Human origins and doctrine (was Definition of "Species")

From: Keith B Miller (
Date: Fri Feb 22 2002 - 10:01:31 EST

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    >The gap between huamns and our closest relatives is so vast that it amounts
    >to a qualitative difference. Of these differences, one of the most
    >significant is probably our capacity for self-awareness and
    >self-determination. No naturalistic process is able to satisfactorily
    >explain the emergence of these capacities, which are prerequisites for moral
    >accountability. We are moral beings because we have these capacities, and
    >when we misuse them, we fall into sin. The doctrine of Original Sin not only
    >requires that we are morally accountable, but also affirms the concept of
    >the unity of humankind - that it is through the sin of one that we are all
    >fallen. IMHO, to deny the historicity of the one Adam is to make non-sense
    >of the doctrine.

    Firstly, self-awareness and self-determination are very abstract concepts.
    How do you know that no other animal is self-aware? This has been debated
    for years, and I don't see any clear objective way of determining it. My
    personal view is that at least some higher animals are indeed self-aware.

    Secondly, what does moral accountability have to do with the origin of the
    physical human form? I can see no reason why our moral and spiritual
    nature, or our relationship to God, has any direct connection to the origin
    of our physical form. It seems clear to me that the "image of God" is tied
    specifically to our covenant relationship to God. We are God's
    representatives, God's ambassadors to the rest of Creation. Past and
    contemporary evangelical theologians have seen no necessary connection
    between the manner in which our physical bodies were created and our being
    made in the image of God.

    Lastly, evolution also affirms the unity of humankind. People like
    Warfield used evolution as a strong argument against polygenism (multiple
    human origins) and racism (see the discussion of Warfield in "Darwin's
    Forgotten Defenders"). Furthermore, many of those accepting human
    evolution, both past and present, also fully accepted the historicity of
    Adam. Whether the historicity of Adam is necessary for the doctrine of
    original sin is another question, but it can be consistenly held by those
    accepting an evolutionary origin for the human physical form.


    Keith B. Miller
    Department of Geology
    Kansas State University
    Manhattan, KS 66506

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