From Genesis 1:
26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
There has been much speculation as to what qualities of God has He duplicated in us that important enough for Him to have seen fit to comment here in scripture that He made us in His image. And speculation it is. We are given no real clues for a defensible answer and yet there is no shortage of opinions.
For example, one can consider that God is one God in three persons: The Father Who is the visionary, the Son Who is the visible manifestation, and the Spirit Who is the motivator. Well, one may notice, man can be broken similarly into three parts: the spirit of a man is receptive to God and other spiritual forces that motivate us, the mind of a man is rational and can develop and implement plans and visions, the body of a man is the part of the man we see and can detect. This seems like a likely candidate as to how we are like God. However, a trichotomic view of man has a modified hierarchy than the Trinitarian formula we can derive from scripture. Most importantly, this view of man in the image of God is completely absent in this passage and is therefore exegetically completely unsupported. And it’s a stretch to consider that God referring to Himself in the plural is some indication that this is what the passage means.
Here are some other examples:
Man is like God in that we are intelligent.
Man is like God in that we have volition.
No, these aren’t supported here either.
God does talk about creating and then he goes on to mention that He created us “male and female” after which He issued the edict to be fruitful and multiply. Perhaps procreation is how we are like God. Of course we give that up when we leave this world for the next. In that case we would no longer be in the image of God. That doesn’t seem likely.
Oh! How about this one: God gave us dominion. He has ultimate authority and gave us a little authority. That’s in the passage. We are also told that we will reign with Him in the next world. The hermeneutical link is a little weak, because it would also seem to hold true for the “male and female” phrase. Unless we are prepared to say that God is male and female, we may want to consider that the weak link just isn’t strong enough.
As an aside, all that I have mentioned thus far are contingent to scale. We appear to possess no qualities in the same magnitude as similar qualities of God, and that includes our volition.
Here is another concept that just occurred to me as I type. This actually seems the most likely and would not be mutually exclusive from other direct comparisons between God and man. God creating man knew that He would be incarnate in the Son of Man. Therefore, His plan was for mankind in a sinless state to be an accurate representation of God.
Now, it has been debated whether God would have become incarnate if man had not fallen. It has also been debated whether the possibility even ever existed for man not to fall. In order for you to follow my answer to this as well as understand the speculation I have regarding another way we may be mad ein the image of God, you have to read and understand two key concepts I have elaborated on before. The first is the logical disparity between eternity and temporality. That is to say that the univalence of God devolves into paradox when viewed through the bivalent lens of our temporal reason. The other is the multiplicity of our motivations. That is to say that we have many sets of competing inclinations fed by a variety of physical and spiritual drives within a cognitive context shaped by our senses and perceptions.
The way that univalence devolves into paradox is through multipicitous iterations of the core substantive univalent truth creating a bivalent dimension to exist between iterations. In other words, once the truth is manifest multiple times, each iteration has it's separate identity which defines a bivalent system. It's a simple concept that has no simple way to say it. We are in the image of God in this way that we have the capacity to take a single basic presupposition and apply it to different contexts to derive conflicting inclinations. The reason is that basic presuppositions tend to be absolute and context tends to be temporal. The process is essentially the same for one thing: God needs no context.
So what about the incarnation? The way for a univalently absolute God to create temporal bivalence is to become incarnate in this creation. Therefore, I argue that God's creative intent involved the incarnation and the pattern of man was created to provide a suitable vessel for the incarnation. Inasmuch as God creates bivalence from univalence, He would create bivalent man with the capacity to harbor a univalent presupposition and derive apparently conflicting inclinations.
When doing philosophy from a Christian worldview, it’s important to recognize how one’s philosophy comports with scripture. That said, understand that my musing here doesn’t have any more scriptural basis than any of the other speculations on how we are made in the image of God. However, I believe I haven’t contradicted any scripture. Nevertheless, I prevail upon any who read this to check whether my thinking comports with scripture. Please let me know if you find otherwise.
Labels: Christian, Christian Philosophy, incarnation