The origins debate has received quite a bit of attention in recent months with the publication of Peter Enns’ The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins (Brazos Press, 2012). In his magnum opus, Dr. Culver addresses many of the concerns raised by Enns and others taking part in the origins debate. Over the next few weeks, we will share a series of selections from Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical focusing on the origin and unity of mankind by creation that will be helpful for those wanting to engage in the origins discussion. Part 2 follows below:
Except for Genesis 2:7 nothing is said of what method or materials God did or did not use in creation of anything. For those whose minds crave some assurance at this point I make two suggestions. The first is that there is not a positive suggestion or hint in the early chapters of Genesis or elsewhere in the Bible that evolution of any sort had any part in the creation of the universe and the natural order. People already convinced of evolutionary origins have managed to adapt the Genesis narrative to their version of evolution, but not one ever derived his theory from the Bible.
My second suggestion is that the narrative language can be interpreted, but not necessarily so, to support the immediate creation of mankind by God. It is said that since context and logic imply absolute beginning in bara‘,’create,’ in Genesis 1:1 the same may be true when the same word (‘Let us create,’ etc.) is used of the origin of mankind (Gen. 1:26, 27). If so, only the soul was immediately created for at 2:7 God ‘formed man of the dust of the ground’ (KJV). The earth ‘brought forth’ the animals (1:24) in some unspecified way. The language of 2:7 suggests a more direct act of God, viz.: He ‘formed man’ (Heb yatsar, used of what potters do with clay, many times in Jer. 18; used of divine shaping of the fetus in his mother’s womb in Jer. 1:5; and twice used of a sculptor shaping an image in Hab. 2:18). The origin of the human soul, not only in the first man, but in all mankind, will soon be treated at length.
Let us seek to dissociate the question of evolution from other possible employment of means or material. The divine breath (2:7) is an obvious figure of speech. Whether a figure for creativity itself or of some imparting of divine nature or likeness cannot be settled apart from general doctrinal considerations. God certainly does not breathe air into nostrils in the manner of resuscitation procedures.
Excerpted from Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical by Robert Duncan Culver (Mentor, 2005).
Part 1 of this blog post series can be found here: LINK.
Where to Buy:
Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below: