Imago Dei


#1

What is the image/likeness of God in which mankind was created? I believe it denotes that aspect of our being which separates us from the rest of the animal creation - i.e., our personhood. And what does it mean to be a person? From experience, it seems to mean nothing more than our having the capacity for rational self-awareness. I think it is this inherent characteristic of man that gives us the ability to have dominion over the animal kingdom (Gen 1:26, 28). And inseparable from this aspect of our nature is our capacity to have a knowledge of God and his ways (compare Psalm 49:20 and 2 Peter 1:3-4). I think it is this unique aspect of our nature that was being referred to by the Psalmist when he wrote that man was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). God saw fit to endow man with a brain that possesses a much greater complexity of organization than is possessed by any other earthly creature that God has made, giving us the unique capacity for a rational, first-person perspective. It is this aspect of our being (which I think corresponds to the “inner nature” of 2 Cor 4:16) which I believe must necessarily be restored in the resurrection of the dead.


#2

Aaron,

Thanks for laying out these thoughts for us.

I agree with one of my heroes, St. Ambrose, on this matter:
*
“That image may indeed be obscured, but cannot be destroyed by reason of its nature.” *

I’ll give my thoughts on this later.


#3

I agree with this statement insofar as it means that man cannot exist except as a being made in the image of God. As long as man exists, I think he bears God’s image. But I don’t think our being in the image of God has anything do to with our being immortal or not. That is, I don’t think the fact of our bearing God’s image touches upon whether or not death indefinitely ends our existence. Whether it does or not, I don’t think the image of God can be destroyed as long as man exists; to cease to bear God’s image is to cease to be man.


#4

On this we agree. I’ll get back to you.


#5

Aaron.

I believe God made man as close to Him as possible without the deity. God is spirit. Man is spirit. God is eternal. Man is eternal. God is a triune being. Man is a triune being. Those who are born again have already been resurrected from death to life in your spirit. Your born again spirit has the very nature and life of God. The resurrection the born again believer is waitng for is his glorified immortal body to wear in the New heavens and New earth.


#6

Hi Aaron:

For me, to be created in the image of God is to be created with the power to think and to do. This is a step so far beyond the instinct and reaction and impulse of the rest of the animal world (not at all to minimize the complexity and tenderness one can observe therein) as to be an almost impassible chasm. (Which is to say; THIS aspect could not possibly have “evolved”…)

TotalVictory
Bobx3


#7

Hi Bobx3 - isn’t that just a false dichotomy coupled to personal incredulity? in other words, I can’t believe that evolution is responsible for the intellectual richness of human interaction therefore the only alternative is for my christian God to have somehow either endowed proto-humans with that capacity or the story of Adam and Eve is literally true?

Reading that back I need to clarify that the proposed false dichotomy is between evolution and God doing it and not between God-directed evolution and the Adam and Eve story (hope that makes sense).

If I am wrong forgive me - but it’s great seeing you post more frequently again. :wink:


#8

It seems most believers work at being better believers. I on the other hand am a believer who strives to be a better atheist :open_mouth:

Sound nuts? (LOL - so what else is new, right?)

So here’s the explanation: “All that can be shaken will be shaken” so why not shake things up by purposefully doubting everything that you believe and see what survives? :neutral_face:

Yet, no matter how I try I am still incredulous when it comes to ideas about the random spontaneity of first life and even more incredulous concerning complex inventions slowly coming into existence through a “needed to survive/excel” basis.

What (in your view) am I missing? Do I have a “God gene” implanted in my psyche that blinds me to other possibilities? :question:


#9

:smiley:

No - blind isn’t a word that springs to mind with regard tou yourself Byron. I am increasingly convinced that we all come down on one side or the other of this debate due to some piece(s) of ‘evidence’ that we just don’t seem to be able to refute ourselves (it tips the balance) and from then on everything is coloured by that bias.


#10

Hi Bob,

I agree with you. The ability to think and then to put our thoughts into action - even in opposition to our instincts - is definitely a higher level function unique to human beings, and, I think, inseparable from our being rational, self-aware beings.


#11

Hey JeffA:

Not to ignore your question, but first let me apologize to Aaron if this seems to sidetrack from his question. In actuality, I think this sort of question fits quite perfectly here!!!

By now Jeff I’d guess you know me well enough to not be surprised at all to hear that this is the very same kind of question I ask myself all the time! Sort of like CS Lewis honestly revealing that there were days when he doubted the Christ story. But then again he also recalled days before his conversion when he doubted that maybe those Christians were ON to something! So it’s very important that the fiercest critic of our own beliefs should be – ourselves.

Don’t you sometimes wonder if maybe we creationists are on to something?? :slight_smile:

I’ve largely abandoned discussions of evolution because they end up being so frustrating; each “side” feeling it has to defend the home turf or something. Worse, it can take on the sort of “litmus test” for being on “our team” dynamic.

When I wrote that phrase above (“impassible chasm”) I had in mind the words of an essay written by a linguist who used it when describing the enormity of the problem of “teaching” apes language. (Tried to find the book to reference but may have lent it to someone… I’ll keep looking) So it’s far more that just a simpleton falling back and saying oh-my-gawd it’s so complicated; it must have been created. The very sort of logical scientific thinking that can lead us to reasonable deductions about what we can see in the evidence should be able to serve us just as well in detecting things and events which are mathematically, vanishingly unlikely. It’s not enough to say well we’re here, we must have got here somehow, God is not measurable, so it must be … Of course that too is an unfair reduction of the evolutionists point.

I think awhile back I mentioned how thrilled I was to hear a debate between Hitchens and D’Sousa (I went with my daughter) and to hear them both strongly affirm that the more we learn about life and science, the more we realize we DON’T know. Well that seems quite correct and humble. Except that then each man proceeded to forget that humble context and went on to insist somewhat dogmatically that THEY were correct!!!
Disappointing.

In the quite and unguarded moments when feeling honest and reflective, I’m certain that scientists and preachers alike admit they “know” less than they insist they do in public. I have great respect for my pastor who says yes; there are any number of things that science brings to the table that I find compelling and troubling to my creation views. Likewise, I’m rather certain that the scientist can admit that there are in fact aspects of the whole affair which seem to defy their current explanations. I crave those unguarded moments of honesty no matter what side it comes from.

For me I find a man like Francis Collins most fascinating when he, a believer in evolution, titles his book on the genome project “the language of God”. What “science” brought him to THAT conclusion?? There seems to be a profound awareness that the final product is more than just the mere sum of the parts and mechanisms. Hence his urge to “borrow” from his religion. And he was wise to thus borrow it seems to me.

Now as coincidence would have it, today we concluded the quarters church bible studies on the gifts of the Spirit. They are/include as you know, Love - Joy - Peace - Patience - Kindness - Goodness - Faithfulness - Meekness - Self-Control - Righteousness - Truth. And I would wager that most everyone sees these categories as describing things – real things – best suited to analysis by the apparent vagueness of religion, than by science. Could be wrong, but these are not the sorts of things that one finds papers written about in science journals.

It is said that beliefs have consequences. What then is the natural implication of the “belief” in evolution? I believe in evolution; so what? What should follow that belief? Do I strive to be honest, full of compassion for the weak and suffering, and full of mercy because science tells me I should? Never met anyone like that.

The implication that follows from belief in creation however is that of course I should strive for the very same attitude toward my fellow created being who exists not because his genes have triumphed (including violent victories) over others but because we have the same Father. For me, there is a much straighter line between the notion of creation (no, I’m not too concerned about the details) and all those fruits of the Spirit than there is between evolution and those same fruits.

And the reality that allows for those fruits to matter profoundly, IS the image of God within us.

Will work on fleshing out the details in eternity. With you right there beside me of course Jeff!! To keep me from getting off track or anything!

TotalVictory
Bobx3


#12

That was a great reply Bob. I agree that there should always be an element of ‘what if the other guy is correct’ about our positions (I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to find out whether you guys do have something). I also agree aboutthe tit-for-tat nature of some of the debates; I have just said much the same as you over in an evolution and Genesis thread started by Sonia (Atheist/Agnostic forum).

I was playing devil’s advocate with my question earlier, knowing full-well the wranglings you have had with the truth or otherwise of Christianity.

What earns my respect is the way you fight on through the times of doubt.

Your friend Jeff.


#13

Thanks Jeff:

Perhaps you will appreciate the fact that I rather detest a discussion wherein a Christian debater in effect forces the evolution supporter (who of course may also be a Christian; don’t think I’ve ever met an atheist creationist though! :laughing: ) to abandon what to him seems like such clear scientific evidence and support. To bully another to drop what they know to be true is beyond unseemly and rude.

Of course the dynamic works the other way as well and is equally repulsive. When an atheist insists the Christian drop his convictions on topics like design, or Spirit, or all these non-material realities which bring so much meaning to their lives (eg see Fruits of the Spirit) when pondering origins, that also seems grossly unfair.

And you are right; it is a fascinating thing to watch how different people appear to assign varying weights to the various types of “evidence”.

Later,

TotalVictory
Bobx3


#14

Actually that thread was started by HSMom, not by me. :sunglasses: I’m working on a reply to that.
Sonia


#15

Oops! :blush: