Yuval Noah Harari is a brilliant writer. His book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind flows seamlessly from section to section describing man’s evolution from the cousins of chimpanzees to the highly intellectual being that roams the earth today. Compared to Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species, Harari’s is easy to understand and digest.
While Harari weaves an intelligent argument together, he leaves no room for God. He states:
“For close to 4 billion years, every single organism on the planet evolved subject to natural selection. Not even one was designed by an intelligent creator….For billions of years, intelligent design was not even an option, because there was no intelligence which could design things (p. 397).”
He goes on to explain that humans are evolving to a point where they are becoming the designers. In other words, we are becoming gods. Look what he says:
“But as the twenty-first century unfolds, this is no longer true: Homo sapiens are transcending those limits. It is now beginning to break the laws of the natural selection, replacing them with the laws of intelligent design (p. 397).”
For all of Harari’s education and brilliance, he is an ignorant fool according to my worldview. The Psalmist writes, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good (Psalm 14:1, ESV)?’” Paul goes much further in his confrontation with the wisdom of this age when he says:
“18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written ,“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[a] to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[b] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[c] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[d] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord (I Corinthians 1:18-31).”
While I could continue to quote scripture after scripture, two will be sufficient for my argument.
Even though I am a “young-earth” creationists, it is an open-handed issue for me. In other words, I can understand Christians who believe in an older view. However, this is not Harari. For me, Harari’s views are dangerous and are becoming more and more typical in Western societies which poses a challenge for the 21st Century Christian. The views listed in this book removes the dignity in which man was created. Harari sees man’s uniqueness as a product of his environment, but while he attempts to explain the why the evolution occurs, he does an inadequate job in my opinion.
The challenge we have as Christians is to point to the dignity of man in a culture that believes it is the designer. When man is seen as nothing but a complex animal that is a product of natural selection, then it can lead to all kinds of evil: wholesale abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, racism, slavery and many more insidious ideals. After all, the weakest could be removed from society because it is just the evolutionary process.
While this may seem hyperbolic, we must consider some issues that are coming to the forefront. Death with dignity campaigns, artificial intelligence, gender reassignment, and many more issues needs to refocus our efforts as a church to exclaim to people that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” In Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God, John F. Kilner states:
“Recognizing humanity’s creation in God’s image has played a significant role historically in freeing people from the ravages of need and oppression. The outlook of Clement of Rome charted this course in the earliest centuries of the church:
‘You should do good to and pay honor and reverence to man, who is made in the image of God: … minister food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, hospitality to the stranger, and the necessary things to the prisoner; and that is what will be regarded as truly bestowed upon God.’
Both this perspective of needy people as created in God’s image and that of Christian service as conforming to the image of Christ became powerful motivators for helping people in poverty. In contrast, people outside the church during its earliest years exhibited relatively little concern to poor individuals (Kilner, p. 8).”
At first blush, I was angry and frustrated with reading Harari’s book. Quite frankly, I had no idea why we were being exposed to such nonsense. My perspective changed as I realized the soul of man is at stake. If we as a church want to combat the spirit of this age, then it is good for us to know the battlefield in which we fight. We are not combating specific issues such as abortion, euthanasia and the like. No, those are merely symptoms of two competing worldviews: the dignity of man from a Christian perspective or the reducing of man to something common and unremarkable. One belief brings life and the other creates a culture of death.