And God Said, “Let us Make Man in Our Image”

Title: And God Said, “Let us Make Man in Our Image”

Text: Genesis 1:26

Date: January 10th, 2010

We are into the second Sunday of the New Year 2010 and into week two of our study in the Book of Genesis. I’ll be going through the early chapters of Genesis in order to explain some of the most foundational truths of the Christian faith. Christianity is unimaginable – so is Judaism for that matter, and Islam as well – without the Book of Genesis, because it really does describe the beginnings, just as the name “Genesis” means.   The most basic concepts of Christian faith and doctrine are outlined in Genesis. It sets the whole context for the Gospel solution of the New Testament. From Genesis we learn about God as Creator. We learn about the origins of earth and the first man and woman created in the image of God. We learn about the first law given – and the first violation of law. We learn about death and punishment for the first time. We learn these and other foundational truths upon which later Old Testament and New Testament revelation builds upon. Yes, without Genesis and the truth it contains Christianity would be impossible. So it’s very important to properly understand this first and foundational book of the Bible, in order to properly understand the rest of the Bible. Like I said last week, I’m starting a new year reading through the Bible; every January I begin again reading it through. The readings start in Genesis and work their way through to finally the Book of Revelation at year’s end. But like I said before, in order to read through the entire Bible in one year it’s important to zip along at a pretty fast pace, which causes a problem in terms of trying to think through and properly understand what is being taught. This is especially the case in the Book of Genesis. Within the space of fifty some chapters we are introduced to all the basic issues that the rest of the Bible addresses. If we get the foundational teachings wrong, we’ll be off track the rest of the Bible. So it’s very important for me to slow things down for myself and also for others as I go through Genesis so that I don’t misread or misunderstand something that might cause confusion later on in the Bible. The first basic issue I’m tackling is Creation. Let’s think through what the Bible says about how God created the heaven and the earth. Let’s ponder how God created men and women in his own image. Let’s reflect on how God’s law was given and how mankind fell into sin – and the results and consequences that followed. All of these are outlined in the earliest chapters of Genesis. Let’s take some time today and work our way through these issues. Why? How does all of this fit into my life in the early twenty-first century? Because perhaps the biggest things we gain from our faith in this life is meaning and purpose. And we can’t find meaning and purpose in life unless we understand where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. Genesis gives us a foundation for answering these questions – the rest of the Bible develops these themes further. So if you want a life of meaning and purpose, instead of merely being successful at surviving like an animal may survive, then learn and understand the teachings of Genesis. God will use them to give your life meaning and purpose. Today, oddly enough, I’d like to tackle specifically the differences between cavemen and mankind as created in the image of God. What does the Bible have to say about this?

First, there is the “gap theory” explanation of cavemen. Genesis 1:1-2, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Some Bible scholars see a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. God creates the heavens and the earth, but then in the second verse we read that it is formless and void. Some see a gap here between something good God creates in verse one and then something chaotic and disorganized in verse two. They then explain this by speculating there was a first earth that suffered some great catastrophe; verse two describes the aftermath of this original earth’s destruction. The angelic revolt and rebellion, and then their being cast down to the earth is a possible explanation for earth’s original ruin. Verse two and the following verses describe the rebuilding of earth after its initial destruction, so goes this theory. There could have been plants, animals and even human-like creatures or cavemen that existed on the original earth before it was ruined by Satan’s fall and exile to earth. The fossil records of hominids – or ape-like creatures with some human features – could have existed for many years on earth before it came to ruin. Now the problem with this explanation is that it reads a whole lot of meaning and information into a verse that gives us hardly any actual biblical data. Genesis 1:1 simply says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It doesn’t say anything about an original creation that came to ruin, or anything about a recreation of the earth a second time staring in verse two. Yes, the theory does explain how cavemen and human-like creatures could have existed prior to God creating Adam and Eve – in the gap between verse one and verse two — but it spins a pretty imaginative story that stretches credulity. If something as monumental as an original creation of earth occurred, then a ruin of it, and then a re-creation of it actually happened wouldn’t God have made that more clear? Maybe not, but in all likelihood he would have explained it that way far more clearly. It just seems that this is reading way too much into a verse. It’s an argument from silence. It’s far too speculative. The Bible doesn’t actually explain that there was a first creation, it was destroyed, and then it was remade all over again. Yes, such a theory might explain fallen angels and cavemen, but because of such a lack of actual evidence or even data to confirm it, I don’t put much weight in this explanation. It does try to address the problem of cavemen in respect to Adam and Eve; it doesn’t ignore fossil evidence for early hominids, but because it’s almost all pure speculation and very little actual evidence, the theory really isn’t a very strong possible answer. It is a possible answer, and maybe one day it will prove to be the true answer, but for now let’s look to other explanations.

Second, there is the “degenerate mankind” explanation for cavemen. Genesis 4:23, “So the Lord God banished him [Adam] from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.” After having been made in the image of God, men and women experienced life as it was meant to be lived, until they disobeyed God and fell into sin. As a result, they were removed from the Garden and separated from God. So then, according to this second explanation, mankind began to devolve not evolve. Mankind began to descend not ascend. Things went downhill not upward. The human race began to degenerate into a lower form of life. Without their relationship with God men and women descended into the depths of sin and immorality which manifested itself in their degenerate mental and physical condition as well. So then how do we explain the cavemen and other forms of quasi-human creatures? They are the degenerate descendants of Adam and Eve as a result of the Fall. They are the product of sin and degradation of the human race, left on its own without a relationship with God. Mankind took a turn for the worse and cavemen are the result, physically, mentally and spiritually. Taken in conjunction with a Young-Earth Creation scenario, cavemen then actually came later than Adam and Eve, not earlier. Adam and Eve didn’t evolve from cavemen, cavemen devolved from Adam and Eve. As an example of this kind of thing, we might turn to the story of King Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel who because of his pride was humbled by God to “live like the wild animals” – Daniel 4:23, 25, “You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals,” it says. Thus, cavemen and other sub-humans are the tragic by-product of the Fall of Adam and Eve, the ruin of the human race by sin and rebellion from God. Usually this explanation is linked with a total rejection of modern scientific dating methods and results. According to science the fossil records of these early hominids are hundreds of thousands and even millions of years old. If the earth is really a lot younger than that, obviously, they couldn’t be that old, so in order to place them at a later age we must deny the accuracy of modern scientific dating methods. But if we leave open the possibility that the earth is older, that the dating methods and results of modern science might be accurate, then we could still see cavemen as a degenerate form of humanity and Adam and Eve as still the original creation of God. But it raises more questions. If cavemen are the degenerate and tragic result of fallen humanity, would they have been given the opportunity to  relate with God through faith and obedience? Or would they have fallen so far that they lost even their humanity or even the image of God within them? And so we see that some solutions present even more problems as we work out the implications. But it’s still a possibility.

Third, there is the “sub-human” theory concerning cavemen. Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” This third view sees God creating the first humans, Adam and Eve, in his own image and likeness – and all human-like creatures or hominids before are simply higher forms of animals not human. So then what is a caveman? He is an animal, a primate, a higher form of ape but not a human and not made in the image of God. The distinguishing characteristic of Adam and Eve was that God put his Spirit within them; even though they were made from the dust of the earth, God put within them his Spirit. “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being,” Genesis 2:7. Whether because of a long period of time during which the original earth was eventually ruined because of the revolt of the fallen angels, or simply because of the vast antiquity of the earth, cavemen and other advanced apes roamed the earth for thousands, if not millions of years. They did not have souls or spirits but were only advanced animals. They did not seek after God nor did they worship or pray. They were sub-human, animal-like. But at some point God created Adam and Eve who were fully human and put within them his Spirit, which made them, true humanity. From the beginning, they had a relationship with God; they had spirituality, they were moral beings. Just as God treats humankind different than he treats animals, so too did God treat Adam and Eve different than the cavemen and other sub-human hominids. And that’s really about all we can say about cavemen and true humanity. In all truth, science doesn’t actually have very much fossil evidence for pre-historic sub-human life forms. One leading scientist said that about all the actual physical evidence we have could be loaded in the back of a Jeep. It’s still a mystery to scientists as well as Christians seeking to understand the Bible. The Bible doesn’t say much about pre-historic life, and neither does the fossil evidence. What the Bible and science do say must be pieced together from fragmentary bits of evidence. The honest answer is that we just don’t know much about cavemen, we don’t know exactly when God made Adam and Eve, we don’t know who came first or who came later. So the best we can do is make educated guesses based on the Bible and science. We should automatically believe the theories and conclusions of modern science, but neither should we necessarily believe speculative theories based on the Bible. Why wasn’t God more clear about dinosaurs and cavemen? Maybe because it’s not something important or essential for our salvation. Maybe, apart from curiosity and the sheer desire to know, we don’t really need to know all of these answers. The Bible gives us enough information to know God, to know that he loves us and offers us salvation. From that we can learn to trust and obey him. Apart from that, everything else is just secondary or non-essential.


3 Responses to “And God Said, “Let us Make Man in Our Image””

  1. Jeremia Says:

    Thanks, Jeff, for thinking through the possibilities.
    I have also been struggling with this issue for a long time.
    Hope and Blessing

  2. boston apartments Says:

    Good point that I had never thought of before.

  3. seo boston Says:

    Thanks for this post. I definitely agree with what you are saying. I have been talking about this subject a lot lately with my father so hopefully this will get him to see my point of view. Fingers crossed!

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