The origin of man traces back to the creation account in the book of Genesis. In the beginning, after God formed the world and spoke into existence all other forms of life, God created man: “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26–27).
The Bible absolutely asserts that man is the product of a direct and exceptional creative act of God: “God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth” (Isaiah 42:5, NLT; see also Job 33:4).
Scripture does not allow for any other source of origin for humankind. The account in Genesis does not give much detail about how man was created, but the Bible is not concerned with providing a scientific explanation for the origin of man. Scripture’s unmistakable message is that God gave the breath of life to man: “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
Genesis states that God formed the body of man from preexisting material—“the dust of the ground.” But man’s soul was an altogether new creation of God—“the breath of life.” Together, these two natures of body and soul formed man—“a living being” (see also Ecclesiastes 12:7; Matthew 10:28; 2 Corinthians 5:1–8; Hebrews 12:9).
When God created man, He gave him a supreme place in the world. Not only were human beings God’s final work in the process of creation, but they also provided fulfillment and meaning to the rest of God’s handiwork. God made human beings in His own image (Genesis 1:26). They were to multiply and fill the earth, cultivate and subdue it, and rule over all the other creatures (Genesis 1:28–30). In this place of earthly dominion, man was created to magnify and give glory to the Creator and Lord of all the universe (Psalm 8:4–9).
Many scientists support the theory of naturalistic evolution as the origin of man. While various evolutionists define the theory differently, it can be summarized as the belief that man ascended from lower animals through an unguided, chance process of development. Not only is this theory contrary to the teaching of the Word of God, but it also holds no firm footing in verifiable facts.
Although evolutionary theory is often presented as established dogma, it is, in fact, nothing but a hypothesis. Many leading evolutionists now admit that the origin of species is a complete mystery to them. Dr. D. H. Scott, in a presidential address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, stated, “All is again in the melting-pot. . . . Is evolution, then, not a scientifically established fact? No, it is not. . . . It is an act of faith—because there is no alternative.” Scientist Ambrose Fleming said, “All that science can say at present in the light of definitely ascertained and limited human knowledge is that it does not know, and has no certain proof how, where, and when man was originated. If any true knowledge of it is to come to us, it must come from some source other than present modern anthropology” (Berkhof, L., Systematic Theology, p. 187. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1938).
As Christians we accept on faith the testimony of the Bible—that God created Adam and Eve as the first man and woman, and from them descended the whole human race: “From one man [God] has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live” (Acts 17:26, CSB).
The organic unity of the human race in its origin and subsequent fall also relates to Jesus Christ’s provision of salvation for humankind: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned . . . through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:12, 19; see also 1 Corinthians 15:21).