The Bible presents a radically different story about our origins than these other mainstream alternatives, and in doing so portrays human nature in a unique way. Simply put, in the beginning an infinite, eternal, yet personal being created by the power of His own words all that exists and made human persons in a unique way that sets us apart in kind from all other creature: “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).
The significance of this account shines when contrasted with the secular liberal and New Age pantheistic narratives. Unlike the pantheistic story, there is an absolute distinction between God the creator and man the creature. Thus, individuality is real. The individual soul or ego is not an illusion, and being made distinctly in God’s image, the individual person has intrinsic worth as an individual. This side of the story does seem to comport with Rousseau’s vision of the ideal human living in a state of nature.
But there is another aspect to this story that opposes this view. Notice that the image of God is not comprised of an single individual, but includes male and female. This does not mean the male and female are separately created in the image of God, but that as a pair, a social unit, they mirror God’s character. This view is reinforced in the next chapter of Genesis where we learn that God created the woman after the man for the reason that “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Thus, in contrast to Rousseau, our true selves are not autonomous, atomistic beings that freely enter into and sever social obligations, rather relationships are essential to what it is to be human. This essential human characteristic is consistent with the understanding of the nature of God as Trinity – three distinct persons eternally existent in perfect relational unity. Thus, Pearcy writes:
The implication of the doctrine of the Trinity is that relationships are just as ultimate or real as individuals; they are not the creation of autonomous individuals, who can make or break them at will. Relationship are part of the created order and thus are ontologically real and good.”
Only a biblical view of creation puts relationship at the very core of human identity. We are essential relational beings created by a relational Being. Since relationship requires a real distinction between persons (at least two real peoples), it is not included in pantheistic human identity. And since in secular liberalism relationships are contingent on individual choice, meaning that one can be human without them, they are not part of our ideal state.
In the final post on origins and identity, I will trace out some of the practical implications of each of these views.