What does the Bible say about evolution? What about hominids?
In this post, I will limit my discussion to the questions given. To take up the general topics of evolution and the hominids would require much more space than would be reasonable for a post of this type. Instead, I will offer a large set of annotated resources.
What is Evolution?
We need to recognize that the term “evolution” is subject to a wide range of meanings. Much confusion has resulted from equivocating on the term. The most basic meaning is simply change over time. So, we speak of the “evolution of the automobile.” When someone says, “We see evolution (microbial?) all around us so evolution (Darwinian?) must be true.” They are simply equivocating on the term “evolution.” Darwinian Evolution is specifically the acceptance of common descent by means of random, unguided mutations with natural selection. It is important to realize that this excludes the necessary intervention of the Creator to bring about the world we see.
But, there is more potential confusion because some Christians believe in “Theistic Evolution” or “Evolutionary Creationism.” In this case, God is seen as intervening in the evolutionary process to bring about His purpose.1 This is far too large a topic to enter into here. I include resources for that point of view in the “Resources” section below. I mention it here to emphasize how important it is to learn what a person means by the terms he uses.
Creation is species-specific
Genesis 1:24 reads in part, “And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds…’” And, in Deuteronomy 14:12, 13 we read, “But these are the ones that you shall not eat: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, the kite, the falcon of any kind.” So, the word “kind” seems to be roughly equivalent to “species.” There is some ambiguity in the meaning of “species” and also in the exact meaning of “kind.” Nevertheless, I think we can take them as similar enough for our discussion here.
The account of creation in Genesis tells us that God created plants and animals in a “species- specific” way. Thus, Darwinian Evolution is excluded. The principle of Common Descent is certainly incompatible with the declaration in Scripture of how God created the plants and animals.
Who were the hominids?
When discussing hominids, we again run into problems of terminology. You might read, “Humans that lived 2 million years ago made stone tools.” What does that mean? First, what is meant by “human.” We might automatically think of people like ourselves. But, just as in the case of “evolution” the term is ambiguous. Even “Homo sapien” does not always mean what it seems. We are used to thinking of ourselves by that term, but in fact, Homo sapiens is defined as “the species of bipedal primates to which modern humans belong”2 We are technically “Homo sapiens sapiens”. That is, we are “modern humans” (don’t forget the “modern”).
The term “hominid” is broader still and is defined as “Any of various primates of the family Hominidae, which includes orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and modern humans, and their extinct relatives.”3 What is interesting is that Scripture mentions some of these (1 Ki. 10:22) but not the extinct species. That should not be surprising. This is hardly a problem unless you assume common descent and argue that the extinct species somehow were transformed by many changes into modern humans. Why should Scripture mention extinct species of animals? It doesn’t mention dinosaurs or any of the other marvels of God’s creation which went extinct long ago.
The special place of Eve
Yet, there is one mention in Scripture that is worth considering. We read in Genesis 2:18-20
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. (my emphasis)
What is so interesting about this passage is the intrusion between verse 18 and 21 (where Eve was created) of the description of the other animals and Adam’s relationship to them. Why? The order makes no sense unless we see it as a specific testimony to the uniqueness of Eve apart from ALL the other animals! So, we are given here a witness to the uniqueness of modern humans, made in the image of God.
There are many good resources that I have left out. This list seems to me to give broad coverage of the topic. I have learned something of value from each book in this list.
- Cabal, Theodore J. and Peter, J. Rasor II. Controversy of the Ages. Wooster: Weaver Book Company, 2017.
[At only 225 pages, this book is a fairly easy read. It is a good place to start.]
[Some of the following books can get a bit technical, but are worth the effort.]
- Axe, Douglas, Undeniable. New York: HarperOne, 2016.
- Behe, Michael. The Edge of Evolution. New York: Free Press, 2007.
- Leisola, Matti and Jonathan Witt, Heretic. Seattle: Discovery Institute, 2018.
- Meyer, Stephen C., Darwin’s Doubt. New York: HarperOne, 2013.
- Rana, Fazale, The Cell’s Design. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008.
- Rana, Fazale, Creating Life in the Lab. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011.
- Rana, Fazale, Who Was Adam?. Covina: RTB Press, 2015.
[This book provides an excellent introduction to the hominid fossil record from a non-evolutionary perspective and suggests reasons why such creatures might have been created.]
- Keathley, Kenneth, J. B. Stump, and Joe Aguirre (Eds.), Old-Earth or Evolutionary Creation?. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2017.
[The Q&A format allows the two different views to “face-off” with their arguments. The two views presented highlight the key issues between a literal Creation and creation through an evolutionary process.]
- Moreland, J. P., Stephen C. Meyer, Christopher Shaw, Ann K. Gauger, Wayne Grudem, (Eds.), Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique. Wheaton: Crossway, 2017.
[At 1007 pages, this collection of essays provides a broad introduction to the problems with Theistic Evolution (aka Evolutionary Creation).]