Marc Cortez contends, “without question, the two central issues of theological anthropology traditionally have been the understanding of the imago Dei and sin.” The imago Dei reflects intellectual, emotional, and volitional aspects of humanity. In the Christian worldview, God commanded humanity to have dominion over the earth. Mankind has the creativity to build communities, cities, and states. They are functional and relational to one another and with God. In modern times the advocacy for animal rights has opposed the hierarchy of humanity, referring to it as speciesism. In their attempts to protect animals, many secular social environmentalists reduce mankind to be equal to all species. On the other end of the spectrum, transhumanists strive to enhance humanity which can result in reducing them to mechanics. Erasing the imago Dei proposes two challenges: the reduction from man to animal and the advancement from humans to superhumans.
Examining humans made in the likeness of God and analyzing the rights of animals will provide a framework for understanding the importance of teaching the biblical view of anthropology. On the other end of the spectrum, examining the differences between repair and enhancement in transhumanism will reveal distinctions of helping and harming humanity. The idea of transhumanism can thrive on making humanity like the gods. John Lennox writes, “the Fall happened when human beings began to think of themselves as more than an image of God and desired to be a god.” In the absence of orthodox teaching of the imago Dei, both ideas instill an improper view of humanity.
The questions addressed will include the following: What is it to be human? Are humans equal to animals? Why be aware of speciesism? Are people to surpass humanity and become self-deified? Should people pursue homo deus, the new stage in evolution? It is the Christian creation account that will bear truth on the value and equality of humanity. The biblical teachings of Genesis offer an eternal and distinct perspective of humanity. He gave him an eternal soul-breathing life (Gen 2:7). In the beginning, God made man in his “likeness” (Gen 5:1). These make man and animal distinctively different. Man is to rule over the animals as a representative of God.
In the pendulum swing between reducing humanity to animals and enhancing humanity through transhumanism, both fall short of the biblical value God places on mankind. However, a biblical view encourages humanity to have “dominion” over animals (Gen 1:26) and rule over them. Being a representative of a good God in managing his animals would imply caring and tending to them, but they are not equal to humans. Neither are humans a god; therefore, one must be aware of the attempt to seek superhuman status. Instead, God created humanity in his image, granting dominion and value.
Marc Cortez, Theological Anthropology (New York: T & T Clark, 2010), 10.
John C. Lennox, 2084 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2020), 140.