On Common Ancestry and Opposition Thereto

If there is one thing in the modern theory of evolution that sets Christians’ teeth on edge, it is the entire idea of common ancestry and the interrelatedness of all living things. The mere thought that you and I could be distant cousins with a chimpanzee feels dehumanizing and degrading. But honestly, it shouldn’t.

Every piece of matter in the universe is made up of the same basic particles as every other piece of matter in the universe. Protons, neutrons, electrons, and now quarks, bosons, and all manner of minuscule bits and pieces conglomerate and connect and come together to form you, me, and everything else in this universe. Everything is made of the same physical stuff. Atomically speaking, you and a chimpanzee are not so far off. You are both built from the same building blocks. Materially speaking, nothing is different from anything else. So why on God’s green earth are we so worried about humans being related to other creatures?

“But Jay,” you may reply, “think about what this means for human worth and dignity. If we’re nothing more than animals, then you have no reason to think that human life is of any more worth than animal life.” It is true; if we are nothing but bags of bio-matter, fizzing around, interacting with other bags of bio-matter, all made from the same stardust, then human worth and dignity are meaningless concepts.

But my friends, we are not materialist atheists. We realize that in a world created by God, we don’t receive our human worth and dignity from the physical stuff we are made of or where we came from; we receive it from God, because we are His image. Humans have souls; we are more than physical. We have been given the breath of life. We have the innate ability to know God and to love him and serve him (which has, albeit, been corrupted by sin). Animals do not have this ability, because though they are made of the same physical stuff that we are, they are soulless. Humans are the image of God on earth, and that is what gives us worth and dignity, not our physical selves.

That is the reason I am not opposed to common ancestry. I can’t be. The Christian worldview, so far as I can tell, does not oppose it. You say, “What about Genesis?” Genesis is concerned with spiritual matters more than physical origins; notice that both man and animals come from the ground. The only thing that differentiates them is the breath of life breathed into our nostrils. The material origins, I contend, don’t matter. These physical bodies will rot and die, and for those of us who believe in Jesus, we will receive new bodies in the age to come. Let’s look forward to that.


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