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By Dr. Hugh Ross
One of the things I especially like about the Christmas season are Christmas carols, Christmas cantatas, and Christmas oratorios. The lyrics are loaded with doctrinal teachings that by themselves compel worship of our God who chose to become a man in order that we might be saved from sin and death. These great doctrinal messages are accompanied by some of the greatest music that we humans have ever composed. Then there are the magnificent voices.
Yesterday, as I was listening to Christmas music on a classical radio station, I recognized that what I was hearing was yet another powerful scientific case for human exceptionalism. Unlike the evolutionary mantra that all life has naturally descended from a last universal common ancestor (LUCA), and, thus, all life differs from all other life only by degree and not fundamentally by kind, the Bible teaches that God specially created three fundamentally different kinds of life.
Genesis 1 uses the Hebrew verb bara only three times. Bara means to bring into existence something brand new, something that never existed before. Genesis 1 uses it first in verse 1 where the text describes God creating the physical universe of matter, energy, space, and time. The physical universe includes life-forms that are purely physical, such as bacteria and fungi.
The second time Genesis 1 uses bara is in verse 21. There the text describes God creating the nephesh (soulish animals). Compared to all other life God had previously created, these animals are exceptional. They are not just physical entities. In addition to their physical bodies they are endowed with soulish attributes: mind, will, and emotions.
The third time Genesis 1 uses bara is in verse 27. There the text describes God creating human beings, the only species of life on Earth that possesses “the image of God.” According to Genesis and many other Bible passages, humans are exceptional among Earth’s life in that they alone are spiritual. They alone are capable of engaging in philosophy, theology, mathematics, and symbolic communication.
The nephesh animals are exceptional, too, in that unlike life-forms that are purely physical, they are able to form relationships with a higher species, namely, human beings. In this respect God has endowed them with a desire to serve and please humans.
Humans are exceptional in that alone among Earth’s life they are able to form relationships with a higher being, namely, God. God has endowed them with a desire to serve and please him.
One of the ways nephesh and human exceptionalism is manifested is through songs and music. Life-forms that are purely physical are incapable of expressing songs and music…
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