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Sitara:

Something seems to be missing here. In an earlier session, you presented evidence that the mind is separate from the brain. Evolution doesn't account for this. Where then is the mind from?

Nathan:

Good question. The mind is the consciousness of the spiritual being in the physical body. This is the short answer. To explain further, we have to open the book of Genesis and look at the early chapters.

It's a long piece of text. We'll be selective and consider just the important details that are immediately relevant.

I have a Bible here. It would help if you take some time now to quickly read through the first three chapters to get a general idea.

Sitara:

Mmhmm …

Okay, I'm ready.

Nathan:

Chapter one and the first three verses of chapter two are a brief account of the creation. Do you see any repeating word patterns there?

Sitara:

There are several. "God said," "Let there be," "that is what happened," "evening passed and morning came," and "God saw that it was good." [Note 1 ]

Uh … that's about all.

Nathan:

The first three patterns you noticed describe how God created everything. God said let there be this or that, and that was what happened. What does this say to you?

Sitara:

I don't sense any effort in his creation activities. He spoke and it was so. It tells me that God's power is unlimited.

Nathan:

We'll skip your fourth pattern and go to the last. God looked at the result of his creation and saw that it was good. What do you think it means?

Sitara:

It means that God was satisfied with what he created. I think it implies that everything was made exactly as he intended, since he had unlimited power.

Nathan:

God is the Maker and therefore the owner of everything. He made humans and he owns them. No other being, physical or spiritual, can lay claim on us except our Maker.

Let's look at verses twenty-six and twenty-seven more closely. Would you please read them out?

Sitara:

"Then God said, 'Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.' So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." [Note 2 ]

Nathan:

The verses mention two important things. Do you see what they are?

Sitara:

God made humans in his image and he gave them power to rule over other living things.

Nathan:

The phrase "to be like us" strengthens the idea of resemblance as the primary meaning of the word image. So verse twenty-six describes something very unique in humans, which clearly differentiates them from all other creatures. They were a reflection of their Creator. In other words, something about God may be known by studying the original human nature. Verse twenty-seven tells us that this image of God was in the nature of every human, male or female.

The second important thing here is the work God assigned humans to do. Verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine help us understand it better. Could you read them out?

Sitara:

Okay. It says, "Then God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.' Then God said, 'Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.'" [Note 3 ]

Nathan:

Here we see that humans were commissioned to rule over all other living things. Verse twenty-eight tells us that they were to exercise this dominion by governing, not exploiting. They were not to kill the creatures or to have them for food.

Sitara:

What did God uniquely do to make humans so special?

Nathan:

The answer is in chapter two, verse seven. It says, "Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man's nostrils, and the man became a living person." [Note 4 ]

What was truly unique in the creation of man was the divine breath of life. The Hebrew word used here for breath is not common. It's used just twenty-five times in the Hebrew Bible, and applied only to God and to man. [Note 5 ] So man alone was the recipient of the divine breath, which made him an image of God and gave him regality and a spiritual existence.

Sitara:

Uh … it's still unclear what human nature, as the image of God, reflects.

Nathan:

We need to see what we know about God before we can answer that. What do you know so far?

Sitara:

The way Naomi and you describe God shows clearly that he's a person you can connect with in a relationship. He expresses his power and rationality in the created world we see. John's Gospel says that he loves us. I learned today that his power is unlimited, and by his will, his purpose becomes reality.

Obviously we're finite beings and can never fully know him.

Nathan:

True, but God revealed himself to us as far as we can comprehend, and he loves to connect with us in a very close relationship, like the vine to its branches.

The attributes of God you mentioned are important. They're his greatness, his rationality, and his love. His greatness is infinite. He's omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. His rationality is seen in the structure and regularities in his creation, in his justice and faithfulness, and in his purposes and plans. We see and experience his love in his relationships. His love is expressed in his benevolence, kindness, and grace.

John says, "God is love." [Note 6 ] Love is the center of God's character. It sets his purpose, drives his will, and defines his relationships.

God is absolutely free to do whatever he wills, according to his nature. He'll not do anything that contradicts his character. He's not free to do evil.

God's attributes could be widely interpreted. We need a concrete model and God gave us the best one. He himself became like one of us to show what he intends humans to be.

Sitara:

Ah, I got it from John's Gospel. It was Jesus.

Nathan:

Right. Perhaps you may like to read this verse to refresh your memory.

Sitara:

"So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son." [Note 7 ]

Nathan:

It's quite clear from the context that the Word refers to Jesus. A few verses down, John plainly says, "No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father's heart. He has revealed God to us." [Note 8 ]

Jesus was the concrete model of the image of God in the original human nature. This was clearly Paul's meaning as he wrote to the Romans, "For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters." [Note 9 ]

He wrote to the Corinthians also, "So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image." [Note 10 ]

FOOTNOTES:

  1. Genesis 1:3-31. [Back ]
  2. Genesis 1:26-27. [Back ]
  3. Genesis 1:28-29. [Back ]
  4. Genesis 2:7. [Back ]
  5. Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, NICOT (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990), 159. [Back ]
  6. 1 John 4:8. [Back ]
  7. John 1:14. [Back ]
  8. John 1:18. [Back ]
  9. Romans 8:29. [Back ]
  10. 2 Corinthians 3:18. [Back ]
     

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