Today we post the final installment in our four-part "Distinctions" series. This video was directed by Loretta Cooper, President of Clarity Media Strategies and was scripted by Loretta Cooper and BioLogos Program Director, Kathryn Applegate.
Narrator: What does it mean to be human? For the Christian, the answer is complex. In part, it is a reflection of being created in the image of God with free will and common values. But does the science of human evolution pose a threat to that uniqueness?
Lee Strobel: But in the last 150 years, science has failed to substantiate Darwin’s claims of macro-evolution.
Mike Riddle: The Bible teaches that God created all creatures after their kind; there was not one common ancestor everything evolved from.
Ken Ham: You know, through this nation, whole generations of young people are being taught in the public schools that there is no God, life evolved by natural processes, and that very much determines their morality, how they view themselves, their purpose and, meaning in life, and so on.
Narrator: Not all Christians view evolutionary science as a threat to their faith, and not all scientists see human evolution as a strictly materialistic process. There are those in both communities who believe the explanation is much more complex, including Dr. Rick Potts. Dr. Potts is one of the world’s leading paleoanthropologists, and the curator of (anthropology at) Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History.
Rick Potts: What we’ve found is that part of our message is that an aspect of being human has been the process of becoming human that scientists have been able to uncover, and that includes the amazingness, if you will, of the fact that human beings today are connected to all other living creatures. There is this vast kinship that all creatures share on earth, and that is a beautiful thing.
Narrator: But the idea of common ancestry is anything but beautiful to many conservative Christians. It’s a prospect that has caused consternation among American evangelicals dating back at least to the Scopes Trial in 1925. Others, however, insist that there is nothing in common ancestry that should alarm those who have observed nature and who study the character of creator God.
Denis Alexander: When we talk about common ancestry, we don’t mean we are descended from the apes, we mean that we shared a common ancestor with the apes about six million years ago, plus or minus a little bit. And so the apes have been evolving their own particular way and we have been evolving our way. But the fact that we are all linked up in this evolutionary, historical way, I think is a just wonderful drama, a theater. And to me, anyway, I find it a privilege that I should be connected up to all these wonderful creatures.
Greg Boyd: And on the one hand I want to fully acknowledge that we human beings are in a class by ourselves, and that we are radically unique in God’s plan because we are to have dominion and to be the stewards of the planet and things of that sort. So I want to totally affirm that. On the other hand, if you totally separate humans from the rest of the animal kingdom, then you miss the beautiful continuity that is there, and part of the fear, I think, for people in thinking that we in any way came from apes is that it undignifies us. Well, it doesn’t. On the other hand, if our dignity has to be all at their expense then we have all the dignity and they have none, if we are in competition with them, and then we exploit them. There is a dignity to human beings that animals don’t have, but on the other hand, there is a worth and a value there that we need to respect.
Narrator: Any honest dialogue about the origins of humanity must acknowledge that some scientists and some Christians will never find common ground on this issue. But for those willing to engage in the conversation with prayerful hearts and open minds, the dialogue can lead us to glimpses of our Creator that inspire awe and worship.
Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.