In the Image of God He Created Them — Male and Female

Title: In the Image of God He Created Them – Male and Female

Text: Genesis 1:26-27, 2:7, 21-23

Time: March 7th, 2010

So far, 2010 has been a year of exploring origins – the creation of all things by God in the early chapters of the Book of Genesis. I’m still working my way through the first and second chapters of Genesis, dealing with such topics as creation vs. evolution, literal “days” vs. day-ages, fixed vs. mutable species, and the relationship between faith and science. Today I’d like to examine more closely the biblical teaching on men and women created in the image of God. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,” Genesis 1:26-27. The plain sense meaning of the biblical text just mentioned is that men and women are special – set apart from all other creation by God. In contrast to all other life forms, such as plants or all other living organisms including bacteria, fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, birds, mammals – man is specially created by God to bear his very image. What is God’s image? What does it mean for mankind to be made in the image of God? A lot of ink has been used in writing on this complicated subject. Not only entire books, but entire shelves, entire sections of libraries have been devoted to exploring this vast subject, so I won’t presume to answer the question, “What is the image of God created in man?” But I will list a few common sense features that probably capture the essence of what the biblical author – in this case, Moses, who we presume was inspired by God himself – meant to communicate. Certainly, what sets man apart from the rest of God’s creation, what makes man unique in all of the created order, and thus provides us with a clue as to the meaning of “created in the image of God” is his moral and reasoning ability. God, as we learn from the Bible, is an infinite intellectual being and also is an infinite moral being. God is intelligent, he can think and reason, and most important, he is self-conscious or self-aware. In the similar way, although in a lesser way, men and women made in God’s image are intelligent and can also consciously think about themselves, others, God and the world. God also makes moral value judgments, grounded in his own perfection, and can make decisions about what is right and wrong. So also men and women made in his image have the ability to make value judgments about what is right and wrong, but their standard is the character of God. Thus, man made in God’s image has always been seen as special, at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition. But in the mid-19th century Darwin’s theory of evolution challenged this understanding of man’s place in the created order. Darwin raised the possibility that man is just another animal, different in no way other than evolutionary development. Modern science with mapping of the human genome confirms further how similar we are with apes. Does this confirm the theory of evolution? Does this prove that there is nothing special about man? Does this mean that we aren’t created in God’s image after all? Let me take a few minutes to explain what the Bible says on this important subject, because it has a lot to do with how we view each other and ourselves.

First, the Bible clearly teaches that men and women are made in the image of God. Genesis 1: 26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” It is of historical significance that Darwin delayed the publication of his famous book “The Origins of the Species” because he feared the implications of it and the effect it might have on people’s thinking about themselves and God and all of society. I think that’s about right. If we take the theory of evolution to its logical conclusion, we must then believe that man descended from apes who descended from lower forms of life such as mammals, who descended from reptiles and amphibians, who descended from fish, who descended from bacteria. Now if man descended from apes that would mean Adam and Eve had non-human parents, some lower ape-man. It would also mean that Adam was not created directly from God but was born of a mother from a sub-human species. Furthermore, it would mean Eve wasn’t created from Adam by God directly; she too, according to the theory of evolution, would have been born of a mother from a lower sub-human. But this directly contradicts the Bible’s creation account. “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man,’” Genesis 2:21-23. The biblical order of creation is that God made the man, Adam, directly – “The Lord formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being,” Genesis 2:7. Then, God created the woman, Eve, directly, but also somewhat indirectly, by using Adam’s rib. Again, there’s been a lot of discussion as to what it exactly means that God created woman from man rather than merely duplicating the process he used to create Adam, but that’s a discussion for another day. I would say though that the point of order that the Bible outlines – that Eve came from Adam, not Adam coming from Eve – is important because it utterly undermines any attempt to fit evolution into the biblical account. For example, if the Bible said that God made Eve first in his image, then I suppose that it could have also been possible for her to give birth – a virgin birth of sorts, but that’s not hard to imagine because we already have precedent for that in our thinking with Mary giving birth to Jesus – for her to give birth to a man-child and thus begin the human race that way. It creates problems, but that’s the kind of thing that might be possible under evolution. But that’s not the way the Bible describes it. The biblical account is specific. God created Adam and Eve special and unique, different from anything that had been created before. That doesn’t square with evolution.

Second, the theory of evolution teaches that men and women descended from apes. Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Darwin’s theory teaches, and so does the modern neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, that all living things have a common ancestry. I think the news anchorman Walter Cronkite explained it best with this statement, “If you go back far enough, we and the chimps share a common ancestor. My father’s father’s father’s father, going back maybe a half million generations—about five million years—was an ape.” According to evolution there is no sharp distinction between human and non-human because it all blurs into oblivion in vast ancient history. Accordingly, there never would be a time when one creature was that different from the creature it came from – if Adam evolved, he would be similar to his father, who would have been similar to his father, and so on. But the Bible clearly distinguishes a time and a place when God created man and woman. For example, there was a time before when there was nothing created in the image of God, the Imago Dei, and then after God created Adam, there was someone created in the image of God. This is the beginning of human history. We all are descended from Adam and Eve, but according to the Bible, as far as we know, we are not related to the lower animals directly. It’s funny that today scientists who work with decoding the DNA genetic sequence of humans claim that in comparing the DNA of man and chimps that we are 99% similar. From this they conclude that we had a common ancestry. It proves no such thing. It proves similarity in body style, which we don’t need DNA to prove – we can see that for ourselves, because we know that chimps look somewhat similar to us in form – but it doesn’t “prove” common decent. Now there are some Christians, I mentioned before Francis Collins, the scientist who led the Human Genome Project which first mapped out the entire human genetic code, he along with others claim that evolution is completely compatible with Christianity. But in order to make it compatible he and others must interpret the Bible in ways that twist and distort the meaning of passages. What ends up happening is that we really don’t know what is really happening in Genesis if we make it into an allegory or symbolic. The Bible says man was first, and then came the woman second? Is that accurate? Under evolution there would have to be a female first to give birth to a male, but then there would have to be a male before that to impregnate the female, and so on. But that gets us back to the problem we found before. Either humanity begins at an instance, like the Bible portrays it, or it evolves gradually. Evolution undermines the biblical teaching, not only in Genesis and the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament where writers such as the Apostle Paul refer back to the original creation with specific reference to Eve coming from Adam in 1 Corinthians 11:8. So it doesn’t help to claim evolution and Christianity are compatible; it only leads to further confusion.

Third, how does this effect how we view ourselves, other people, God and the world? Evolution has done more to undermine faith generally in God and specifically in the Bible than anything in the last two thousands years since Christianity began. I said before, but I must say again, evolution has become much more than a scientific theory, it’s become a philosophy and even more a religion. Why do I say this? Because it attempts to explain everything, all of reality. It tries to answer all the fundamental questions of life and existence. Richard Dawkins, evolution’s most articulate voice, claims, “Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence. . . . Living organisms had existed on earth, without ever knowing why, for over three thousand million years before the truth finally dawned on one of them. His name was Charles Darwin . . . who first put together a coherent and tenable account of why we exist. . . . We know longer have to resort to superstition when faced with the deep problems: Is there a meaning to life? What are we for? What is man?” Dawkins and others make it clear that they believe evolution basically replaces all religious belief. Among the strongest advocates of evolution we find that’s the case too; they all undermine the Bible and Christianity by pointing out the obvious implications of Darwinism. That’s why I find attempts by Christians such as Francis Collins to support some version of “theistic” evolution futile. What happens is evolution basically becomes nearly everything and Christianity becomes almost nothing. The Bible is forced into such a twisted pretzel that it bears little resemblance to the powerful revelation of God it started out as – if so-called theistic evolution Christians have there way. I’m not saying one can’t be a Christian and believe in evolution, but I am saying that it’s inconsistent and ultimately it’s hurtful – hurtful to individual Christians who adopt it and especially hurtful to the Christian community. In saying that, I wouldn’t exclude anyone from Christian fellowship in a church over the issue of evolution, just as we shouldn’t exclude people who are mixed up or confused about many other things. But I believe it’s harmful for the Christian community nevertheless to hold that theistic evolution – or the belief that man shares a common ancestry with apes – is a legitimate option for Bible-believing Christians. Why? Because it undermines all biblical teachings. The damage isn’t limited to the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis; it affects the whole of the Bible including the New Testament.

The Christian doctrine of Creation by God is just about as fundamental a belief as you can imagine. How does the Apostle’s Creed begin? “I believe in God the Father Almighty, make of heaven and earth.” How does the first verse of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible begin? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” You can’t take the doctrine of Creation away and act as if nothing is wrong. You can’t start playing games with the biblical text, word games with basic theological concepts starting with the very first verse of the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible without undermining the whole foundation of the Christian faith. Yet, that’s what Christians like Francis Collins who are theistic evolutionists do. Now we can debate minor points of interpretation, for example, whether the context of the Genesis account demands that the 6 days of creation mean 6 literal, 24-hour days or whether they mean something else, some undetermined length of time, such as we might use the phrase, “In the day of the dinosaur,” for example, not meaning a specific day but rather an age or period. These kinds of debates are totally acceptable and need to take place. We can also debate such issues as whether the biblical chronologies are meant to list every person in the lineage or only the important persons in the line, and thus, whether or not the Bible gives us any basis for establishing how old man has been on the earth. Again, that’s a legitimate debate.  But as to whether Adam and Eve are historical personages, or whether there was actually an historical Fall into sin, these two issues can’t be open for debate or what is left of the Christian faith? Evolution, the Darwinian theory, calls into question these two things, so why Christians would affirm Darwin’s theory and at the same time claim to represent biblical Christianity I can’t understand. I’m not saying that there could not possibly be a way to reconcile the two systems – Christianity and Darwinism – I just haven’t heard of any such reconciliation and I’ve been trying to keep up on the topic for over 30 years; I don’t suspect I ever will. What I’m advocating is for Christians to be skeptical of evolution, especially in light of so many inconsistencies with the theory. For example, the fossil record far from confirming it scientifically actually points away from it. I could quote experts who state the same. There’s no reason for Christians to jump on the bandwagon of evolution. It’s still just a theory, there are still scientific problems, it’s not a scientifically proven fact – despite what you might hear people say or what the media claims. I’m a Christian believer and a skeptic of evolution. I’m comfortable with that position.

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One Response to “In the Image of God He Created Them — Male and Female”

  1. Robert Grubh Says:

    Excellent. Thank you.

    It is the prevailing scientific superstition and the urge to drift with the current that makes a large numbr of modern day people imagine that they are the progeny of monkey-like creatures.

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