Creationism or evolution?

When I was a youngster, a friend put this riddle to me: ''How many of each animal species did Moses take on the ark?'' I answered, ''Two!'' Of course I was wrong. The answer was to recognize that it was Noah who gathered the animals.

Sometimes bigger questions are also misleading. Controversy between the creationist and the evolutionist is an example. Many people assume that the question we face is which of these two radically divergent views explains the origin of man. But a more perceptive question would be whether these views are actually very far apart. In an important sense, they really aren't. Each theorizes man fashioned of matter. The real problem isn't how man was formed of matter; it is if man was formed of matter. Debate between the creationist and evolutionist pales before the monumental question of whether man's real substance is material or spiritual.

Christian Science opens the Bible in beautifully fresh light. It shows that the first chapter of Genesis describes man as made spiritually, in God's own image. No wonder the writer could conclude, ''And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.''n1

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n1 Genesis 1:31.

The story of Adam in the second chapter is tremendously instructive; it illustrates the mistaken belief that man is made of dust. This allegory contrasts sharply with the preceding chapter and shows vividly how material belief would claim to reverse God's creation of perfection -- how it would define man as made in the likeness of matter instead of Spirit.

''But isn't such a theory of spiritual creation unrealistic?'' you ask. ''Just take a look around. It's evident that existence includes all that is essentially material: evil, illness, sin, death.''

Christ Jesus was neither an evolutionist nor a creationist. His life and works proved perfection to be real, good to exist in place of evil -- in other words, spirituality in place of materiality. This theory was utterly realistic. It overturned evil, those limits that matter would fasten on man. Jesus was not intimidated by the evidence of the material senses. He said of evil, the devil, ''There is no truth in him. . . . He is a liar, and the father of it.''n2 And St. John spoke of this devil ''which deceiveth the whole world.''n3

n2 John 8:44.

n3 Revelation 12:9

With Christ Jesus showing the way, we no longer need to be deceived by evil. Jesus set an unsurpassed example; he showed that materiality -- sickness, fear, lack -- can be rejected with an understanding of God as infinite Spirit and man as His pure likeness. This teaching is at the heart of the Science of Christianity. When we have the spiritually enlightened courage to challenge evil , and the humility to accept God's allness, we find that Christian healing occurs today just as it was practiced by Jesus' early followers.

Many feel an urgency to resolve the question of whether man has common ancestry with apes or with a different form of animal called Adam. If that's a pressing issue, think how vital the question must be for those who see the choice as not between two forms of animated matter but between matter and Spirit! The theory of evolution is at least an interesting description of the development of mortals. But the Christian's deepest discovery is that real being , the man made in God's image, never was truly mortal, defined by and contained in a brief span of matter.

In light of all that Christ Jesus demonstrated, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, could write: ''In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry. His origin is not, like that of mortals, in brute instinct, nor does he pass through material conditions prior to reaching intelligence. Spirit is his primitive and ultimate source of being; God is his Father, and Life is the law of his being.''n4 Evidence of man's true spirituality comes day by day in deep spiritual regeneration and healing.

n4 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 63.

As we surrender to God's allness, we find the humility to admit -- and prove -- the unreality of evil. Step by step we relinquish the belief that man ever lives in matter, and we discover the significance of Paul's assurance, ''In him we live, and move, and have our being.''n5

n5 Acts 17:28.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? Malachi 2:10

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