2.8 The Essential Nature of Man (OB8)

by Dr. Werner Gitt on July 26, 2012

It is impossible to understand human nature apart from biblical revelation.

Evolution: In the evolutionary system, the body/soul/spirit reality of man is the victim of an improper reductionism. According to this view, matter and mind are essentially indistinguishable; they only differ in their degree of complexity. As Wuketits writes [W5, p. 140]: “Although physical structures and the corresponding psychological phenomena are two spheres which have been interlinked by evolution, they comprise different levels of complexity. . . . We may thus speak of a natural spiritual condition in the literary sense of the word, and so express the hope that the old body/soul dichotomy has finally been abolished.” The co-founder of Marxism, Friedrich Engels, had previously aired similar views: “The material world to which we belong and which can be observed by our senses, is the only reality. . . . Matter is not a mental precept, on the contrary, mind is merely the highest product of matter.” Mental evolution is regarded as a third type, after chemical and organic evolution, by Hellmuth Benesch, who is an evolutionist psychologist [B2, p. 19]: “The mind also evolved. We can, so to speak, refer to a paleontology of the soul.”

Scientific Objections: The behavioral psychologist Hans Zeier affirms that we cannot really formulate direct conclusions about the origin and true nature of the human mind (spirit) from a scientific viewpoint [E1, p. 15]. Whenever mind and its origin are mentioned in evolutionary statements, these are never based on scientific results, but always on evolutionistic presuppositions. For example, H. Benesch [B2, p. 147] writes: “One of the most crucial and consistent tenets of this book is to regard psychological aspects not only as having an evolutionary origin, but to establish and respect this origin.” This once again reveals the evolutionary assumption E1: Evolution is not the result of scientific research; rather, facts that support the presupposed doctrine, are being sought. Benesch still has to demonstrate that “psychic processes gradually developed from the functions of the nervous system.” And he warns [B2, p. 147]: “As we may deduce from the history of biological descent, it was no easy scientific saunter. The road ahead is just as hard and rocky.” He also sees himself on a road going in a direction parallel to Darwin [B2, p. 14]: “Notwithstanding the limitedness of Darwin’s knowledge, his teachings on origins and descent achieved remarkable success. One can thus appreciate the negligence of the psychologists. Very many of them are still reluctant to construct a psychology based on evolution. . . . There is an opportunity for a great leap forward in the psychocy-bernetic aspects of the problem of the origin of man’s mind (spirit).”

Those schools of psychology (Watson’s and Skinner’s behaviorism, K. Lorenz’s instinctivism) based on a one-dimensional, materialistic view of man—which are therefore evolutionistic—can today be regarded as totally obsolete, because they excluded important aspects like freedom, responsibility, and destructivity. Sigmund Freud recognized a transcendental portion of the mind, an independent structure having its own laws and rules, and he was the first to rise above a narrow determinism. Erich Fromm developed this model further, allocating essential roles to personal identity and free will. Freedom, responsibility, and voluntary choices between good and bad, all play an appropriate role.

One should also note the dualistic interaction theory of John Eccles, a Nobel prize winner, who justifiably bewails the current unrealistic materialistic theories [E1]. He consequently concludes that death is not the end of human existence [E1, p. 190]: “The components of our existence in the second world are not of a material nature, and are therefore not necessarily subject to the dissolution that befalls all components of the individual which belong to the first world.”

It is scientifically untenable to regard man only from a materialistic viewpoint.

In the evolutionary view, one encounters an unbridgeable chasm between matter and mind, brain and consciousness, and body and soul, since only material components are considered according to basic assumption E3. Horst W. Beck mentions the problem of scientifically describing the entire person: “When regarded reflectively, one’s immediate reality can only be circumstantial. Man is and remains his own greatest puzzle.” It is scientifically untenable to regard man only from a materialistic viewpoint, as is done by evolutionists.

The Bible: It is impossible to understand human nature apart from biblical revelation. In our context it is unimportant whether we consider man to be a threefold being (the trichotomy body/soul/spirit as seen by H.W. Beck and W. Nee), or as having only two components (dichotomy of body/soul(mind) according to J. Neidhart). As already stated in OB1, one must, in the case of human beings, clearly distinguish between material (body: Greek “soma”) and immaterial components (soul: Hebrew “nephesh,” 754 times in the Old Testament; Greek “psyche,” 101 times in the NT; spirit: Hebrew “ruach,” 378 times in the OT; Greek “pneuma,” 379 times in the NT). In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, we find a basic statement concerning a structural description of man: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” By definition, all evolutionary concepts allow material considerations only, and all of them are revealed to be limited by this pronouncement. Spirit and soul are immaterial constituents, and the Bible gives explicitly clear descriptions of their origin (Gen. 2:7) and their destination after death (Eccles. 12:14; Ps. 16:10). When Adam sinned, man’s spirit became sick unto death. But when a person repents (see Figure 1), he is born again; his spirit comes alive. This event is essential in our earthly life for salvation.

Did God Use Evolution?

According to the view of theistic evolution, God started the process of evolution and guided and steered it over millions of years. As an information scientist, Werner Gitt critically analyzes and rejects the assumptions and consequences of the doctrine of theistic evolution.

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