What I’m wondering is if a bipedal chimp cousin was the intended target all along. Or maybe being made in God’s image has only to do with the development of reason, self-awareness, free will and so on? If God himself is thought of as formless, what would He care what we looked like? Perhaps a raptor or dolphin body would do as well so long as the mind had the right components.
I don’t think so. But we can never know what God wants unless he reveals it to us.
But I think it’s the mental attributes that mean the most!
God was looking for an intelligent, moral being worthy of a soul.
Looks like that may be the consensus? Makes sense to me.
If it is possible for reason and the other mental capacities to arise through natural selection, is there anything more that a self-aware, intelligent agent needs to receive from God? Is the soul something that naturally accrues to sentient beings or is that something extra, apart from either body or mind?
I don’t know exactly what a soul is, or how it came to be, but I believe all people have one. And we are all made in the image of God. Can’t say for sure what evolved. But if anything evolves that wouldn’t make it suspect. The ability to think mathematically evolved, but nobody thinks mathematics is therefore invalid.
I can’t tell you how refreshing it is for me to hear you say that. Guess I’m not the only one who doesn’t know everything. I’ve had far more discourse with theists who will confidently answer every question and then crow about how the bible erases all doubt. I prefer theists who will humbly accept the same epistemic restraints I do.
Those are some good points, and I think much conversation (including right here on the forums) indicates that many do not feel 100% sure about what it means to be made in the image of God. There are places in the Bible where God is spoken of in a personified manner, with references to him having arms, hands, eyes, etc. but I’ve generally understood those to be more metaphorical than physical (since we’re also told that God is spirit, invisible, etc.) – but it makes me wonder, were those phrases simply used to help us humans understand God on our own visual terms, or does God actually have some characteristics that somehow translated into the physical bodies we have ended up with? I wish I knew!
Thanks. It is only fundamentalists who know everything.
Very good point. Watching people lose their selves to dementia and substance abuse makes me wonder what the “self” and “soul” could be, since so much depends on chemicals and actual brain material. I honestly don’t know.
Humans have a unique suite of abilities, especially intelligence and the anatomy (e.g. hands with opposable thumbs) to apply that intelligence towards technology.
According to “Fermi’s Paradox”, that ability to become an intelligent & technological civilization is apparently unique on earth, and unique to earth as far across the cosmos as our current telescopes can observe.
Our uniqueness is consistent with some sort of “God-guided evolution”, of earth from its formation (Gen 1:1) through to the gradual progressive evolutionary creation of humankind upon this planet. Scripture suggests that God has been supra-naturally intervening into the unfolding of events on earth from the very beginning of our world.
If so, then God has created humankind, according to some sort of unique design, by cultivating the course of evolutionary development of earth and earth life, according to Divine Plan, over a very long span of time.
Smart dinosaurs, smart dolphins and smart birds all had / have intelligence and perhaps some capacity for culture & technology, but only humans have the ability to “master earth nature” on behalf of God in heaven.
All observations, near & far, are consistent with Scriptural claims that humans have been uniquely crafted as instruments of Divine Will capable of advanced intelligent technological civilization… whereas all around, no similar such civilizations have emerged. As if the probability of the emergence of civilization Is zero, without God intervening & assisting, guiding the evolution of the planet and its inhabitants in a helpful manner.
I offer that “being created in God’s image” essentially refers to the capacity for advanced intelligent technological civilization.
To answer the OP, yes – to cultivate the emergence of mankind required prior forms, from ancient ape ancestors to archaic primates to primordial tree-dwelling mammals… to mammal-like reptiles… to amphibians… to fish… to the earliest animals… to unicellular organisms… and on and on backwards through the unbroken chain of life on earth, leading gradually but inexorably towards humankind, all the while according to Divine Plan brought about by continual Divine Interventions into the unfolding of events on earth.
Of course from the stand point of science all the earlier forms of animals and their many body plans also lead gradually and inexorably toward every other living creature on earth. None have stood still and unchanged over all this time.
But as a human being it is easy to feel fortunate with our physical and cognitive endowments. Some of our non-human cousins may have more acute senses or possess some other capacity which exceeds our own but we do collectively have the wits to overcome most and to shape the earth to our needs, though the jury is still out on whether we or microbial life forms will out survive the other and of course we are too often our own worst enemy.
quick sketch outline of an idea…
Fermi’s Paradox says that, very surprisingly, there’s no evidence for intelligent technological civilizations like ours anywhere
Jared Diamond’s “Guns Germs & Steel” (perhaps embellished by my own thoughts) says that, equally surprisingly, to get civilization here on earth required a long string of coincidences –
intelligent organism of the right size with dexterous manipulative appendages adapted to tool construction & use
right world with right mix of land & sea, right climate, right distance from its star
right mix of flora (e.g. grains) and fauna (bison, sheep, goats, boars, chickens) emerging along with humans, all emerging in the same place at the same time as humans
surface deposits of metals
so, on the one hand, life is extremely rare across the cosmos
on the other, the “stars all aligned” on earth to “gift” humans the perfect mix of abilities, anatomy and flora & fauna & minerals for agriculture, industry & civilization
the difference is so stark as to seem to suggest something extra-ordinary is involved, something supra-natural… something consistent with a Godly Being somehow involved in the process
That was such a great book. I think the original question he got from a New Guinea native which got Diamond going on that book had been something like “why do you europeans have so much cargo while we have so little?” I remember he dismissed sloth and lack of intelligence and as you say settled on a number of fortuitous circumstances stemming from geography, resource distribution and the luck of living where large, domesticable herbivores were available. So, as you say, a highly intelligent animal descended from a species that has developed an opposable thumb really did luck out. Of course luck can really be random good fortune or it can be divinely fixed. There is much we’d like to know but may never know for certain.
Of course Diamond dismissed the notion that there was anything exceptional about europeans and asians which made their greater haul of cargo deserved any more than the New Guineans and other southern hemisphere populations deserved their lack of cargo. Just had to have lived in the right latitudes apparently and be in position to benefit from the bounty of the wide eurasian land mass.
But if no creator is necessary to explain why someone in particular has won a lottery, perhaps it isn’t necessary to attribute our ascendence as an organism on this planet to divine will. There was a jackpot to be had in both cases. Of course just because the earth is abundant doesn’t make it inevitable that any organism would emerge with our capacities, leastwise we have too few instances from which to generalize with confidence. Personally I remain unconvinced that our good fortune requires divine providence even though it remains a viable belief for those already disposed to find it.
But long before anybody had “advanced intelligent technological civilization” they still bore the image of God. And people today who live in simpler hunter/gatherer societies also bear the image of God. Besides, we who live in technological civilizations are trashing our own environments. How intelligent is that?
all modern humans are intelligent & have the capacity for sophisticated tool use, culture and civilization.
Some theologians like John Polkinghorne explicitly says no. I personally don’t think that is the case as well, but I don’t know the general opinion on that.
God allowed Moses to see His backside. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+33%3A18-20&version=EXB
This text does not lead me to believe that God is formless.
And the Bible is not wrong about Man being the “apple of God’s eye”. Psalm 17:8; Zechariah 2:8.
Christ did not die for this world. But for man.
He said that we had more value than the sparrows of the field. Matthew 10:31.