God Created Man in His Own Image

Adam_and_Eve002So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)

Steven Peck (aka StevenP from BCC) is a BYU biology professor that has written about religion and evolution. One of his articles (based on the views of Henri Bergson) on his website (split into three parts: part 1, part 2, I couldn’t find part 3) was about how the process of evolution often causes certain forms of life to arise just by virtue of the fact that the evolutionary process must solve certain problems.

For example, the eye has evolved in relatively the same manner multiple times on entirely independent lines of organisms. And it is not mere coincidence that fish and whales get confused a lot. Despite being completely different species all together, the similar forces of evolution forced them to look quite similar.

Is it possible that there is some similar type of what we might call ‘directed evolution’ going on with humans? Here, the evidence is thin at best, but let’s play around and have a little fun with hypotheses:

  • Evolution may favor intelligence and sentience. The wild success of the human race compared to other species attests to how this might be true.
  • All intelligence races to evolve would need to be able to first manuplate tools, therefore they must have something like an opposable thumb.
  • All intelligent races to evolve would therefore need to be able to do something like standing erect
  • All intelligent races would need brain power and the human brain is actually optimized for brain power. Any bigger or any smaller and its either got too small a capacity or becomes too slow.
  • Therefore all intellgent races would need to be approximately the same size.
  • In fact, they’d need to have about the same body to brain ratio as well.

Okay, this is as far as I can go at the moment. It’s not much, but it might be a start to suggest how StevenP’s musings could turn out to be correct.

34 thoughts on “God Created Man in His Own Image

  1. Ah, but is there any reason He couldn’t have green skin and red eyes? Aside from the fact that He laughs whenever I say this…

  2. Well you see, Meg, Star Trek actually has it right! The universe is full of almost human looking aliens, all created in God’s image! In fact, God is probably actually more like a Klingon than a human!

    What I really want to know is why is it that human’s have the smallest heads in the universe? This is a troubling problem that has kept me up at night!

  3. “Evolution” is such an ever-popular “science” paradigm just now. It seems like it will never go away. Discussion is inevitable. It comes up again and again, and yet again, even from people who should know better.

    This is perhaps odd, because Darwin himself would be totally lost with the ideas that spin around evolution theory today. All Darwin’s ideas focused on general observations about heritability, fitness, survivability and selection – he had no clue about any genetic basis. It turns out that Gregor Mendel, a Catholic monk, actually had much greater foresight, and though he was more or less a Darwin contemporary, evolution shines a bigger Hollywood spotlight on Darwin. Probably somewhat a result of discrimination against any such discovery by a benighted religious figure, nobody cared about Mendel’s findings until after he had died in obscurity, when others actually bothered to read about his findings and recognize how important it was. It amuses me somewhat to see that that De Vries actually tried to plaigiarize Mendel, but was eventuall caught at it. But then, I am easily entertained.

    The problem is, evolution is just a convenient name for another paradigm that happens to fit with certain physical evidence that it is irresistable with the current grasp of science. Conflicting evidence tends to be suppressed or ignored. As in the past, academics tend to enthusiastically take the ball and run with it. People like Dr. Peck would be negligent if they were not conversant and well-informed about such things. But it is probably no more accurate than geocentrism, which though it is universally denigrated and commonly thought to be promoted by evil domineering religious clerics, was actually the prevailing “science” paradigm for ages and ages.

    But like most science ideas, it is also inevitable that the current theory of evolution will eventually become passe and be discarded with something more plausible. My view is that academics have become so comfortable with their current ideas that when something that fits better comes along will refuse to even see it, since they already “know” that evolution is “true”. Very much like the overblown story about Galileo and the Catholics, evolution will eventually come to a showdown and fall by the wayside.

    One of the fine candidates developing in the wings is referred to as “epigenetics”, which if ever viewed with the same expansive approach that evolution now enjoys, will neatly obviate career-entrenched professionals like Dawkins and his “selfish gene” paradigm. Many of the ideas about evolution will someday be blown out of the water by a better theory.

    So I predict. But don’t expect to see it come into fruition any time soon. There is far too much inertia, too much vested interest in professional and academic communities.

    If the “Cosmos and Tyson gee wiz, science is so wonderful!” mob could ever face the honest truth, they would present a far different picture of the glorious world of “science”. The core of science discovery has always been a community of of people with a collection of equally bizarre and implausible different ideas, ever jealous, constantly bickering and distrustful of each other, lurching along from one popular idea to the next more current trend.

  4. Jim, have you read Kuhn?

    Jim, while I don’t really disagree with you per se, I think I have something to offer here — I guess it will have to be in a future post — that I think sets your observations into a new light that maybe (while still accepting you are correct) paints the picture a little less dark. For example, the fact that scientists are apologists for the prevailing theory and not particularly opened minded about new stuff at first, and that they ignore difficulties (or rather explain them away apologetically) turns out to be a good thing, not a bad one. As difficult as that might be to believe without a lot more explanation on my part.

    My epistemology posts indirectly address this already.

    http://www.millennialstar.org/our-epistemology-so-far/

    But I admit I owe you far more explanation. Give me time.

  5. Bruce, bigger heads for Star Trek aliens are simply obligatory, since there must be room enough for the rubber-head costume. Dozens of alien races have been so born. Disproportion has ever been a minor inconsistency that we can easily afford to overlook – for the sake of the more compelling fantasy. :-)

    I am interested in your episemology thread. In no hurry about these things though. I have the cynical suspicion that most others could care less about such things. ;-)

  6. You mean Star Trek isn’t real!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    I just lost my testimony!

    *sulks in corner*

    And also, yes, I can confirm by hit count that no one cares about my epistemology posts.

  7. It’s always wonderful when the documentary folks get their hands on science. Then the consensus rings out in resonant and authoritative tones, as though there were never any controversy.

    Hanging out with real scientists on the cutting edge of their craft, however, reveals that science is much more passionate than kids think. I don’t know that I’ve actually seen a colleague jump across a table to attack someone espousing an opposing viewpoint, but I can imagine it happening.

    While Darwinism, as envisioned by Darwin, may no longer be the most correct operative model, those opposed to Darwinism are often spouting stupid stuff, analogous to those who wanted to legislate that the value of pi should be 3 (dropping all those inconvenient additional digits…).

  8. Meg,

    Your legislating PI to be 3 example. Where did you get that? I put that into one of my posts along time ago. I thought I had made it up. I guess it’s an obvious enough example that many minds could make it up, though.

  9. Bruce,
    here are two discussions on the same subject:

    http://agellius.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/some-implications-of-gods-having-a-physical-body/

    http://www.jrganymede.com/2010/06/02/the-doctrinal-problem-of-evolution/

    Here are two related posts:

    http://www.jrganymede.com/2013/09/19/mormonism-and-evolution-the-marriage-of-christ-and-darwin/#more-11104

    http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2008/04/the-myth-of-evolution-and-the-myth-of-the-fall/

    On the convergent evolution idea, we have to concede that there are no examples of convergence so strong that the convergent species could be mistaken for each other. But in all the visions of God the Father, he hasn’t just been said to be manlike, he has been said to be a man. And Christ, is his birth means anything, was literally homo sap. sap.

  10. The “legislation to redefine Pi” story derives from an anti-religion focused urban legend that has long been in circulation, perhaps for many decades even predating Internet popularity. Although the stories are nothing but fantasy, they are plausible and enticing to rabid evangelical atheists, and have enjoyed a long popularity. Though the Snopes page on this is aplogetic, it does identify the stories as being fanciful fabrications. Redefinition of Pi

  11. Adam your post on directed evolution was thoughtful and didn’t pretend to have a definitive solution. I enjoyed your others as well.

    No, this doesn’t really solve the doctrinal problem.

    For what it is worth, I’ve now read Fesers book explaining the whole Final Cause argument and I can tell you with conviction it doesn’t solve the problem either.

    The basic idea is simple enough. There are these things called forms, they are non-physical but real, in fact they are more real than the physical world. Therefore they explain everything that can’t be explained by the physical world. For example, they explain why there is qualia. Because, you see, qualia is the physical world interacting with the world of forms. And they explain sentience. Because sentience is the physical world interacting with the world of forms. That’s pretty much it. I was left feeling like it was more or less one giant explanation gap, personally.

    I also spent considerable time marking up all the flawed assumptions on probably close to every page that the whole argument was built on. I’ve wanted to do posts on this sometime and try to explain it dispassionately and then explain why I don’t find it very useful.

  12. In second grade, we did SRA (like today’s version of Accelerated Reader) and I remember an article that said if there were aliens, they in all likelihood would be similar to humans for the reason mentioned above. Maybe all those odd shaped people at the gym aren’t earthlings after all.

  13. There are aliens all around us. You just need the right pair of sunglasses to see them! ;-) (obscure 80s film reference……)

    I’ve heard there was a science fiction writer who created a universe where pi actually did equal 3 and he rigorously worked out what that universe would be like. Apparently, it allowed for hot air balloon travel to the moon. Unfortunately, I can’t recall the name, I never read the work, and a quick Google search shows nothing.

  14. I was introduced to the theory and reality of variation in body proportion related to ‘cline’ (the term ethnologists prefer instead of ‘race’ ) by two areas of experience. One, I am a portrait artist and have studied and depicted hundreds of individuals of various ages and ethnic origins. Two, I gave birth to ten children of mixed oriental-occidental ancestry. In other words, my ancestors originated in the British isles of celtic and anglo saxon stock and my husband’s ancestors were Han Chinese.
    Talk about big heads! My infant offspring generally registered in the 90+ percentile for head circumference but only in the 50th percentile for weight and height. When I studied anthropology I learned that this is a common proportion for oriental infants. This trend has continued in my grandchildren with some moderation. Fortunately my daughters and daughters-in-law have ample hips to provide safe passage for their babies. But it is not really size so much as cerebral cortex surface area that counts when it comes to brain power. All those huge headed aliens with slim hips represent artistic license that flies in the face of common sense and scientific evidence. For an upright species a huge head represents a liability in terms of potential injury. Anyone who has raised or observed small children through a stage of life when the head is proportionally huge knows how the weight and size of the skull present a challenge to balance and speed of movement. Tangential to the idea of why we have the shape we have are some interesting ideas from the orient about the location and purposes of ‘chakras’. Put simply, these are postulated to be 7 zones along the head and trunk that correspond to communication between the spirit body and the physical body as understood from an LDS perspective. I have personal witness that the spirit body is of the form I recognized as an adult human even for those deceased as infants which leads me to believe that this is the ‘natural’ form of children of God and that there is a hint of why this is so in the idea of the chakra system. I have been thinking a lot about thinking lately as a result of participating in a course on the subject. I am still considering the idea that as pre-mortal spirits we primarily relied upon what can be called the mind and heart chakra functions but in order to fully develop we required a physical body to experience and develop the chakras corresponding to physical appetites such as hunger and the particular experiences that correspond to the gonads. ‘All these things shall give thee experience’ could well be a fundamental scripture in understanding why we need a physical body to take the pathway to becoming true heirs of our potential as God’s children.

  15. I’m glad to hear that Steven Peck is doing some work on this topic. As evolution becomes more accepted in the LDS community, we face an extremely serious theological problem: why would our God, a divine extraterrestrial being, happen to be in the form of a highly specialized earthly homo sapien, a bearded white man no less?

    Evolution states that homo sapien form came about through the peculiarities of natural selection, as it interacted with the myriad of random geological and biological histories on this planet. There are many anatomical flaws and quirks present in homo sapien design. For example, there is the crowding of human teeth, particularly “wisdom teeth,” and the poorly designed birthing canal which makes pregnancy dangerous and extremely painful. President Monson has a special talent for ear wiggling, a faculty that has little use for modern man. But the extra ear muscles are still extremely useful to our feline relatives, who use them to turn their ears around when stalking prey, when creating as little motion as possible is essential. These and other anatomical flaws are relics of our evolutionary history, and many of them are slowly being eliminated. Some human populations have stopped growing wisdom teeth altogether.

    Why would a perfect God happen to be housed in such peculiar imperfection? Additionally, why would we want to be resurrected in this evolution-created compromise? Surely, a being as perfect as a god would have something better than this? And if a human-form God did in fact create man through evolution, why would it happen to have so many flaws and markers so uniquely terrestrial, like the branchial arches, “gills” in human embryos? And even if we grant that the human form is pretty amazing, why this, among an infinite variety of life form manifestations? And why would the God-form happen to correspond to our species particular manifestation within the modern Holocene era, and not the Pleistocene or Pliocene eras, or in eras yet to come, as the human form is constantly evolving?

    My solution was to resurrect the Adam-God theory, as a way of explaining how God the Father, who looks like a man, is actually a local God (Adam) from this planet, which would explain why he looks earthly.

    But Peck’s ideas are interesting, and if God looks more like a Klingon, or something a bit more exotic, that might help me believe that he is actually an extra-terrestrial, rather than a theological idea dreamed up by earthly prophets, or simply a Great Spirit, who takes on an earthly form in order to be more “approachable” the way the aliens in Contact took on the form of Jodi Foster’s dead father.

  16. This is exactly what my 2nd blog, “Mormonism and Evolution” tried to grapple with years back. I know that I approached this issue in a couple dozen posts I came to the conclusion that this is THE tension between Darwinian evolution and Mormonism. (Not coincidentally, both Peck and I take Dennett’s brand of adaptstionism quite seriously.).

    Looking back now, I see nothing but trying to fix a problem that was of my own making. Once we see neodarwinian theory and Genesis as mental tools which we can work with to different ends, there’s no reason that we are forced to try and use both sets of tools at the same time.

  17. “All those huge headed aliens with slim hips represent artistic license that flies in the face of common sense and scientific evidence.”

    LOL. Clearly envisioned by artists who have never actually birthed a huge-headed alien.

  18. My children were born normal. They became aliens when they turned into teenagers. Clearly evolution does not count on technology and teenagers….

  19. Ram, you’ve got it all wrong. Human beings are more like insects. We pass through various stages of metamorphisis and the teen age years are the larva years.

  20. As a parallel to your initial hypothesis, maybe we should also consider whether all inhabited planets might also be very similar. The so-called “habitable zone” is thought to be somewhat narrow in terms of distance from the sun, mass, temperature, etc, in order to have liquid water and an atmosphere. The result might be that most of them would be very similar to each other and have produced very similar inhabitants. Or might it be the other way around–the need for them to be habitable by beings made in God’s image could have driven the design of the planet?

    (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habitable_zone)

  21. Google “marsupial mouse.” At first glance, and to the untrained eye, it looks like a standard mouse–but it’s a marsupial, and genetically much closer to a kangaroo than a regular mouse.

  22. Personally, I allow for “in the image of God” to be a much more expansive category. At such time as God shows me the “limits” on His ability to provide useful physical forms for His children, I will acknowledge them.

    In the mean time, I enjoy having no intellectual bar to stories such as Eric James Stone’s Hugo award-winning novelette, That Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made. Fun story about a single guy who becomes Mormon bishop to a ward that includes a new race.

  23. Tim, that was pretty cool!

    That Leviathan Whom Thou Has Made won one of the big awards. Hugo I think. It was very fun.

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