What is the value of human life? Are we highly sophisticated animals? An intelligent species evolved over millions of years? Or something more? What does it mean to be “made in the image of God”? It is a distinction of the utmost importance. It affects the way we perceive, treat, and value life.
Man: The Animal
Professor John Rendle-Short, a Creationist pediatrician, believed that man could be thought of as “placed halfway between God and the animals, possessing characteristics of each”.(1) Anatomically-speaking, man is a type of animal. Man is an evolved primate, according to evolutionists. Even Scripture, as Professor Rendle-Short points out, relates characteristics that both man and animals share. “God formed man of the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7), and of the animals, “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field” (v. 19). Similarly, man is a “living being” (v. 7) and animals “living creatures” (v. 20). Professor Rend-Short notes that the account of Noah’s Flood says, “All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died… He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air” (Genesis 7:22-23).
However, similarities begin to end there. Man, not the animals, was made in God’s image, and the Bible is chiefly concerned with God’s relationship with man.
Being created in God’s image, man shares some qualities with his Creator. As Professor Rend-Short lists, six of these qualities are: language, creativity, love, holiness, immortality and freedom.Obviously, more attributes could be named, but these six show that man, like God, is intelligent.
Many animals communicate in unique ways – none, however, have the ability to converse via an intelligent language like that of man’s. Birds sing and bees dance, but they fail to develop and use a language with the capacity to conceive of past, present, and future contingencies, or that of the abstract. Researchers and scientists are trying to teach chimpanzees sign language, for example, in order to develop a more rigorous and intelligent type of language. Despite all their efforts, however, chimpanzees, like all other animals in God’s Creation, cannot use a language outside of their brilliantly designed means of communication of things that are of the present. Only humans, made in God’s image, are able to communicate via speech and writing, as it was since the beginning.
Amazingly, and quite uniquely, the Judeo-Christian God is a communicator. All of the Bible is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) – truly God’s Word. In fact, the apostle John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Professor Rend-Short explains that Scripture is the written word of God and that Jesus Christ is the living Word. Man’s ability to communicate reflects the created likeness of his Creator.
God is creative. After all, He created everything. Everything he created was “good” (Genesis 1:31). This creative quality has also been imprinted into man. Humans can reproduce and have children who are, like their parents, made in God’s image too. This quality of being creative is evident in all human beings. We draw and paint in the arts; build unique structures in architecture; and devise new and unique ways to perform a task or solve a solution. Even more, Professor Rend-Short argues, “Man alone can reason and act upon his original thoughts”.
But what of love? Are animals capable of the same love that humans share for each other? Love, of course, is arguably one of the greatest and most defining of all God’s characteristics. God is love (1 John 4:16), His love endures forever (Psalm 136:2), and nothing can separate us from the love He has for us (Romans 8:37-39). Professor Rend-Short in his article “Man: The Image of God” (see endnote) provides a great example of God’s love for His people in spite of their sin: “Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help … Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:10-12; 21-23). The love that humans are able to express and that God expresses to us is much different than the love that other animals share. The sexual behavior of animals is nowhere near the same as man's capacity for divine-like love.
Before the Fall, mankind was holy. Adam and Eve were without sin. After the Fall, however, a lot changed. Death and disease entered into Creation as a result of sin entering the world. As Professor Rend-Short describes it, “Only the faintest afterglow of that holiness is left in natural man.” Being that man, even sinful, is still created in the image of God, an element of holiness – and the striving for it – remains. As a new Creation in Christ, we too are to “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
Of course, all animals fight for survival. Life tries to run from death. Evolutionists, no doubt, point to this as the underlying principle of biological evolution. Man, however, already has immortality written on his heart. God was, is, and always will be. Of course, man has the opportunity to accept the free gift of salvation through Christ Jesus, to live eternally with Him (i.e. John 3:16). This too differs from other animals. Man is unique in his likeness with the Creator partially due to the immortal nature of his being.
Man also has the power to reason and act freely. This freedom due to his being made in God's image sets him apart from his other biological counterparts. After all, man has both the power to accept the reality which is Christ, or reject Him. Professor Rend-Short puts man's liberty like this: “[Man] is [a] responsible moral agent with a thinking mind and powers of choice and action, able to commune with God and respond to him, he could love and worship God—or if not, as he chose.” Professor Rend-Short also notes that there is an important distinction between freedom and independence, however; one that man often errs in perceiving. Satan in the garden convinced Adam and Eve that their freedom was equivalent to independence from God – something that is, frankly, impossible. All of Creation is dependent on God's upholding. God is the one who gave the breath of life and sustains it still. Morality, science, laws.... everything is dependent on God. Nonetheless, even though men are free, they are still slaves – slaves to Christ, or slaves to Satan. It is only through the truth, which is Christ, that man is truly free (John 8:32; Galatians 5:1). Even more-so, Professor Rend-Short adds the Apostle Peter's important warning: “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16).
Language, creativity, love, holiness, immortality, and freedom are all characteristics which separate man from the rest of Creation – they also happen to be all attributes which are shared by God. This is because man is made in His image.
Still, man and God are not the same. God may possess all of these qualities (and obviously many more), but He alone is the originator of them – He alone perfect. Christian apologist Greg Bahnsen once said "God's mind alone is self-attesting and originally creative. All our thinking must be brought in line with his; we must think His thoughts after Him" (p. 187). (2)
Professor Rend-Short provided a telling excerpt from C.S. Lewis in his article “Man: The Image of God” (see endnote). The excerpt, which describes an allegorical depiction of pre-Fall Adam, is from C.S. Lewis' novel Voyage to Venus. It gives a unique perspective on what being made in the image of God might be like:
“It was a face which no man can say he does not know. You might ask how it was possible to look upon it without idolatry, not to mistake it for that of which it was a likeness. For the resemblance was, in its own fashion, infinite, so that almost you could wonder at finding no sorrows on his brow and no wounds in his hands and feet. Yet there was no danger of mistaking, not one moment of confusion, no least sally of the will towards forbidden reverence. Where likeness was greatest, mistake was least possible. Perhaps this is always so. A clever waxwork can be made so like a man that for a moment it deceives us; the great portrait which is far more deeply like him does not. Plaster images of the Holy One may before now have drawn to themselves the adoration they were meant to arouse for the reality. But here, where his living image, like him within and without, made by his own bare hands out of the depth of divine artistry, his masterpiece of self portraiture coming forth from his workshop to delight all worlds, walked and spoke, it could never be taken for more than an image. Nay, the very beauty of it lay in the certainty that it was a copy, like and not the same, a rhyme, an exquisite reverberation of untreated music prolonged in a created medium.” (3)
Man is made in the image of God. Though we are to respect all of God's Creation, this likeness imparts special importance in regards to our relationship with our fellow man. It places remarkable dignity unto human beings. God gave us “dominion … over all the earth” (Genesis 1:26), after all. The understanding that we are made in His image places additional importance and appreciation for the value of life. God created each and every one of us unique and with a purpose. Like God loves us, we are to love each other genuinely and completely (i.e. Romans 12:9).
Right from Conception
Unlike evolutionary views, man is no mere animal. His likeness to the Creator does not come about at a particular age, or state of development. Instead, man was created in God's image right from the beginning. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”. As Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council in his article, “Fighting Abortion: The Measure of a Just Society”, points out, God is “intimately involved in creating and developing the little ones growing within their mothers.” (4)
Perkins details some of the astonishing developments of the baby in the mother's womb during pregnancy: “Scientists observed that at 22 days of development, a baby's heart begins beating and pumping the baby's own blood through his or her circulatory system... Around the end of the first month, a baby's arms begin developing, and then fingers develop during the second month... [t]he baby begins movement at seven weeks, which can be felt by the mother at sixteen weeks.” (p. 48). As Perkins suggests, it is a breathtaking illustration of Psalm 139:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows you very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” (v. 13-15)
It isn't just grown man that is made in God's image, thus possessing qualities likened after Him – all men, right from conception, bear this Creative signature, and are unique and precious in His sight.
Standing Up for Life
Why then do we so passively stand by while the sanctity of Life is being trampled on and dismissed by others? Humans are considered a mere evolved beast, sexual perversion pervades thought and action, and the murder of defenseless babies via abortion in the name of choice and freedom all degrade and disgrace the incredible impression of being created in the image of the Creator in shameful and disgusting ways. Christians should be taking a stand for the value of human life, defending God's sovereignty, and “[look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
1) Rendle-Short, John. “Man: The Image of God”. Answers in Genesis. 1 Mar. 1981. Online. Accessed 22 Jan. 2011. a href="http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v4/n1/man-image-of-god%3E">http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v4/n1/man-image-of-god>;.
2) Bahnsen, Greg. Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended. Powder Springs: The American Vision; Covenant Media Press, 2008. Print.
3) Lewis, C.S., Voyage to Venus. London Pan Books, 1955, p.190. (copied from source 1)
4) Perkins, Tony. “Fighting Abortion: The Measure of a Just Society”. Answers Magazine Oct.-Dec. 2010: 44-48.
Article Source: http://creation-club.org/1/post/2011/02/the-value-of-human-life.html
This article was used for our January Creation Club Meeting.