I explain my reasons in the following points, where to facilitate reading I past answers already posted in different threads:
There is a moment in history when God creates a primeval community of Image Bearers, and one of them as the first one. God prepared the Creation of these primeval Image Bearers by producing a life form whose body was anatomically sharply distinct from that of all other extant life forms; this He did by guiding evolution through “natural deletion” of intermediate varieties. God then transformed some representatives of this life form into creatures in His Image. This moment, referred to in Genesis 1:27, 2:26, and 5:1-2, marks the beginning of Humanity both as community called to behave according moral rules and law and as well-defined biological species. The first human Image Bearer is called Adam (Genesis 5:3) and also “son of God” because he has no Image Bearers as parents (Luke 3:38, Genesis 5:1-3).
Image Bearers multiplied through marriage (according to Genesis 1: 28), but also through creation directly by God like in case of Adam, that is, without intervention of other Image Bearers as parents (as referred to in Genesis 6:2-4). This way the population of Image Bearers increased to reach a number of hundreds of thousand people in Sumer the days before the Flood.
Nonetheless spread all over the world outside Mesopotamia there was a large number of creatures sharing a body like humans who were not yet Image Bearers, that is, they were incapable to freely love God and thus incapable to reject Him and sin, and consequently remained unaffected by the Flood.
I postulate that all creatures exhibiting a human body today are Image Bearers.
So the crucial question is:
At what time T in history all creatures referred to in the precedent point 3 were transformed by God into Image Bearers?
My answer to this question is:
Just at the end of the Flood.
Indeed Genesis 9:3-7 reads:
3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. _
5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind._
7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
As Gordon Wenham following Claus Westermann [Word Biblical Commentary I, Genesis 1-15, Word books: Dallas, 1987] claims, Genesis 9:3-7 explain “why human life is specially protected, but animal life is not”, and proclaim “the inviolability of human life” that follows from “the unique right of God over life and death”: “Every single violation of this limit, be it based on national, racial or ideological grounds is here condemned” [p. 251]. Indeed the remark in Genesis 9:3 concerning food indicates a degree of distinction between humanity and the animal kingdom that was lacking in the vegetarian diet of Genesis 1:29 [p. 263-264]; and in Genesis 9:5-7 appears for the first time the prohibition of killing any creature belonging to humanity because mankind is made in the image of God.
One may wonder why this distinction and this prohibition were omitted in Genesis 1:26-29, as the “image of God” is mentioned for the first time. And even more astonishing is that the prohibition was omitted in Genesis 4:15, where to protect Cain God does not proclaim that he shares human blood and belongs to mankind but “put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.” A reasonable explanation for such an “omission” in divinely inspired Scripture is that a sharp distinction between human and animal life would not fit with the ontological status of pre-diluvian Creation; such a distinction is appropriate only once all human-like animals on the earth were transformed into Image Bearers. Since this allegedly happened after the Flood, only then (Genesis 9:5-7) God categorically proclaims that the right to life, foundation of the personal rights, is defined by the belonging to humanity. Thereby God proclaims that the status of Image Bearer established in the past applies now to all creatures exhibiting an anatomical human body.
This explanation fits with John Walton’s view of the Genesis Flood as Recreation narrative. And we meet also to some extent the interpretation of Hendel, R. S.: The Flood narrative with its introductory pericope of the “sons of God” ends ordering “the human cosmos” [Of Demigods and the Deluge: Toward an Interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 106, No. 1 (1987), pp. 13-26, and References therein]. The “Recreation” consists mainly in the transformation of all human-like creatures into Image Bearers, and the “Ordering” happens mainly by means of an explicit formulation of the foundation of rights and law.
This number is a guestimate on the basis of the data reported in , , , and References therein. They are based on methods used in Urban Population Estimation as described in . As far as I know these data are not confirmed by genetic studies so far. If someone knows such studies I will be thankful for references.
According to my explanation the first Image Bearers were created by God about 3500 BC, at the time writing appears. On the basis of genealogy accounts (10 generations from Adam to Noah, according to Genesis 5) and history of the first city-states in Mesopotamia the Flood could have happened ca 3200-3000 BC, that is, 300-500 years after the creation of the first Image Bearers.
Same References as before, in particular .
As said, these 14 million became Image Bearers only at the end of the Flood, when God solemnly proclaims the prohibition of Homicide.
The Flood was global in the sense that all Image Bearers existing at the beginning of the Flood were affected by the event, and all except eight perished. After the Flood the earth was repopulated by Noah’s family together with the descendants of new “sons of God” all over the earth.
Here you seem to overlook that we cannot establish a sharp beginning of taxa by biological means. In particular: “It is biologically impossible to establish when the species Homo sapiens begins with anything other than arbitrary criteria.” (see Essay). This means that the only coherent way for defining when Humanity begins is invoking God’s act to make creatures in His Image.
In order an Image Bearer can observably and sharply ascertain other Image Bearers God guided evolution to produce a big gap between creatures exhibiting the body He destined to become His Image and thereby Humanity, and all other living forms. This happened through elimination of intermediate varieties. It is this gap that allows us to define Humanity as a well-defined living form or biological species, and thereafter to apply the concept of species to the other extant living forms. This is why I say that it is more accurate to speak about “the origin of the species by means of natural deletion” instead of “natural selection”.
Accordingly before a creature became Image Bearer it was not capable to freely love God and consequently to freely reject this gift and sin. Selfish evolutionary tendencies (lust, greed, trickery) as such are not sinful although after the first sin they can induce Image Bearers to further sins.
As explained before, the episode of the “sons of God” (Genesis 6:2-4) refers to God transforming ‘non-image bearers’ into Image Bearers the same way as He made the first humans in His Image. Before the Flood the communities of ‘non-image-bearers’ and Image Bearers were separated from each other, and as soon as a ‘non-image-bearer’ met an Image Bearer the former became an Image Bearer as well.
There were NO anatomical changes: The transformation of adult human-like animals into Image-Bearers is a purely spiritual transformation and happens without any observable genetic or anatomical change. The signs of such a transformation are rather achievements of Humanity demonstrating sense of law and accountability as we found at the dawn of civilizations. This is the reason why I set the creation of the first Image Bearers at the time when writing appears.
Similarly the emergence of a human being in God’s image at the moment of fertilization or equivalent process does not involve any physical change other than the usual growth through cell cleavage and metabolism.
An important point in this respect is that Humanity as community of Image-Bearers is called to live according to moral rules and law, mainly the “Golden Rule”. And at the moment of implement this rule and assign rights the “observable Golden Basis” is the specific human body, the sign for belonging to Humanity. A human individual shares the status of a person, and personhood is inseparably united to Humanity. This principle means that the fundamental rights of a person cannot be established by belonging to a subgroup of humankind, be it by race, religion, stage of development, nation, or political class. Neither can one reduce the rights of humankind to the rights of the present-day generation. [see M&M, 16-1 (2013) 85]
I thank you so much for these thoughtful questions, which allow me to better formulate things. I will be pleased receiving further comments like these!