Made in the Image of God and Evolution

I was on Reddit this morning, and I came across a post in which someone repudiated the concept of common descent by saying:

We were created in the image of God, not in the image of apes… [evolution] weakens the faith.

CMI implies something similar here:

Although man was formed from the dust of the ground, God personally ‘breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’ (Genesis 2:7). Man’s life is thus not the result of spontaneous reorganization of molecules within his body, nor is it derived by evolution from any animal or ‘lower hominid’ (as theistic evolutionists teach), but is a direct gift from God.

There was a time when I would have said the exact same thing. However, now that I look back on my religious days, this view no longer makes any sense to me. Allow me to elaborate a little bit.

My religious community (reformed, evangelical, YEC) believed man was created from the dust of the earth, yet we would not have for one second said man was created in the image of dust. You can see this reflected in CMI’s opinion above. Furthermore, in Matthew 3:9 John the Baptist tells us that God can raise children of Abraham from stones, yet we would have laughed if we heard someone say these children of Abraham would have been made in the image of stones. To then turn around and say that humans were made in the image of apes if we came from apes seems inconsistent at best. Ironically, that passage in Matthew 3 criticizes the Pharisees and Sadducees for thinking their lineage makes any difference in God’s eyes. That’s pretty damning, in my view. Even CMI’s four properties of the image of God (not a physical likeness, mental likeness, moral likeness, social likeness) don’t actually preclude common descent.

In short, I think rejecting evolution (or specifically common descent) on the basis of man being made in God’s image is a non sequitur, and requires inconsistent an reading of scripture.

Thoughts on this? Does anyone disagree or have a different view? I’d love to hear it.


Total agreement from me. I can only add this:


I think perhaps the discussion would not be complete without considering Luke 3:38:

the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

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Is “made in the image of God” then supposed to mean “in the image of the man Jesus Christ”? and it then was meant literally all along, that Adam and Jesus just looked like similar human males?

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It is … interesting… to investigate how Luke came to his particular genealogy.

In particular, Luke uses the LXX as a source for his genealogy, rather than the Hebrew MT, and is ignorant of Zerubbabel’s ancestry as written in Chronicles -

Luke’s Biblical Sources

It appears that Luke, unlike Matthew, was not familiar with Chronicles. This would explain why he does not know of Zerubbabel’s supposed Solomonic ancestry (which appears only in 1 Chronicles in the Old Testament) and has to create a pedigree of his own. It also explains why he doesn’t know who the sons of Zerubbabel were as listed by the Chronicler.

On the other hand, it is apparent that he used the Greek Septuagint of Genesis (and not the Hebrew Genesis or Chronicles) to construct his genealogy from Adam to Abraham. The surest sign of this is the inclusion of “Cainan” at #65, who is found in the LXX of Genesis 10 and 11 but not the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT):

Luke 3:35–36: …Sala, son of Cainan , son of Arphaxad…

Gen. 10:24 (MT): Arpachshad became the father of Shelah…
Gen. 11:12 (MT): When Arpachshad had lived thirty-five years, he became the father of Shelah.

Gen. 10:24 (LXX): Arphaxad became the father of Cainan
Gen. 11:12 (LXX): Arphaxad lived one hundred thirty-five years and became the father of Cainan .

As many have noted, within the bible there are differing genealogies - because to the ancients, a genealogy was not to record history, but for various other reasons such as to explain relationships between different groups at the author’s time;

For example, there are several genealogies for Manasseh in the bible - and they are quite different.

When compared to the genealogy of Numbers 26, in Joshua 17, Machir is no longer part of the line of the six brothers, but represents a different line, while Gilead is no longer a “person” or clan at all, but merely a toponym. This division of eastern vs. western sons reflects the geographical change that occurs between Numbers 26 and Joshua 17: In Numbers 26, all of Manasseh is in the Transjordan, but in Joshua 17, the Cisjordan has been conquered, and the families are split based on their lands.

The genealogy then, is not a simple attempt to describe the “real” family structure of eponymous ancestors but rather an attempt to make sense of the relationships between clans in the time of a given author and/or within certain literary contexts. This point is particularly important for when we try to understand the very different Manasseh genealogy found in 1 Chronicles 7:14–19.

Knowing that the biblical authors chopped and changed genealogies on whim to explain political relationships as well as numerological and for other purposes rather than pure historical record, does this alter your view of Adam, Eve, evolution and apes?

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Hi, @thoughtful! To avoid going off into the weeds too much and to maintain focus on the Imago Dei, for the sake of this discussion I’ll grant that Humanity was indeed created by God first from dust, and then also from the first man’s rib.

Even given this, I think the point still stands: the status of the image of God is not changed, or dare I say—affected in any way—by the material substrate from which man was created.

Is humanity’s role as image bearers lessened by our beginnings in dust? Had God chosen to raise those stones into children of Abraham, would they be unable to bear the image of God? Would they bear it to a lesser extent? Why or why not?

Edit: grammar, wording


I agree. For a lifetime now I have repeatedly researched the meaning of the Imago Dei (“Image of God”) in scripture and still can’t say I’ve got it all figured out. Yet I do think there is much significance—and a solution to many imagined problems—when man created in the Imago Dei is associated with a boundary stele aka territorial marker.)

In the ancient world it was common for a king to place stone monuments throughout his kingdom in order to declare his sovereignity. It made undeniably clear to everyone the identity of the ruler who was in charge—and the fact that his agents/representatives should be obeyed without question. When one considers that HAADAM (the man, Adam) was given dominion over the ERETZ (the land), as communicated by Genesis 1:26-28 and by the man’s naming of the animals (Genesis 2:20), it is hard to escape that delegation of duty as God’s boundary stele (royal image marker) putting his stamp on the entire territory.

It didn’t matter if that royal image in the ancient Near East was made of stone or wood and/or came in the form of a garrison of troops with the king’s symbol on their shields, that declaration was unambiguous. Likewise, the creation of HAADAM in the Image of God was a clear declaration of YHWH’s rule over his creation.

Thus, the exact means by which HAADAM was created—and from what materials he was formed—becomes largely irrelevant to the Imago Dei concept.

I believe this view best represents the cultural context of the ancient Near East.


Yeah, I don’t think that the image of God is affected by what we’re made from. My point with the genealogy is that Luke considered Adam to be only patterned after or begotten from God. So the image of God and a man without parents coincide.

No, not literally. But the passages about Jesus regarding the first of creation (poorly paraphrased) have intrigued me but I’ve yet to do any in-depth Bible study on them.

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Let me take a Leap and throw everyone into the deep end.
The Idea that there is a Metaphysical spirit, a unction, a life giving force separate from evolution would make the point of evolution moot. meaning the creation of Man was about getting a soul not developing into a human from a Ape or being created as a working human.

I have been working on quantum levitation experiments and trying to understand the physics of things that have happened in the bible. Accidentally I created a machine that basically puts a Ore in the weather. Altering weather patterns. It has a limited effect for about 10 miles or a diameter of 20 miles. And so it slightly can effect national weather. I am still trying to grasp how. I just know it does. If I told you what I do know I would have to hunt you down… LoL.
The Point is. There is a tonne of Physics we haven’t touched yet. we in a small way understand light and maybe electrons but really we are not even close to grasping things.
And so, the idea of spirit is in no way crazy no more than cell signals are or DNA is. If you told someone 200 years ago that there is a crystal in ever cell of your body with a copy of the instructions how to make a human and it was as big as a library they would have laughed.
We have figured out how to use Physics without understanding it fully. We have learned to live life without knowing God face to face. We keep trying to figure out how things could happen without any intervention. But there is no way to explain and no reason to believe that a cell with an instruction book has the capacity to build pipelines we call arteries and weave them through a body among nerves and bones etc.
As a divorced person I find it easy to make soup or spaghetti sauce. Just throw it all in. but to make a body to organize the placement of everything and all you are is a cell. Well that is past extra ordinary. I have built a few homes in my life and workers never do exactly what you want. to think that cells can make 7 billion copies and except for a few exceptions with people having their arms backwards or two heads etc. its pretty pretty amazing.
Not only do I think God did this, but that there is a lot more including a soul and forces and physics we are yet to discover.

My goal is to block the attraction gravity has so that a ship can leave the planet without using a lot of fossil fuel. Those forces exist and magnets is just a variation. Moses Jesus, Elijah, Joshua and a couple others experienced the use of quantum levitation. Apostles experienced Jesus walk through walls and disappear in the sky. Others like Ezekiel saw space ships and Elisha saw chariots in the sky. Because of our contempt we missed it.

I see no reason to doubt Physics, Biology or Chemistry. Specially chemistry. And I don’t doubt that there is spirit not just thoughts in a brain. And who knows maybe even Dogs have some sort of connection with God in spirit. Science is not advanced enough yet to even measure it. But I think we are determined and at some point we will be able to measure something smaller than light and electrons.

That makes a lot of sense to me. Are there any books a layman can consume on this subject?

It sounds like we are largely agreed on the main point.

I agree here as well, but personally I don’t have particularly compelling reasons to restrict Luke’s meaning to this specifically (though that’s a different subject).

Hi, Scott. I understand you’re saying there’s a lot about the physical and nonphysical we don’t know yet, but I’m not clear on how this relates to the topic at hand. Would you mind clarifying the connection for me? Thanks!

Ready for the deep end. The Garden of Eden wasn’t on earth. Revelations has it in the “new Jerusalem” So if the things in the bible are true there is a 1400 miles cubed city that has been around before the world began. Things were made with a pattern of what was in the heavens. And There is a whole lot more to the story. The end will be the Sun going supernova and that city returning to take us out of here.
The people thing is not a new Idea. Jesus while being born as a baby, has existed for infinity and he showed up numerous times through history.

The Deep time hoax Evolution tries to lay on the time of man on earth is their fairy tale and has nothing to do with the reality of what is going on. When God said Let us make Man in our Image it was physical spiritual and more, eternal.

I wont crack the door on the science I found leading me to believe Jesus walking on the water wasn’t even amazing it was just science. IF the city of God 1400 miles cubed (the size of the moon) can land and not crash on to the planet, the Idea of quantum levitation is childs play. No one here will get this, but the Christmas Tree and the ark of the Covenant are clues and the same metaphor type of thing give to us so we could move forward. Just like when the Passover happened was put on the doors to cover his people and that relates to the crucifixion, Every thing God has done has been intentional to give us clues. The size of the temple the construction, the stones, the wood the materials the fabrics. Temple robes and rituals etc. Even the commandments. God is capable of making our DNA with 4 letters which are not letters Scientists assign to them. Its how he has designed it. Their view their intentional blindness slows down their progress.
We are made in the Image of Jesus. If Scientists grasped it, they would toss in puzzle pieces knowing that God has a few in his pocket. I cant tell you the few key things that I discovered or they would steal my invention. And Bill Clinton types will smile at you but walk away from Rwanda as they cut them down in a genocide. Fallen Men cant be trusted to keep secrets or trusted to be upstanding.
We are in no way monkeys, God made it all and his choice to use the same DNA style has them all confused.

Okay, that’s definitely the deep end, and although I feel I have a better grasp of some of your beliefs, I’m still a little hazy on what you think in terms of the “limits” of the image of God (the original topic).

If you don’t mind answering, do you think God can bestow His image on anything He pleases—such as the stones referenced in Matthew 3:9?

Well actually I am a Born Again Christian with the basic beliefs of a Wesleyan similar to baptist and Pentecostal with a Salvation army bent. I personally think there is only 1 work of grace and sanctification is progressive. And I don’t believe in the gift of tongues like the Pentecostals use it. I believe in the Holy spirit and that gives you any gift he needs you to have.
As for Matthew 3:9 its Hyperbole. God can make a universe out of nothing in our minds. He can literally make nations. His quip about making Sons of Abraham out of stones was a put down as well as a boast and Sarcastic Hyperbole saying their ties to Abraham was pretty thin that those rocks had as much tie to Abraham as they did.
The key is that a child of God is born not by some chemical or some DNA it is about dropping your contempt for God and when you do that he restores you and give you a clean heart fresh new restored and adopts you. So you are a New Creature in Jesus Christ. etc. etc. Not to get into a bible study here but the message of faith Paul talks about is not about lineage but about loyalty and a loss of contempt causing someone to repent and return. The Holy spirit that gives a Born Again Christian “new life” is real but not like honey you mix in your tea.

(@swamidass) Is an ancient returning a moon-sized city covered by the GAE?

  1. I relieved myself of any contempt for things written in the bible.
  2. I then read the bible without some fairy tale type thinking. No ghosts etc.
  3. I figured it all had to be science. No events past Physics because God made physics.

So what I saw was Angels having children with Humans as one of the first thing in the bible. It says Angels are not thin like soup or some hologram. Jesus says there is no giving of marriage in heaven. so that will be interesting.
The two witnesses in Revelations seem to be real people Maybe Elijah and Moses. And all these persons or beings have two legs and like Genesis 18 walk on up to Abraham etc. with God himself. (Jesus.)
So it seems to me, when the bible says he comes with his Angels its just a term like Humans but they used the term Angels but some of these “Angels” have wings. maybe they are attached maybe they are who knows, peoples explanations for supernatural events where they see people fly or disappear into thin air or have the ability to protect themselves.

So Yes, I am saying there are more Humans with DNA that may be slightly different from us. I am also saying that God messed with our DNA in the garden of Eden and at the flood changing our life span and changing our spiritual nature corrupting the code.

Why do I think this. Well as a standard Evangelical Born Again Christian living my life I thought how on earth could a city in Revelation 21 come out of the sky and land on earth without smashing into bits. There has to be physics and answers started hitting me. And I started looking through the bible and found clues. So I started constructing my own device. And I bought a Nitrogen Flask a Dewar and I started doing experiments at -195 C and got nowhere.
Then one day after doing some experiments I left one of them and I noticed outside a strange color in the sky and a stillness and it struck me odd. the reddish yellow you some times see. And it made me think I wonder if. And so I ordered some more materials and did a few different experiments leaving each working for days. And it dawned on me about the Ark of the covenant about the alter about Jesus walking on the water, about the New Jerusalem.
So while I am in the infant stages of this, I realize, I have found some physics that no one has realized exist.

I have left out parts otherwise you would have my invention. But it made me realize. This kingdom to come that Jesus spoke about is actually real. It also says that Jesus sacrificed himself in a way most Christians do not realize. He became Human to some degree. meaning that when he was crucified there was no pretend. He felt every blow, he felt every stripe, he was injured by the thrust of the sword in his side. The fact that he rose from the dead is because he was a complete human with the power of God not just human.
So I suspect that when I get to heaven and I meet him, he will be a physical person with ability and science and something more but still every bit human and every bit God and I will be able to touch his side where some roman soldier impaled him.
What we have done is, we have spiritualized the bible and made it into some hoaky fairy tale when it is more Stargate or starwars than ghost busters. there may be a ghost buster element to life and science and likely no star gate travel or transporter room travel but there is definitely more physics and genetics going on.

There is the big leap. God is still God but God sacrificed by allowing Jesus to be human and to suffer for mankind. And he was here with that city to put Adam and Eve on this planet. And he stuck around. he knew Abraham, he knew Moses etc. And I think after the resurrection he left planet earth as did his Star (space ship Jerusalem seen in the east) and traveled, went to prepare a place for us because our Sun will be going (starting to go) supernova in about 1500 years. That may just be a transitional “fit” our sun will have but it will wipe out the earth and possibly explode. Whatever condition the physics will change and the earth will be toast. And Jesus and his angels will take out the people in a rescue mission after spending more than a 1000 years here.

Its such a big topic. About the Genetics. Since I believe in the flood and Creation to some great degree, I also then believe in the intentional meddling of genetics by God.
So I suspect that there is Pre-flood genetics and post flood genetics. Meaning a woolly Mammoth or any other species captured in Ice possibly Pre-flood, IF there is any such thing unless the planet was to warm then and those woolly mammoths are Post flood… But if they are Pre-flood and you could get DNA, from them. I would expect they would have more genetics than suspected.
I could be wrong about the timing but the KT boundary may show what sort of radiation and event happened to alter DNA world wide. Not only would the flood wipe out whole species but the altered DNA would wipe out many who would not reproduce. So if there is a way to get DNA from before that event, It should be significantly different.

The second event is not seen as an event by most and that is the removal of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Them being banned from the City leaves them to be the first Angel/Human to live continually on Earth.

You will find hundreds of thousands of bodies buried by the dead sea. Likely the Sodom and Gomorrah event but not for sure. That event might also have some surviving genetics. I don’t know what is possible these days when its comes to recovering genetics.

My point is, Since I believe the events of the past then I should be able to find more information. And I suspect that there will be portions of our DNA removed, literally taken out and shortened so that it is obvious that it was not a natural event but DNA surgery using science to possibly infect every cell of the body with Bio technology. Some would be natural but planned but I suspect at least one if not 2 intentional interventions by God to alter our DNA maybe three to end the inclusion of Angel DNA to Human DNA. Getting hold of one of those bodies would be the find and discovery of the century. And I suspect one of those is in a tomb buried And it might not be in the middle east but in Mexico. And that will prove Angels are Human but not Humans from Earth.

I retired 20+ years ago and don’t have a good grasp of what’s out there. However, I’ve wondered if this book might be helpful for understanding Ancient Near eastern cultural contexts:

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@SlightlyOddGuy @AllenWitmerMiller
Richard Middleton has done a lot of readable stuff on image of God in OT context. Here’s a podcast he did (you can look up his writings as well).

I reviewed the Currid book several years ago (pp. 83-86 here).