Beginning of Humanity

Genesis 1:1 declares that God created the universe out of nothing. Genesis 1:2 clarifies that at this stage of God’s creative activity, the earth was “formless and empty.” It was not yet habitable. If the Big Bang theory indeed represents the origin of the universe, it is a scientific commentary on Genesis 1:1. Genesis 1:3-2:3 reveals that in six days God renovated the earth and our solar system so that the earth is habitable, and also created plant, animal and finally human life.

Another recent scientific discovery, the Anthropic Principle, would then be a scientific commentary on how the universe was created and our solar system renovated specifically to make life possible on earth. For this is how physicist John Wheeler (1996: vii) describes the Anthropic Principle:

What is man that the universe is mindful of him? ... It is not only that man is adapted to the universe. The universe is adapted to man. Imagine a universe in which one or another of the fundamental dimensionless constants of physics is altered by a few percent one way or other? Man could never come into being in such a universe. That is the central point of the anthropic principle. According to this principle, a life-giving factor lies at the center of the whole machinery and design of the world.

This discovery that the universe is adapted, or “fine-tuned,” for supporting life on earth is more detrimental to the materialist view of the world than the Big Bang theory. For even materialist scientists who believe that the universe was “created” without God find it hard to believe that such a universe could come into existence all by itself. To them, it is purely by chance that our universe is what it is. But the probability of such an intricately fine-tuned universe coming into existence by chance is so extremely slim that they have to come up with the multiverse theory. This theory claims that there were extremely many “big bangs” creating multiple universes, and ours just happens by sheer chance to be thus fine-tuned. But there is no evidence whatsoever to support this theory.

As Gregg Easterbrook (2002), a contributing editor for The Atlantic Monthly, points out, “several variations on the multiverse theory are popular in academia [only] because they suggest how our universe could have beaten the odds without a guiding hand.” In other words, the theory is taken for granted just because it is needed to avoid the most obvious conclusion on the origin of the universe: Genesis 1:1. The multiverse theory may be convincing to people who are already biased against Genesis 1:1. But others will probably agree with Easterbrook: “But the multiverse idea rests on assumptions that would be laughed out of town if they came from a religious text.”

Genesis 1-2 clearly teaches that not only the universe, but also human beings are created by God. He created Adam and Eve, the first human couple, and through them the rest of the human race. We will not get side-tracked and bogged-down here by the current debate over creation versus evolution. For the debate is actually between theism and materialism, the dogmatic presuppositions that undergird the respective positions. Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin (1997) is himself an evolutionist. Having argued, "what seems absurd depends on one's prejudice," he confesses that (materialist) scientists are willing “to accept scientific claims that are against common sense,” despite obvious problems that discredit them, “because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.”

The theory of evolution involves seeking and accepting only natural (material) explanations to the scientific data, even when they are not sensible. A supernatural explanation (creation) must be rejected even when it is most sensible. Lewontin goes so far to say: "It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation.” But rather they are “forced” by their prior commitment to materialism to do their science in such a way that they would end up with material explanations. Lewontin insists that "materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." This means, God must be absolutely ruled out no matter what. But we do not suppose many evolutionists, unlike Lewontin, would acknowledge that their "science" is controlled by a dogmatic presupposition.

In any case, theist scientists and theologians have been addressing the theory of evolution and related issues head-on, and the debate is still on-going (see for instance, Nevin 2009). And if we presuppose, even temporarily, theism as expressed in Genesis 1:1, we can see that the relevant scientific data can be interpreted to support creation. In fact, if we do not rule out theism, even scientific data provided by evolutionists can already be readily interpreted to show that an intelligent designer must be the cause of not only the universe, but also life on earth (see for instance, Dembski & Kushiner 2001). Even atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel (2010: 49) recognizes that once intelligent design is admitted as a real possibility, "it becomes a serious candidate for support by empirical evidence, in particular empirical evidence against the sufficiency of standard evolutionary theory to account for the observational data." Intelligent design naturally points to creation.

Just as in the case of the multiverse theory, whether creation or evolution is more convincing from the scientific point of view depends on our personal dogmatic presupposition (or how much our sense of judgment has been influenced by the overwhelming academic pressure of the materialist “scientific consensus” to conform to it). But since we are presupposing Genesis 1:1 in this exposition, the teaching that God created plant, animal and human life poses no intellectual problem even in view of modern science.

So we will move on to consider God’s purpose in creating humanity, which is actually the overarching theme of not only Genesis but also the whole Bible. And in our upcoming exposition on the created condition of humanity and its subsequent “fall,” we shall also for the same reasons not get side-tracked and bogged down by issues raised by contemporary science that presupposes a materialist paradigm (for instance, sociobiology).

To set the stage let us take note of the original dwelling place of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:8-17). God repeatedly described the world He created as “good,” and after the creation of Adam and Eve, as “very good.” Besides renovating the earth and the solar system so that the earth is habitable, God also further formed a small part of the earth and turned it into the Garden of Eden. It is a place most conducive for human dwelling, and where food supply could be taken for granted (Genesis 2:16; cf. 1:29). God placed Adam and Eve there, where He Himself dwelled and had direct fellowship with them.

The Image of God

The creation of human beings is summarized in Genesis 1:26-28 (and elaborated in Genesis 2:4-25). God created human beings, male and female, in His image and likeness so that they can fulfill the purpose for which He created them.

The equality of men and women is unmistakable. God created Adam from “the dust of the ground” and then breathed into him “the breath of life” so that he became a “living being” (Genesis 2:7). But God did not create Eve the same way. If He did, there would arise the question of whether the two independently created human beings are equal in their humanity. But since God created Eve from a part of Adam’s own body so that he would exclaim that she was “at last, bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:21-23), the question does not arise at all.

Being made in God’s image and likeness means human beings, both “body and soul,” are like God and thus reflect Him in some ways. By considering what the Bible clearly teaches about God and about human beings we can outline in what ways human beings are like God.

Firstly, human beings have God-like nature. Most significantly, “God is Spirit” and human beings worship Him “in spirit” (John 4:24). Human beings, like God, are spiritual beings. The Bible teaches that human beings not only have a non-material soul but also a spirit (Cooper 2000: 52-72; 110-19). Actually the terms “spirit” and “soul” are used interchangeably in the Bible and hence “they do not denote two distinct substances ... Distinguishing 'spirit' and 'soul' does, however, remind us that humans are ‘spirit’ in a way animals are not" (Bavinck 2011: 325), and thus can operate in ways animals cannot. This basically means human beings, like God, are persons; they are self-conscious beings who not only can feel, but also reason and make choices and are responsible for their actions. Most importantly they can relate to God, and to one another. In fact, “the spirit of mankind fulfills its true destiny when it lives in conscious relationship to God its Creator” (Osterhaven 2001: 1133).

Unlike God, human beings also have a material body. But this does not mean the human body is not part of the image of God. God can think and reason without a body; human beings cannot. This is clearly seen in people who have suffered brain damage. Hence our God-likeness, such as our ability to think and reason, has to function in and through our physical body. In fact, the Bible also teaches that the body forms a “functional unity” with the soul (Cooper 2000: 33-51).

Secondly, human beings have God-like qualities. They have a capacity to love and a sense of justice. These qualities are so universally observed and experienced that they need no elaboration at this point. As we shall see, they are central to God’s purpose for the human race.

Thirdly, human beings have God-like abilities. Besides the ability to communicate, they also have the ability to create. This is amazingly illustrated by the human ability to create computer software. According to Bill Gates (1996: 228), “Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.” Based on Genesis 1-2 we can conclude that the genetic code in the human DNA is part of the creative work of God—He designed it.

But even without presupposing Genesis 1:1 in coming to this conclusion, Gate’s observation is most sensibly interpreted as suggesting that a superintelligent Mind similar to but far, far superior to the human mind created the genetic code. Only one with a presupposed bias against Genesis 1:1 would fail to see how sensible this interpretation is. Gate’s observation thus shows that there is an uncannily God-like ability in human beings. Would a biologist concur with Gate’s comparison of computer software with the genetic code? Here is an oft-quoted testimony of the prominent atheist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins (1996: 17): “The machine code of the genes is uncannily computerlike.”