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THEOLOGY > Man > Question of Evolution > Classification of Man


Man’s biological classification should be made with reference to the Theistic perspective and not strictly according to biological considerations that ignore or do not take seriously Biblical teaching. Theology should condition biology, and biology should not disregard the implications of theology (see: Approach).

According to the Scriptures man was created after communication between the members of the Trinity, a fact that reveals the prominent place man occupied in the scheme of Creation. To bring the fish, birds, and animals into existence, God simply spoke—“Then God said” (Gen. 1:20, 24; see: By His Word)—and they instantly appeared in great numbers in the waters, air, and on the earth. But when it came time for man, the Scripture records: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man’” (Gen. 1:26). In the Divine deliberation, emphasis and attention were given to man.

At the moment he was created man was made in the image and likeness of God. And it is the Imago Dei which distinguishes and separates man, elevating him in his relationship to the rest of creation and bestowing upon him a glory that does not belong to any other part of creation (see: Image of God).

Additionally, only one man was created. When the fish were created, numerous fish were created; the same was true of the birds and the animals. But with man just one man was made, suggesting the uniqueness and value that characterizes man.

Both in the council that preceded his creation, in the quality of his creation, and in the number that was created, man obviously stands alone and aloof when compared to the rest of creation.

It is in the dissimilarity
between man and the other parts of creation
that man’s relationship to creation is defined.

Man is unique.

Man, therefore, is not one of the fish, birds, or animals and should not be biologically classified with them; man is not even a mammal—man is man. He is in a class by himself and should be the only living thing in that class.

In this manner theology influences biology; that is, even the grouping of living things is according to Theistic considerations. All intellectual reflection and activity operates either from a vertical perspective or from a horizontal perspective. Man’s place in the created order should be determined by the creational model not from purely physiological considerations.

Evolution teaches continuity with the animals rather than a disconnect with the animals. For the evolutionist the animals form a ladder to man, an ascent upward; man is not distinct from the animals but is the most advanced animal. Man is the latest development in the spiral upward from lower life forms, so there is a continuity between the lower forms of life and man.

But this identification the Scriptures will not allow. In the Revelation there is a disconnect between other creatures and man. There is a great gulf between man and the animals—man is a little lower than the angels (lit., Elohim) and crowned with glory and honor (Ps. 8:5).

Man is more like God than he is like the animal.

Instead of seeking an association between the “intelligence” of the creatures and man, there should be an affirmation of the vast gulf that resides between the two, a gulf that cannot be bridged. Between man and animals there is not a gradual sense of transition, but a decided gulf of distinction.

Man is not from the animals but is set over against the animals; he should not be classified as a mammal; he is not part of the animal world; he is man, in a class by himself.

Human classifications should reflect Theistic considerations.

All flesh is not the same flesh,
but there is one kind of flesh of men,
another flesh of animals,
another of fish,
and another of birds.
I Cor. 15:39

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