Social Problems--Part E

Russell Maatman (
Thu, 12 Feb 1998 20:20:13 -0600

Here's the fifth part of my five-part series.

Social Problems and God's Plan of Redemption

CAPS show the context of each part.

(A) Introduction
(B) Marriage
(C) Racism
(D) The Right to Life

E. The Beginning of the Human Race

Questions about the beginning of the human race constitute a "social
problem" because the answers one gives often lead to a problem in society.
An example is the consequence of the "species-ism" accusation cited in the
Introduction. When human beings are considered to be no more than just
another animal species, there are serious results. It has been suggested,
for example, that a healthy chimpanzee is more valuable than a feeble
child. The purpose here is not to examine such positions, but rather to
analyze means used to answer questions about the beginning of the human

Here are some of the positions taken by modern scholars, some Christian and
some non-Christian, concerning the beginning of the human race:

1. The first human beings were Adam and Eve, who lived thousands of years
ago. They did not descend from animals.

2. The first human beings were Adam and Eve, who lived hundreds of
thousands or perhaps millions of years ago. They did not descend from

3. Adam and Eve, who lived hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of
years ago, evolved from animals.

4. Human beings gradually evolved from animals hundreds of thousands or
perhaps millions of years ago. If the first human beings were a man-woman
pair and not a group, this pair had no relation to the biblical Adam and

Various kinds of evidence are used in deciding among these positions. In
evaluating evidence, many scholars use one particularly important
assumption: If evidence shows that an activity, a characteristic, or a
structure of an ancient being is similar to a modern human activity,
characteristic, or structure, then the ancient being was either a pre-human
animal or a human being. Using this principle, many scholars have concluded
that some ancient beings were either human or animals that were human

Some of the evidence scholars use is fossil evidence. Examples:

1. Certain ancient beings seemed to think about "higher" things, even a
god. For example, some buried their dead, occasionally with flowers.

2. Others designed and made tools and weapons. Some of those weapons were
used for hunting.

3. The following are examples of cultural artifacts, activities, and
characteristics associated with ancient fossils: huts, tents, boats,
clothes, rock art (sculptures), underground mining, laying of pavement,
deliberate setting of fires, ability to communicate, and exhibitions of
love and hate.

But if human beings are the descendants of a man-woman pair who were
created in the image of God, then it is incorrect to claim human-ness is
proved by such things as tool-making and burying with flowers--as well as
similarity of structure. All the artifacts, activities, and
characteristics listed above linked to fossils can just as well be
associated with nonhuman species, that is, with species not bearing the
image of God. None of the artifacts, activities, and characteristics proves
the existence of that image. Contrary to what has been long supposed,
modern animals may possess some traits thought to be uniquely human. In
addition, many species of animals have died out. Can we be certain that no
extinct species had any of those traits? Isn't a person who claims a
necessary link between those traits and human-ness limiting God, in effect
telling God what he may not create?

The human race began when God created Adam and Eve in his image. Adam, the
first man, sinned, breaking that image, and another man, Christ, redeems
that image (Rom. 5:12, 19). That understanding of God's plan of redemption
will prevent us from making the mistake of those who choose certain human
traits to be the essence of human-ness. Of course, some of the fossils
referred to above may be human fossils: there is much that we do not know
about early human history. What we do know is that all human beings are
descendants of Adam and Eve, the first beings to bear God's image.

Non-Christians will not accept biblical evidence here any more than they do
concerning the other ideas discussed above. It is wise to point out to
everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, that being a toolmaker or
bearing any of the other characteristics or structures associated with
ancient beings is not the essence of humanity. Non-Christians are able to
understand that the sum of all such traits does not equal "human." Perhaps
some non-Christians will then begin to examine their own fundamental
beliefs and find them wanting. That realization is the first step along the
path to conversion to Christianity, to becoming a citizen of the Kingdom of

Russell Maatman
Home: 401 5th Avenue
Sioux Center, IA 51250