How do you Reconcile Evolution with Genesis?

At a bible study this week we read this verse that applies:

Romans 8:11
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

It appears without the Spirit, we are just walking, talking dead guys.

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@mitchellmckain and @Edgar

I was wondering if this isn’t a little too specific.

God "breathes

and breathed [h5301, נָפַח, naphach]

into his nostrils [h639, אַף ,'aph ]

the breath [h5397, נְשָׁמָה, nĕshamah ]

of life [h2416, חַי, chay ]

and man [h120, אָדָם,'adam ]

became a living [h2416, חַי, chay ]

soul [h5315, נֶפֶשׁ, nephesh ].

It is my understanding that this is the same terminology used for any living animal. So this particular text is not so much about “human-ness” as it is about “living-ness”!

But if we are going to respond to @Edgar’s objection, which is that Adam is clearly produced from “inaminate matter”. Ironically, this fits the Genealogical Model to a “T”. @Swamidass discusses scenarios where God uses special creation to make Adam from “dust” and Eve from Adam’s rib.

But then Adam and Eve are sent to mingle with the pre-existing human population that God made (as described in Genesis 1) by means of God-Guided Evolution!

Here are two texts worthy of a case study:

Gen 1:20-21
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

God says “let the waters bring forth” sea life. And God creates them.
This is an intentional doublet – meant to show that both are true.

Is this a one-off eccentric text? No, it happens yet again!:

Gen 1:24-25
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

So, unless one wants to propose that the Oceans and the Earth produced these kinds … the way to reconcile the two ideas is for God to use Evolution for His own purposes.

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It’s allegorical, just like:

Psalm 139:13
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Is God knitting babies, Edgar?

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Luke 9:59-60 – "He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (cf. Matt. 8:20-21).

John 5:24-25 – “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”

I could go on, but you get the idea. (At least, I hope you do …)

It’s a story intended to reveal important truths about God and humanity. It is not intended as a documentary blow-by-blow account of historical facts. The image of God breathing life into creation teaches us that life is a gift we receive from our Creator.

I think that’s right.

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Has anyone pointed out the few things in Genesis which agree better with evolution than creationism?

The first is Genesis 4:14 where Cain complains, "I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.” This doesn’t match the picture which has Adam and Eve as the only other inhabitants of the planet. Who are these people Cain is afraid will kill him? This agrees better with evolution than with creationism or even with the special creation of man.

The second is Genesis 6:1-4,

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. 3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

The simplest explanation of this passage is that the sons among God’s chosen people found the daughters of other people to be marriage worthy and that their children were great leaders in the world (giants among men). In order to avoid this obvious reading of the text, creationists have chosen to interpret “sons of God” as angels and thus that this text means angels had offspring with human women and gave birth to fairy tale giants. This is quite contrary to the rest of the Biblical text where angels are referred to as angels, while the sons and children of God refer to God’s chosen people.

While half breed angels make for great sci-fi stories, it is in the same category as magical fruit and talking animals which make all this sound more like a comic book or Walt Disney movie. The other option is to not walk so far out on a fantastic limb and this story simply gives an answer to old question of who did Cain and Seth marry without inventing sisters who are never mentioned so they can indulge in incest.

Anyway the point here is that we can ask the opposite question here… How do you reconcile creationism with Genesis?

Christians have been all over the map explaining this passage, so I doubt it has a simple explanation.

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A post was split to a new topic: What does original sin actually mean and what are its consequences?

This does not follow, however. Sometimes people are all over the map in explaining something when the correct explanation really is rather simple. We see this in science… well in principle at least… sometimes, when you start digging into the details, complexities tend to arise.

But here is a pretty good example: why is the sky blue? There have been several far out explanations in the mythology of people around the world and some early attempts using science, but the answer turns out to be fairly simple. The light at the lower energy sector of the spectrum is easier to absorb in the atmosphere while the higher energy blue light is more likely to be scattered instead.

As far as the first paragraph of Genesis 6 goes I might be tempted to employ Occam’s Razor and say that simply as an explanation of who did Cain and Seth marry and have children with, this is a lot simpler explanation than one employing giants which are human-angel halfbreeds, especially when you do not find such things mentioned anywhere in the Bible. But the truth is I am not a fan of Occam’s Razor for I think the idea that science favors simple explanations is completely absurd.

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And you, of course, have the correct explanation. I figured as much. Denis Lamoureux wrote one of his graduate school papers on Genesis 6, and he explained in one of his books that Christians have been all over the map about this. I’ll be asking a Rabbi about this curious passage in October.

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Well, obviously I wouldn’t believe something if I thought it was wrong! LOL Clearly I think I have some good arguments. Just because this isn’t something you have made a decision about doesn’t mean other haven’t. But to be sure… I don’t make my decision on issues like this by committee and I don’t buy theological packages handed out at a church door. You, of course, are free to choose your own decision making processes on such issues.

I don’t think so, as exactly the same words are used in reference to non-human creatures in the OT.

Er, not true. The name ‘Adam’ is first used in Genesis 2:20b

But for Adam, a redeemer complementary to him had not been found

Heretofore, the word ‘adam’ has always been preceded by the definite article /ha/, as in ha-adam, or “the man”. Now, he gets his name, Adam.

Cheers,

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Probably not. All animals, including man (and not plants, by the way), were thought to possess that which animates, i.e., the nephesh. However, in Genesis 2:7 the author writes that God explicitly distinguishes man from all other animal life by the way he ‘forms’ the man. You can read more about this in the commentary for 2:7. Scroll down to the commentary on the verb, ‘formed’.

Blessings,

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I read your commentary on the verb but I don’t think that your statement makes sense:
‘Humans stand alone having the ability to rise above their natural, animal inclinations. They alone, of all the animal kingdom, are able to act altruistically. It is why hospitals are only built be humans. It is why only humans care for their poor, their hungry, and their sick.’

I’m not sure what classifies something as a ‘natural’ or ‘animal’ inclination as part of the human response is encoded in our genes. Many other species to exhibit cooperation in social settings, especially other primates. Various things that come to mind is how chimpanzees have a sense of justice where experiments where a fellow chimpanzee received a better reward was met with frustration (very similar to young children). Remarkably though, sometimes chimpanzees who were offered better rewards after seeing their fellow chimpanzees receive less rewards rejected the better reward. I.e. there was a sense of fairness that chimpanzees expected to be followed in this particular experiment:
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/09/18/349514734/life-s-unfair-but-chimps-and-humans-know-when-to-even-the-score

Animals also have an awareness of suffering of others and in one striking example a rhesus monkey refused to pull a chain to receive food after learning and seeing it would shock his fellow monkey. He pushed himself to the point of starvation rather than hurt his buddy! Here is a brief summary of the experimental results in this one study: http://www.primatefreedom.com/masserman.pdf

There have also been a number of studies done with rats bypassing even the treat of chocolate to help a fellow rat who is struggling in some kind of way. Needless to say, there are a growing number of examples where some non-human is willing to suffer personally to help the well being of their fellow animal. Another heart warming one is how other chimps reacted to one named Knuckles who had a condition similar to cerebral palsy. He was transferred to the Center for Great Apes in Florida where he was not given the usual two year old chimp treatment even with his pushing in to them, spilling things or causing other disturbances.

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I think you are both, in some sense, correct. This is because man is both the same and different at the same time. Our bodies are the same – just another primate – 97% same DNA. The only significant difference is language. But it is demonstrable that language has at least all the capabilities of DNA for the storage and transmission of information and more. I think this is extremely significant, because if DNA can be the substance of life then so can language and we see it in the human mind – every bit as much a physical living organism as the body.

The breath of God is the divine word, revelation, and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Thus God made the body of Adam from the stuff of the earth, i.e. matter with all the biochemistry of a biological organism, and then He spoke to Adam in order to bring to life within him a mind, and with this we received a memetic inheritance directly from God. In this way we are the bretheren of all the living creatures of the planet (demonstrable in our DNA) and at the same time we are also the children of God.

But this thinking is demonstrably wrong if taken literally. There is no such animating stuff. These imaginings of alchemy are nothing but a fantasy with no basis in reality. Science has shown that life does not work that way at all. They may make good fantasy stories such as The Dark Crystal – but none of that is believable any more, and so nobody takes such things seriously.

Agreed. The life of man is not just a biological body but also a mind – both genetic life and memetic life. In this we are indeed distinguished from all other living organisms on the planet. If life were just a matter of biology then it can be shown that there is no difference from the animals. And when we do focus on the one thing we have which is different, language and the mind, it is still a process of self organization not some magical stuff that can be either poured into us or sucked away – that is just fairy tales.

@pevaquark, I agree with you that it’s fascinating to see examples in other animal species of altruistic behavior, justice and empathy, and that these aren’t unique to humans. How would you modify the above statement to retain the uniqueness of humans as Imago Dei?

And here is a clip of bonobos sharing food:
Voluntary food-sharing is not unique to humans.

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If I may, only humans are made in the image of God.

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“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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