How Are We Created in God’s Image? part 1
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

How Are We Created in God’s Image? part 1

Genesis 1:26 reads, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…’ ” (RSV) The text does not clarify in what way “man” is created in God’s image. It is tempting for humans to attribute human characteristics to God. Eckhart Tolle, author of A New Earth, wrote, “Man made ‘God’ in his own image,” and a review of religions seems to support this conclusion. Similarly, Anne Lamott quipped, "You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."
If we are to take the Genesis account seriously (which is to say that Genesis reveals profound truths but not necessarily to say that Genesis is a historically accurate of the universe’s creation), we should ask in what way(s) humanity resembles God. The text does not claim that nonhumans are not created in God’s image, so it is consistent with the text to posit that nonhumans also have divine attributes. Nonetheless, the text’s focus on humans suggests that there are divine attributes that are distinctly (but not necessarily uniquely) human.
As I ponder what makes humans distinctive, it seems to me that perhaps the most distinctive  attribute of humans is that, as best I can tell, we are the only creatures who kill other animals because they compete with us for resources. Examples abound, and include killing wolves, coyotes, cougars, and other natural predators who compete with human farmers by threatening “livestock” and with human hunters by killing deer, elk, and other “game” animals. We kill millions upon millions of birds, sea mammals, sharks, and other creatures in part because they consume fish that humans want to eat. Animals of many species are trapped or shot because they threaten to forage on crops planted by humans.
Since Genesis 1 describes God reviewing all of Creation and declaring it “very good,” I doubt that killing animals whose need for sustenance competes with humanity’s limitless desires is a divine human attribute. Indeed, Jesus encouraged compassion, service, and simple living. Next essay, I will explore other human attributes that we might consider divine. 

Go on to: How Are We Created in God’s Image? part 2
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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