One of the characteristics unique to humans is the creation of art. Some people have made desperate attempts to prove that gorillas, chimps, and elephants create art. When you look at their “art,” you realize that it is merely swashes of color enabled by the researchers working with the animals. Is art just something that evolved, or could Adam create art?
Archaeologists and other scientists have found that ancient humans created art. That very ancient art is not simple swashes of color but complex pictures. Paintings found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi seem to portray a fight between a group of pigs. This discovery is significant because evolutionists have always maintained that humans did not create art until Ice Age Europe. They insisted that humans had not evolved to the point of being able to express historical events in pictures until that time.
Archaeologists have found an even older example of artwork in the Ramie region of Israel, and it consists of symbols cut into a bone fragment. Symbols tell of beliefs beyond survival and express thoughts beyond the mundane affairs of life. People used symbolic expressions from the very beginning of human history. These examples tell us that humans were created with the capacity to express themselves in art.
So the answer to the question, “could Adam create art” would be “yes.” The unique capacities of humans were built into Adam because he was created in the image of God. The human spiritual makeup expressed itself in art from the earliest days of human existence.
Genesis 4:19-26 tells about the first descendants of Adam and Eve. Jubal “was the father of all who play the harp and flute.” Those verses also tell us that Tubal-Cain was the first artisan in brass and iron. These descriptions were all before the birth of Seth. That means Adam and Eve were still around as musical instruments and artisans in metal were doing their creative works.
Many people misunderstand what it means to be created in the image of God. If you think that God is an “old man in the sky,” then you probably believe that God looks like you. I have a whole shelf of children’s books that portray God as a caucasian, male, old white-bearded man in the sky. I have a few that show God as a man of color. I have one that shows Him as an oriental. All of these are dead wrong and can lead a child to misunderstand an essential concept that we are created in the spiritual image of God. God is not any racial, ethnic, sexual, or aged physical being (John 4:24). We know this is true because we see God’s image in human creativity and spirituality.
The March 2020 issue of Scientific American (page 70-73) carried an interesting article by Kateb Wong titled “The First Story.” She begins a report on new archeological discoveries by saying, “Homo sapiens is the only species known to make figurative art, engage in spiritual thinking, and convey fictional tales through imagery.” We suggest that this is true because humans are the only life-form created in the image of God. We see God’s image in human creativity and spirituality. We don’t see this ability developing gradually over a long period of evolutionary change. The article reports on cave paintings discovered by archaeologists on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
What the paintings describe is a hunt. Six hunters using ropes or spears confront a large buffalo. Nearby more hunters are attacking other buffalos and pigs. One of the hunters is a therianthrope, meaning a spiritual leader and similar to the minotaur of Greek mythology. The researchers suggest that the scene shows a communal hunting strategy or game drive in which prey are flushed from cover and driven toward other hunters. These paintings are high up in hard to reach caves, and they appear to be made for cultural and symbolic use.
These are the oldest artworks anthropologists have ever found that depict a story. They show the uniqueness of humans from their earliest days on Earth. When God excluded humans from the “Garden,” they left with no experience, tools, or data. They had to start at the very beginning of the learning curve, but their desire for self-expression artistically and spiritually was in full operation. These ancient drawings display God’s image in human creativity and spirituality.
The biblical definition of humans involves our being created in the spiritual image of God.
In April 2017, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published a study concerning areas in Indonesia where some of the oldest cave art has been found on the island of Sulawesi. (Pictured) In 2014, cave art was found that dated back to 40,000 years ago. The new study reports on remarkable pieces of handmade jewelry found in the same area dating back to 30,000 years ago. Jewelry pieces include beads and pendants.
The “image of God” in humans doesn’t refer to our physical appearance, but our capacity to engage in spiritual things–worship, music, art, using symbolism, feeling guilt, and being sympathetic. Artwork shows spiritual events and practices. Finding these artifacts so early in human history is a strong indication that it was not something that evolved as culture moved into the modern era. It was present in the earliest days of human existence.