The Image of God

Today’s YOM quickie is called Imago Dei, which is the Latin version of the famous phrase from Genesis 1. No, not that one – this one:

1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

But what does it mean? God is, generally speaking, not claimed to have a physical form. Old Testament God isn’t all that nice either, so a metaphorical interpretation of the concept would really be all for the best.

You see it every morning when you get up.  You walk to the lavatory, splash some water on your face, look up, and there it is – staring right back at you – your face reflected in the mirror.  But that face is not really you; it is only your reflection, your “image.”  Later, a friend tags you in a Facebook picture post, and there you are!  But that is not really you; it is only your image that has been captured in a photograph.  You are much more than your image.  You are a combination of your thought processes, a spirit/soul that motivates you, and a body which transports you wherever you want to go.  The image in the mirror disappears when you turn around and walk away.  The image in the photograph is permanently fixed in time and space, but not you; you are free to come and go as you please.

This description from the Your Origins Matter article doesn’t help us – are we to God as our reflection is to us? No, that can’t be it.

What does it mean that to be created in the “image of God”?

Dr. John Morris says it this way, “God has seen fit to endow mankind with qualities and characteristics which, in some way known fully only to Him, adequately reflect His image, and which totally distinguish man from any other created thing.”  Richard Dawkins (a well-known atheist) on the other hand would say humans and chimps are related.  If this were true, then the Bible would be wrong as it teaches that man came from the dust of the ground and woman from his side.  Of Course animals are amazingly well designed, but do not carry God’s image.  Jesus Christ did not die on the cross for an animal – He died for you!

Morris’ interpretation of the verse is apparently “we are not animals, certainly not descended from them,” which only goes to show how much young Earth creationists twist their own scripture to fit their talking points. While you potentially argue that the second part of 1:26 might suggest it, all that really says is that we’re top dog. Or that we should all grow up to be Department of Conservation field workers, perhaps. If God had wanted to point out that humans aren’t animals, then why didn’t he just say it?

The point of the post seems to be to attack Christians who aren’t creationists, on the grounds that evolution contradicts a core doctrine. “Your not like Dawkins. Also, Jesus!” And so I’m still left wondering what Imago Dei actually means.

*sigh* I suppose this is what Wikipedia is for…

One thought on “The Image of God

  1. Oceans of ink and forests of trees have been expended in the quest for an answer to that, not to mention billions of pixels, so don’t expect an answer anytime soon.
    probably the best idea is that the guys who wrote it saw animals mooching around, fish swimming, creepy crawlies – well – crawling creepily and plants not doing a lot and maybe wanted to explain why people talked and painted pictures and sang songs and built houses and – you know acted like people so they came up with godidit. If you leave out all the present day religious trappings it’s actually quite a pretty story. Unfortunately that’s no longer possible.


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