|EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fourth story in a series of Baptist Press articles about an ongoing dialogue about evolution on the BioLogos website. To read BP's earlier stories, visit http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37901 and http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37981.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- The image of God in humans was not produced through the evolutionary process but is the result of God's direct intervention in creation, a Southern Baptist professor wrote in an ongoing dialogue with The BioLogos Foundation.
John Hammett, professor of systematic theology and associate dean of theological studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, was the most recent writer to engage BioLogos in a series titled "Southern Baptist Voices," online at BioLogos.org.
In his essay "Evolutionary Creationism and the Imago Dei," Hammett took issue with BioLogos "not recognizing that the image of God in Scripture seems rather clearly linked with something immaterial in the human constitution (whether it is called soul or spirit) that could not have come into being by evolutionary processes."
Hammett gave three arguments for God's direct intervention.
-- Central to the image of God is the capacity for relationship with God, Hammett said. The image of God distinguishes humans from animals in Genesis 1, he wrote, and it is humans rather than animals who engage in a personal relationship with God throughout Scripture.
-- The capacity for relationship with God continues after death. "Jesus says to the thief on the cross, 'Today, you will be with me in paradise' (Luke 23:43). Both of their bodies would soon be in graves, but the words 'you' and 'me' seem to affirm an existence apart from their bodies," Hammett wrote in an essay posted June 20.
-- Whatever it is in human nature that survives the death of the body, whether soul or spirit, must be nonmaterial and could not be produced by the evolutionary process.
"I cannot imagine how an immaterial reality, which survives the death of the body, could be produced by natural processes, such as evolution, even God-guided evolution," Hammett wrote.
"I do not think this is a God-of-the-gaps argument that could eventually fall to advances in science, but a logical argument, based on the intrinsic difficulty of seeing how the natural and mortal could produce something immaterial and capable of surviving the death of the body," Hammett wrote.
The BioLogos response was written by Tim O'Connor, chair of the philosophy department at Indiana University, who said BioLogos denies that the image of God is incompatible with an evolutionary understanding of human origins.
"The general perspective of BioLogos, which I embrace, is that theorizing about the underlying nature of the soul is best done by trying to read God's Two Books (His Word and His Works) in tandem," O'Connor wrote in an essay posted June 21. "Both Books have a great deal to say about us, and ... what they say must ultimately be in harmony."
In order to understand, O'Connor said, Christians should "be prepared to rethink familiar and received ideas." What is familiar, he said, is the concept that humans are composed of two distinct things -- a wholly physical body (including the brain and nervous system) and a wholly nonphysical mind (the soul). This is soul-body dualism.
"While this tidy division has considerable intuitive appeal and makes it easy to account for some important Christian teachings concerning human beings, it does not seem very plausible when we take into account what we learn from God's other Book, the Book of His Works," O'Connor wrote.
Science, he said, points to "continuous processes of increasing complexity, but the two-substance account requires the supposition of abrupt discontinuity." O'Connor subscribes to a one-substance explanation in which interwoven processes take place within a single physically composed object.
"I am a living body, composed at any moment entirely of physical part, such that I have a total mass and size and shape," O'Connor wrote in the second part of his response posted June 22. "But unlike a hunk of rock or wood, I am a persisting unity despite undergoing massive change of my parts over time."
Humans have biologically dependent spiritual capabilities, O'Connor said, such as awareness of moral obligation and the capacity to reason morally, which undergird the human capacity for a relationship with God. Continued...