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Apes: In the Image of God?

Time_mag_what_makes_us_differentIt seems as though Time Magazine, more than other news weeklies, likes to probe spiritually provocative and evangelical Christian themes.  Sometimes they do a good job, especially in terms of religion, as they have had some decent religion editors, including Richard Ostling, in the past. The October 3 cover article explores "How We Became Human."  The opening line says, "No single, essential difference separates human beings from other animals."  We'll have to explore and challenge that one.

The article centers around two tracks. One, being that evolutionary research and conclusions are being thrown into confusion by recent and contradictory finds. This includes the new belief that humans evolved simultaneously in several regions of the globe at the same time.

The other track is the similarities between humans and apes.  I don't know about that.  I remember hearing about evolution when I was in elementary school and wondering if this were true, why were there 'still' monkeys around? On the most basic level so many of these things never made sense to me.

I was recently at a whale demonstration with my family. The trainer was young and a lot of fun, interacting with us and making the experience really enjoyable.  The trainer then pointed to the whale's blow-hole and told us that this 'adaptation' took millions of years to develop. The trainer then went on to tell us that the whale could submerge several thousand feet and stay under water for up to an hour.  That didn't make any sense to me.  I later asked the presenter if the whale only had one hour of air before using the blow-hole for more air, wouldn't it stand to reason that the adaptation would have to happen within an hour or there would be no whales?  He replied, "Yea, that's kind of interesting, I never thought about that."

So much in evolutionary theory doesn't make sense. That's probably why, according to a CBS poll, after one hundred years of teaching evolution only 15% of Americans believe that life came through evolution without God.  People just don't buy it despite mandating creation out of textbooks, magazine articles like the Time cover, television specials and teachers telling it to young impressionable minds day after day, year after year. What's going on?  Maybe we have something inside of us that tell us this isn't true and we trust our internal resources more than we do the efforts of modern education to convince us differently.

The argument of similarities, points more to design than "image." Agricultural scientist Don Batten writing for "Answers in Genesis" says, "Think about a Porsche and Volkswagen ‘Beetle’ car. They both have air–cooled, flat, horizontally–opposed, 4–cylinder engines in the rear, independent suspension, two doors, boot (trunk) in the front, and many other similarities (‘homologies’). Why do these two very different cars have so many similarities? Because they had the same designer!" 

The works of artists, painters, musicians and writers have similarities that help us to identify the work as theirs.  John Cougar Mellencamp has an identifiable sound. He has written a variety of songs about differing topics, yet his 'signature' comes through his songs.  He is the creator and they sound like they came from him. Each is different, but they are variations on the theme of the one that created them.  Eyes and hands are not the "Image," but design.

That the animal world has 'similarities' to the human world should come as no surprise.  All of the 'created order' shares similarities.  But everything is not the same, nor does it stand to reason that they descended from each other because they bear common traits. This is to be expected with a Master Creator. In our house we like the French Impressionist painters. Although they all derive their style from common techniques, each can be identified by their own style and twist. It is possible to identify a creator through their works. So it is with God, the creator of all things. Shouldn't we 'natuarally' expect that we will see similarities?

Humans are as different from the animal kingdom, including apes, as they are similar.  It is claimed that he DNA between apes and humans is 97-99% similar. That still allows for huge differences. But the biggest difference isn't in physical characteristics, but in what the Bible calls being created "in the image of God."  (Genesis 1:26) What does that mean?

Being created in 'the image of God" does not refer to physical likeness.  What is does mean is that there are many characteristics of God that we share.

The ability to choose to love, to commit to love, to make intellectual, emotional and volitional decisions to love makes us "like God" and unlike the animal world.

The ability to communicate about past, present and future and to build monuments and museums to recall our past achievements and failures are uniquely human and something we share being created in the Image of God.

Being created in the image of God gives us an innate sense of right and wrong and of justice. All humans everywhere have a sense of justice, of what is right for people.  This stems from us being created in the Image of God. It is the basis of all human rights. The fact that every individual has worth and value, simply because they are exist is part of being creating in the Image of God.

The same?  Sure.  One creator, with variations on a theme.  Descending from each other? No way. After God created the order of nature and the animal world, he created human beings. People in His image. The same creator placing us on the same shared earth, but with a different task and with a different purpose.

In some ways it's not even worth debunking the evolutionary belief structure, since no matter how hard they try hardly anybody believes it anyway.  That's because God placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11.) It's only one other way that we are created in the Image of God.



Ha! Love the whale thing. Great post, Joe. Dave and I went walking tonight. Saw the ocean, the sunset, bunnies, birds, deer... this world is most definately a work of art and no accident.


When we sent our ten year old son to public school this year for the first time, we were worried about the teaching of evolution. He had never heard anything close to that theory before. After sharing my concerns about what he would be taught with a friend at church, he told me "We were taught the same thing in school and somehow we still made it here."

Trying to prepare him, my wife and I told our son that many people believe we came from monkeys. He laughed. He thought it was crazy. He could not understand how anyone could believe that.

Since he has been in school he has told us that his teacher has already shared her belief of evolution. We are waiting to see how he deals with learning from a good teacher (and she is) that is not saved and does not have the truth. Maybe he can teach her something. We will see.


Well I'll be a monkeys uncle!!!


OK...So I'm not a monkeys uncle. Thank God!(literally) My son and I like to "monkey" around and he loves to climb so I can see the similarites. Surely we won't see anything like "Planet of the Apes" here on earth. Good thing- that show freaked me out!!

Jeff Eilenberger

Thanks for the great post Joe, that missing link is still missing; something tells me it's gonna' stay missing ... forever. Thank you Lord for Your Holy Spirit ... and opposable thumbs.

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