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The Heart of the Matter

When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place,

what is man that You are mindful of him,

    and the son of man that You care for



Yet You have made him a little lower than

the heavenly beings and crowned him

with glory and honor.

You have given him dominion over the

works of Your hands; You have put all

things under his feet.


Psalm 8:3-6


What is man that You are mindful of him? That is the million-dollar question for our time. Maybe more succinctly, the question is simply: what is man? Or, what is a human? I know that what I am about to write is highly controversial, but this is something we Christians need to think about seriously.


Over twenty years ago, a colleague gave me a book and encouraged me to read it. That book was Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box, in which he argued that evolution could not account for the “irreducible complexity” of the many complicated biological systems required for life. Prior to reading his book, I had never read anything suggesting that evolution was not true, and frankly, I’d never really thought about it. I don’t think I’m alone in this. We accept a great many widely held beliefs because they are… widely held. If “everybody knows…”, then we also “know…”.


The most striking feature of Behe’s book was not the shock of the content, though that was not small. Besides grasping the general idea of irreducible complexity, I am not sufficiently knowledgeable in the field of science to get into a debate. Rather, what made the largest and most lasting impression was the afterword. Behe invited scientists to respond, to challenge and/or to disprove his findings. The only real objection he received to his work was from a scientist who corrected an idea Behe had attributed to him. I remember thinking, ‘That’s it? No one is proving he’s wrong?’  Because, as we all know, we’re evolved from earlier life forms… For years after that, I was ambivalent, even indifferent, about the whole debate. We weren’t there, and no one really knows. The important truth is that God created, and how He created is less important than that He created. In this, I was wrong.


Nearly thirty years after he first wrote the book, no one has been able to prove that Behe is wrong. To the contrary, as knowledge in molecular biology and life-sustaining biological systems has grown, the feasibility of random mutation as espoused among evolutionary biologists becomes increasingly unlikely. Behe has continued to study and to write on the complexity of life systems as research in his field expands. Evidence from other fields of scientific investigation also increasingly point toward design in virtually every aspect of our existence, from molecular biology to the expanding edges of the universe.


The reason Christians need to be aware of this is because there is an enormous difference between being the descendant of a monkey and being the image of God. So much of the craziness in our world today arises from this single divergence of thought – a divergence with almost endless implications, not the least of which are the nones. The dramatic rise in nones – those who have no religious belief at all – is a direct result of the belief that science has disproved the existence of God, which is utterly untrue. More than ever before, the evidence of scientific investigation points toward the existence of God.


If human beings are merely animals, then we are subject to our animal nature and appetites without moral responsibility for anything we do. But if human beings are the image of God, then we have preordained purpose and incalculable worth. Moreover, if we are created, then human life has intentionality and accountability to a Source outside ourselves and beyond our manipulation. If we are evolved animals, then we have can strive to be more civilized by controlling our worst tendencies, but we can never get away from our basest and most selfish instincts.


As Christians, we should understand that what is wrong with us is not the result of millions of years of random mutations that naturally selected our wonderful selves. What is wrong with us is that we fell from grace when we rebelled against God – and continue the pattern of falling from grace and rebelling against God in our own lives right now. Moreover, the greatest human adventure awaits those who yearn for God and strive to be restored to Him, for eternity and infinity are beyond our imagination and without end.


The allure of evolution is not the conclusive evidence of great minds in science. Evolution is ultimately a philosophical theory about life and origins that grants human beings freedom from any external authority. Darwin articulated the theory without much evidence, but the theory grabbed the intellectual imagination. For several centuries before Darwin, the belief that humans could attain all knowledge without God had been growing, but the largest obstacle to eradicating God was the fact of our existence. There is a universe. Nature has laws. Human beings have rationality and self-awareness. How to get around these realities without a Creator was the last obstacle to human freedom from the Divine.


Thus, the primary appeal of the theory of evolution was not the evidence, which was predominately speculative at the time and proving to be almost non-existent now. Rather, the appeal of the theory of evolution was a naturalistic explanation of existence, a purely materialistic account of reality and the implied escape from the onerous restrictions of religion and religious belief. Today is no different. If anything, the determination to have a naturalistic explanation for human existence, indeed for the whole universe, is even more deeply entrenched in the ethos of our time. The illusion of freedom and self-determination, the allure of being our own gods and possessing all knowledge, and the desire for self-fulfillment without responsibility are as prevalent today as they were in Darwin’s time, as they were in Christ’s time, as they were in the Garden of Eden.


This is the heart of the matter. When we look at the chaos in our world today and the inexplicable irrationality of much heralded progress, the central fact of disagreement almost always arises from whether one believes we are the created image of God or the descendants of monkeys. Whether we are talking about the world food supply, artificial intelligence, race relations, or gender transitions, the answer is determined by what we believe a human being is. If humanity is the latest stage of evolution, then one set of answers is on the table. If humanity is the created image of God in the flesh, then an entirely set of answers lies before us. The one resolution not available to us is compatibility between the two sets of answers.


Many Christians have long held that God created by the mechanism of evolution, thereby resolving the conflict of believing in a Creator and accepting the science. The problem is that the biblical account of creation does not offer a hint of a purely naturalistic creation, while the theory of evolution exists for the express purpose of ridding us of the inconvenience of a Creator. As I said above, for many years, I suspected that science wasn’t as certain about evolution as it claimed to be, but frankly, I didn’t really care because it was all speculative.


However, it’s not all speculative, and every idea is not intellectually equivalent or morally indifferent. Our origins foretell our destiny. If we are the successors of monkeys, then anything can be tried and tested on human beings precisely because we have no more value than an animal. Human beings are construed as nothing more than a renewable resource. Consider the atheist nations of the last century: the USSR, China, Nazi Germany, North Korea, Cuba… Whatever the people believed or didn’t believe, atheist ideologies became political theories that destroyed tens of millions of human beings. That is possible only if people are convinced there is no God and no judgment.


Because Christians cannot be light to darkness if we accept darkness within us, I want to examine several significant issues of our day from within this specific framework – the framework of animals versus the image of God. Since the “fact” of evolution permeates every aspect of our formation and understanding, we don’t think of ourselves along these lines, but these are the fault lines of western civilization today. In our creation and in our redemption through Jesus Christ, human beings are truly amazing. God has crowned us with glory and honor and given dominion over His works. Or… we are random animals without meaning or purpose.


Whatever science may say, if we follow the evidence, human beings are the most astonishing and complex of God’s creatures with the potential to be like Him in marvelous ways.


In Christ –


Rev. Elizabeth Moreau

© 2024



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