Q&A

What About Evolution And Hominids ? | Q&A


Question:

What does the Bible say about evolution? What about hominids?

Answer:

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.

Resources

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.

General
  • 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.]

Evolution

[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.

Hominids

  • 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.]

Theistic Evolution
  • 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).]


Endnotes

1. Francis S Collins, The Language of God. (Free Press, 2006). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Language_of_God.

2. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/homo-sapiens 

3. https://www.thefreedictionary.com/hominid 

One Comment

  • Avatar

    Aaron Vienot

    I appreciate the heroic effort to avoid the rabbit trails. But I think one needs to be explored: the subheading “Creation is species-specific.” Even with the cautions given about ambiguous use of “species” and “kinds,” I think these terms have been heavily confused in both mainstream scientific and creationist literature. So, a question: what is the purpose of each word, according to the authors?

    In Genesis 1:11-12, when God created the plants, the emphasis in “kinds” is on their fruit and seeds. In vv.21-22, for sea creatures and birds the command is “be fruitful, multiply, fill.” With land animals in vv.24-25, there are more “kinds,” and with man, there is yet another “kind,” and the command is repeated in v.28: “be fruitful, multiply, fill.” To me, this suggests that the biblical use of “kind” is closely associated with the ability to reproduce and maintain a line that continues on the earth, so that it should not be empty. (Also compare Genesis 8:17, after the flood.)

    “Species” comes from scientific taxonomy, which attempts to classify all life based on various similar features. At the “species” level in particular, a lot of strange divisions arise. Many have been revised and many are still being revised or created. For example, Carl Linnaeus, the “father of taxonomy,” filed domestic dogs under the genus/species designation “canis familiaris” while wolves were designated “canis lupus.” But that leads to the odd conclusion that a Chihuahua and a Great Dane are more similar than a Great Dane and a wolf, even though all three are genetically interfertile while only the Dane-wolf pair could practically breed. So, the modern classification for a domestic dog is now much more complicated, and zoologists, biologists, and taxonomists debate continually about where to fit various wild dogs at the margins of the categories. Yet at the end of the day, these all still possess the ability to reproduce with each other and make more animals in the same pattern.

    So, this is another reason why evolution as being “the origin of species” (Darwin’s term) doesn’t fit into the bilblical narrative, in addition to those Roy outlined above. God commanded that plants and animals should reproduce after their “kinds,” and it is obvious to any scientific investigator that this is exactly what they do, even if we don’t fully understand the origin or boundaries of variation for any particular “kind.” The trick for reading biology texts or scientific literature is knowing that this is described as being an evolutionary process (“microevolution”), neatly tying it to the larger, speculative framework of unending evolutionary successions that are speculated out to the dawn of time. As such, when reviewing Genesis terms like “species” can become less helpful than they should be – or, in the hands of pop science personalities promoting evolution, more helpful than they should be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *