Anthropology, the Study of Man

by WordExplain

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Genesis 1:26)

Man, the Crown of God's Creation!

  A.    How Did Man Begin?  What the Bible Says

1.    The Bible says that man was created, that he did not evolve.

2.    The Bible says that man was created by God!

a.        This is very important because it means man is not his own boss.  God is, because God made man.

b.        This is also important because it means man is answerable to God.  Since God created man, God will one day hold man accountable for how he has lived.  This idea, of course, makes the evolutionist very uncomfortable.

3.        Furthermore, in the Bible God says something about man that He never said about animals:  "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."  (Gen. 1:26-28)

a.        This means that man is vastly more important than any animal.

b.        This means that man is the crown of God's creation.

c.        What does it mean to be created in God's image and likeness?

1)        It cannot mean that God has a physical body as we do.  The Bible says God is Spirit (John 4:24).  (Spirits do not have bodies of flesh and blood as we do.  Sometimes spirits use bodies temporarily so they can talk with us, but they don't need them.)

2)        We can get an idea of what it means to be created in the image of God from the conversations God had with man after He created him.  There are at least four ways.

  B.    How Is Man Like God?

1.        Creativity:  God told man, "Be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28)."

a.        God is the ultimate Creator.  In a way, He gave man the ability to create life as God does.  This is an awesome ability and an awesome responsibility!

b.        In a way, this creative ability goes beyond just having children.  Man is able to invent things, to think up new ideas, new ways of doing things.  Man is creative as God is creative.  Question:  How does creativity relate to gardening?  To woodworking?  To farming?  To arts and crafts?

2.        Rulership:  God told man, "Fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Gen. 1:28)."

a.        God is the Supreme Ruler over all His creation (Acts 4:27-28).  He is Sovereign.

b.        God has delegated to man limited rulership:  To rule over the earth and over the animals of the earth. 

c.        Environmentalists do not believe this.  They believe man has no right to rule the earth.  The extreme environmentalists believe it will be necessary to kill off many humans so that all the animals have enough room.

d.        When God first made man, He told him he could eat plants (Gen. 1:29).  God did not create man to kill and eat animals in the beginning.  That came later.  God expected that man would be benevolent rulers of the animals. 

3.        Personality:  If man were to rule over the earth and the animals, it meant that he was like God in another way.  God created him with personality. 

a.        God is a person.  He has personality.  In order to rule, both God and man have the necessary parts of personality.

b.        By this we do not mean shyness or friendliness or inhibition.  We mean that to rule you have to be able to do the things a person does in order to rule over God's creation.  These include the ability to

1)        Think. Intellect:  Man is able to think both in the concrete and in the abstract.  He is able to think about specific things and general things, like ideas.  Animals have a limited intellect in that they can learn by experience and act in accordance with the instinct God has given them.  But animals cannot think about thinking, nor think about themselves.  They cannot solve math problems.  Only man "can be truly educated rather than merely trained (Whitcomb, John C., The Early Earth, p. 100)."

2)        Feel. Emotions: Though animals may have a limited range of emotions (such as fear), only man has a fully developed emotional capacity.  Only man has complex emotions like sadness, joy, fulfillment.  "Only man appreciates art and music creatively (Whitcomb, John C., The Early Earth, p. 100)."

3)        Decide. Will:  "Man is sufficiently free from the bondage of instinct to exercise real choices and to have significant purposes and goals in life (Whitcomb, John C., The Early Earth, p. 100)."

4)         Talk. Communication:  Though there is some limited communication between animals (whales can apparently communicate over thousands of miles), only man “can use oral and written symbols to communicate abstract concepts to other persons and thus enjoy true fellowship” (Whitcomb, John C., The Early Earth, p. 100), both with other men and with other spirit beings, such as angels, and with God Himself.  Only man “can recognize the existence and rightful demand of his creator through worship, sacrifice, and religious service” (Whitcomb, John C., The Early Earth, p. 100).

c.        All of these God does, and does them perfectly. All of these man does, but imperfectly.  There is a vast gulf separating what God can do and what man can do.  And there is a vast gulf separating what the least intelligent man can do and what the smartest animal can do.

4.        Morality:  The understanding of right and wrong.

a.        If man is going to rule well, this implies morality.  There could be good ways to rule and there could be bad ways.

b.        This is reinforced by God's law in the area of rulership:  “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17).

c.        The very fact that God gave man a rule he could obey means that he also could disobey if he chose.  Man was created in God's image with an understanding of right and wrong. He also had the possibility and the responsibility of freedom of choice.

d.        Only man, not animals, “can discern moral right and wrong and suffer agonies of conscience” (Whitcomb, John C., The Early Earth, p. 100).  No wolf ever felt a single twinge of guilt while eating a rabbit.

Man, Crown of God's Creation
Prepared by James T. Bartsch
September, 2009

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE , Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB 1995.)

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Updated February 12, 2022