"A Balanced View of Man and His Destiny" E.K. Gedney Series Part. 2
By Edwin K. Gedney
(This is the second part of a four part series excerpting the work of E.K. Gedney as found in "Our Destiny We Know" a compilation of essays in honor of E.K. Gedney. Entitled "A Balanced View of Man and His Destiny." In that book, this section was taken from Gedney's work "We Believe: A Biblical Anthropology")
The Origin of Man
How did man come to exist?
This universal and basic question is asked by thinking people in every culture and in all of history. Obviously no human recorder was present before the human race came into existence. Hence our ideas of the beginning of the human race must be based on some theory of origin, either religious myth or scientific hypothesis, or the facts about origins may come to us by divine revelation. Let us consider these three possible sources of information about the beginning of man.
1. Religious myth differs in every culture. In ancient Babylon, a man was said to have been made from the blood of the great dragon, Tiamat, slain by Bel-Marduk. In India the four major castes were said to have emerged from the head, breast, loins, and feet of Brahma, the creator god. Many other magical accounts exist among other peoples. The religious myths generally stress only the spiritual aspect of humans, regarding it as the real person with the body relatively unimportant. The spiritual aspect or soul can exist consciously apart from any body. This soul is said to be able to do everything that a living person can do, but without a body. The myths are usually magical, often grotesque, and are incapable of any reasonable relation to the concepts of modern science or to the Bible.
2. Scientists, reasoning backward form presently observed fact, have developed the hypothesis of the gradual emergence of successively more complex forms of life form the so-called simple cell to the final form of the thinking person. This evolution is generally thought of as happening wholly by natural laws that developed automatically as the cosmos became more complex. The process occurred without the guidance of any superior intelligent being.
Despite the many weaknesses of this hypothesis, and despite its continuing failure to find a satisfactory mechanism for causing it to work, this is the only reasonable explanation of life open to the modern non-supernaturalistic mind. It is therefore the theory most commonly taught in our schools, and it is the basis if the revolutionary social philosophies of the modern world such as communism and state socialism.
Those who stress this materialistic view stress the physical part of man as the most important, commonly denying the existence of a spiritual aspect of human beings altogether. From this viewpoint there is no Creator to whom people are responsible. The individual therefore has only a horizontal social responsibility. He ahs no value as a creation of God; his value lies only in what he can contribute ot the well-being of the race or to his society. In this view good and evil are not determined from the character of God, or by his revelation, and therefore cannot be ascertained exactly. Good is what appears to work well in social living. It will differ from culture to culture and age to age. Many today even disregard the social evaluation of good and evil, each one deciding values for himself without regard to opinion and custom.
Eternal life is found only in the continuance of the family line in children and in the lasting value and influence of one’s life work. Hope for a better world and way of life is found only in man himself and in his ability to build a better society, integrate a worldwide unity of nations, and eliminate age- long evils such as ignorance, povery, in justice, and such modern problems as pollution. Form this viewpoint the record of the twentieth century is most depressing.
3. The Christian has a sounder interpretation of life given by the Creator through revelation. In the book of Genesis we have an account of the origin of man that is simple, reasonable, believable, and the only one that can be harmonized with current scientific fact and with many scientific theories (even with evolution if we regard it as one of the possible mechanisms used by God and not as a blind unguided self-developing process). The early part of the book of Genesis is not given to us as a scientific treatise on the origin of the earth and life. If it had been so written, no one could have understood it until the last hundred years. It is given to us as a reasonable and brief summary of the beginning that would
a. Satisfy the inquiring human mind through the pre-scientific era;
b. Be harmonious with true scientific concepts when these would be discovered; and
c. Answer the basic questions regarding the meaning, purpose, nature, and destiny of humans that science and philosophy cannot resolve in any age.