Sunday, February 27, 2005

We Who?

A few months back I engaged in an ongoing email discussion with two friends who are self-defined conservative Christians. We discussed the foundations of the Christian religion vis-à-vis their understanding of its basic truths. Not surprisingly, though they both described their personal beliefs in similar ways, they disagreed frequently.

There were several tenets they did agree on. One of these is the belief that humankind was created in the image of God. While I discussed, debated and argued with them on a host of key issues, I had a hard time putting into words my difficulty with the acceptance of the Man-in-God’s-image conceptualization.

Last night, however, while drifting between consciousness and sleep, it dawned on me that the key question inherent in a discussion of this issue is: If we are created in God’s image, what do we mean by “we”? Put another way, we who?

As we gaze out onto the world, we see complete images…people, cars, buildings, mountains, streams and sky. Though this is what our eyes see and what our brains comprehend, this does not genuinely represent the world we live in.

The world we live in is made up of particles, energy and sound waves. The letters, words, and sentences I’m keying in right now and that you are now reading on my blog are nothing more than different arrays of mathematical symbols that a computer translates in such a way that each of us can make sense of it all.

I am not really a finished structure of bone, tissue, blood, etc. No, my body, my mind and the person I call me is a mass of millions and millions of particles that come together in a symbiotic relationship to form the human called Trey. Everything we can see, taste, or feel is formed in this same manner.

So, when it is said that humankind is created in the image of God, which part or parts are we referring to? The amalgamation of particles or each particular one?

I suppose the answer for a conservative Christian would be the amalgamation. For me, though, this creates two interdependent problems.

First, if only the amalgamation is the representative image of God, then it would need to be acknowledged that the building blocks to form that image are not themselves representative of the almighty.

Second, if the building blocks themselves are not formed in the image of God, how can the amalgamation then be said to form such an image? How can a pure substance be created from impure parts?

Unfortunately, if a conservative Christian answers the other way – that all particles are the image of God – it creates just as serious a problem. If all the molecules, atoms and particles of the universe are created in the image of God, then ALL things are created in his image, not just humans. Every rock, bird, tree, river and crystal of sand would have the same standing as you or I and this would mean an end to the belief of humankind having dominion over all earthly things.

It would seem to me that the conservative Christian is boxed in no matter which way one turns.

This image dilemma is of no concern to a Taoist. Since the underlying belief of Taoism is that everything – seen or unseen – is part of a universal whole, all things share a commonality. And, because all things share a core element, Taoists believe we are but one part of nature, not something independent of it that may hold dominion over it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.