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Everlasting Man, The

by G.K. Chesterton

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G.K. Chesterton wrote several books that I like more than The Everlasting Man, including his classic apologetic, Orthodoxy, and one of my top ten favorite books, The Man Who Was Thursday. That said, Christians studying origins need to digest the first chapter of The Everlasting Man.

Although Chesterton did not seem to understand the flaws inherent in Charles Darwin’s theories about natural selection, he did understand that man is fundamentally different from all of our (purported) relations in the animal kingdom. The naturalistic assumption that man was not created in the image of God was a lie Chesterton recognized, and he attacks it in this work with characteristic verve.

Chesterton focuses our attention on a peculiarly human pursuit: art. How is it, he wonders, that “primitive” men not far removed from the apes painted pictures on the walls of their caves? We never see a cow creating a sculpture or a monkey painting a mural, but men seem to have created “useless” art from the very beginning.

The answer to this question is a basic truth for Christians; apart from Judaism and Christianity, however, the puzzle becomes a quagmire. If the Creator made man in His own image, then man’s continuing interest in art makes sense: we create because, though fallen, we still bear the image of the Master Craftsman. But if the Genesis account is simply myth—if man is a freak product of nature—then we are very freakish indeed. Rather than concerning ourselves only with survival and reproduction, as evolution dictates, we devote a great deal of our time (some even sacrifice their lives) to creating a painting or a song that is “merely” beautiful.

There are many problems with the assumption that man was not created, of course. Most Christians are quick to point out how unscientific spontaneous generation is, or to note that an infinite regression of causes is nonsensical. Trust Chesterton to take a different route! Though both of the former assertions are true, Chesterton’s latter point is also valid: the very existence of art implies that man was created in the image of God.

by Jeff Baldwin