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Creationism or evolution?

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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

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

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