Humanity is like a complicated and contradictory riddle. Humans can be kind, gentle, loving, and self-sacrificing one moment but spiteful, destructive, hateful, and self-centered the next. We among all the creatures of earth possess history, creative arts, and never-ending ambition. And growing on those basic tools we’ve created the means to destroy each other hundreds of times over. A gloriously twisted riddle we will unfold in this section of The Basics.
The Bible says this about the creation of humanity – “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26–27, NASB95) In this account, God reveals humanity’s form and its purpose.
Humanity, both male and female, are created in the image and likeness of God. We are like God but not god. He is infinite, we are finite and limited. God is all-powerful, but we are not. He is everywhere while we exist in one place at one time. Yet, inside humanity is a drive to rule and mold the world around us. A drive to build cities, dams rivers, create art, and plant gardens. We have the capacity to choose love, act compassionately, and show mercy in ways seldom seen in the animal kingdom. All of these modeling after God in some way.
The Bible also reveals something else about the creation of humanity. The second creation account in Genesis chapter two says in part, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7, NASB95) God’s breath of life was more than just pushing air into the lungs. With that breath, the first human became a living soul. The Bible also says, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NLT) That ability to see beyond, to perceive time, to plan for the future, and to yearn for something greater is, in part, what it means to be a living soul.
We must be careful not to pour more than the intended meaning into the creation accounts. The important part is that God created humanity, both male and female, in His image and likeness. Events will occur later that will mar this image of completeness and introduce strife not found in these first days of creation.
At the conclusion of the creation account, the Bible says, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31a, NASB95) This stamp of approval included humanity. This goodness is the first thread of humanity’s riddle. Even non-Christian philosophers have seen the inherent goodness in humanity. Some have called it a “divine spark” and others “our better angels.” The point is that no matter how flawed and broken someone is they are created in the likeness of God.
It is possible and tempting to spin off into all kinds of “but what about” conflicts and controversies. But we, at this point, only hold two pieces of the riddle. On one hand, God created humanity in His likeness and called it “very good.” On the other is our life experience which reveals a far more dark and complex picture.
There is, however, one item to consider. God didn’t make two humans, He has made us all including you and me. The poetry of the Psalms contains these lines. “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” (Psalm 139:13–14, NLT) Even though we are far removed from that first man and woman we too are created in the image and likeness of God.