The Bible records the origin of the human race in the familiar story of Adam and Eve. Equally familiar to most people is the seemingly contrary story offered by the natural sciences, namely, the evolution of the human race from simpler organisms, ultimately from a single living cell spawned in the earth’s primeval oceans. Two accounts explaining the same result could hardly be more different. The debate surrounding
which account is the better explanation has often put Christians on the defensive, seemingly out of touch with the modern world and defending an ancient story uncorroborated by scientific evidence outside of itself. Christians, believing strongly in the integrity of God’s Word, have argued that the real existence of Adam and Eve is important not only to the Old Testament but also to the New Testament, where Adam figures prominently in the gospel story as a prototype of all people in the story of salvation (Rom 5:14).
Finding a scientific basis for the Genesis story of Adam and Eve has been the project of a group of theologian-scientists operating under the label “creation science.” This loose coalition of scholars marshals data to argue for a young earth (biblical genealogies also seem to point to the earth’s recent origin) and the first humans as the product of a special act of creation not preceded by any genetic development. There are also strong proponents of “intelligent design.” who argue that the complexity of creation points in an intelligent creator.
On the other extreme, scientist-theologians faced with strong evidence of genetic linkage between Homo sapiens and other primates have generated a theory called “theistic evolution.” This says that the development of humans beings progresses much along the lines described by natural science, but at a particular point in that development, God imbues humans with the mark that sets them apart from all other species-the image of God (conscience, will, the capacity to reflect, the desire to belong to God and praise God).
In the middle, not straddling but grappling with data of both scientific and biblical research, are Christian scientific who believe that the intention of Genesis is to teach that human beings: (1) are indeed set apart by the special gift to God’s image, mysterious as that is; (2) are morally responsible and accountable, unlike any other species: (3) show strong genetic similarities to nonhuman species that must be accounted for in any explanation of origins. They also believe that the earth’s age is certainly ancient (unless God placed evidence of ancient origins in a “young earth”). It is noted by all contenders that the link between humans and nonhumans (hominids, humanlike ancestors that predate the gift of God’s image) reminds undiscovered and, in any case, given the immense implications at stake, will likely never be established with compelling certainty. The study of these matters continues with intensity on all sides.
GENESIS 1:27 – So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.