Human Beings: From Atoms, or Adam?

If evolution is true, you descended from the first atoms of the Big Bang, not the first atoms of Adam.

Most people know the broad contours of the Biblical creation story in which God creates the first “alive” things able to reproduce their kind. In this account God exists and creates the first human being and names him Adam. God created Adam—created whole in one day—from the atoms of the earth, which God also created. But God did more than simply pack together atoms, like a clay figure; he also breathed into this clay the breath of life. Nevertheless, if this story is true, then you descended directly from Adam’s atoms in an unbroken chain of human descent.

Thus, if the Bible reflects true history, Adam’s body was physically made from atoms, and by God’s breath of life was made a living being. And together with Eve, Adam was able to reproduce more living beings of his kind.

Have you ever carefully considered that, regardless of the Bible’s historical veracity, your physical body is made from atoms? In fact, the physical you is only atoms; the physical body of every human being on earth can be reduced to a collection of atoms. The collection, almost exclusively four elements–hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen–would make a small, mostly useless and worthless pile, hardly enough to fill a small urn.

Everyone can agree: Atoms as the physical substance of humans is the necessary condition for what we call human beings regardless of one’s belief in the Bible or not.

But what we may disagree on is how the collection of atoms that makes up each of us today got here. Did we descend from the first collection of atoms formed into the first man, Adam? Or did our atoms originate elsewhere to be conglomerated into us according to a very different creation story?

Let’s examine the currently in vogue explanation as to how a collection of atoms became your physical body: evolution. Evolution is the creation story for a naturalistic universe, a universe in which God did not create human beings. As this creation story goes, atoms formed from a great explosion of energy in an event called the Big Bang. These atoms, flung out without purpose or meaning eventually banged and careened recklessly about until a few of them inexplicably conglomerated into something physical, “alive,” and able to reproduce.

[SIDE NOTE: For a fascinating account of how the Big Bang is believed to produce atoms, we suggest taking a look at a Forbes article entitled, How Atoms Were Created.]

Further, we know today that part of the collection of atoms in human beings is a vast, fascinating, and unfathomably complex system of hardware (DNA molecules) and software (the executable instructions in DNA) to build, sustain, and replicate this collection of atoms.

Thus, we have two competing accounts for the creation of the first human being.

In one, a creative God forms the first human being from atoms of the earth. He created the human-specific DNA molecules containing the software to build, sustain, and replicate a human being.

In the other account, blind, purposeless energy explodes matter into nothingness into which eventually appear atoms. These innumerable lifeless atoms continue in motion according to blind, purposeless nature until a few of them are constrained by physical laws (of unknown origin) to inexplicably form a conglomerate as the first, “simple,” life form we will call a “blob.” This blob, we are told to believe, not only formed naturally but also contained a somewhat less vast, but equally fascinating, and unfathomably complex blob-specific DNA molecule containing software to build, sustain, and replicate this blob.

And so, the competing accounts of how our particular collection of replicating atoms originated reduces to a consideration of two simple questions:

  1. Are human beings today the eventual result of atoms created by God, who then used these atoms to create Adam according to a plan and purpose? As a result, are we today the same in kind as the first man Adam, whose original DNA continues to replicate in every new human being?

  2. Are human beings today the eventual result of atoms created by exploding energy that, without plan or purpose, became a first meaningless, replicating, life form; a blob? As a result, are we today different in kind from that first blob, whose original DNA must have been continuously modified by constant random re-programming to become the DNA of human beings?

Suddenly, we find that when viewed in terms of the necessary condition for physical human beings, neither account is self-evidently believable. The believability of one account over the other can be attributed almost exclusively to one’s presuppositions about the existence and nature of God as set forth in the Bible.

Maybe there is a clarifying question to consider: While we can all agree that atoms are the necessary condition for physical human beings, are atoms alone a sufficient condition to explain human beings?

Using our senses, our experience, our minds, and our gut-level notions about human beings on earth, does it seem that human beings are more than mere atoms in motion? Might there be more to human beings than matter alone?

We can pose the question like this: Is it reasonable to believe, based solely on the evidence at hand using reason and logical thinking, that atoms alone are necessary but not sufficient to fully explain the substance of a human being?

Of course, if one is predisposed to reject the existence of a creative God, the question is answered before it is asked. Those, like atheists, who self-impose a philosophy of naturalism onto their thinking have no choice: Our question must be answered with an uninteresting, uncurious, and ultimately unsatisfyingly flat “no,” atoms alone are necessary and sufficient.

For those who reject God as a possible cause of human origins, whether by presupposition or by adherence to the imposed rules of naturalistic science, atoms alone must be the necessary and sufficient substance of humans. Any immaterial aspects of humanness, such as the mind, and maybe even a soul, cannot exist in reality.

But what about the rest of us? What about the curious among us who refuse to let our minds be limited by self-imposed atheistic presuppositions? What about those of us who, using our minds and refusing the imposition of thought-limiting rules of science, find the evolutionary creation story unbelievable? Or improbable? Or impossible?

Truth need not be believable to be true. But it should be reasonably probable. And truth must be logically possible.

Beyond being unbelievable to most people, is the evolutionary atoms-only creation story, in fact, improbable or impossible? Consider our reasons for believing it is both.

First, if evolutionary theory is true, then a relative few number of the atoms sent flying at the Big Bang continue to senselessly knock about in you and us. You got a few, we got a few. We exist merely because of the initial motion of our atoms, and we continue to exist solely according to the continued, purposeless and unchangeable motion of those first blasted atoms. We are atoms alone.

We believe, in light of the clear evidence for immaterial aspects of human beings, attested to by science and philosophy through the ages, that this scenario is improbable.

Second, if evolutionary theory is true, then atomic matter in motion and forced into purposeless interaction by natural laws programmed, and then continuously re-programmed the DNA molecule of a first replicating organism. And the re-programming happened by innumerable random copying errors in that first DNA strand to become the DNA in human beings now.

We believe, in the absence of any natural explanation for the programming and re-programming of that first DNA molecule by random mutations, that this scenario is impossible.

Maybe, just maybe, the evolutionary creation story is a lie. Maybe, just maybe, the Biblical creation story is true.

Atoms alone or atoms and Adam? That is the question.

Think about it.

NOTE: For those who believe natural selection played a role in guiding the random mutations from that first DNA strand, see The Natural Selection Paradox. You will be surprised, confounded, or affirmed in your thinking. We promise.

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