Has anyone ever considered whether God might have created monkeys in the image of God, such that they would evolve into humans in the image of God? I know it sounds ridiculous.
How about humans created God’s image in their own image? Before God created light, why had God needed eyes? Before God created the medium of sound, why had God needed ears? Before God created chemicals, why had God needed a nose or tongue? There’s only one God. Why does God look like a man with a beard when He has no females to attract?
(There’s a difference between God and God’s image.)
In truth Old Testament Judaism and early Christianity had a proper view of the Image of God and that He was beyond what we can imagine. It was around the Middle Ages that the infamous image of God as a dude with a white beard emerged. God is not bound to what we know of and is beyond what we can know. Though God uses archetypes of human body parts such as “eyes of the Lord” and “the right hand of the Lord” etc… These are only word on plays and are a use of symbols to tell a message in a way people an understand. The Image of God as told in Genesis 1:26 is not a physical image but the attributes of God (i.e. emotions, creativity, power and dominion.)
I don’t think monkeys, but I have thought about Denisovans, Neanderthals, Homo Erectus, and the other human species that used to exist.
It is interesting that you would bring up those scriptures. I do realize that there are the wings of God somewhere in scripture also, and I am not saying that there is anything to this, but two of the characteristics of primates that differentiate them from other mammals are hand coordination and vision. Other mammals have claws. 40% of early primate brains were devoted to vision - very different from other mammals. The hands and eyes of primates led to the further development of the brain as monkey, ape, and homo species learned to use those capabilities and ultimately to make tools.
It could be that God was involved along the path of primate evolution. Although this seems really odd.
How do you usually define what the image of God means? Is it our physical attributes? Mental attributes? More than that?
I personally go more along the lines that it is a divine calling more so related to our purpose - i.e. be his ambassadors representing him. With that being the case, it could be possible that animals have some sort of divine purpose or even relate to him in some way. I.e. while poetic Psalm 104 reads:
The lions roar for prey, seeking their food from God.
In what sense are lions seeking food from God? I don’t really know but perhaps it is in the same sense that Jesus says our heavenly father provides for the birds of the air as well. I wouldn’t read too much in to the lion verse though, we simply don’t know in what sense God relates to animals and they (relate back?) or not.
I have had different definitions of the image of God at different times in my life. I know that theologians have had a large range of definitions of the image of God. Most recently, I thought that the image of God largely referred to the Spirit of God within people. The concept that God created a prosimian in the image of God with the intent that it would evolve into a human in the image of God would not support that viewpoint. Are there any scriptures (in the Bible) that indicate that God has a human form in heaven? When Jesus was on earth, he had a human body.
There are many references to God as if He had a human form, walking in the garden with Adam and Eve for instance, but that is just poetic language. When God inhabited the temple only His Glory was visible. No physical body was present.
All life is a good image of God, but humankind is a very good image of God. And language is the only difference. It has nothing to do with body shape.
It could be that God was involved along the path of all evolution, if it is indeed the means by which he creates.
If you think of the image of God as a vocation, to represent God as his ambassador to the rest of creation, then it isn’t so much a question of physical form and intellectual capacities.
Here is a good article series on the ANE view of :image."
The Bible indicates that Jesus rose again as a human and ascended into heaven as a human and will come again to live with humans. I don’t know of any Scripture that indicates the Incarnation has been undone. So it must have been God’s plan to permanently unite himself with his creation in that way. But there is also no indication that God is bound by a physical form like we are. Any indications that seem to say otherwise just reflect our human conceptualizations that are heavily dependent on our own embodied experience. We try to understand God through analogy with ourselves.
Thanks for the link to Pete Enns’ articles on image of God, which emphasize man’s rulership over nature as the primary meaning of image of God. They seem to agree with the later descriptions in Genesis 1 of man ruling nature. Do you think that this definition would allow for the meaning Genesis 1:27 (the creation of mankind in God’s image), to refer to the creation of the DNA in lower primates that would ultimately lead to the evolution of mankind on earth? Let me just add at this point that one of the two greatest controversies in paleontology is the origin of primates and other placental mammals at the beginning of the Cenozoic Eon.
Also relevant were some of the thoughts on creation care in the blog here a day or two ago: https://biologos.org/blogs/archive/dr-oscar-gonzalez-a-life-of-science-and-faith
I was reflecting on how odd it is to hear literal interpretations of Genesis 1, when from the first verse and 3rd verse, it uses imagery of God hovering, and God speaking, as though God were some finite flying being with vocal chords, language and a medium for sound transmission present if you take the literalist path.
No, because I think any construal of the meaning of Genesis that refers to DNA or evolution is concordism, and is not understanding the passage in light of its meaning to the original audience. I think “image of God” has to be understood in its cultural context, which would have made no reference to DNA or common descent.
I realize that we may have differences in our approach to the interpretation of Genesis, but I think that we have something in common. We both believe that humans are created in the image of God. Given that common ground, we can ask the question, how did God create humans in the image of God?
Yes, that is a good point on how humans ruling over nature can be viewed as creation care rather than ruling. There was a huge debate on this issue on the last century, the meaning of dominion.
I am not sure if the first or third verse has imagery of God hovering, but there is definitely that imagery in the second verse; however, the Jews translate ruah as wind rather than spirit, so this specific verse is not necessarily speaking of God.
As with my response to Christi, we may have a different approach to the interpretation of Genesis 1, but I think we have common ground in a belief that humans are created in the image of God. Thus, we can ask the question, how did God create humans in the image of God?
It is indeed common ground to affirm that humans are created in the image of God. But if you see the image of God as a vocation, then it is more that humans are called by God to fulfill certain functions, it’s not that he did something special to humans in the process of creating them that made them god-like. So I wouldn’t ask “how did God create humans in his image?” I would ask “how can humans image God and fulfill their calling?” How we got where we are in terms of our capacities and biological form is not that relevant to whether or not we choose to live righteously under God’s rule.
I understand what you are saying. I would not argue with anyone about their viewpoint on the image of God since I have had so many different views on it. Thanks for sharing your perspective.
I dont know anything that would make better sense than your idea:
That God was involved in the path of primate evolution!
Do you mean that you think that God might have intervened in the process of evolution of primates? I did read in the book Sapiens that there is no reason that the human brain should have become so large since the brain is a huge energy expense. I just read this in passing and maybe didn’t even read it in context, but I was wondering if you think that God might have intervened in some way to cause characteristics such as the large brain to evolve.