Problems with Special Creation

This is a brief supporting article for XXX.  Below is a short list of theological problems related to the theory of Special Creation, the belief that the immaterial aspect of human beings (i.e. the soul/spirit) is produced by a direct act of creation by God whereas the physical body is brought into being by a natural process (i.e. human procreation).

The belief in Special Creation is widespread among Evangelical Christians as well as among other variety of orthodox Christianity.  On the one hand, there is obvious reason to accept this belief, the most obvious reason being that it would seem nearly obvious that only a supernatural being (i.e. God) could produce supernatural materials (i.e. souls) whereas natural beings (i.e. humans) could only produce natural materials (i.e. bodies).  In this view, when human parents bring a physical body into existence, God implants a specially created human soul into that body, making it a living being.

In spite of the surface-level attractiveness of this view, it has several thorny theological problems:

1.  Human beings appear to be born with sinful souls – If the soul is the source of the human will, then inherited sinfulness must ultimately reside in the human soul as well.  It may certainly be influenced by the body, but it is only in the Gnostic heresy that the body itself is held to be the problem.  But if the sinful nature resides in the soul, then are humans born with a sinful nature because God has given them a sinful/broken soul?  This would seem to require that God would be directly culpable for human sinfulness in the same way that a car manufacturer is responsible for accidents that happen because of manufacturing defects.  The only other alternative would be that the perfect souls God creates are corrupted upon contact with the physical bodies they inhabit, but this would again be a Gnostic, rather than biblical, conception of the physical world.

2.  In Genesis, it appears that God ceased creating ex nihilo (i.e. bringing things into existence without the use of pre-existing materials) after the sixth day of creation.  In fact, this is likely what is meant by the phrase that God rested/ceased in Gen 2:2.  Of course, God continues to interact with His creation, but this phase of creative activity consistently shows God molding or crafting materials into new forms rather than bringing new material into existence.  There is nothing in the rest of the Bible to indicate that He has resumed this activity of ex nihilo creation, yet the Special Creation view requires that He would continually be creating each human soul ex nihilo when there is no evidence biblically that God is presently engaged in this activity.

3.  The Special Creation model draws too sharp a distinction between the material and immaterial aspects of human beings.  While there is biblical teaching that the human body and human soul do not coexist in perfect harmony as well as that the human soul survives the separation from the body at death (i.e. contra monistic conceptions of the human being), it remains the case that the majority of biblical teachings teach that human nature is a closely interacting dualism.  The idea that a human being is defined primarily by his/her body or primarily by his/her soul is simply not supported by evaluation of the whole counsel of Scripture.  In short, human beings are who they are because of both their bodies and their souls.  The Special Creation model radically distinguishes these two aspects of the human person in such a way as to suggest something about human identity that is not consistent with the biblical evidence.

4.  There is no direct biblical evidence for the Special Creation of individual human souls after Adam.  There are some poetic phrases which may be taken in support of the Special Creation model (e.g. Psa 139:13), but there is no direct statement to this effect.  On the contrary, after Adam’s soul was “breathed” into him by God, no statement of such an activity is ever repeated.  Even in the creation of Eve (Gen 2:21-25), there is no mention of a special act of creation to produce her soul; rather, it appears to be indicated that by fashioning Eve from Adam’s rib, she received not only his physical nature but also his spiritual nature, suggesting again that the physical and spiritual natures of humanity are closely linked/intertwined.  The Traducian View of souls points to this as evidence that human procreation is likely to be the genesis of each human soul; i.e. it is inherited from mother and father along-side the inherited physical nature.