Re: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: Robert Schneider <>
Date: Mon Mar 19 2007 - 13:09:42 EDT

Let me reproduce here part of my essay, "Human Evolution and the Image of
God," accessible at

"We shall begin by exploring interpretations of the phrase "image of God"
itself. Historically, Christian theology has provided a number of
interpretations: the "image" refers to the divine gifts of love and
compassion, or intellectual and moral reasoning and imagination, or
creativity, or free choice. In this essay, however, I shall focus on the
formative biblical texts that have provided the foundation for subsequent
theological reflection. Most Protestant and Roman Catholic thinkers agree
on their meaning.

 In Genesis, the "image of God" is connected with two fundamental notions,
relationship and stewardship. The first refers to the relationship or
communion between man and woman (and by extension within the whole human
family) and the relationship between humanity and God.

To display the divine image is to be in the kind of loving and harmonious
relationship depicted in the chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis between God, the
man and the woman, and between God and the whole creation.

Stewardship extends the notion of relationship for human beings to the rest
of creation: humans are given dominion and entrusted to care for, that is,
to serve (Gen. 2:15), the earth. Human beings are to image God by treating
each other and the rest of creation in the way God intends the creation to
be treated-with love and care (Miller, 1993; Finlay 20-21; Communion and
Stewardship, I, chap. 1.7-10). As Malcolm Jeeves states: "the meaning of
'the image of God' is thus to be found in the human vocation, given and
enabled by God to relate to God as God's partner in covenant, to join in
companionship with the human family, and in relationship to the whole cosmos
in ways that reflect the covenant love of God" (14, 26). Love and
compassion, the very traits that can be said to be literally true of God,
are the very traits that humanity is to mirror in its relationship to the
creation. (I shall explore the implications of this teaching for
Christians' obligation to care for the earth in a later essay.)

The New Testament extends the notion of imago Dei in its declarations that
Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb.
1:3). In the saving work of Christ, humanity is offered the gift of grace
that enables the believer to work into the image of Christ through the power
of the Holy Spirit: to be "conformed to Christ," as St. Paul put it (Rom.
8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18). The divine image given in creation and disfigured
through sin can be realized to its fullest by living into the image of
Christ, for Christ became human in order to display in its wholeness the
image of God, and restore it to all of humanity. Through Christ Jesus, in
whom the fullness of God dwells, the believer may finally realize the
fullness of communion with God, with one another in the Body of Christ, and
with all of creation (Communion and Stewardship, I, chap. 1.11-12).

If this is the biblical understanding of what it means to be created in "the
image of God," then does it require a separate creation for human beings,
that is, for H. sapiens, to be made in this image? Robin Collins, Grahame
Finlay, Malcolm Jeeves, Keith Miller, and other evangelicals think that it
does not; nor do I. As Finlay wrote, "That God created human beings (Gen.
1:27; Ps. 100:3) does not imply instantaneous action. God's creation of
humanity encompasses past primate history, the present, and whatever is to
come. The sweep of human evolution illustrates how God's work of creation
is a continuing relationship of dependence between the world and God, a
continuing act of God's will, an eternal covenant relationship" (Finlay
16-17). And accepting the notion of an evolving human species can still
leave a place for the figure of Adam as a historical reference, as Robin
Collins argues. He suggests that "Adam" can be seen as representing in a
symbolic way the "father" of the "first group of evolving hominids who
gained moral and spiritual awareness" (Collins 486; without, I would
suggest, insisting that one locate this awareness in a specific population,
time and place).

Genesis itself implies that humanity and all the other living beings are
made of the same stuff and given the same breath of life (Gen. 2:7, 9, 19,
cf. Eccl. 3:19-21; Miller 1993), and modern science has shown that we share
the same DNA and other molecules with virtually all living things (Finlay).

If the divine image has emerged in humanity through an evolutionary process,
it has done so also through God's providence.

It does not denigrate either God or humanity to hold that God's creative
evolutionary processes brought humanity to a point where it would be capable
of expressing those qualities that both Scripture and theology have
associated with the "image of God."

Bob Schneider

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Hamilton" <>
To: "Glenn Morton" <>; <>
Sent: Monday, March 19, 2007 11:37 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

> Glenn wrote
> Bill, aren't you the one who agreed that if the IOG does nothing, it isn't
> worth much? The word translated Image, means literally image, or likeness
> or resemblance. OK, we know God has reason. Isaiah 1:18, Come let us
> reason
> together. So, if we are like God and God can reason, then reason is part
> of
> the image/resemblance/likeness.
> Yes, but that's not the issue. It may have done nothing _detectible_ in
> the archaeological record.
> Bill Hamilton
> William E. Hamilton, Jr., Ph.D.
> 248.652.4148 (home) 248.821.8156 (mobile)
> "...If God is for us, who is against us?" Rom 8:31
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Received on Mon Mar 19 13:09:58 2007

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