In the Image of God?
This hub is going to be a sequel of sorts dealing with a similar subject to my earlier hub, God's Damned Creation. In it I want to discuss what the Bible has to say about how God looks and what this means in the creation versus evolution debate. In particular I want to focus on the perplexing notion that man is made in the “image” of God and propose that in fact God is made in the image of man.
All the Better to Eat You With
According to the book of Genesis God got together with himself and said “Let us make man in our own image”. Never mind the hints of polytheism that occur in this verse the thing I want to focus on is the image of God. You see the Bible often implies that God has some kind of physical form he conforms to on a semi-regular basis. He wrestles quite literally with Jacob, walks and talks with Adam and Eve in the Garden and appears bathed in glory and seated on a throne in Heaven. Far from symbolic many instances seem to be literally describing the physical characteristics of God.
To many modern Christians the idea of God as a man on a cloud is an absurd one made up by opponents of Christianity to skewer it as silly. Yet the Bible DOES suggest that Heaven, or the Heavens, are UP somewhere, as in above us. And God is depicted as having a physical appearance that is much like a human beings appearance. So God made mankind in his image.
This raises interesting questions about God and where his physical appearance comes from. According to most Christian teachings God is the Alpha and Omega, a timeless being and there are none like him. This means that God has no precedents – NO ANCESTORS. So God's physical body would be of his own creation and design and have been chosen by God before he created humanity. So why did God design himself to look similar to a human being AND by extension to look like other animals he created as well? My questions can be summed up in one question as DOES GOD HAVE TEETH?
This may seem like a silly question, even a nit-picky one but if you really think about it it's a perfectly valid question. God is immortal, he has always existed and always will exist, so he has no reason to eat. He doesn't need to eat to survive and won't suffer any ill effects without food so why would he posses teeth or any other part of a functioning digestive system?
Now some will argue that God's body, though he may possess a physical one, does not need to be BIOLOGICALLY FUNCTIONAL, meaning God does not need to have a working active metabolism in the body he designed for himself. Human beings, on the other hand, DO need to eat to survive and so it makes sense that we have teeth but wouldn't make sense for God to have them.
In light of evolution teeth make perfect sense and the fact that so many different kinds of animals possess them makes sense. If we all share common ancestry than we all share some traits, teeth being one that we share with a great deal of other animals. So lions have teeth, tigers have teeth and bears have teeth... but why would God have teeth? And if God doesn't have teeth than that is one thing that bears have in common with us that God doesn't.
You can, in fact, go down an almost endless list of features that human beings possess that it makes no sense for God to have chosen for himself. Everything from chest-hair, to mammary glands, to an appendix, to two arms and two legs. There is no reason why God, before creating humanity, would choose an appearance for himself that resembles a tetrapodal vertebrate placental mammal primate. Unless God planned on trying to fit in with human society on a regular basis, but that is clearly not the case as the Biblical God only appears in “human” form a handful of times in the Bible.
The Iron Chariot Before the Horse
Man made God in his own image. It's hardly a coincidence that most deities are not only anthropocentric but also anthropomorphic. Their appearances and agendas revolve around or mimic those that humanity has for/of itself because we are THEIR creators. Yes, it really is that simple.
Modern Christianity has pushed God farther and farther from the version of him depicted in the Bible because to do anything else would make maintaining their faith all but untenable. After all who can believe such ridiculous nonsense is literally true without honest doubts beginning to damage their faith after a while? The fact is that Biblical Creationists are putting the cart before the horse. God's image was decided by man.
If there is a deity out there somewhere in this vast cosmos the idea that it would be obsessed with humanity, look like humanity and want to regulate every last detail of human behavior is absurd. The idea that it would impose it's will on humanity, whether it created us or not, and utilize an ancient system of government we've outgrown by declaring itself King is equally silly in my opinion.
The Divine Throne
Nowhere is the God of the Bible's manmade origins more apparent than in the constant personifications of him as a King on a celestial throne. Human beings moved past monarchy centuries ago, what few Kings and Queens the Western world retains are mere figureheads, celebrated and watched over but not really gifted with any authority. So why would an all powerful being trying to spread a message of love and mercy be depicted as a giant humanoid on a massive throne being worshiped incessantly?
Again most modern Christians reject this idea as mere symbolism. God isn't REALLY sitting on a throne somewhere ruling over a kingdom, and ideas like the Kingdom of God are just figurative. But then if they are figurative than what meaning do they convey? A sense of God's authority and true power thus setting him up as dictator of all time and space?
Does God have a crown? Like teeth, or nipples, or a pituitary gland a crown is something human beings might possess that a God has no business possessing. Whether God is all powerful or not a crown is merely a symbol, a human symbol of leadership, like a Presidential Seal. Think about it. God has no other Gods, no other Kings or Lords and no rivals other than those he created himself. Depicting God as a King may have helped persuade the superstitious thousands of years ago when Kings were commonplace but in this day and age it makes the Biblical God to be outdated.
The Biblical God, like Zeus, like Thor, is an anachronism, an ancient God constantly pushed out of the way of criticism and critique by increasingly desperate attempts at apologetics (ie Presuppositional Apologetics).
God and Procreation
The God of the Bible is obsessed with sex, procreation, and ritual genital mutilation. So does God have reproductive organs? According to Christians God has a son but he DIDN'T CREATE JESUS because Jesus was supposedly right there with God throughout eternity. So then why is Jesus' considered both God's son AND one third of God himself?
Human beings have reproductive organs and so do many many other animal species and even plants have something equivalent. So if plants can have the reproductive equipment to allow for pollination they now share more in common with us than God does, because God does not have genitals and does not reproduce.
Futurama explains human evolution
The Unbroken Line
Biology makes sense in light of evolution but the fables and myths believed about our origins thousands of years ago have no insights to yield on the subject. Instead of providing explanations Creationism merely raises more questions. It offers no mechanism for God's creation save supernatural power, which itself defies any attempts at explanation and leaves behind no evidence.
Evolution functions without the supernatural, all it takes is an unbroken line of reproduction. Each new generation is a variation on the last generation and these slight differences add up over countless generations to create organisms that are both vastly different and yet share many of the same characteristics. What all we lifeforms have in common though is that none of us are one of a kind, we all come from somewhere and so we all share some traits.
Can a God that has no origin, no ancestors, no siblings, no method of reproduction even exist? Can such a thing even count as being ALIVE if it always existed and can never be destroyed? Many Christians claim that without eternal life, without eternal purpose, there can be no true meaning. But I posit that the opposite is true. Strip away birth, strip away any means of procreation, strip away a functioning biological system, and you are left with something that is either inanimate or doesn't exist at all.
Children of God
Some Christians might argue that God did reproduce, when he created human beings. That is why they call us the children of God after all, because we are all descended from God himself. But if God's creation of Adam is an act of reproduction than how close are we humans from possessing the same “DNA” as God does? We now know that human beings share well over 90% of our DNA with Chimpanzees, we also look and behave a lot like other primates. If the creationists are right than Chimpanzees also must share in the heritage of God and be made in his image, albeit a slightly blurrier version than our own.
The Bible offers no explanation for why human beings share so many similarities with our animal cousins, especially the other primates. Evolution on the other hand can show us our own journey, the endless chain of lifeforms back to the very basic chemical reactions that sparked it all.
Like with evolution I would argue that gods have ancestors too, for there is an almost endless chain of deities that man has believed in throughout time. In these modern times these ancient gods and the anachronistic beliefs regarding them simply do not fit. And so the Christian God has moved from the sky, where an ancient tower built by mere men might have breached into Heaven itself, to a more nebulous place. He's gone from a King upon a throne, wrestling with Jacob, personally burying Moses in secret, to a transdimensional spirit-being on another plane of existence. Where once he caused the Earth to quake and storms to split the sky now he is relegated to mysteries left unsolved, pushed back to the brink of the Universe as a mere first cause.
The God myth simply doesn't have many teeth anymore. This is why it is taught to children who have not yet developed the ability to discern between fact and fiction and reinforced to them by authority figures like family and friends. This is why emotional manipulation, such as targeting the imprisoned, the sick, the poor and the addicted have worked so well for Christianity where logic, reason and evidence have failed to come through. Apologists will do their best, with twisted logic and endless excuses, to defend and deflect any attack, no matter how valid, on their faith. They will coddle God and hide him beneath their skirts, for all of antiquity's God's are merely the Children of Men.