Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Physical Evolution of Spiritual Man

A common Christian objection to evolution is that this process would render humans, created in the image of God, spiritually indistinct from animals. This objection is fallacious.

If evolutionary theory is indeed correct, then humans and other animals indeed came into being by the same physical processes of genetic mutation, phenotypical realization and natural selection. Moreover, modern humans are the descendants of earlier hominids, which in turn are the descendants of early apelike primates, and so on to the first single-celled organism. There is thus a physical kinship among all Earthly living species.

The anti-evolutionist's argument goes something like this.

1. If evolution is true, then all living species have a common means of physical origin.

2. All creatures with a common physical origin share a spiritual condition.

3. Therefore, if evolution is true, then all living species share a spiritual condition.

4. But all species do not share a spiritual condition, as per Christian teaching and common observation, so evolution is false.

But what is the justification for the second premise? Man's spiritual uniqueness is manifest in his moral sense, his longing for meaning, and his desire and ability to commune with his Creator. These attributes may be enabled by certain neural structures, but their real significance is spiritual, and Christians view them as God's work, either by acts of special creation or through evolution. Even anti-evolution Christians usually accept that all living things are somewhat similar, in their common genetic code, mechanisms of motion and nutrition and their survival needs, among many many other categories. Admitting these physical similarities, they still see man as spiritually unique. Why should they regard origin differently?

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