While many folks firmly believe God created Adam and Eve in His own image, the science world and progressive creationists believe in the concept of human evolution from apes!
The two schools of thought pit religion against science and take advantage of the complex history of human existence to advance their arguments.
The truth is, the biological beginning of life either by creationism or evolution continues to stir diverse public discourse deep into the 21st century. Every now and then when archeologists dig out a new fossil from the ground, a new twist to the story is told, adding to the already high-profile discussion.
The question is, who is telling the truth and who is lying?
- Are we a bi-product of God’s own image?
- Are we descended from apes through evolution?
Well, there is no better way to find out than to look back in history into the mindset of Charles Darwin, paleontology, and the narratives in religious books.
Charles Darwin and the theory of human evolution
Charles Darwin writing over 170 years ago, formulated the theory of evolution by natural and sexual selection, and that we all descend from common ancestors.
Darwin believed that man and apes evolved over time from one common ancestor – which he did not mention specifically.
The idea is, species evolve and create room for new species over time and generations. For humans and apes, evolution must have taken millions of years!
And there was a catch for these changes to take place:
He believed that living species harboring heritable traits with better survival genes are better placed to reproduce more offspring over time and generations.
In his own words,
those individuals with the best genetic fitness for the environment will produce offspring that can more successfully compete in that environment. Thus the subsequent generation will have a higher representation of these offspring and the population will have evolved.
The ancestors and humans with better genes evolved and reproduced, while those with weak genes died out and became extinct!
This has been necessary because there are too many species being produced than is needed in the earthly environment. There is a lack of sufficient resources to host all species.
This is how humans evolved from apes:
The proponents of the theory of human evolution believe that humans originated from ape-like species, following millions of years of physical, behavioral, and genetic modifications.
Being a species with stronger heritable traits and survival genes, humans outlived other species as illustrated below:
According to science and paleontology, human predecessors started living in Africa about 6 million years ago. This is ‘supported’ by archeological findings that place all early human fossils on the African continent.
The early species are believed to have been very primitive, with tiny brains, and ape-like features.
These soon evolved into the Australopithecus afarensis species which lived about 3 – 4 million years ago. The species was probably the first ape-like to walk on two legs, though it is believed they were more adapted to climbing trees and other objects!
Around 1 million or so (about 2 million years ago), we are told of how the species evolved into others such as the Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, Homo floresiensis, and Home Erectus.
It is claimed that the Homo erectus, also called the upright men, lived in southern Africa – and possessed slightly enlarged brains. These were capable of making productivity tools out of stones, spotted long lower legs, and adapted to walking and running.
The primitive HOMO species continued to evolve and about 100,000 – 70,000 years ago, gave way to Homo species such as the Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Homo sapiens.
By now, the various species were now comfortable on their two feet and therefore ventured into unknown geographical territories around the world.
The Homo sapiens, which translates to ‘wise man’ in Latin, are believed to have come into existence around 70,000 years ago. (Other new studies believe they may have existed even earlier).
Homo sapiens are inclusive of all humans that occupy the world today.
The modern human species happen to have lighter bone mass and larger brains than their predecessors. This makes them lighter on the ground and capable of abstract cognitive skills, complex language, advanced socialization skills, and learning abilities.
It is not exactly clear which species had direct links to early Homo sapiens but experts believe it was probably the Neanderthals, or maybe the Homo erectus.
In the timeline illustrated above, it is easy to see why proponents of evolution believe that human evolution from apes was possible and actually took place.
How about man as the Image of God?
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all believe that God created man from his image, on the 6th day of creation. This happened approximately 6,000 years ago.
God named the first man Adam. His name was used to mean ‘man’ and therefore, mankind in a broad sense. In essence, Adam looked just like humans living today except for the variations in skin color.
The theory of creation is perhaps best explained today by the proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) who reiterate that Godly powers are absolute and beyond human understanding.
ID’s argument is that the biological human design is way too complex to have simply evolved as preached by Charles Darwin.
As Stephen C. Meyer explains,
From bacterial propulsion systems to human DNA, evidence of intelligent design is everywhere
One must however understand that ID goes a little further than traditional creationists who rely on the literal translations of religious books to interpret the beginning of life.
Creationists interpret the 7 days of creation as literal days and that God created everything else, including man and woman in that one week.
Religious Jews, Christians, and Muslims are totally opposed to evolution as a pathway for human existence.
Once again, is human evolution from apes a fact or is man a by-product of God’s image?
Yes, big question and once again with variable answers, depending on your faith and belief.
If we go by Darwin’s concept of evolution by natural selection, the question still abounds, how exactly did it happen? Who exactly can we site as the real sister species to humans?
Of course, the emerging theories continue to be suggested, but someone is yet to come out with a valid and strong point of reference.
If you are a traditional creationist, a fundamentalist, or a convert to Intelligent Design, the concept of evolution is totally wrong. In any case, there is no clear-cut evidence that macro-evolution, which defines human evolution from apes, ever happened.
The ONLY valid argument is that humans were created in the image of God on the 6th day of creation. From then on (6,000 years) until today, they have remained the same in the image of God.
Of course, it is hard to challenge the Bible simply because it is hard to understand it in the first place. In any case, the Bible compels us to believe without seeing:
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”John 20:29
Another line of thought is championed by progressive creationists, who believe in theistic evolution. They embrace both concepts of God’s creation and natural evolution.
The idea is, OTHER beings occupied this earth even as God made Adam and Eve – his special creations.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they were thrown out of the Garden of Eden! Their offspring intermarried with other humans – Nephilim included, and probably other by-products of evolution!
In the views of theistic evolution, we are all descended in the image of God and also evolved from early humans!