And now, this thirteenth day of September, A.D. 1995, comes Terry M. Gray, Ph.D. and appeals from the judgment of the Session of Harvest Orthodox Presbyterian Church in the case of Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., and in support of said appeal sets forth the following specifications of error:
The Session of Harvest Orthodox Presbyterian Church erred in:
1. Denying the request of the Defense to dismiss Charge 1 (That Dr. Terry Gray has committed the public offense of stating that Adam had primate ancestors, contrary to the Word of God (Genesis 2:7, 1:26, 27) and the doctrinal standards of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (WCF IV.2, WLC 17)) on the grounds that said charge is not an offense serious enough to warrant a trial.
2. Finding the accused guilty of Charge 1 when said charge is not a chargeable offense.
a. According to the Book of Discipline, an offense which is serious enough to warrant a trial in the area of doctrine for the ordained officer is a violation of the system of doctrine contained in the Holy Scriptures as that system of doctrine is set forth in our Confession of Faith and Catechisms (BD III.7.b). Since nothing in the Confession of Faith and Catechisms is denied by the accused and since the Confession of Faith and Catechisms do not address the narrow question of the animal ancestry of Adam's body, the view in question cannot be considered a doctrinal offense as defined by the Book of Discipline. (See Appendix 1.)
b. There are no theological implications of the view held by the accused, i.e. no doctrine of the Confession or Catechisms is affected by this view. (See Appendix 2.)
c. Scripture does not forbid the view held by the accused. (See Appendix 3.)
d. The view of the accused is nearly identical to a view discussed and permitted by such orthodox Reformed theologians as B.B. Warfield and J.G. Machen. (See Appendix 4.)
e. Because the Confession or Catechisms nor the text of scripture forbids the view of the accused, it should be permitted as a matter of liberty even though many may not accept this view. (See Appendix 5.)
Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Appellant
Date: September 14, 1995
Westminster Confession of Faith (IV, 2)
After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it: and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.
Westminster Larger Catechism (Q. 17)
Q. How did God create man?
A. After God had made all other creatures, he created man male and female; formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground, and the woman of the rib of the man, endued them with living, reasonable, and immortal souls; made them after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it, and dominion over the creatures; yet subject to fall.
Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q. 10)
Q. How did God create man?
A. God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.
First, none of these statements from the doctrinal standards of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church are disputed in my view. I readily affirm the teaching of the standards at every point concerning the creation of man. Surely, this is a crucial point since I am accused of holding a position other than that taught in our standards. Also, I am being charged with heresy according to the Book of Discipline (III.7.b and III.8.b) which says "An offense which is serious enough to warrant a trial is: ... (3) an offense in the area of doctrine for the ordained officer which would constitute a violation of the system of doctrine contained in the Holy Scriptures as that system of doctrine is set forth in our Confession of Faith and Catechisms." Thus, since I affirm the teaching of the standards it is difficult to see on what basis I am being charged.
Since I affirm the teaching of the standards, the dispute seems to center on their interpretation. The charges and specifications seem to raise two points in particular:
(1) The word "after" as it is found in the phrase "After God had made all other creatures" is highlighted, with the comment that this language distinguishes "sharply between God's creation of "all other creatures" and His creation of man." I do not deny this sharp distinction and in doing so affirm the doctrinal standards of the church.
(2) There is disagreement about meaning and importance of the word "dust". I do not deny that God "formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground". I take dust to be a nontechnical term to refer to the physical-chemical constituency of the human body, i.e. man's body is made of the same sorts of chemicals and molecules that the earth is made. The discussion of the relevant passage of scripture (Genesis 2:7) will be expanded in Appendix 3, for now the simple point is that I affirm that God "formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground" and thus affirm the teaching of the doctrinal standards of the church on this point.
Second, the question of human evolution is not particularly in view by the Westminster Divines when formulating their doctrinal standards. In formulating the particular statements cited above, for the most part, they are repeating phrases of scripture. The Westminster standards give no further interpretation of the Scriptures themselves here. There are two possible, but differing meanings of this point. (1) An appeal to the standards produces no definitive ruling on this matter, and thus does not define my view as being contrary to scripture. As pointed out earlier since the Westminster standards define the doctrinal position of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a point of view not addressed by the standards cannot be considered grounds for heresy charges. (2) Alternatively, one could argue that the meaning of the Westminster standards turns on the exegesis of Scripture and that the meaning of a phrase of the confession is determined by its meaning in Scripture. While this sounds reasonable, it sets the church up for what one writer has called an "extra-confessional fundamentalism", where the meaning of the confession is determined by the majority opinion of the church concerning a particular phrase of scripture. I argue that the first view is the correct view. Since some may be persuaded that the second view is the correct view, I show in Appendix 3 that my view is allowed by scripture.
This opinion about the constitutional questions involved is the same as that expressed by Messrs. Donald J. Duff, Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. and Jack J. Peterson in their letter to the Session of Harvest OPC dated July 16, 1994 where they write:
"...our judgment is that Mr. Gray has adequately answered the charges against him and that his expressed views are compatible with his ordination vows..."
"While an offense is 'anything in the doctrine or practice of a member of the church which is contrary to the Word of God' (Book of Discipline, 1:3), in judicial discipline our subordinate standards are definitive. In other words, the issue before you not whether Mr. Gray interprets Genesis 2:7 differently than the large majority of special officer holders in the Church, but whether that interpretation and his understanding of the relationship between Scripture and empirical evidence are in substantive conflict with the westminster Standards."
The judgment of this case should turn on this constitutional point. My view is not contrary to the doctrinal standards of the church and thus my holding this particular view is not a chargeable offense.
Even on particulars, such as creation of man from the dust of the earth and man specially created in God's image as distinct from the animals and with dominion over them, my view passes the test of orthodoxy. The report of the Committee of Five to Draft Charges acknowledges this in part in the Preface of its report when it says, "Dr. Gray affirms the historicity of Adam and his special creation by God in His image. He affirms the covenant structure of the two Adams..." The elaboration of Charge 1 raised four additional theological issues. These concerned 1) the creation of Eve, 2) the "after" in the phrase, "After God had made all other creatures, he created man..." and the sharp distinction between God's creation of all other creatures and His creation of man, 3) a Biblical body/soul dualism, and 4) the distinction between Creation and Providence. These doctrines are also unaffected by my evolutionary view.
a. In Charge 1.B. Relevant Passages of Scripture and Confessional Standards there is a reference to the creation of Eve. I affirm Eve was created from the side of Adam as described in Genesis 2:21 ff. An evolutionary origin of Adam's body does not rule out a miraculous creation of Eve.
b. Also in Charge 1.B., the Westminster Confession of Faith (IV.2) and the Westminster Larger Catechism (17) are cited with stress laid on the word "after" in the phrase, "After God had made all other creatures, he created man..." My position does not deny this view. Furthermore, Charge 1.B. asserts that the Scripture and Confession and Catechism all "distinguish sharply between God's creation of "all other creatures" and His creation of man." My position does not deny this view either.
c. In Charge 1.D. Seriousness of the Alleged Offense, it is stated that "this view denies the Biblical view of the uniqueness of the body/soul unity of man." There is no discussion of what this means either scripturally or theologically. Suffice it to say that whatever body/soul unity is possible when Adam is created from inanimate dust is also possible when Adam in created from already existing animate material. Keep in mind that my position requires a special, supernatural act just as much as the creation of Adam from inanimate dust. My view does not necessarily imply a Platonic body/soul dualism, but is consistent with an orthodox Reformed dualism that recognizes a fundamental unity between body and soul but allows for a separated existence of the soul in the intermediate state.
d. In Charge 1.D. Seriousness of the Alleged Offense, it is stated that "Dr. Gray believes that God worked through providence to bring about man's physical body," and "Note it speaks of creation and not providence." Reformed dogmatics has always recognized the possibility of the operation of providence in acts of creation in what is referred to as mediate creation. Even on the view that believes that Adam's body was created from dust apart from any animate ancestors, God took pre-existing dust that had been subject to God's providential care prior to its being used as material in the creation of the body of Adam.
In the trial the Prosecution raised the following additional alleged theological implications:
a. Belief in the animal ancestry of Adam denies the perspicuity of Scripture.
This difficulty betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the doctrine of perspicuity. As our Confession says "All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all, yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded..." (WCF I:7). The teaching of Scripture on the origin of man is clear concerning that which God intended us to know and which is necessary to be known for salvation. The animal ancestry of Adam's body, if true, is not something which is "necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation"; ignorance of this alleged fact has no effect whatsoever on one's knowledge of redemptive history as revealed in the Bible. It is not something that the Scriptures address.
b. It promotes an equal standing of general and special revelation.
This I deny whole-heartedly and is the substance of Charge 2 (With regard to the process and method by which God created Adam, Dr. Gray subordinates Scripture to alleged empirical evidence.) which was dismissed by the Session of Harvest OPC as being a groundless accusation. My view does not promote an equal standing of general and special revelation, but rather follows a time-honored and widely practiced method that sources outside of scripture, such as science, may be the occasion for but may not be the basis of a reinterpretation of scripture.
c. It diminishes God's wrath and curse upon sin in our bodies and the significance of the redemption of our bodies.
Why this is a necessary implication of an evolutionary origin of the body is very unclear to me. When Adam was created, even if his body had animal ancestors and an evolutionary origin, he was not subject to death and decay. Even if the death of animals may have been involved in the process by which God formed Adam's body, Adam's body after he was created was without sin and without the effects of sin. On my view his body was just as perfect as on the view that Adam's body was created immediately without animal ancestors. It was only as a result of the Fall and the curse of God did death and the corruptions of sin enter the human race. Consequently, the doctrine of the redemption of the body follows from my view in the same way that it flows from the view of those who deny animal ancestry.
d. It undermines the other Biblical allusions to God's further work of "creation".
Again, I reject whole-heartedly the views set forth by the Prosecution under this heading. They claim that if one accepts a creation of Adam involving a process that such a view implies the acceptance of gradual theories of regeneration along the lines of Pelagianism and Romanism. These accusations are absurd. I do not hold this views nor are they necessary consequences of my position.
This Appendix has three main parts. The first part is a presentation of an interpretation of Genesis 2 held by most OPC ministers concluding that the Bible forbids the animal ancestry of Adam's body. This is the view most ably articulated by Westminster Seminary professor of systematic theology, John Murray. The second part shows on exegetical grounds why this view is not so decisive against my view. The third part presents a plausible alternative to the Murray view that is consistent with sound principles of Biblical interpretation.
The John Murray Exegesis
The initial reading of the text of Genesis 2 without reference to any extra-Biblical data suggests that Adam was created both body and soul by a special creative act of God with neither his body or soul having animate pre-cursors (animal ancestors). The most commonly cited exegesis of this passage that comes to this conclusion is that of John Murray found in The Collected Writings of John Murray (Volume 2) in an article entitled "The Origin of Man". This appears to be the argument used in the charges and specifications (I.B.(3) (a)).
The main text for this exegesis is Genesis 2:7:
"The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (NIV)
Quoting from Murray himself is perhaps the best way to state the argument:
"(ii) Living Creature. 'And man became living creature.' The term rendered 'living creature' means animate being, creature with the breath of life. In itself this predicate does not express anything distinctive of man as compared with other animate beings. The designation is generic and is applied to other creatures (cf. Gen. 1:21, 24, 30). It is all-important to observe this fact. For it means that it was by the act of impartation, the act of communication from God denoted by inbreathing, that the entity formed from the dust of the ground came to belong in the category of animate being. To state the matter negatively, man did not become animate by any process short of the action specified as inbreathing. If 'man' were previously animate, and the inbreathing constituted him man as distinct from and superior to other animate creatures, then it could not be said that by the inbreathing he became 'living creature'. The inbreathing was not an action superimposed upon an already existing animate being.
(iii) Man. We have just noted that it was the inbreathing that constituted this being animate creature. But we must with comparable emphasis assert that by this same action Adam was constituted specifically man. Genesis 2:7 does not refer to any supposed animate progenitor of man...
It was the divine inbreathing that constituted man animate creature. It was this same inbreathing that constituted man specifically man. So that which constituted man animate creature was that also which constituted him man, and that which constituted him specifically man is that also which constituted him animate creature. Man's animation in any form or at any time cannot be differentiated from the animation that belongs to him in his specific identity as man made in the image of God. Man did not appear in two stages of animate development, and we may not think of man as possessing an animate life common to him and other beings, and then in addition an animate life distinct from other beings. The animation that is his is the animation that belongs to his distinguishing identity."
On the surface it appears that Murray's argument is sound and that the teaching of Scripture is that in his origin man is completely discontinuous from any animate being that may have come before.
The Grounds for Reconsideration
The conclusions of modern science in seeing a genetic and biological continuity between man and the animals appear to be at odds with Murray's exegetical conclusion. It is interesting that he does not engage the findings of science that appear to be in conflict with his exegetical conclusion. There is no discussion other than the simple statement that Genesis 2:7 "does not refer to any supposed animate progenitor of man." There is no attempt to ask if there may be a way out of this apparent conflict by a slightly different approach. This is a remarkable shift from the methodology of Charles Hodge in the previous century and of the actual conclusions of B.B. Warfield in the previous generation.
I have become convinced that the biological evidence supports evolutionary theory and that there is some sort of genetic and biological continuity between man and other animals. It is not my intention here to present the evidence that has convinced me. On the other hand, it must be said that there would be no reason to reconsider the Murray exegesis without the scientific evidence that appears to be contrary to his interpretation.
Obviously there exists a conflict between the interpretation of Genesis 2:7 according to Murray and the conclusions of biological science. Since a systematic study of God's creation, properly interpreted, cannot conflict with the revelation of God as it is found in the Bible, properly interpreted, this contradiction must be only apparent. Is there anything that can be done to resolve this apparent conflict? One solution is to dismiss the findings of science on this point. This appears to be what Murray has done. [He writes, "So we should expect resemblances of various kinds If there were complete disparity, how incongruous would be man's habitat and vocation. We see the wisdom and goodness of the Creator in these likenesses. No evolutionary hypothesis is necessary to explain them; they are required by the relationships man sustains to his environment."]
Another alternative is to re-examine our interpretation of Scripture to see if an alternative reading is possible that will relieve the apparent conflict. Information from extra-Biblical sources can cause us to re-think our interpretation of scripture. This is a recognized and received practice in Reformed exegesis. In part, this is because Special Revelation is given in the context of and only has its meaning in the context of General Revelation. (See C. Van Til "Nature and Scripture" in The Infallible Word, pp. 269-272) Thus, extra-Biblical information, such as science, becomes the occasion of, although not necessarily the basis of, a re-interpretation of scripture. In the Reformed tradition as it comes to us from Old Princeton and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, we have practiced this when it comes to ancient Near Eastern culture and geography, Biblical grammar and vocabulary, literary genre and in scientific issues such as geocentrism and the age of the earth.
Consequently, the remainder of this paper re-examines the text of Genesis 2 to see if a reasonable interpretation (using sound principles of Biblical exegesis) can be found that does not result in a contradiction between the interpretation of Scripture and the interpretation of Creation. The simple question that is asked is this: Is the Murray exegesis so decisive so as to rule out any alternative that might permit animal ancestry for Adam's body? Of course, my answer to this simple question is no.
The charges and specifications state that "the text presents itself as straightforward didactic history". This is a fundamental exegetical claim that colors the whole. The Murray exegesis seems to operate within a similar framework. This leads to the straightforward, literal and scientific reading of the text. As I have indicated elsewhere, I readily affirm the historical dimension of this text when I have affirm the historicity of Adam, the Covenant of Works, and other historical elements of the text that are crucial for our Reformed theology. However, it seems to me that if we stop here in our classification of the text that we have vastly oversimplified the matter. In this next section I will seek to show that the early chapters of Genesis do not present themselves "as straightforward didactic history" on the basis of highly symbolic and theological language, cultural context and anthropomorphisms.
In his commentary on Genesis Derek Kidner writes:
"How the two pictures, biblical and scientific, are related to each other is not immediately clear, and one should allow for the provisional nature both of scientific estimates (without making this a refuge from all unwelcome ideas) and of traditional interpretations of Scripture. One must also recognize the different aims and styles of the two approaches: one probing the observable world, the other revealing chiefly the unobservable, the relation of God an man. The style of reporting will be drily factual for the former, but the latter may need the whole range of literary genres to do it justice, an it is therefore important not to prejudge the method and intention of these chapters." (From Genesis, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 1967)
There are many symbols and figures in this second chapter of Genesis. We must not insist on an all or nothing approach when we classify something as didactic history or as figurative. In the words of the French theologian Henri Blocher,
"The use of figurative language by no means determines the main question, that of the connection of the narrative with events that are located and dated from the beginning. The acknowledgment of symbolic elements hardly weighs at all in favor of a symbolic interpretation of the whole. Conversely, those who favor the literal historicity of the content have no reason to demand the same literalness of language. Scripture...abounds in examples of mixed genre." (From In the Beginning, 1984, p. 37).
The Genesis 2 and 3 text abounds with symbols and figurative language. A few examples will suffice to make the point. Adam ('Adam), the name of the man, means "ground". In the Hebrew text of Genesis 2:7 the reference to the man, Adam, and the ground ('adamah) is clearly a play on words. Likewise Eve (Chavvah), the name of the woman, means "living". In the Hebrew text of Genesis 3:20 the name of Eve as the "mother of all the living (chay). These names are obviously symbolic. There is also the matter of the two trees. The names of these trees, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life, are not arbitrary. One could imagine that God could have told Adam and Eve not to eat of a pear tree. Surely the moral test would have been equivalent. But the name of the tree is loaded with theological and covenantal symbolism.
On a different level is the matter of the significance of Genesis 1-3 in the context of the Ancient Near East. Harvey Conn in an article entitled "Genesis as Urban Prologue" (in Discipling the City: A Comprehensive Approach to Urban Mission, Roger S. Greenway, ed.) has identified numerous features of these early chapters of Genesis as part an apologetic encounter with the culture around it. He claims that his "discussion centers on biblical theology, 'the history of special revelation.'" He writes:
"Could the Genesis account of creation be intended as a historical counteractive to these literary traditions of mythic creation commonly known in the ancient urban world? Has Moses demythologized these literary traditions in his apologetic against urban mythology? If so, then the parallels between the literary traditions an the biblical account represent urban points of contact that are ultimately urban points of confrontation.
Against this urban background, the pastoral sounds of Genesis 1-3 take on pronounced city hues and undertones. Nature is not deified, and God is not urbanized. The God who enters into covenant with his creation is not a local urban deity like the Baalim. He is the cosmic sovereign who has made the creation his house-city. He is not embodied in or limited in authority to a single city or place. the heavens an the earth are his dwelling place by virtue of his creative act (Ps. 24:1-2)...
Even the Edenic garden takes on new urban significance in this light. It too had its ancient parallels that would not have been unfamiliar to the first readers. Ancient Near Eastern mythology related the king-god to a role as caretaker in the sacred gardens. G. Widegren argues that it was probably customary for the Mesopotamian temple to have a garden or grove of some sort associated with it The king was its builder, the owner and caretaker, a symbol of his connection with the divine In the myths, these gardens are described as the habitation of the gods.
In apologetic response to these myths of a corrupted covenant, Genesis sees creation itself an its microcosm in the garden as the dwelling place of the Lord. Creation is the cosmic house of God, the seal of God's victory over chaos. On the seventh day he sits as king in the archetypical house of his rest (Isa. 66:1). He gives fertility to the earth and its creatures (Gen. 1:22, 24). No earthly kings is his representation; all human beings, male and female, are representatives of his image glory (Gen. 1:27). Our life, our security, lies not in the city but in our covenant attachment to him. (p. 16-17)
While we must not make the simplistic conclusion that since Genesis 1-3 appears to have an apologetic agenda that the events that it describes are not historical, Conn's discussion shows that the relationship between the literary form and the cultural context of Genesis 1-3 and historical events is a complex one. (I make no claims that Harvey Conn would approve of my view or even of my use of his discussion of the text.) However, it appears that Conn's approach to the text does not make it sound like "straightforward didactic history". The very interesting dimension in appealing to Conn at this point is that he is writing all of this about the text of Genesis without any apparent concern for the debate at hand concerning human origins.
Finally, there are the anthropomorphisms of the Genesis account. I point out anthropomorphisms not to make the text appear to be naive or primitive, but rather simply to recognize the literary devices. We see God walking in the Garden. We see him forming the body of Adam from dust as a potter would fashion clay. We see him breathing into the nostrils of Adam. We see him "surgically" removing a rib from Adam to create Eve. We find God looking and calling for Adam and Eve. We see him skinning an animal and making clothes for the fallen pair. To press these images too far is to lose the point. For example, when God formed Adam from the dust did he also make all of Adam's body parts, liver, stomach, brain, heart, etc. out of the dust? Did he form each one and place it in the proper place so that when he breathed life into him all of these parts would turn into functional organs? Did God use his mouth when he breathed life into Adam? Does God have a mouth? Did his breath come from his lungs? Do we have a picture of God performing mouth to mouth resuscitation on Adam? Obviously, these pictures aren't meant to answer these sorts of questions and to ask them is to border on the hilarious or even the blasphemous. Even in John Murray's own discussion of the text of Genesis 2:7 he comments "We may not know the precise nature of the action denoted by 'breathed in his nostrils'". Here even he acknowledges the anthropomorphic and non-scientific character of this account.
The point in citing all of these symbols and figures is simply to say that the claim of "straightforward didactic history" is much too simple of a genre identification for this text. Thus, this genre no longer controls our interpretation of the details of the account. Don't misunderstand me here. Liberal theologians take these obvious symbols and then turn the whole account into symbol or myth. We must resist that tendency. I affirm the historical nature of the Genesis account. My main concern though is that we must be careful not to press the symbols and figures beyond the meaning that they were meant to have.
In conclusion, I will underscore words that appear in the explanation of Charge 2: "the Bible is not a textbook for genetics, paleontology, geology, or microbiology." This does not necessarily mean that the Bible cannot address the concerns of those or like disciplines. However, it does mean that the Bible should not be used to resolve technical, scientific questions which it is not seeking to answer. It is errors of this sort that lead to unnecessary conflicts with the findings of science.
Specific Aspects of Genesis 2:7
Genesis 2:7 itself cannot be read as "straightforward didactic history" and this observation alone challenges the Murray exegesis which seems to put a great weight on the literal, straightforward reading of the text. Immediately we notice the anthropomorphisms: that of God breathing and that of God forming as a potter (Is. 45:9; Jer. 18:6). Also we see that this passage is in the middle of the many other symbols and figures discussed above. This seems to be the point of B.B. Warfield in commenting on this passage in the context of the debate between science and the Bible when he writes:
The Contradiction in Part Imaginary. It does not appear, however, why this conflict should be pressed to such an extreme. Why should the "Evolutionist" insist that the "ascent to man" must have been accomplished by the blind action of "natural forces," to the exclusion of all oversight and direction of a higher Power? Why should the Biblicist assert that the creation of man by the Divine fiat must have been immediate in such a sense as to exclude all process, all interaction of natural forces? It does not appear that either is, on the basis of his own data, justified in such an extremity of position. (The Bible Student, new series 8, no. 5: 241-52, November 1903)
There are both similarities and differences between 2:7 and 2:19 where God creates other animals (beasts and birds). As in the creation of man, God formed them out of the ground. They, like man, have an affinity with the ground, the earth. We are all earthy. Notice that these creatures are also called "living creatures". They, like man, have the "breath of life" (Genesis 1:30). This highlights our common biological nature. We share with other animate creatures this aspect. In contrast with Genesis 2:7 there is no divine in-breathing described for the creation of the other animals. Only man receives his created life and being by the divine in-breathing. This contrast is similar to that observed in Genesis 1 where only of man is it said that he is created in the image of God. Apparently, the divine in-breathing is not necessary in order to produce "living creatures" since such living creatures are said to have been created without it (Gen. 1:20, 24; 2:19). Man's creation is unique from the rest of the creatures. I readily affirm that God created man, that man has an affinity with the physical creation, i.e. he is made of dust, that man is a "living creature" like the other creatures, and that man is specially created (via the divine in-breathing and in connection with Genesis 1:26-27 with the divine image) and distinct from the other creatures. These are the essential positive teachings of the text which I affirm and believe must be affirmed.
In light of the entire discussion so far I believe that it is a strain upon the anthropomorphic, symbolic, and non-scientific character of this and the surrounding text to demand that this particular phrase is answering this question that is unique to modern science. It seems odd that given the absence of any notion of evolution in the Genesis text itself that 2:7 would concern itself with this issue.
Here is plausible and reasonable alternative to the Murray exegesis. It is possible to understand Genesis 2:7 to say that when God breathed into Adam the breath of life, man as man became a living creature. Clearly, the immediate context of this verse is the creation of man, This immediate context may well be playing a controlling role in the meaning of "living creature". There was no living creature man prior to this divine act. In this special creative act, not only was the soul of Adam created, but man as body and soul, as the divine image bearer, resulted. In other words man as man either as body or as soul does not come about by virtue of some evolutionary process, but as a result of the special act of God. Even though the term living creature is also used of the other creatures in Genesis 1 and elsewhere, in this text it is brought together with human distinctives in such a way that it refers to man as man or living-creature-man. Murray insists that the text distinctly forbids separating man's origin as man from his origin as living creature. He does this on the basis of the generic meaning of "living creature". I am claiming, however, that the meaning of "living creature" is controlled by its more immediate context, i.e. the creation of man. If this is true, then Murray's chief conclusion "that which constituted man animate creature was that also which constituted him man, and that which constituted him specifically man is that also which constituted him animate creature"falls apart and the chief exegetical argument against animal ancestry of Adam's body disappears.
There are several other indicators that take away from the decisiveness of the Murray exegesis. First, the Hebrew word "became" (hayah) is very imprecise. This word is the very generic verb "to be" and appears hundreds of times in the Old Testament. It is translated "to become, occur, come to pass, be". Murray's reading of the text suggests that the sequence described is a very literal description of the events that occurred: formation of an inanimate object, then divine in-breathing. But the verb used here is very imprecise and very generic. The same word is found in the Gen. 1:7 "And it was so." Interestingly, for those of us who have adopted an old earth perspective, much time and complex process stands behind the verb in this verse as well. There seems to be good reason to think similarly for Gen. 2:7.
The second indicator is the time element involved. The Murray reading suggests that formation from dust, animation to living creature and the making of the unique, divine image bearing man all occurred in this very single event that occurred in a moment and without any other process except what is described in the text. It is not clear to me that the text forces this conclusion. Already in Genesis 1 many of us (those willing to adopt an old earth viewpoint) are willing to see the creative fiats and the descriptions of their actualization as occurring over vast periods of time and as involving complex processes not explicitly described in the text. Genesis 2:7 could also have this character. The same sort of summary occurs in the genealogies of the early chapters of Genesis (although it should be noted that the genealogy is a distinct and recognizable literary genre). The genealogies have been shown to be stylized and with gaps (see W.H. Green, "Primeval Chronology", Bibliotheca Sacra, 47 (1890) 285-303). Thus, they are summary statements of history and should not necessarily be taken to record the literal, moment by-moment course of events.
The brevity of Genesis 2:7 alone suggest that it is a summary statement. The whole account of the creation of man is in one verse. Finally, following the analogy of scripture, the aspect of this passage that seems to be taken up most often is the "earthiness" of man, his affinity with the earth (see below). The specific point of the Murray exegesis is not picked up again anywhere in scripture (he does not appeal to other passages in support of his view). The "earthiness" of man, the main point of this part of the text is also affirmed by my alternative interpretation and so the analogy of scripture does not help us to resolve the two perspectives.
Discussion of Dust
The issue of dust is raised by the charges and specifications (I.B.(3) (b)). This is also important because it is this term that is found in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Larger Catechism. As I have said previously, I take "dust" to be a non-technical term that refers to man's physical chemical constituency, i.e. we are made of the same sorts of chemicals and molecules that the earth is made. In other words, on my view man is created from dust even if an evolutionary process from an animate ancestor was used in the process. To say "for dust you are and to dust you will return" (3:19) is to point out that affinity with the physical creation. Nearly every commentator, including Murray stresses this affinity. He write:
"'Dust from the ground' belongs to man's constitution from the outset; it is not an appendage or accident. This is confirmed later, when God said to Adam: 'Dust thou art' (Gen. 3:19); it belongs to his person...Man has affinity with his non animate environment, with the ground on which he walks and from which, to a large extent, he derives his sustenance, the ground which it is his task to till, dress, and subdue. There is congruity between man and his environment."
In terms of elemental composition the chemical constitution of the human body remains unchanged even upon death. The same atoms and molecules that made up the "living creature" now make up the dead body. In time these same atoms are rearranged to form complex organic molecules that have significantly less resemblance to their arrangement in the living body, but they are the same atoms.
"Dust of the ground" is a symbolic reference to our earthiness. Some have argued that the reference of these verses to "dust of the ground" is rooted in the historical account of Genesis 2:7. While this is plausible, it is by no means necessary to have Genesis 2:7 to understand or make sense of the phrase. Genesis 2:7 could well be taking up a common reference to man's earthiness when describing man's origin. One does not need Genesis 2:7 to know that man is made of dust. It is evident to anyone who observes what happens to the body after death.
Gen. 3:19 "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
The idea found in this reference is that man returns to a state of dust upon dying. When the breath of life departs what is left is the lifeless material that is derived from the earth. In saying "dust you are" the text shows that the physical-chemical composition is part of man's constitution. It is interesting in light of the present discussion concerning 2:7 that here "dust" clearly is animate. Thus, when the charges and specifications claim that "there is no basis in the text for supposing that the "dust" of Genesis 2:7 is any different than the "dust" of Genesis 3:19" (I.B.(3) (b)), they have failed to observe that "dusty" Adam is an animate creature. Those who appeal to the ordinary meaning of the word "dust" in Gen. 2:7 must recognize a non-literal meaning here. When God says that Adam is dust, he must be referring to his physical-chemical composition. Why can that not be its meaning in Genesis 2:7?
Similar uses of the word "dust" are found in several other verses.
Job 4:19 "how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth!"
Job 10:9 "Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?"
Ps. 103:14 "for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust."
Here our "earthiness" or "dustiness" also signifies our weakness, the ease with which death comes our way. In Job 10:9 the creation from the dust of the ground idea is said of Job. Yet by the Murray exegesis this only occurred of Adam. The fact that Job takes this idea up and applies it to himself points to a non-literal, metaphorical meaning. The same idea that we (not just Adam) are formed from dust is seen in the Psalm. There it is also said that we are dust. In the same article cited above B.B. Warfield makes the same observation:
On the other hand the Biblicist is scarcely justified in insisting upon an exclusive supernaturalism in the production of man, such as will deny the possibility of the incorporation of natural factors into the process. In Psalm 1xxxix. 47 for example, God is declared to have "created all the children of men;" and in Ps. cxix. 73 to have fashioned the Psalmist himself. But surely no individual since Adam has been fashioned by the mere fiat of God, to the complete exclusion of the interaction of natural forces of reproduction. (The Bible Student, new series 8, no. 5: 241-52, November 1903)
Job 7:21 "Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more."
Job 17:16 "Will it go down to the gates of death ? Will we descend together into the dust?"
Job 34:15 all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust.
Ps. 30:9 "What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?"
Ps. 90:3 You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men."
In these verses "dust" refers to where we (our bodies) go when we die. This a metaphorical reference to our state of our bodies when we die. We don't become dust or clay in any literal physical-chemical sense.
Finally, 1 Corinthians 15:47-48 picks up this idea of dust.
"The first man is from earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are the heavenly. And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
The term "earthy" in this passage literally means "made of dust" and appears to be a reference to Genesis 2:7 (which was also referred to in vs. 45). But here again all men are all referred to as being "earthy", "made of dust". The contrast is made in this passage with the earthy, those who are in Adam in his earthiness as we are who are still of this age, with those in Christ who will be transformed ("we shall all be changed" vs. 51) into new, imperishable, immortal, and heavenly spiritual bodies which bodies have already been revealed in the spiritual body of the resurrected Christ. Again it seems to me to be a reference to the general state of man as having affinity with the earth and having a physical-chemical composition subject to decay in contrast with the glory of the spiritual heavenly bodies that we receive upon our resurrection.
Does the Genesis 2:7 really demand such an interpretation that forces us to reject the conclusions of science on this matter? If it does, then we must follow scripture and reject the apparent findings of science. But does it really? I have shown that an alternative interpretation that is faithful to sound principles of Biblical exegesis is possiblean interpretation that does not force us to reject the findings of science.
Given the interpretation presented in this paper, my conclusion is that the Scriptures are silent with regard to the sort of details surrounding the origin of Adam's body that evolutionists might be interested in. So we are free to adopt the findings of science concerning those details.
David Livingstone's landmark study, Darwin's Forgotten Defenders, traces the response of these theologians to the development of evolutionary thought. Livingstone concludes his discussion of the Princetonians with the following:
The significance of Warfield's proposals is not inconsiderable, especially in view of his defense of biblical inerrancy. He plainly held that there was no conflict between evolutionary science and belief in scriptural infallibility. If there was any conflict between science and Christianity, it was centered on the issue of design. And it was Warfield's willingness to renegotiate the design argument along the idealist lines ... that facilitated his presentation of a Christian evolutionism that had theological as well as apologetic value.
It is clear that the advocates of the old Princeton theology, scientists as well as theologians, had by the middle of the first decade of the twentieth century achieved a tolerably comfortable accommodation of organic evolution. Via the reinterpretive impetus of idealistic and holistic natural theology, Princetonians were prepared in varying degrees to concede to science a long earth history, the transmutation of species by Darwinian, Lamarckian, or Mendelian means, and an evolutionary past for the human physical form. Again and again the compatibility of science and Scripture was affirmed in the Warfield-controlled Princeton Theological Review. (pp. 121-122)
A few citations from Warfield's own writings will suffice to make the point that a theistically interpreted evolution is within in pale of orthodoxy and that this extends even to the origin of Adam's body. In his unpublished "Lectures on Anthropology" (Dec. 1888) (cited in Darwin's Forgotten Defenders, p. 119) he writes:
The upshot of the whole matter is that there is no necessary antagonism of Christianity to evolution, provided that we do not hold to too extreme a form of evolution. To adopt any form that does not permit God freely to work apart from law and which does not allow miraculous intervention (in the giving of the soul, in creating Eve, etc.) will entail a great reconstruction of Christian doctrine, and a very great lowering of the detailed authority of the Bible. But if we condition the theory by allowing the constant oversight of God in the whole process, and his occasional supernatural interference for the production of new beginnings by an actual output of creative force, producing something new i.e., something not included even in posse in the preceding conditions,we may hold to the modified theory of evolution and be Christians in the ordinary orthodox sense.
In a review published in the Princeton Theological Review (October 1906) of James Orr's criticisms of human evolution in God's Image in Man and its Defacement, in Light of Modern Denials, Warfield complains that Orr prematurely excludes the possibility of the evolutionary origin of Adam's body. He writes:
Some striking minor points in Dr. Orr's should also be mentioned. Among these is his suggestion (p. 152) of the impossibility of disparate development of mind and body, with the inference he draws from it that, therefore, it can scarcely be credited that the body of man was formed by the accumulation of insensible variations from a brutis original, and the soul made all at once by a divine fiat for the completed man. Body and mind must go together: and a great brain with a little mind is just as unthinkable as a little brain with a great mind. The argument does not seem to be available, however, as against a theory of evolution per saltum [by jumps]. If under the directing hand of God a human body is formed at a leap by propagation from brutish parents, it would be quite consonant wit the fitness of things that it should be provided by His creative energy with a truly human soul.
Warfield specifically takes up the question of the Genesis text and evolutionary theories on the original of man in an article in The Bible Student (new series 8, no. 5: 241-52, November 1903).
Pervasive Bible Witness to Man's Origin in God's Creative Act. It is not merely in the opening chapters of Genesis that the Scriptures teach that man owes his being to a creative act of God. This is rather the constant presupposition of every portion of Scripture, and is expressly asserted in numerous passages. No more striking indication of the fundamental place occupied by this assumption in the consciousness of the Biblical writers could be afforded, than that supplied by the way in which it underlies the expression of the religious emotions of the people of God in the Psalms. It lurks in the background of that noble hymn in praise of man's dignity as the lord of creation, which is given us in the 8th Psalm. And even when the voice of the Psalmist sinks into a wail in view of the sad fate of man, the fact that it is God that has created him is made the very ground of the complaint: "Oh remember how short my time is: For what vanity hast thou created all the children of men!" (Ps. 1xxxix. 47). The implication is that it is incredible that God should really intend only evil for the work of his hands. Indeed, in another psalm, the psalmist makes this very fact the ground of a claim on God for blessing,--because, as he phrases it (Ps. cxix. 73), "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me." It is especially in the opening chapters of Genesis, however, that this constant teaching of Scripture is given in its most didactic form. It is thither therefore that we naturally go to find such direct declarations as that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen. i. 27), "And 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 soul" (cf. v. 12, vi. 7).
Two Points of Conflict with Modern Speculation. No one possessed of religious instincts is likely to boggle over the great fundamental fact thus given expression. That we owe our being to God is one of the most intimate convictions of our consciousness and can be discredited only when our general religious nature is itself eradicated. But there are points in the Biblical teaching as to the origin of man which do not appear to be immediately safeguarded by the native instincts of our religious nature, and about which a certain amount of hesitancy seems to have become widespread, under the pressure of modern anthropological speculation. On one or two of these we may perhaps profitably touch. And we shall select for this purpose a couple of points upon which the conflict of modern speculation and the Scriptural account seems to appear to many acute. We refer to the questions as to the manner in which man has come into being, and the time at which he may be supposed to have come into being.
Man a Divine Creation or Self-Created? To bring the first of these matters to its sharpest expression, we may say that for the last half-century modern speculation has exhibited a strong tendency to represent man as having been self-created, while the Bible represents him as having been created by God. That is to say there has been a wide-spread tendency among men of scientific proclivities to think of man as having come into being by an evolution from preceding forms, wrought out solely by the interaction of forces intrinsic in the evolving material; while on the contrary those who are taught by the Scriptures have been wont to think of man as brought into being by an act of Divine power operating immediately and from without. When so conceived, the conflict between the two views is complete; and the opposition, evolution or creation is absolute. We have here in fact only a new form of the old conflict between Naturalism and Supernaturalism, between Materialism and Theism. There can never be any conciliation between these.
The Contradiction in Part Imaginary. It does not appear, however, why this conflict should be pressed to such an extreme. Why should the "Evolutionist" insist that the "ascent to man" must have been accomplished by the blind action of "natural forces," to the exclusion of all oversight and direction of a higher Power? Why should the Biblicist assert that the creation of man by the Divine fiat must have been immediate in such a sense as to exclude all process, all interaction of natural forces? It does not appear that either is, on the basis of his own data, justified in such an extremity of position. Even though the "Evolutionist" had before him the whole series of generation through which he supposes man to have risen to humanity, he would be as little justified in asserting that this series of steps was accomplished apart from the directing hand of God as a lover of domestic animals would be justified in excluding the breeder as a factor in producing a pen of, say prime Berkshire pigs, or of White Leghorn chickens,--because, forsooth, he could trace their descent through generations, given which the result could not fail to follow. The problem still remains, Why was just this series of changes followed? And Mr. Andrew Lang's question remains in the highest degree pertinent: "Evolution may explain everything; but what explains evolution?" The dogmatic exclusion of the directing hand of God does not lie at all in the facts as observed, but is imported from an anti-theistic prejudice. On the other hand the Biblicist is scarcely justified in insisting upon an exclusive supernaturalism in the production of man, such as will deny the possibility of the incorporation of natural factors into the process. In Psalm 1xxxix. 47 for example, God is declared to have "created all the children of men;" and in Ps. cxix. 73 to have fashioned the Psalmist himself. But surely no individual since Adam has been fashioned by the mere fiat of God, to the complete exclusion of the interaction of natural forces of reproduction. And in the case of the protoplasts themselves there is significant allusion to a pre-existent stuff out of which they were "formed" (Gen. ii. 7). It does not appear that the emphasis of the Biblical assertion that man owes his existence to the creative act of God need, therefore, exclude the recognition of the interaction of other forces in the process of his formation. It looks therefore very much as if the difference between the parties to this debate might be in large part due to one-sided emphasis on the part of each of a single side of a composite transaction.
Insoluble Remainder of Conflict. We say the difference looks as if it might be "in large part" due to a difference of emphasis. For after all said, it remains clear the Scriptures do not represent man as merely an evolution from preceding forms, directed to that great end by the guiding hand of God. For after all said, you cannot get out of preceding forms, by however wisely led an evolution, anything that was not already potentially at least in them: and the Scriptures clearly represent man as something specifically new. The creation-narrative itself in the first chapter of Genesis makes this sufficiently plain. The utmost care is taken in it not only to mark the creation of man as the culmination and climax of the whole creative work, but to separate off his creation as something involving a very special immediacy of the divine action, and resulting in a specifically new product. In the preceding cases it was enough to announce a fiat--"Let be." Here there is pause and counsel--"Let us make." In the preceding cases there is indicated what may be looked upon as a sort of secondary production,--"Let there be," "Let the waters, or the earth, bring forth." Here there is asserted a direct act of God,--"Let us make." In the preceding cases, each thing is presented as made after its own kind. Here man is set forth as created after the kind of God--"God created man after his own image." In the preceding cases all that entered into each new creation may have come up from below. In man's case a double act and a double result are signalized,--he was formed, indeed, from the dust of the ground, but he was not so left, but God further breathed into his nostrils a breath of life, as if there were something to be signalized as belonging to his nature which did not take hold of what was beneath him, but reached up rather to what is above. The impression that is made by such features of the creation-narrative is strengthened and reinforced by subsequent Scriptures, until it seems quite within the limits of what is required to affirm that the Scriptural account of the origin of man cannot be satisfied by any "evolution" pure and simple--that is, by any providentially led process of development; but requires the assumption of a direct intervention of Power from on High productive of somewhat that is specifically new.
Properly Limited Evolution Not Excluded. This conclusion does not necessarily involve the denial of the interaction of an evolutionary process in the production of man. It involves only the affirmation that this evolutionary process, if actual in this case, is not adequate for the production of the effect; and that, even though it be theistically conceived, i. e., as the instrument of the Divine hand in producing man. It requires us to call in, at least at this point, an act of God analogous to what we know as a miracle--a "flash of the will that can;" and to insist that in man God "created" something new, the elements of whose being were not all present even potentially in the precedent stuff. The difference between the modern speculator and the Biblicist cannot be conciliated at this point therefore until, and unless, the speculator is willing to allow the intrusion into the course of evolution--if it be deemed actual in this case--of a purely supernatural act, productive of a somewhat absolutely new, which enters into the composite effect produced as a new feature. But there seems no reason why the speculator should not admit this, unless he occupies a position which is dogmatically anti-supernaturalistic. The whole problem to him should turn on the simple question whether the created being which we call man includes nothing in his nature but what may be accounted for as a derivation from below. If there is anything at all in man's complex nature which cannot be accounted for as merely a more developed form of what is recognizable in lower creatures, then to account for that, we must assume an intrusion from above. All that is not derived from nature, must find its account in the entrance of the super natural.
Finally, there is a very interesting passage in the writings of J.G. Machen where there is a hint that Machen is willing to follow Warfield's lead on this issue. Machen point is a simple one: that the evolutionary views on the origin of man, even if true, do not exclude a miraculous creation of the soul of man. The passage is in A Christian View of Man (Chapter X, pp. 129-142):
The origin of man, according to the Bible, was not due solely to God's works of providence, to God's governing of the course of nature that He had already created, but it was due to an act of God that was truly supernatural...(p. 132)
There was a use of the course of nature already made. The Bible expresses that in simple language when it says that "God formed man of the dust of the ground." But there was also something more than the use of the course of nature already made. The Bible expresses that in various ways. It expresses it, for example, when it says that God created man in His own image. It seems clear that the word "created" is there to be taken in its strictest and loftiest sense... (p. 134)
What was the origin of the human life of this man, Jesus? Was he descended from previous men by ordinary generation? Was he a product of evolution?
Well, if we had only the kind of evidence that is relied upon to establish the doctrine of evolution with regard to the origin of the first man, we should certainly answer that question in the affirmative; we should certainly say the Jesus of Nazareth most assuredly was descended from previous men by ordinary generation. He did not make upon anyone the impression of being at all abnormal in His appearance. He was amazingly different, indeed, from other men in His character, and in His powers. But I really do not think that there is much doubt but that, if His body as it was when He lived on earth were still somewhere upon earth--which, as a matter of fact, it is not- and if some archaeologist or geologist should discover remains of it in the rocks or in the soil, those remains would show the most thoroughgoing similarity to the bodily structure of previous men.
What inference would be drawn from that if the same kind of reasoning were used as the reasoning which is used when evolutionists argue for the descent of the first man from other forms of animal life? Why, the inference would be drawn that of course Jesus was descended by ordinary generation from the men who lived before Him on the earth. The evidence of continuity of bodily descent, which in the case of the first man is, after all, very far indeed from being complete, since, to say the least, there are enormous gaps between the remains of man and the remains of other forms of animal life, would in the case of the man Jesus seem to be absolutely complete. The proof would seem to be overwhelming.
Yet, despite all that evidence, we hold, on the testimony of the first chapter of Matthew and the first chapter of Luke, that Jesus was not as a matter of fact descended from previous men by ordinary generation, but that at the beginning of His life upon this earth there was a creative act of God, the supernatural conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Not even the body of Jesus, to say nothing of His human soul, was produced, then, according to our belief, merely by evolution, merely by ordinary generation in the ordinary course of nature, but it was produced also by a supernatural act of God. There you have an instance of special creation right in the full light of historical times. (pp. 137-139)
Similarity of bodily structure between Jesus and the men who lived before Him on the earth is admitted by everyone. Yet despite that similarity of bodily structure, we hold, on the basis of what we regard as adequate testimony, that Jesus was not descended from previous mankind by ordinary generation, but that at the origin of His human life there was an entrance, in the course of the world, of the immediate power of God.
But if there was an entrance of the immediate power of God in connection with the origin of the human life of Jesus, why may there not have been also an entrance of the immediate power of God in the case of the first man who ever appeared upon the earth? If similarity of bodily structure does not disproved the occurrence of the miracle in the one case, why should it do so in the other? (pp. 139-140)
Given the Virgin Birth analogy that Machen sets up here, it does not seem to me to be too much of a stretch to suggest that all that Machen is arguing for here is that a supernatural creative act was involved at some point in the creation of man, especially the creation of the human soul, without necessarily denying that ordinary evolutionary processes may have been at work along the way.
I am not claiming that the Princetonians necessarily accepted evolution as a matter of fact; in many places they appear to have some doubt about it success as a scientific theory. The efforts of these theologians went into showing that even if evolution were shown to be true that it could be accommodated into a Christian and theistic framework. They seemed to be making the point that no major Biblical teaching would be affected by accepting this new theory in biology as being true. In other words that "we may hold to the modified theory of evolution and be Christians in the ordinary orthodox sense." It is my opinion that my view on evolution in general and on the evolution of man in particular is virtually identical to the view that Warfield permitted and perhaps even held. To exclude me from orthodoxy on the basis of this position is to exclude Warfield from orthodoxy.
I have been asked, "Where in the Bible do you find any evidence for your view that there are animal ancestors to Adam's body?" I reply that the Scripture is silent with regard to the sort of details surrounding the origin of Adam's body that evolutionists might be interested in (in the same way that the Scripture is silent concerning Newton's laws of motion or Einstein's theory of relativity). So we are free to adopt the findings of science concerning those details as long those scientific views square away with the rest of Biblical teaching (which I have argued that they do). Of course, science never has the sort of authority that the Bible has and so there is no moral obligation to accept the conclusions of science, and given the history of science, those conclusions are likely to change. But a Christian biologist has the liberty of conscience to believe those things.
In the eyes of many of our fellow evangelicals, especially among our more fundamentalist brethren, in the eyes of our conservative Reformed brethren, and in the eyes of many in our own church, for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church to permit my view on human evolution would be nothing short of scandalous. But we have taken that risk before in the area of eschatology, abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, and the wrong kind of political activism. Such a perception of scandal should not force us to make the wrong decision.
Keep in mind that I am not asking you to share my views. I am not even asking you to respect them. You may regard me as a "mad" scientist if you like. Perhaps the criticisms of evolutionary theory that some are making today will result in it being consigned to the trash heap of human ideas. But I am not so persuaded. Consequently, I have had to face question: "If evolution is true, what happens to our Christian faith and our Christian doctrine?" I have asked that question and come to the view that I hold, a view that allows me to accept evolutionary theory without denying a single significant teaching of Scripture. I may be wrong about both the science and the interpretation of Scripture, but I ask you to give me the freedom to be wrong within the bounds that I have articulated. Surely we believe that Christians are free to have all sorts of opinions on all sorts of subjects as long as there is no clear teaching of scripture concerning them. Some of those opinions are bound to be wrong. Can we not see this issue, properly delimited as one where we are free to have different opinions and let the testing of time tell if current evolutionary ideas prevail.
Finally, as you judge this case, make sure that you do not go beyond Scripture because you are worried about some slippery slope or what might happen in the next generation. That is fencing the law like the Pharisees did, so that even Jesus was condemned by their legalism. You must not let your personal views, preference, or even your conscience be your guide in this case, but the Bible alone. Draw the boundary where Scripture does, forbid nothing more than Scripture forbids, and require nothing more than Scripture requires.