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The design of man

May 1999 | by Stuart Burgess

The Bible teaches that man is unique among the creatures of the earth because he has a soul and was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). The Bible also declares that man is wonderfully made: ‘I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works, and that my soul knows very well’ (Psalm 139:14). The discoveries of modern science and the achievements of man show the remarkable truth of these Bible verses.

If man evolved from lower animals, we would expect him to be capable of only the basic tasks of hunting and farming since, until recently, this is all man needed to do to survive. However, if man has been designed to be a special living being, as the Bible says, then we would expect him to have unique and special abilities compared to other creatures.

This article shows how man is indeed uniquely designed, with capabilities that far exceed those required for survival. There is evidence of wonderful design in man’s body, mind and spirit.

Upright stature

Man is a biped (two-legged) being and has an upright stature, whereas all other land-dwelling mammals are quadrupeds (four-legged) and have a horizontal stature. Being two-legged means that man exhibits some very striking differences from animals, including those that evolution claims are our nearest relatives, monkeys and apes.

For example, the feet of a human being are completely different from those of a monkey. A monkey’s feet function like hands, whereas a human’s feet are rigid and perform a completely different role. Human joints are also uniquely designed for walking upright.

The fact that there are thousands of different types of creatures on the earth that live and move with a horizontal stature shows how unique man is. This uniquely upright stature is exactly what would be expected from a Creator who intended man to be in charge of the earth.

Hands

Man’s upright stance allows his hands to be designed for purposes other than locomotion. The arms and hands of man are very sophisticated and always ready for use; characteristics that find application in writing, medicine, art, building, sport and almost every area of activity that distinguishes man from animals.

If men had evolved only to become basic farmers and hunters, then there would be no need for great dexterity in movement of the fingers. The fact that many gardening tasks can be carried out wearing thick gloves shows that micro-fine control is not necessarily required for husbandry.

However, the human hand can perform amazing levels of controlled movement. For example, a concert pianist playing a sonata can accurately play up to thirty different notes every second for half an hour or more. In each split second, the pianist’s fingers are placed in a precise way, with the correct touch and for just the right length of time.

Such extraordinary feats are not just achievable by a few gifted people. The potential for this level of performance is present, whether the pianist is originally from a jungle tribe in Borneo or from a culture steeped in classical music. In fact, almost any child that is given the necessary training can make a good attempt at the Moonlight Sonata by the age of fifteen.

Evidence of design

Human hands have an extremely sensitive sense of touch. Experiments at Bristol University have shown that surgeons can sense by touch alone the difference between one pinprick and two pinpricks that are less than one millimetre apart. It is impossible for the evolutionist to begin to explain why such incredible levels of dexterity and touch should exist in the human body. This is no accident but rather evidence of design.

The gift of agile fingers shows God’s common grace towards man in several ways. Firstly, man’s fingers are so unique that they show that man is a special creation. Secondly, man’s fingers enable him to play music to a very high level of sophistication. Music can be played as an aid to the worship of God (Psalm 150:3-6) or it can be performed simply for pleasure. Thirdly, man is able to carry out delicate and complicated tasks in areas as diverse as art, surgery, carpentry, sewing and sport.

Voice, vision and hearing

The human voice can produce the most amazing range of sounds compared to the vocal efforts of animals. The fact that there are thousands of languages, each with thousands of words, shows the great range of sounds that are possible with the human voice. It is true that animals also communicate by voice, and that they often use sound frequencies beyond the range of human speech. Nevertheless, their communication abilities are very basic.

Man is capable of speaking or singing a given word in a myriad different ways. It is difficult for the evolutionist to explain why humans are capable of such fine speech if survival is the only thing that matters. The human eye is also very sensitive. Some creatures like birds have more sensitive sight than humans, but this is always for functional reasons. In the case of a human being, sight goes far beyond what is functionally required.

One example is that the eye can differentiate between seven million shades of colour; an ability that is hardly necessary for basic survival! The human ear is also very sensitive and allows sophisticated tasks in areas such as conversation and music. Similar statements could be made in relation to man’s powers of touch, taste and smell. But enough of man’s wonderful body! What about his mind?

Man’s mind

The fact that animals survive very well by hunting and finding food demonstrates that a great mind is not required for such tasks. Humans possess an intellect and memory that is vastly greater than would be required for basic farming and hunting.

The human brain has ten billion cells and 500 billion connections that enable a fantastic capacity of intellectual activity. It is impossible for evolution to explain why the human being should need to develop such intellect, and what ‘selection pressures’ ever existed to cause such abilities to evolve.

orchestra SOURCE Ioana Sasu/Pixabay
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Some clear examples of great intellectual achievements are found in classical composers such as Mozart and Beethoven. Their work required a detailed knowledge of vast areas of music as well as tremendously creative minds. A single symphony can contain tens of thousands of notes, all arranged and played in a precise way.

The musicians who play the music also demonstrate phenomenal intellectual capacity. A concert pianist performing a new piece of music may have to memorise 10,000 notes. The performer has to ‘remember’ the pitch, length and loudness of each note. Of course, the notes are not memorised by conscious effort, but they must nevertheless be ‘stored’ in some way in the pianist’s mind. According to musical legend, the French composer Saint-Saens memorised all thirty-two of Beethoven’s piano sonatas by the tender age of ten!

It is not just musicians who exhibit great intellectual capacity; every human being performs great intellectual feats. For example, by the age of four, a child learns virtually an entire language consisting of thousands of words. It is impossible for an evolutionist to explain how man can achieve so much, when the human brain has undergone no fundamental change since men were farmers and hunters thousands of years ago.

Amazing capacity

The amazing capacity of the human brain provides evidence of design. That man has been given a mental capacity many thousands of times greater than is required for basic survival, and vastly superior to any animal, demonstrates God’s common grace towards us in several ways.

Firstly, man’s intellectual capacity allows him to read and memorise God’s Word. Secondly, the human brain makes man unique and enables him to have dominion over all the creatures of the earth, as was God’s intention (Genesis 1:28). Thirdly, man’s intellect helps him to communicate and relate to other people through intricate languages. And fourthly, it enables him to derive enjoyment from studying the natural world (Psalm 111:2), and from creative activities of infinite variety.

A spiritual being

But above all, man is unique on the earth because he is a spiritual being. We know this because the Bible tells us that he was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). It is remarkable that every race of people, even if discovered in the remotest jungle, has some form of belief in spiritual things, showing that the works of God’s law are written on their hearts (Romans 2:15).

Only in modern times have significant numbers of people become atheists. Such facts show clearly that man has a spiritual dimension. It is impossible for science to explain the spiritual nature of man.

The Bible commentator Matthew Henry thought that the existence of man’s body and soul was enough to demonstrate the existence of a Creator. He writes: ‘The frame and structure of human bodies, and especially the most excellent powers, faculties and capacities of human souls, do abundantly prove that there is a Creator and that He is God’.

The fall of man

While man has amazing abilities, he is also subject to illness, ageing and death. The reason is that the world, including man himself, has suffered the judgement of God for man’s sin.

In Genesis 3 we read that Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were expelled from the Garden of Eden. Furthermore, God put a curse on creation. In the case of man, the judgement involved ageing, illness and mortality. Ultimately all these things arise from genetic disorders due to gene mutations. From a biblical standpoint, mutations must be seen as part of the curse on man, something that existed only after the Fall.

It is interesting to note in conclusion that the whole theory of evolution is based on genetic mutations, a process that is part of the curse on man and never occurred before the Fall. This fact alone puts paid to theistic evolution, that is, the belief that God created all things, but did so using the process of evolution.

Even though man’s body bears the irreparable marks of sin, it is still evident that man is fearfully and wonderfully made. Scripture promises that those who trust in Christ will one day experience a bodily resurrection to life. Even on the basis of what we can see here on earth, therefore, we can be sure that our new bodies in the next life will be truly perfect and incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:42).

Dr Burgess is a lecturer in engineering design at Bristol University. This article is adapted from a forthcoming book to be published by Day One publications entitled, Hallmarks of Design.