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Man in the image of God


Man in the Image of God


Unlike the animals, man was created in the image or likeness of God (Gen. 1:26-28). This is what makes man superior to animals. This concept is both challenging and amazing. What consequence does this have to the subject of creation as compared to evolution? (Note that Adam, in the image of God, in turn had a son in his image - Gen. 5:1-5).

Other Scriptures confirm that man is in the image of God

James 3:9,10 - Men should not be cursed because they are made in the likeness of God. But if man is not really in God's image, would it be all right to curse them? [Gen. 9:6]

1 Corinthians 11:7 - Man is the image and glory of God.

Psalm 8:4-8 - God placed man over all creation, including all animals (quoted in Heb. 2:6-8).

These verses show that Gen. 1 is not to be taken as myth. What it says about the nature of man is intended to be taken as historical truth, and is so treated throughout the Bible.

Meaning of "image of God"

The "image of God" does not seem likely to refer to man's physical nature, since God is spirit (John 4:24), and a spirit does not have flesh and blood (Luke 24:39). What is involved in the "image of God"? It appears that man is similar to God (though not on His level) and unlike animals in the following ways:

1. Man has rational intelligence. He has ability to reason, invent, communicate, etc., in ways far beyond animals (see below). His ability in this regard allows him to communicate with God and understand God's will for him in a way that no animal ever could.

2. Man has a will, and a power to choose. He is a free moral agent. He is able, without absolute controls (like a robot), to choose between alternatives and determine which course he will pursue. He is therefore accountable before God to make the choices and pursue the goals that God instructs him to.

3. Man has emotions. He can experience joy, love, anger, hatred, sorrow and many other feelings. The Bible also attributes such feelings to God.

4. Man has a conscience. He is able, not only to distinguish right from wrong, but also to have an inherent sense of guilt when he has done wrong and a sense of approval when he has done right.

5. Man has a spirit nature which has the opportunity to be with God in eternity. Cf. John 4:24 to Ecc. 3:21; 12:7; etc.

The image of God may involve more than this, but it surely includes all this.

Evolution and the image of God

Simple observation shows that man is far different from the animals we are said to have evolved from.

Only man has rational intelligence. What animal uses abstract symbols (letters and numbers) to speak, write, or do mathematical and scientific calculations? What animal invents new tools and machines, trains animals, uses fire, or records wisdom to pass on to future generations? Among animals there are many shades of intelligence. If man evolved from animals, why are there not animals with shades of intelligence right up to ours, instead of so vast a gulf?

Only man creates new beauty to appreciate in the form of music, art, poetry, humor, etc.

Only man has a conscience and sense of religious values. What animal by nature feels a sense of guilt or seeks to find and worship the cause of its existence?

If man evolved from animals, how do we explain these vast differences? If we develop new characteristics according to "survival of the fittest," how does appreciation of art, etc., make us more fit to survive? But all these differences are easily explained by the Bible. These are characteristics man shares in common, not with the animals, but with God in whose image we were made.

For further study I encourage the reader to go to https://www.gospelway.com/instruct/ and  study our online articles about creation and evolution.


(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 10/2006

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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.

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