Christianity teaches that humanity has been created in “the image of God”, and because we possess the Imago Dei, we are somehow set apart from, and above, the rest of Creation. It’s one of the central tenets of the faith, but it’s also the subject of incredible debate as to what, exactly, it means to be created in God’s image. This excellent BioLogos essay examines several potential interpretations of the term, how we can better understand the concept in light of the writings of Church luminaries (Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin) and the advancements of modern biology and neuroscience, and how the theory of evolution interacts with this important Christian concept.
The “image of God” is a key concept in Christian theology, foundational to Christian thinking about human identity, human significance, bioethics, and other topics. Many Christians see evolution as incompatible with the image of God. How could God’s image bearers have evolved from simpler life forms? Doesn’t image-bearing require miraculous creation of humans rather than shared ancestry with chimpanzees? And when in the evolutionary process did humans attain this image? These questions are tied to many other issues concerning human origins, including the soul, the Fall, and the historicity of Adam and Eve (see sidebars), but in this article we will focus specifically on the image of God.