ASCENT by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC
Introduction: Geico, the auto insurance company, is known for its funny ads. How many of ya’ll remember their cavemen ads back in 2004? They featured these Neanderthal-like cavemen who are trying to make it in a modern setting. The premise of their ad was regarding their website, which is “so easy, a caveman could do it.” This offended the cavemen who happen to be standing nearby. All joking aside, it is commonly assumed that human beings evolved from cavemen like the Neanderthals, Australopithecine, or Homo Erectus, or we are similar to animals, especially apes. Here are some questions: Do humans and chimps share a common ancestor? Are human and chimp DNA very similar? Where do the Neanderthals fit in the Genesis account? Who were the cavemen? Here’s the main point: God has made us in his image. The image was never lost at the Fall, just marred. Through Jesus, we are restored and made new creations in the likeness of God. Evolution from ape-like creatures or “cavemen” not only devalues the image of God in us, but also seriously undermines the gospel.
Genesis 1 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Context: As you know, this was Day 6, the final day, of the creation week. God was about to create the final act of his creation. It would be unlike anything that he had made thus far. It would be the crown of his creation. Unlike the previous acts of creation, this was not just a “let there be…” Instead, listen again to verse 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Several important things here:
- First, unlike the previous creations of matter, light, plants, celestial bodies, and animals, this one involved the entire godhead. Yes, all were involved so far, but this one was going to be special. In fact, this is also where we first meet the plurality of the godhead. Later, we will learn that God is “trinity” – Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Again, this implies that this will be a special creation.
- Second, unlike the previous creations, this one will be in the “image” and “likeness” of God himself. The Hebrew word for “image” is “tselem” and “likeness” is “demut.” Both imply that the created being will be similar but not identical to the original, that is God. Similar in that we will share the communicable attributes of God – love, justice, creativity, reason, grace, mercy, truth, relationality, and even holiness. Even these, we will not perfectly share with God. Nonetheless, not identical in the sense that we will not be like him – omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, sovereign, transcendent, unchanging, and self-existent. These and more attributes make God who he is.
How can we be like God when he is a spirit? Being made like him allows us to have a relationship with him unlike anything the living creatures can ever experience. In other words, if God ever appeared on earth, it will be in a human form and not any animal. No wonder, when God and his angels appeared to his people, it was always in human form. This brings special dignity to human beings above any other living creature. Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God he made man.” Also, James 3 8 “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.” As image bearers, human beings are God’s representatives in the world, called to rule over his creation. 26 “…let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
I can go on and on, but I want to stop here and make a point that will help us answer the questions that were raised – Ever since the beginning of time, human beings have been trying to either exalt themselves to the level of God or devalue themselves to the animal world. For some reason, we cannot seem to accept the gift of “image bearers.” In the past couple of hundred years, this has expressed itself by either claiming that we have evolved from ape-like creatures or from “cavemen” over hundreds of thousands of years. Let’s look at each of them:
- Evolution from Ape-like Creatures:
Although Charles Darwin did not talk about human evolution in the Origin of the Species, he talked about it 12 years later in his other book The Descent of Man. His arguments were based on anatomical, embryological, and behavioral evidence, not fossils. Until his death in 1882, no fossils for non-human or pre-human ancestors of human beings had been found. He blamed it on the lack of fossil research. Bottom line: Human and primate fossils are extremely rare (See David Menton and Marvin Lubenow). About 95% of all known fossils are marine invertebrates (don’t have a backbone/spine). About 4.7 % are algae and plants and 0.2 % are insects and other invertebrates. Finally, 0.1% are vertebrates and out of this a small fraction are primates (humans, apes, monkeys, and lemurs). Maybe about 6000 human individuals if counting single teeth and bones. Much more apes and monkeys in the fossils than humans.
Differences between Human and Ape skulls (Menton):
- Small vs Large (1400cm3 vs 500cm3)
- Sloped vs Vertical Face
- Flat vs Curved Forehead
- Flat vs Protruding Nasal Bones
- Jaws and Teeth (humans have thick enamel)
- Pelvis and legs (the gait is different to walk on two legs)
- Carrying angle of the knee
- Locking Knee
- Foot Bones
- Hand Bones (the thumb is the most distinguishable feature, longer in humans)
What about ape-men fossils? From combining bones of apes and humans (Piltdown Man in Natural History Museum in London with the skull of a human and jaw of an orangutan, with the teeth filed down), claim that ape skeleton is human, and vice versa. Unfortunately, lots of pictures drawn by artists. Now there’s a new category called “hominin,” which includes Ardipithecus, Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and the genera Homo. Ardipithecus = Afar Ethiopian word “ardi” meaning “ground” and “pithekos” = Greek for “ape.” Australopithecus = Latin “australis” means “southern” and pithekos. Paranthropus = “par” beside and “Anthropos” man. The Homo group leads us into the next category.
- Evolution from Cavemen:
– Homo Habilis (handyman, 1.4-2.4 million years ago)
– Homo Rudolfensis (1.9 million years)
– Homo Erectus (Java Man and Peking Man, 1.9 million – 144,000 years ago)
– Homo Heidelbergensis (found in 1908 near Heidelberg, Germany, 700,000-200,000)
– Homo Neanderthalensis (from Neander Valley in Germany in 1856. Since then, about 500 are found in central and western Europe, the Carpathians, Balkans, Ukraine, Western Russia, and northern Asia, 400,000-40,000)
– Homo Floresiensis (Flores, Indonesia, “hobbits,” maybe deformity)
– Homo Sapiens (us about 200,000 years ago)
Basic differences: large brows in adults and wide nasal cavities.
3 contradictory evidences: the DNA evidence (Papua, New Guinea, Australian Aborigines, and Mamanwa, Philippines), close association and integration with modern humans, and behavior and thoughts are human. Some are gone but many may still be around, but they are not inferior.
Rom. 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.