Why does the Bible claim that humans were created when science says they evolved?
Here are a few of the scientific reasons why we at Reasons to Believe assert that humans are the result of special creation by God rather than the result of strictly natural processes:
- Of all animals, both living and extinct, only humans possess capabilities for symbolic thought and symbolic communication. In a 2008 paper, three brain science researchers wrote, “There is a significant discontinuity in the degree to which human and nonhuman animals are able to approximate the higher-order, systematic, relational capabilities of a physical symbol system.” For example, only humans have developed and used letters and numbers to produce books and algebraic expressions that potentially can be read by all members of its species. Only humans can understand and respond to traffic signs. These researchers concluded that “this symbolic-relational discontinuity pervades nearly every domain of cognition.”1
- Only humans manifest spiritual capabilities. While some animals, like elephants, will bury their dead and mourn for days, only humans engage in philosophy, only humans engage in worship, only humans freely obey or disobey an innate moral standard, and only humans seek redemption.
- The intellectual capability and brain structure of humans have much more in common with those of ravens, crows, and jays than with those of chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas.2
- The 1% observed difference between human and Neanderthal DNA is large enough to support the view that humans and Neanderthals are distinct species.
- A human can tame and train wild bird and mammal species. This taming never happens the other way around.
- Only humans demonstrate the capacity for technological advancement. The earliest humans designed and used tools far more sophisticated than those developed by the hominids that preceded them. Simple spears and rocks were superseded by axes, sewing needles, serving bowls, and flour-grinding implements, for example. What’s more, human development of tool and implement technology is not static. It advances from generation to generation.
- Only humans possess language complexity that includes grammar, verb tenses, and vocabularies reaching into the thousands and even millions of words.
All these special characteristics and capacities accord well with the biblical description of humans as exceptional, compared to all other life on Earth, the only creatures made in God’s image.
1. Derek C. Penn, Keith J. Holyoak, and Daniel J. Povinelli, “Darwin’s Mistake: Explaining the Discontinuity between Human and Nonhuman Minds,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31, no. 2 (May 14, 2008): 109–30, doi:10.1017/S0140525X08003543.
2. Johan J. Bolhuis and Clive D. L. Wynne, “Can Evolution Explain How Minds Work?,” Nature 458, no. 7240 (April 16, 2009): 832–33, doi:10.1038/458832a.