A different approach to the meaning of the image of God

Dave T. writes (July 31):

Not to take anything from the moral seriousness of this discussion, but all it means for humans to be made in the image of God is that our superficial material likeness resembles that of the most high God, i.e. the angelic figure described in Daniel 7:13 and 10:18. Hence the reference to the “the son of man.” He resembles us in appearance because we were made in his image in the first place. As with so many other things, later interpreters came along and transformed the relatively simple concept of humans being made after the likeness of God into the ponderous, vaguely defined concept that is now the imago Dei.

My point is that Patrick H.’s ascription of such things as moral agency to the imago Dei is based on a misunderstanding of what it means for humans to be made in the image of God. Technically, all it means is that our physical appearance resembles that of God himself; therefore, it follows trivially that blacks retain the image of God regardless of their behavior given that such behavior doesn’t change the fact that they share in a common human appearance that putatively resembles God according to Genesis 1.

LA replies:

That is an interesting angle on the subject. Whether it is correct I don’t know. But here is what your idea that man physically resembles God means to me. It is that the human form itself—noble, standing upright, with greatly reduced body hair (and virtually no body hair in the female), with a fully formed face, with forehead rising up vertically above the eyes forming the symmetrical delicate dome of the skull (instead of the brow ridges and no forehead and the much heavier skull of Neanderthals and Homo erectus), with fully articulate, delicate hands, and with the ability to create languages and to speak, in some way corresponds with—is in the image of—God. Meaning that the human form is an image or a microcosm of God’s completeness, from which it follows that man has the potential to know God, follow God, and become a son of God. And therefore the idea of man being made in the image of God refers primarily not to our inner, moral qualities (though it does refer to them too) but to the fact of the human form itself, which all Homo sapiens share.

This corresponds with a profound experience I had 30 years ago which I’ve written about here:

I have a conviction, formed especially during my numerous visits to the “Ancestors” exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History around 1982, that modern Homo sapiens is the end and purpose of biological evolution. The skull of modern Homo is unlike any hominid skull that precedes it, it is a temple of God. All modern humans, including blacks, have that amazing high forehead going straight up from the face and that delicate arched skull that looks like a temple of God. All modern humans are “made in the image and likeness of God,” and so are capable of following God and knowing God. My speculation is that God created the basic form or archetype of man (and perhaps created the basic archetypes of the respective human sub-species as well), and then, once the basic human archetype had manifested physically, it proceeded to show great variation depending on local conditions. And such variation resulted in significant differences in intelligence as in other features.

The nature of God is not contradicted by the fact of human variability and inequality. God does not create an equal world. God is above us. Between us and God there is a ladder, like the ladder in Jacob’s dream, with men and angels ascending and descending it, moving closer to God or farther from God. Blacks are more limited intellectually than other races, and those differences have social and political significance that we cannot ignore, but blacks still share in the basic human archetype as the being who is created in the image and likeness of God.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 04, 2012 03:15 PM | Send

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