byRobert Brow (web site - www.brow.on.ca)
(An abridged version of an article in Christianity Today XVI .24 (1972) 6-7 [September 15, 1972])
The interest Canadians have shown in Erich von Däniken's books - Chariots of the Gods (Bantam, 1971) and Gods From Outer Space (Bantam, 1972) - has been heightened by a television program on his archaeological puzzles. Even if we dismiss his comparisons of cave drawings to men in space suits, the identification of Ezekiel's wheels within wheels as flying saucers and Lot's angels as planetary visitors to Sodom, there is still much to think about. Archaeologists and ancient historians will be forced to make some attempt to answer von Däniken's puzzling questions about the pyramids, the astronomical data on very ancient monuments, the 2,000-ton cut stone blocks of. Baalbeck, and so on. His theory assumes that these and many other achievements of the ancient world must be explained by the visits of superior beings who came in spaceships.
Unfortunately many Christian scholars who otherwise take the Bible seriously have pushed the date of the first human beings too far back to make any sense of the marvels of our ancestors in the third millennium B.C. They have assumed that Adam and Eve must have preceded the first cavemen. The difficulty is that archaeologists and anthropologists have traced the origin of bunters that looked like modern men back to far beyond 50,000 years B.C. And Paleolithic creatures may have roamed this earth a million years ago. Where then would we fit Adam and Eve?
It is wise to remind ourselves that the Bible tells us nothing whatever about the first hominids that stood upright, and had more or less the same body shape as ours. The Bible begins with a very particular species of person. Let us call him Genesis Man. This is the race that began with Adam.
Genesis Man has three defining characteristics. First of all, he is said to be dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7). This indicates that chemically he is made up of the 105 or so atomic elements, and whatever glory he may have while alive, he reverts at death to the dust from which he came. Second, Genesis Man is a creature that breathes; he has the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). This breath of life is a purely animal function, as is evident from the fact that the beasts of the earth, reptiles, and birds are said to have the same breath of life (Gen. 1:30).
What distinguishes Genesis Man from other creatures that looked more or less like men, is that he is in the image of God (Gen. 1:26, 27). The exact meaning of this is a matter for theologians to clarify. I suggest that at least the image of God requires the ability to understand God’s creation, worship and pray and converse with God. The Bible tells us that this kind of person was created suddenly in comparatively recent times, let us say roughly 4,000 B.C. It seems simpler to stick to biblical terminology and say that this image of God man was God's creative intervention, a product of Intelligent Design. There is no way the software required to function in our image of God activities could ever emerge by mindless chance evolution.