Where did we come from?
What could be more human than contemplating this great question? Human beings are unique among God’s creatures for pondering and debating their origin. Yet God’s true word, the Bible, reveals the simple and wonderful facts of the matter.
On the sixth day of Creation, God made all animals that walk on the earth (Genesis 1:24-25). He spoke them into existence and they came forth from the earth. Then God created man separately, in His own image (Genesis 1:26-8). God intended man to have dominion over all of the earth and over all of the animals. Man is not (and never was) just another animal. Man is superior to animals. He did not descendant from them. In the details recorded in Genesis 2:7, 18-24 it is clear that Adam found no animal comparable to him. Without Eve, Adam was alone, though he was surrounded by animals.
People are not animals. Some people teach that they are simply animals. Some people act like a bunch of animals (to their shame). But the Bible is clear. “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds” (1 Corinthians 15:39).
Consider Jesus Christ. Part of His unique role in God’s redemptive plan involved dying to pay for our sins (make propitiation – 1 John 4:9-10). In order to die, He shared in “flesh and blood” with all the people (Hebrews 2:14). He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He “came in the likeness of men” and was “found in appearance as a man” (Philippians 2:7-8). “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death…” (Hebrews 2:9).
You see, He was fully God and fully Man at once. I’m comfortable saying with Paul that it is a great mystery how “God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). But I believe it. And to be man – flesh and blood human – is to be a little lower than the angels; not a little better than an ape. Humanity is not equal to the animals. Humanity is closer akin to spiritual beings than terrestrial beasts. We are a little lower than the angels.
But some people don’t see aspiring angels in their fellow man. They only see lucky apes. They approach life from Old-Earth-Evolutionary presuppositions. The planet is a billion years old. The dinosaurs lived 65 million years ago. Some ape-like creature was transitioning into modern humans over the past 2 million years. Here we are today trying to figure out which apes or ape-like creature people descended from.
I read about a cartoon where a princess kissed a frog in one frame and in the next frame she is kissing her prince charming. The caption read: “If a frog instantly transforms into a prince that is a fairy tale. But if a frog transforms into a prince over 300 million years, that is Evolution.”
Well, the October issue of National Geographic details the latest find of a supposed missing-link ape-like creature called Homo naledi. A cache of fossilized remains was discovered in a cave system in South Africa in 2013. It is thought that between 15-18 specimens are being reconstructed from the extant fossils. No one knows how old the bones are or how they came to be in the cave.
While the magazine offers beautiful photographs of artistic models and paintings of what Homo naledi looked like, the artists had to use imagination to fill in the gaps of fossil evidence. Page 37 says, “While primitive in some respects, the face, skull, and teeth show enough modern features to justify H. naledi’s placement in the genus Homo.” But when one sees the fossils pictured on pages 44-48 it is clear that there is no complete skull at all, and the face bones themselves are missing. Only the top of skulls, one lower mandible and partial upper teeth plates have been recovered. Thus there is no way to know if the creature had a “flat” face like a human being or the more elongated and sloped face of an ape.
According to the article, Homo naledi has shoulder blades, a flared pelvis, and long curved fingers all consistent with apes. It also has a small braincase consistent in size with smaller extinct apes. But its legs are long, its hand could probably hold a tool, and its foot looks pretty human. Their working hypothesis is that Homo naledi is a transitional fossil and probably the root of the human family tree. Thus today, humans are a little better than an ape.
I think this is a fascinating story of paleontology and discovery. It is neat. But I’m not persuaded this is the missing link which finally demonstrates Man’s evolutionary chain. Currently, the evidence would also support the hypothesis that a new species of extinct ape has been recovered or perhaps it shows there was more variation in the extinct ape Australophithecus afarensis (“Lucy”) than previously realized.
Ideas have consequences. If people accept the opinion that humans are evolved from animals – just a better breed of ape – it can impact them negatively. But when we remember that we are created in the image of God, and closer to angels than animals, it informs the way we look at life positively.
- Human life is sacred. We are made in the image of God (Genesis 9:6).
- We are responsible to treat our neighbors, animals, and the environment “humanely.” We have dominion and the stewardship that comes with it (Genesis 1:26, 28).
- We can look up, knowing that we aspire to be God’s servants and to exist with Him in heaven.
We’re only a little lower than angels! Let’s remember who we are and live like it this week!
By Andrew Roberts