what is man, the question

October 5, 2016

Image result for picture of a monkey looking at a man

What is man? Something to think about.

The first thing we learn about the actual physical creation of man is that “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (v. 7).

The simplicity of this description, when placed alongside the complex theories and brilliant dissertations which are the products of man’s incessant search for discovery of everything including himself, serves only to show that there is fundamental truth here, elastic enough to contain all that future discoveries would reveal.

The Bible states unequivocally that man, like the animals, comes from the “dust of the ground” and, moreover, will return to it (Gen. 3:19). Coder and Howe in their book The Bible, Science and Creation have taken the trouble to calculate that “the human body is composed of about fifty-eight pounds of oxygen, two ounces of salt, fifty quarts of water, three pounds of calcium, twenty-four pounds of carbon, and some chlorine, phosphorous, fat, iron, sulphur, and glycerine.” Of course it is one thing to make a pile of all these common elements, but it is another thing entirely to make a man out of them.

The big question is “How did we get from the pile of dust to the complex and wonderful creature called man?” The most controversial answer to the question is wrapped up in the word “evolution”—a word which is gospel to many and strikes horror in the hearts of others. From the nineteenth century, when Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species was published, to the present time the debate has been perpetuated. It has often generated more heat than light and is so intense that it has even found its way into the hallowed halls of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. The original opposition to Darwin’s theory, which subsequent events have shown was well founded, claimed that if mankind was led to believe that it was caught up in an impersonal, mechanistic universe in which only the fittest survived, all manner of callousness, cynicism, and cruelty would result. The debate quickly degenerated into a black and white polarization of views which stated either that everything was made purposefully by God or everything was the result of chance. The choice became one between purposeful creation leading to meaning for existence and chance survival in a hostile environment leading to meaninglessness and despair. Even in the early days of the debate there were believing and unbelieving voices of moderation, and today there are those who, while holding firmly to man being purposefully created by a loving God, are open to the possibility that God’s methods could have been evolutionary.



The debate on how mankind came from dust to be as brilliant as Einstein and as creative as Mozart and as beautiful as Helen of Troy should not be allowed to obscure the fact that it happened and that the Scriptures unequivocally point to the masterly hand of the Lord God. To underemphasize man’s “dustness” would be to divorce man from his God-ordained environment—earth. It may also lead him to become arrogant—a condition which can be quickly remedied when he is confronted with the inevitability of his demise and the subsequent processes which will return him to his “dustness”! On the other hand, to overemphasize the “dustness” is to miss the point that as well as being a natural being man is also a spiritual being.



Paul Tournier, in one of his books, tells how he as a resident of Switzerland was used to seeing the Matterhorn from the perspective where it leaned to the left. When he saw a poster depicting the mountain leaning to the right, he thought it was a mistake until he realized it was produced in Italy and was an accurate depiction of the mountain from that perspective. In the same way man can be viewed from different perspectives. He is natural but he is also spiritual.

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