philonic Logos.

What do you mean by satisfactory? Comports with the Bible? Well, then sure, special creation of humans is satisfactory. It is the physical evidence that supports evolution. As for angels, there is no archaeological, anthropological, genetic, or fossil evidence to deal with with it comes to angel origins, so it isn’t exactly parallel.

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Philippians 2:10 quotes Isaiah 45:23, but substitutes Jesus Christ for YHWH

much as 11Q Melchizedek quotes Isaiah 61:2, but substitutes Melchizedek for YHWH

I mean satisfactory in the sense that a mathematical proof in physics is satisfactory if it successfully explains the phenomena observed in a physical process . In this context I mean that a special creation of humankind is a satisfactory explanation for our existence that cannot be easily be falsified.

A good example of the former would be Newton’s theory of gravitation. It was completely satisfactory for more then 200 years. Then new conditions were discovered not covered by that theory. Enter Einstein. Now we know that Newton’s theory of gravitation is a special case of general relativity.

When it comes to intelligent life, most seem to agree the God’s angels were created in a special divine act. When we look at ourselves in the light of Genesis 1, it is easy to read the same sort of special creation into the text. My question is whether that simple explanation is excluded by the evidence for evolution that we see around us? Or, is special creation still a viable theory?

I don’t think anyone has any idea what kind of methodology God used to create angels. Whether it was a direct and instantaneous process or not, it was a divine action. Much like you can say humanity was created by a divine action, regardless of the methodology used. Since we can now say with confidence that life evolved, we don’t then conclude that since natural forces are at work, this excludes divine action. This is a very interesting question, though.

One could make the case that the bible does suggest angels reproduce, or have before with human women. This gets into the Nephilim discussion and is a rabbit hole. And I also don’t want to assume this scenario involved angels as opposed to some other type of being.

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I don’t know that you could say it is excluded. Because if you are invoking a divine miracle, then God could do whatever. But special creation does not explain lots of what we see, and the evolutionary model does. So if the question is “Could God have specially created humankind in such a way that it just appears that they are the result of evolutionary processes?” Well, sure, science can’t falsify that because it isn’t a scientific conclusion, it involves supernatural activity. If the question is “Why would God have specially created humankind in such a way that it just appears they are the result of evolutionary processes?” That raises more theological questions about God being deceptive.

I don’t think special creation has ever been a “viable theory.” It’s a doctrinal position based on an interpretation of divine revelation. It has never been an explanatory model that tries to make sense of multiple lines of evidence in the natural world. As an explanatory model, it fails to account for most of what we see.

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I think part of the answer to your question lies within the question itself. If you’re willing to stick your neck out and say your believe in angels (and, speaking for myself, you’d get no argument about this from me, as I most definitely believe there are angels around us always), then you’re already in uncharted territory from a Materialist point of view.

We don’t know anything about the creation of angels. This hasn’t stopped theologians and mystics and philosophers from speculating about the nature of angels, but speculation isn’t proof. Because we know nothing for certain about the creation of angels, we can’t say one way or the other how the creation of angels compares to the creation of human beings. The question, though, is an opportunity for us to reflect on the mysteries of life in God’s good Creation.

There’s no need to assume that an evolutionary creation model is incompatible or inconsistent with other creation paradigms within Creation. Based on the complexity and weirdness of quantum theory, it could be argued that all of Creation is multi-layered, so to speak. The evolution of life on Planet Earth looks pretty straightforward to us at a Materialistic level, but I suspect there’s more going on here than meets the human eye.

Good input Christy! I think I might add a word to your great question, “why would God…” . I’d add the word “today”. We might agree that your question was meaningless (or at least unintelligible) before Darwin et al. I think it could actually become rhetorical as we learn more. We may very well discover that there is another option other than God hiding the marbles, so to speak. An option that we simply cannot see today.

One thing I am very happy about: Our salvation is not dependent on choosing to hold one of the current theories for the creation of humanity!

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@Realspiritik I agree that there is certainly more going on than meets the eye. We may have eternity in our hearts but our eyes see the physical world around us. In some ways, our problem is a first-world problem. That is, we learn from childhood on to separate the physical from the metaphysical. Other cultures are not so binary but see a continuum from the purely physical to the purely spiritual, ascribing events to combined actions all along that scale.

Sometimes people are accused of “being so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good,” but the opposite is, I think, equally true, especially in the west. Still, what a glorious time to be alive, to be able to converse so easily concerning matters that were once (and still may be, in some quarters) cause for ostracisation or worse.

No it should absolutely not be seen as synonymous because it is not synonymous. That is both bad logic and bad science. There is asexual reproduction. You might think it is more primitive, but even if so, the fact is that angels were created first and so they might be thought of as more primitive in some sense. Furthermore the main purpose of sexual reproduction is genetic diversity which would serve no purpose in the case of angels.

The only thing I am arguing for is the possibility. For this is neither affirmed or denied by the Bible. And therefore using Mark 12:25 to say that angels do not reproduce is blatant editing of the Bible.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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