Imago Dei Theology

A Theological perspective of evolution's attack on the Imago Dei

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)

This text, in my opinion, is being undermined by the evolutionist and the theistic evolutionist. I will construct an argument showing why the evolution of humans (note, the evolution of HUMANS) does, in fact, compromise the integrity of Sola Scriptura, Inerrancy and God's plan for humanity. 

From the text above we see that God, Elohim, set to create man in the "imago dei" or in the image of the Trinity. The next part of the verse tells us that they will rule over all the living animals and creatures on the earth. Therefore, right off the bat, we have that humans are set apart from the rest of the living creatures on earth. 

In Hebrew, you have the verb "to create" - ba-ra; the verb בָּרָא (bara’) always describes the divine activity of fashioning something new, fresh, and perfect. It’s used of man and the beginning of all creation. Unlike the other uses of “creation” that we’ve seen in the other article: A Literal Reading of Genesis 1 & 2: An Analytical Hebrew Commentary on Creation.

Now, we must take a brief look at Common Descent as to find out why this does not make logical sense to the text above while we analyze it. Common descent is a term within evolutionary biology which refers to the common ancestry of a particular group of organisms. The process of common decent involves the formation of new species from an ancestral population. When a recent common ancestor is shared between two organisms, they are said to be closely related. In contrast, common descent can also be traced back to a universal common ancestor of all living organisms using molecular genetic methods. Such evolution from a universal common ancestor is thought to have involved several speciation events as a result of natural selection and other processes, such as geographical separation. (1)

Therefore, Theistic Evolutionist must say - to be logically transparent to their end - that they hold to the idea that God created a prior being in which would evolve later into humans. Rather, God indirectly created humans in His image. We see that this is more incompatible with Scripture than compatible. The Hebrews have a word for "evolve or develop" - לְפַתֵחַ - which is not used in any regard to the creation of mankind. 

Guided "chance" (in the sense that it is not rolling dice) is still not an adequate way of interpreting the text of Genesis which is abundantly clear. There is zero route to take in the text that shows God guided a process to create human beings. Rather, He created Adam and sometime later created Eve from Adam. It never mentions a predecessor being that allowed [Guided or Unguided] Adam and Eve to evolve. 

If we are in fact created in God's Image that allows us to make sense of why there are no other species on earth like Humans who have the capacity for things that other creatures do not [ ie, type this article ]. It allows us to connect the dots and gives an explanation a to why there is consciousness rather than not. There is no evolutionary process by which you can obtain an immaterial, abstract "substance" [non-physical, apparent].

The idea, that some - not all, put forward the theory that Imago Dei does not just relate to the human species but rather all of creation is not only the opposite conclusion the text draws but faults the science. Animal behavior, like the mating dances of birds, the signaling of bees and ants, the family structures of lions, are all examples of behaviors that do not change without a change in genotype. There are exceptions to this rule, and they are all the result of human intervention. 

The human being an exception to the primacy of genetics on behavior. The behavioral phenotype of human societies has been ever-changing, and while the direction of that change has been constant, the rate of change has been increasing in an exponential manner. At the same time, there have been very few changes in genotype to account for these phenotypic modifications. Humans have also brought about behavioral phenotype changes in domesticated species like dogs and cattle, through training, genetic selection, and breeding, and in some wild animals by environmental alterations.

Humans live differently, mainly because of cognitive cultural differences, then humans did 100 years ago or even 10 years ago. As far as the data shows, chimpanzees have lived the same way for as long as they've been observed. In fact, Richard Dawkins, who surprisingly is still a voice in this field states: “As Darwin recognized, we humans are the first and only species able to escape the brutal force that created us, natural selection…. We alone on earth have evolved to the point where we can…overthrow the tyranny of natural selection.”  Agreeing that humans have gone beyond the laws that govern other creatures. 

Some have tried to speculate, like Reverend Austriaco, to state that 100,000 years ago humans regained the ability to use language (after the fall caused humans to lose the ability to use language). The issue with this is basic theology and archaeology. To be fair, he does admit that is' a highly speculative model. 

Augustine recognized the fact that rational thought, cognitive ability, and other faculties were accessible to humans alone: (354-430 A.D.) wrote, “Man's excellence consists in the fact that God made him to His own image by giving him an intellectual soul, which raises him above the beasts of the field.”

Even further, 

Kevin Laland, Professor of Behavioral and Evolutionary Biology at the University of St Andrews, writes,

A hundred years of intensive research has established beyond reasonable doubt what most human beings have intuited all along; the gap is real. In a number of key dimensions, particularly the social realm, human cognition vastly outstrips that of even the cleverest nonhuman primates.

It should be noted that the fall, entropy, is making everything worse. The likes of humans are decaying, not progressing as it would seem. In Scripture we see God put an end to long life on earth, the fall effects man's ability to come to God, the fall affected the innermost parts, the abstract parts of humanity and even the physical world. This gives way to Paul's explicit teaching on regeneration, sanctification and the Christian life [this eradicates the previous view mentioned above, as humanity could not have learned, unlearned and relearned a complexity of languages]. 

Next, I want to encounter the moral aspect of Imago Dei which gives the humans the capacity to be moral human beings. In the Garden, we know that the knowledge of good and evil came into the world through the seed of Adam because of his headship. In fact, the fallen angel used language like "did God really say?" - which I find really interesting to point in the light of some of the Theistic Evolutionist views as they almost question the same thing when approached with Creation.

The fall occurs (which is a large theology, with infinite implications) and we see the first murder happen later on in the chapters. This moral compass that pertains to humans alone is something that needs to be taken seriously. We are the only species on earth that, contra Dawkins, does not dance to the DNA of evolutionary morality. God gave us a handbook of morality - the Bible - by which He spells out for humanity the laws to live by. 

We are the ONLY species that is able to have the capacity for a transcendent being, religious activity, abstract thoughts and so forth. These all play into morality. If you go to Haiti, which I have been blessed to visit, you'll see a slightly different set of guidelines there for various things in their culture. However, you do not need to go far to notice that it is happening within our own backyard. The fight for and against abortion is, in fact, a human-species specific debate. The ability to reason between the biological significance of a fetus, the morality of stopping the blood flow to a fetus, and so on. 

These are human capacities by which are exclusive to us. This is all to show that humans ability to reason with morality is not evolutionary but dates back to the very first humans in the garden. It is an Imago Dei byproduct.

God has given, humans, the ability to reason theologically, interpret language, consider abstract objects, signify beauty and so much more. These things are not part of the evolutionary process and cannot be explained by it. They are traits of Imago Dei and require the design of God.

I fear that I have dragged on in many areas but that is okay as this topic needs to be thoroughly thought out. There are significant issues with evolution scientifically, theologically and philosophically that must be addressed. Starting with the Imago Dei, that we are image bearers of God in the very faculties of our existence. 

These are things, as Jordan Peterson would say, I'm processing through in real-time. My aim is not to state the evolution as a whole should be taken out of the equation, as I fully believe that it does exist in a capacity, but that when it comes to humans - they did not evolve, they were divinely created as were the heavenly beings. 

[It is important to note that earth is very much a reflection of heaven when it comes to the beings that occupy the space. For more on this,See G.K. Beale; The Use of Daniel in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature and in the Revelation of St. John.” Also, Beale goes into greater detail on that topic in “The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God.”

As I previously mentioned, since the fall everything is aiming toward chaos, everything in this world is decaying, deluded and falling into entropy. However, notice what the WORD of God says about our moral aspect once we are saved: 

Colossians 3:9-10:
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.

[Exegetical Notes: We have already seen that God made man in his own image; and we have seen in what that image consisted. See the notes on  Genesis 1:26, and on  Ephesians 4:23; Ephesians 4:24. Does not the apostle refer here to the case of an artist, who wishes to make a perfect resemblance of some exquisite form or person? God, in this case, is the artist, man is the copy, and God himself the original from which this copy is to be taken. Thus, then, man is made by his Creator, not according to the image or likeness of any other being, but according to his own; the image του Κτισαντος, of the Creator. And as the Divine nature cannot exist in forms or fashions, moral qualities alone are those which must be produced. Hence the apostle, interpreting the words of Moses, says that the image in which man was made, and in which he must be remade, ανακαινουμενον, made anew, consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness.]

The Bible is vividly clear that we were originally created in God's image and have the byproducts of that process, as I mentioned prior. We, in a fallen world, were given a savior, a savior that could redeem the Imago Dei to its original glory. That man, that savior, is Jesus Christ. He has now allowed humanity to reconcile and redeem their Imago Dei and one day, return to the Garden. 

Subjecting Imago Dei to the neo-Darwinian evolution model puts into question not only the
Bible and the human race but also the Gospel, itself.