“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Genesis 1:27

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Genesis 1

We continue our exploration of the meaning of Genesis by exploring how myth speaks to our understanding of God. The claim that humanity is in the image of God demands our attention.

Once again, we need to be careful. To simplistically see God as in our image (as I suspect many of us do almost without thinking) is dangerous. We reduce God in the process to a kind of superhuman being, as we see in many ancient myths, e.g. the all too human figures of Greek mythology. This reduces God to one of us, a part of the natural order, rather than one beyond it.

We also give God our human characteristics – including all too often pettiness, obsessions, and all our neuroses. We also place ourselves above everything else, because we are so, so close to God. In doing this, we exclude the rest of creation from God too – which is pretty convenient for us, giving us a kind of warrant to use and abuse creation.

Notice how we have in our thinking inverted what Genesis says: humanity creates God in our image.

Let us rethink what the text may mean. Consider God as an artist and creation as God’s artwork. An artist’s images are an extension of the artist’s imagination. We – all of us: humans, animals, plants, planets and stars – are images in the mind of God, an expression of God’s artwork. In fact, this artwork is an ongoing work in progress; God, the artist, is constantly reimagining the universe.

Loving God,

May we embrace our existence and the creativeness of all your universe With gratitude that extends to a generous love of all creation.


Fr Anthony Egan SJ

Fr Anthony Egan SJ (born Cape Town 1966; entered the Jesuits 1990; ordained 2002) has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for spotlight.africa. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.

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