Evolutionary Creation?

What does it mean to be created in God’s image? There is no single answer to that question but the obvious answer, we look like God, is certainly false.

Evolution is responsible for how we look and some of how we act, but neither have any bearing on our being image bearers.

I feel like the image of god is simply a phrase for our function as corulers. We don’t make idols of god because we are the image of god on earth. We are alike living idols carrying out the will of God.

I personally believe that being made in God’s image means that no two beings on earth can be exactly the same. This means that we are all special and have our own unique features that distinguish us from other people. God created all of us with love and specially gave us each specific purposes or jobs on Earth. He created a plan for each and every one of us. But, I do agree that there are many different interpretations and views to that phrase. It’s definitely interesting to hear other’s interpretations.

I’m not sure I quite understand what you mean here. Could you explain that a bit?

If you search on the main page of Biologos, you will find a lot of articles and podcasts that address the image of God. One of the latest podcasts has that as a topic, and you can either listen or read the transcript at the link. I think you will enjoy the discussion:

And another very good article:

Oh those would be helpful in getting a better understanding. Thank you for the explanations!

Thanks for the response! I’ve gained some different perceptions of the world’s origin and it is really interesting. I know this might be a little technical, but if humans came from evolution, presumably the ape, at what point did we have souls and brains capable of understanding who God is? Also if the Hebrew authors were describing the natural world from their cultural vantage point, they did not know that their ancestors were not humans? (assuming the first premise) If you or someone could tie up these loose ends for me that would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again!

My take is human creation is in two parts. The first part is evolution which we see in the fossil record and our DNA. This part doesn’t play a part in our being image bearers. The second part is a creative act of God that makes us image bearers. Science doesn’t inform us what that process is exactly and the Bible likewise doesn’t tell us. So we just have to accept that we are.

Another BioLogos resource on this is here.

Humans didn’t come from the apes. Humans and apes have a common ancestor that is neither human or ape. “When did homo sapiens have a brain capable of understanding God?” is harder to answer. I would suggest it is when they started to bury their dead. If you are interested Google “behavioral modernity” for further information. Although you won’t find much information on understanding God.

That is true. God could have inspired the writer of Genesis to include that information but what would be the point? The information is not needed for the message God intended.

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Evolution doesn’t theorize that humans came from apes, but that apes and humans have a common ancestor way back in both of their family trees.

People speculate about this a lot but since souls don’t leave fossils and the whole idea of a soul is kind of a construct to understand complex things about our minds and morality, no one knows. Plus even at the point when humans were evolved enough to relate to God and understand right from wrong, it didn’t necessarily obligate God to reach out to them. He could do that in his own timing. I don’t think humanity was accountable for sin until God initiated a relationship with them and set boundaries they rejected.

The ancient Israelites would have had no concept of evolution. Most of their accounts were concerned with the history of their own people. So I think they probably saw Adam and Eve first and foremost as representing their own ancestors, the people who God first interacted with, whom Abraham was descended from. They were the “chosen people” so their history is all about showing how that chosen-ness came about so they could teach their kids and grandkids about their identity as God’s people.

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If Genesis 1 showed God created animals on a different day than humans, that might seem to support a strong distinction. But look closely at days 5 and 6. Animals for the sky and sea are made on day 5. On day 6, God makes the earth produce every kind of land creature. Then, still on day 6, God elevates humanity – a particular kind of land creature – to bear the divine image and reflect God to the rest of creation. (This two-step of first creating humanity as a creature not clearly in its own class and then elevating humanity is also suggested by Psalm 8.)

Humanity doesn’t get a day of creation to itself. It seems that what goes on what day is determined by where a creature lives, not how valuable they are. The first three days make three environments: the celestial realm of light and darkness, the watery realm of seas and skies, and the earthy realm of land covered by vegetation. The next three days populate these environments. The luminary creatures are made to rule the celestial realm on day 4 (note that they are described as rulers, not as balls of matter!). Fish and birds fill the seas and skies on day 5. And land creatures, including humans, populate the land.

Everything fits on the right day if we view the days as structured this way. But if we force them to be a blow-by-blow account of literal events, we’ll start wondering about amphibians and penguins and algae and tardigrades and lose sight of the account’s beauty as well as its plot.

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Depends how you define “ape”. I would put it more as a grade (i.e. non-Hominina Hominoidea, or whatever levels you want to assign those groups to), in which case Humans are descended from apes, but not modern apes.

Given the tendency for lay people to mean modern ape when they say ape I tend to say we don’t descend from “apes”. Also it is sometimes used as a pejorative, think Scopes Monkey Trial, so better to avoid the term even if it is technically correct, IMHO.

I don’t think we do have these “souls” concocted by the Greek philosophers and other religion and adopted by some of Christianity and forced into translations of scripture. Nor do I think we have ever had brains capable of understanding God… but perhaps you mean when we had brains capable of beginning the unending task of learning about God. For that I think the development of language is key and it is NOT any kind of sharp dividing line. The only sharp dividing line I see is when God chose to initiate communication with Adam and Eve.

Our biology came from evolution. The evidence for this is irrefutable. But this does not mean our humanity comes from evolution. Do you think our humanity is nothing more than biology – a genetic criterion? Are those who don’t measure up genetically therefore not human?

Yes, for lay people it makes sense.

Hello Kakelyn,

You ask a good clarification question, to which I offer a perspective.

Difference: One exaggerates focus on the concept of “evolution” and reveals its oftentimes confusing usage across a range of fields in which it is not well-suited (i.e. anywhere outside of natural-physical sciences). The other exaggerates focus on “immanence” & “process” (cf. “open theism”), while maintaining intense focus on divine creation in a Protestant “science & faith” context. The conversation about “evolutionism” is much different among more unified Roman Catholics than among the very many scattered branches of Protestants.

Similarity: Both “evolutionary creationism” and “evolutionism” are ideologies. There’s no way around this semantically, although many linguistic tunnels have been attempted and are tried even today. Still, some people attempt to avoid acknowledging that “creationism” (just like “evolutionism”) is an ideology, regardless of the qualifying adjective, for a variety of cultural reasons.

There’s actually in universities and among academics nowadays no such “unified science” (cf. positivism) as what some people loosely call “evolutionary science” across the following fields: geology, biology, ecology, sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics, marketing, literature. Anyone who tells you there is has a serious problem on their hands.

The post-modern term “evolutionary science” is a classic example of “bloat” that is never very well explained, without actually exposing ideological evolutionism. It’s a curious pickle, and thus a good “fault line” question that you asked.

Cheers,
Gregory

““Evolutionism” may be a bit more problematic as it tends to be a pejorative label applied by critics of evolutionary science who wish to paint all evolutionary science as first and foremost an ideology. And it may indeed be that for some scientists who do wish to push the conflict thesis and plant their ideological flags on their respective hills accordingly.”

That was an understatement. Yes, ‘evolutionism’ is a lot more problematic! You’re incorrect sociologically, Merv, but that’s ok, as it can be corrected.

“Evolutionism” is designated as not just “pejorative”, but as “properly descriptive” of the exaggeration of “evolution” beyond its proper reach, i.e. the “over-extension of evolution” outside of biology & other natural sciences. This is what Merv doesn’t seem willing to examine in the available literature, given the focus here on “creationists” and pop-anti-evolution, rather than on scholarly and credible anti-evolutionism. If one hasn’t read any of this scholarly anti-evolutionism, instead of just pop anti-evolution from “creationists”, then it can be easily omitted from their understanding, revealing a significant sociological gap.

Indeed, there really is no such official thing as “evolutionary science”, as Merv continually calls it. This is because “evolutionary theories” are quite obviously not in fact “strictly scientific” as soon as “cultural” fields are entered. Thus, a boundary is missing that needs to be identified and which ECists are among the worst at omitting (it makes sense why they omit it, but leaves a gap in their ideology). Adding “evolutionary anthropology” or “evolutionary psychology” under the label “evolutionary science” is HIGHLY problematic, just as is the notion that “evolutionary religious studies” is a “strictly scientific” study of religion. Is it really?

Not “unwilling” so much as “been there, done that…” and don’t see it as a high priority for how to continue spending my time. Does this mean there are gaps in my exposure to the latest of ideas on all these different areas? No doubt. As far as broad strokes and major ideas go though, - I’ll attend to any that rise to credible levels so as to merit interest.

I just add that (typically unecessary - I agree) label when I feel that emphasis is needed that mainstream science does include evolutionary theory with all its well-known mechanisms, as well as its cutting edge and frontier areas that are still developing. It’s unecessary to always add that descriptor because it’s redundant, not because it doesn’t exist.

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Between us, Merv, the only person who’s “been there, done that…” is not you. I doubt you’ve read a single text by a non-creationist rejecting evolutionism. To prove my claim wrong, you could just list a single text that you’ve read by a non-creationist rejecting evolutionism. The “over-extension of evolution” outside of biology & other natural sciences isn’t all that difficult to see when one is open to looking.

Thanks for your fairness and honesty in addressing this, Merv.

“It’s unecessary to always add that descriptor because it’s redundant , not because it doesn’t exist.”

No, it’s unnecessary because it’s a misnomer, full stop. Maybe Merv can make terms up in private Christian high school setting like his, but in universities there are no “evolutionary science” departments, faculties, or courses! Are you ready to fact check your own claim, Merv?

That’s why I say it doesn’t exist; it’s a trojan horse by evolutionist ideologues, which has started seeping into the language of liberal evangelicals, like Joshua Swamidass, who speaks of “evolutionary science” regularly.

Biology is a natural science; so are physics, chemistry & ecology. No one is arguing about those fields. No one is arguing that evolutionary biology is a field within biology. Does that make sense to you, Merv? Are you aware of that, since Sy Garte agrees with me and rejects the “universalism” in your “evolutionary science” claim, given your stance does NOT reject “evolutionary theories” in human-social sciences.

If you could finally accept that “evolutionary theories” are problematic in human-social sciences, Merv, that would show progress. Is it time for this yet? Are you willing to be humble about the “gaps in your exposure to the latest ideas” in this area of human-social sciences, Merv? Or will you again dismiss the opportunity to raise your awareness about this serious problem, from your “natural sciences & mathematics” background? I’m here joyfully to help raise your awareness, if you’re willing to allow that to happen. If you prefer not to rise, then that’s your responsibility for remaining willfully unaware.

Calling it “evolutionary science”, when “evolutionary psychology” is pretty much a TOTAL SHAM, “evolutionary sociology” is largely vacuous, and “evolutionary religious studies” is largely anti-religiously offensive, is pushing things too far. Promoting “evolutionary science” as legitimate for studying “religion” is simply not a realistic, balanced, or sustainable position for careful, sensitive, and “intellectual” Christians to adopt.

I suspect he’s referring to (multiple?) previous conversations here were the topic has been hashed and rehashed.
 

E.g.:

Science rejects God?

How?

Science is both a body of authoritative knowledge about material reality and a means to pursue knowledge about reality through hypothesis and experimentation.

Science itself doesn’t make metaphysical claims. It operates under the presumption of metaphysical assumptions.

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