Gods love and the primitive nature of early hominin minds

We all know that I am a YEC who struggles deeply with the theological issues in evolution, however I also confess that logically I am forced to recognise the enormous scientific problems with a literalist approach to biblical theology.

When i think about my world view, obviously i am a Christian…its pointless to attempt to delete such biases from my memory, therefore, they are there front and centre. Strangely enough, i was raised in my earliest years (up to the age of about 12) believing we came from a lineage similar to apes…and in those days it was just simply…your ancetors at some point eons ago, were apes!

When moving forward to our current point in the timeline, its clearly obvious to me, the “gap theory” or anything similar to that theology is complete bollocks, it cannot be supported. It is a significant shortcoming in theology to overlook the claim that if there are millions of years between Gen1:1 and Gen 1:2, one must be logically convinced that Moses, with his Egyptian education, would have certainly had the language and writing skills to explain that, but the undeniable fact is he did not. So we are left with a huge dilemma here…

We have extensive, undeniable and physically verifiable Egyptian historical evidence illustrating a very intelligent culture dating back more than a thousand years before Christ. A culture that was immersed deeply into astronomy and spiritualism and incredible ability long before the time of Moses. One of the biggest challenges to the theory that mankind [specifically Moses] didn’t have the language to explain God’s revelation about origins are the mathematical calculations used to orient the pyramids the incredible ability to construct them. I would argue there is not a soul on this forum who would disagree that the cultural artifacts and construction achievements of the Egyptians are still regarded as “religious” and engineering marvels even by today’s standards.

The pyramids are “living proof” that the argument Moses did not have the ability to write down what God revealed to him in visions and verbally, is blind, unintelligent and illogical nonsense!

Ok…so given the caveat above, I want to make it very clear its irrelevant to me whether or not those on this forum agree with the caveat. They are the historical facts about the historicity of the intelligence required to:

  1. build the pyramids which historians say were as much as 1000 years earlier than Moses and,
  2. write the extensive and highly developed “religious” beliefs of the nation Egypt more than 2000 years before the time of Christ.

It is very clear that Mose was highly intelligent, highly educated, and a strong leader who drew from his Egyptian education and skills.

A slight side note, one of the interesting things from the bible narrative about Moses is that clearly, he was too influenced philosophically and physically by his Royal Egyptian upbringing and God used the 40 years of excile to reshape an earthly prince into a servant of heaven. I do not believe that God caused Moses to go into exile, the decision to kill an Egyptian taskmaster was not Gods…that was all on Moses. Other members in my denomination (SDA) often say that God did not intend that Moses kill in order to learn how to be humble…certainly Christ did not demonstrate such behavior during his own ministry…he taught that we should turn the other cheek and do good to those who persecute us.

Anyway…the main focus of the O.P question is the following:

I cannot help but think about what it means to be “Created in Gods image” and I note on the Biologos website an article that talks about God loving primitive hominin minds. This statement by the author raises a problem for me in that the bible tells us that God created animals and humans separately…the human, which according to the bible was intelligent enough to immediately communicate with God and also to tend to the garden, and could name animals and control them…the human was far more intellectually capable than an animal.

I am reading the following article on Biologos website

It states…

John Wesley, who knew nothing of evolution of course, believed that “there is no human being who has ever existed who was not deeply loved…Thus no human being lives without the Spirit wooing to live compassionately and justly with (all) others” (taken from p. 82 of Michael Lodahl’s *Matthew Matters* ). Just like the love we have for each of our children begins even before the moment of birth, so too we can anticipate that God’s love for members of our ancestral lineage was always present. Just like we parents love our infants more than we thought humanly possible, so it would have been with God’s love regardless of the primitive nature of those early hominin minds.

In reference to the following creation text…

**Genesis 1:27** : “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

And given my upbringing prior to Christianity one cannot ignore the mainstream imagery about the origins of mankind…


How do TEists reconcile God creating man in his own image, with the statement that God loved primitive hominin minds?

  1. Is being created in God’s image indicative of the creature on the lhs of the illustration above, or the one on the rhs?
  2. If you believe the creature on the lhs, how do you explain that a primitive mind is capable of engaging with its creator if it cannot communicate verbally using language and it wasn’t capable of intellectual thought such that it could cultivate and tend to a garden…it merely foraged for food? The bible is quite clear that even the death of a sparrow (Matthew 10:29) does not go unnoticed, however, it uses that phrase to tell us that we are even more important than a sparrow (clearly illustrating a significant fundamental difference between humans and animals)

The big problem here is, that if we all evolved from the same single cell organism, how does one explain why God should choose the evolving man for salvation and deny animals that evolved from the same source? What is the ultimate purpose of animals in heaven…are we to believe that currently there are no animals in Gods heavenly dwelling?

(As much as possible, i need theological support for answers here…Christianity sources its theology largely from the bible)

Doesn’t God love all of “creation”?

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The statement from Falk seems to combine multiple lines of thought. God cares for all of creation, and knows what part of it He will use in the creation of humans. At some point, that lineage is given special status and responsibility of being in God’s image. (Note that this is true for creation directly from dust of the ground as well as using some intermediate steps.)

The Egyptians were competent in basic math and had varied learning, but it doesn’t actually take too much math to build a pyramid - note the “bent” pyramid that indicates some trial and error. Moses certainly was intelligent, but that doesn’t mean that he would have sought to answer questions that might be asked by modern readers. The Bible is the primary source of theology, and theology is the primary topic of the Bible. We should not expect digressions on theologically irrelevant scientific topics, despite the post-“Enlightenment” obsession with appearing scientific that lies behind much of modern culture, including the roots of modern young-earth creationism.


Its all good and well to make an assumption here, but without referencing an authoritative source, that is your opinion, so i must ask…

biblically, at what point?

A picture is worth a thousand words' is the classic adage interpreted to mean that **multiple ideas or concepts can be expressed often by a single image** . Or that an image may be a better way of explaining or expressing a complex idea than using words A picture is worth a thousand words (or lessons) – Primary Learning

See the really big problem here is that we know from many biblical references that Gods revelation to Old Testament writers such as Moses was both verbal and in vision (imagery in dreams etc).

Then we have the following from Wikipedia on Ancient Egypt

The success of ancient Egyptian civilization came partly from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the [Nile River valley for agriculture](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_agriculture). The predictable [flooding](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flooding_of_the_Nile) and controlled [irrigation](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irrigation) of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which supported a more dense population, and [social development](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_change) and culture. With resources to spare, the [administration](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Administration_(government)) sponsored mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions, the early development of an independent [writing system](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_hieroglyphs), the organization of collective construction and agricultural projects, trade with surrounding regions, and [a military](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_ancient_Egypt) intended to assert Egyptian dominance. Motivating and organizing these activities was a bureaucracy of elite [scribes](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scribes), religious leaders, and administrators under the control of a [pharaoh](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharaoh), who ensured the cooperation and unity of the Egyptian people in the context of an elaborate system of [religious beliefs](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_religion).[[4]](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egypt#cite_note-FOOTNOTEJames20058Manuelian19986%E2%80%937-4)

The many achievements of the ancient Egyptians include the [quarrying](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_quarries_of_ancient_Egypt), [surveying](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveying), and construction techniques that supported the building of monumental [pyramids](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_pyramids), [temples](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_temple), and [obelisks](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obelisk); a system of [mathematics](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_mathematics), a practical and effective [system of medicine](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_medicine), irrigation systems, and agricultural production techniques, the first known planked boats,[[5]](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egypt#cite_note-FOOTNOTEWard2001-5) [Egyptian faience](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_faience) and glass technology, new forms of [literature](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_literature), and the [earliest known peace treaty](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian%E2%80%93Hittite_peace_treaty), made with the [Hittites](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hittites).[[6]](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egypt#cite_note-FOOTNOTEClayton1994153-6) Ancient Egypt has left a lasting legacy. Its [art](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_ancient_Egypt) and [architecture](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_architecture) were widely copied, and its antiquities were carried off to far corners of the world. Its monumental ruins have [inspired the imaginations](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egypt_in_the_Western_imagination) of travelers and writers for millennia. A newfound respect for antiquities and excavations in the early modern period by Europeans and Egyptians has led to the [scientific investigation](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptology) of Egyptian civilization and a greater appreciation of its cultural legacy.[[7]](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egypt#cite_note-FOOTNOTEJames200584-7)

The language argument simply does not stack up either logically or historically. The Egyptians are widely publicised as being a very advanced culture even by modern standards and the claim that one of their own royalty (Moses) was incapable of articulating Gods revelation in Genesis is falsified by the historical evidence. 

Now one might argue, “oh but the scientific evidence”

here’s the problem with the scientific evidence argument…which scientist gave us the first hand eyewitness to the scientific evidence of early man or indeed creation itself?

Answer: There are none!!!

So the TEist solution is to state that the historical accounts are wrong and the theoretical is correct simply because modern interpretation says so?

Let me give an illustration of where that kind of thinking leads…

Below are some quotes from Osborn, Ronald E… Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering (p. 125). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

Osborn quotes a poem at the beginning of his chapter on Stasis

“In Praise of Self-Deprecation”
 The buzzard has nothing to fault himself with.
Scruples are alien to the black panther.
Piranhas do not doubt the rightness of their actions.
The rattlesnake approves of himself without reservations. The self-critical jackal does not exist.
The locust, alligator, trichina, horsefly
live as they live and are glad of it. The killer whale’s heart weighs one hundred kilos
but in other respects it is light. There is nothing more animal-like
than a clear conscience
on the third planet of the Sun. —WISLAWA SZYMBORSKA

I wonder how many who read Osborns book realise that Wislawa Szymborska was a socialist?

Osborne also uses a quote to lead us into a chapter on animals and I am absolutely horrified by the opening statement he makes in the Chapter titled "Stasis, Deception, Curse…

Let us be clear from the outset that there are no tidy answers to the theodicy dilemma of animal suffering, and that any theology that accepts “deep time” and organic evolution (not to be confused with ultra-Darwinism) as established facts of science is indeed faced with severe difficulties—just as anyone who accepts the Nazi or Rwandan genocides as established facts of history is faced with severe difficulties.

Osborn, Ronald E… Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering (p. 126). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

Now i don’t know about anyone else here, however, i know that a person is on the wrong pathway when i find horrible lies (claiming the holocost is false) about reality of war in Christian books that are used by others to support their world views (in this case TEism). Clearly, we must look under the skin to find out whether or not what we believe is in fact a wolf in sheep’s clothing!

Osborn isn’t denying the Holocaust. He’s saying that just as there are severe difficulties in accepting the established scientific facts that animals do nasty things to each other, there are severe difficulties in accepting the established historical facts that humans do nasty things to each other. But those severe difficulties are surmountable, and even if they weren’t, they aren’t a good reason to deny reality.


I would tend to say on the rhs, but primarily as I see “in God’s image” as being morally capable and thus able to choose to act as an agent of God rather than being a slave of the flesh, as expressed by selfish instinct. I don’t think we can know at what point that became possible, but probably required a degree of conscious reasoning.


Neither. All this diagram shows is shape and being created in the image of God has NOTHING to do with shape.

Both. Our infinite potentiality is a reflection of God’s infinite actuality. This basic reflection is in all living organisms. It is just that with humans this potentiality is realized to the point where God can adopt us as His childen and give rise to the human mind with the substance of language and the composition of abstract ideals like personhood, love, and justice - an inheritance from God Himself.

The mind is an essential part of being the children of God, because THAT is where we have an inheritance directly from God. Nevertheless the basic reflection is there even in bacterium because of its basic capacity to become more than it is through adaptation and learning. It is only in that capacity that we are the children of God as well. The gap between our finite selves and the infinite God is only crossed by our ability to spend an eternity learning to be more like God from our relationship with Him.

By bringing our minds to life God gave us tremendous power and we are misusing that power. Animals evolve simply to survive. But we act according to self-destructive habits that can make hell on earth.

I certainly don’t believe any such thing. Nor do I believe living things are tools made for an end. The purpose of all living things is the way of life they have chosen and evolved for. We simply have greater freedom of choice so that we can even go against the dictates of life itself. So God says in Deuteronomy, “I set before you life and death, therefore choose life.”

If you are going to limit yourself to the Bible then you have to limit yourself to the questions which the Bible addresses. You cannot expect the Bible to tell you how to fix your computer. That mentality is insane.

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It can argued from scripture that God loved us before we were capable of loving him in return (e.g., Palm 139:14), so it does not appear that our intellectual capacity is a prerequisite for receiving God’s love. The Lutheran tradition (I currently attend a Lutheran congregation) actually has an interesting take on this. Recognizing your dependence on God is what is required for salvation, not necessarily intellectual assent to particular doctrines. You don’t have to have language and math skills to recognize that you are dependent on someone, necessarily. Newborn babies instinctively know they are dependent on their mothers, for example. The image of God seems to have more to do with humans being God’s representatives to creation, based on the Hebrew word for image using in Genesis 1:26, than inherent attributes that humans have. As a result, God could have just as easily chosen a different creature to represent him to creation. That being said, there are probably certain traits that are necessary for a creature to be a representative of God to creation from a practical perspective. A sea squirt, which has no brain and does not do much other than sit on the seafloor filtering water in its adult stage, probably would not be a very effective divine representative to creation, let alone an effective caretaker, for example. For this reason, I would agree that Adam and Eve were probably at the vary least members of the genus Homo if not Homo sapiens. They were likely not australopithecines and unless australopithecines had the intelligence and moral capacity required to be God’s representatives. I have no idea what minimum intelligence would be required for a species to be God’s image-bearers, so australopithecines might have made the cut for all I know. My point though is that whether a species has God’s image has more to do with the type of relationship they have with God than their natural capacities for reason, love, imagination, etc., though I would say there is probably a minimum requirement for practical purposes. Whether early hominins met those minimum requirements is not known. We can be confident, however, that the ancient Egyptians did meet those minimum requirements since God clearly wanted the same relationship with them that he wants with us today and some ancient Egyptians did since we know that some Egyptians went with the Hebrews when they left Egypt in the book of Exodus.


The reason Osborn quotes Szymborska is to make clear that animals just do what they do. If a lion kills a gazelle, he is not brought before a court. Animals don’t ponder the morality of their behaviour.

Yes, he means that the Nazi and Rwandan genocides create theological problems. The age-old question: “Why does a God of love allow suffering?”


There’s no dilemma unless you’re trying to demand that Moses for some bizarre reason was interested in telling what we are interested in knowing. Our interests would have been meaningless to his original audience; he wrote with his fellow Israelites in mind, dealing with their concerns.

Where does this argument come from? I’ve never heard it before this.

And where is it said that God used visions with Moses?

And that education had no interest at all in modern interests about material creation. Moses would have learned that the sky was the body of the god Nut, that the sun-disk Aten rode a ship through the heavens, that the gods had to fight the darkness every night so that barque could pass through the underworld and emerge to save creation, etc.

It means that as pagan gods had statues in temples, YHWH-Elohim has us – we were to be what the rest of Creation looked to in order to know what God is like. We are God’s “imagers”.

Of course He would – God is love.

What is there to reconcile? Of course He loved what was for His image!

Babies are capable of engaging with their parents before they can talk or reason; they are capable of trust and affection. So what’s the problem?

Because we’re in His image while they’re part of what we image Him for.

I don’t think we’re told enough to do more than speculate here, and speculation makes for lousy theology.


“…what is that to you? You follow me!”

Biblically we aren’t told.

Despite how post-Enlightenment humans love systematic thinking, the Bible is not a library of systematic theology just as it is not a science library. No Genesis writer would have cared about our curiosity about biology, or about any other kind of science, nor would they have been interested in systematic theology – their interest was relational theology, about understanding how they were supposed to relate to God in response to how He related to us.

Show where it is written that God communicated to Moses by dreams or visions.

What theologian gave us the firsthand eyewitness to Moses writing Genesis?

If you demand “first hand eyewitness” for science, you’d better be prepared to provide the same for the authorship of Genesis.


On the flip side, we can conclude that there are attributes necessary to any creature assigned the role of imaging God to the rest of Creation, such as the capacity to love and to organize things.

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I’ve yet to find the time to read this thread in its entirety, but I already have a few thoughts I’d like to share in response to the original post. The following paragraph is of particular interest:

The most prominent feature distinguishing humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to create and utilize tools. Our capacity for this toolmaking is predicated upon our capacity for abstract thought, and our capacity for abstract thought is predicated upon our irrationality. Nearly all other animals need only be burned once to permanently activate their instinct to run from fire. In this sense, animals are perfectly rational. I suppose that moths could be considered the rare exception here, except they rarely ever survive the initial encounter. Humans, on the other hand, will continually run toward fire even after having been burned repeatedly and severely. I’d imagine that early hominids likely first discovered fire following a chance lightning strike millions of years ago, but instead of fleeing it they learned that its power could be harnessed for their own benefit. They did so by overcoming their instincts, and the only force that can overcome instinct is irrationality. Since then the human race has progressed from using fire for cooking food to using fire for launching satellites into space. The device that you’re using to read these words wouldn’t exist without fire, nor would the very same words have been delivered to that device without fire. Fire has been harnessed to power cities and has been harnessed to decimate them with the push of a few buttons. No matter how often fire reduces us to smoldering embers and ash, we inexplicably continue to run toward it for the promise it yields. It could thus be argued that human technology is the knowledge of good and evil made manifest. We can quibble on and on about things like the age of the Earth as expressed in Genesis or whether dogs and cats are entitled to entry into heaven, but it would be a fool’s errand that wouldn’t in any way further our understanding of the Bible as a whole even if we miraculously reached an agreement. Far more valuable knowledge can be obtained from directing our focus to what it says about irrationality and the overall human condition.

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Depends on how you define irrationality. Truly irrational behavior would be bad for survival and fitness while curiosity-driven behavior might give benefits that outweight the risks. I read that ADHD-type behaviors may have given advantages during the history of hominids but ADHD is far from irrationality.

Some animals use tools and even shape objects to better work as tools. Some solve problems through behaviors that demand understanding of relationships like A=>B=>C in a novel situation. For example, when given a water bottle with a floating delicacy inside, at least some animals can figure out that you can get the delicacy by raising the water level in the water bottle, by dropping enough of something like small stones into the bottle.


I recall a video showing that very thing – it was amazing because the animal doing it wasn’t the expected member of our ape family, it was a crow.

And I’ve watched ordinary ducks grab a rock-hard dried-out roll and dip it in water to make the surface edible, holding it under just long enough to be able to peck away the surface before repeating the dunking.


Biblically, when God gave it. But the Bible does not give us enough detail to correlate it to a specific point in the evolutionary process of physically creating humans. There are many proposals by those who take the Bible seriously. None of the ones that I have seen make me say “That must be it!”; rather, it’s “Could be.” However, it’s not a question of practical concern; all modern humans have that responsibility before God.

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A few predatory birds are reported to pick up burning sticks along the edge of a fire and drop them elsewhere, apparently using the fire to flush prey. Not nearly as sophisticated as human use of fire, but impressive.

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I define it as behavior that manifests itself in any manner that can overcome biological instinct and make it subordinate. In the case of the first humans to discover fire through the process of assuming necessary risk, this would have required not simply pure opposition to their innate reflexivity but also an idealized world these humans first built in their minds to illustrate how the fire could be used and made beneficial. Human harnessing of the power of fire could only be considered curiosity driven at the first encounter; anything subsequent - and which invariably caused injury at some point - could only be considered irrational.

I’ve suffered moderate to often severe ADHD for which I was diagnosed and medicated at various stages since adolescence. With the benefit of hindsight I can confidently and firmly state that the condition is anything but rationality. It leaves your thoughts in such a disordered and chaotic state it could only be described as crippling. There is no doubt that sufferers exhibit specific traits that at times seem superhuman to others, but I can assure you that every other aspect of their lives is degraded as a result.

First of all, yes, the occurrence of non-human animals fashioning primitive tools to yield a desired result is well documented. However, this only happens when undesired consequences are removed from the equation. An animal might figure out how to pry the lid from a can to obtain its contents, but the moment it sustains injury in the process is the same moment that the exploration stops. Secondly, even if some animals possess the cognition necessary to drop rocks into a bottle to displace the water and bring a treat within reach, what they can’t do is raise or lower the level of water in a lock enabling a ship to move through a canal. Applied knowledge belongs exclusively to the human domain because it is the product of their abstract thought.

I do not know how the use of fire started but it is easy to speculate how it could have happened in a rational way.

Fires started by lightning were probably relatively common. These fires flushed prey animals but also roasted dying animals. The roasted animals (and possibly plant parts) gave more energy than raw food, so there was a good reason to get prey animals into fire. It may have been first transfer of fire from one spot to another to spread the fire - @paleomalacologist told that even a bird can do that.

An important step would have been to find a way to carry fire from one place to a distant one. That is not too difficult as glowing wood could have been transported within something filled with ash. The ash would prevent the hands and what was around the glowing wood to burn.
When there was a way to carry fire from one to another place, it would have been easy to use the fire also to roast food to get more energy. Completely rational behavior.

You are trying to force the way modern humans act to animals that live in another type of context. It is worse than trying to force the modern worldview to the context of ancient people living thousands of years ago. Operating a water lock to get ships to move through a canal would be irrational behavior to an animal that lives in another type of context. Anything helping the animal to get food and more offspring would be beneficial and rational behavior, other kind of activities would be waste of time and energy.

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