"God created man in his image;
in the divine image he created him;
male and female he created them."

(Gn 1:27)

When we read the word "image", what come to mind to most people is the idea of shape or figure. This does not mean that God looks like man but that man and women are reflections of God in their nature. This requires a clearer explanation.

In Genesis we see that man and woman are like God by a dynamic participation in his creative work. He is told to "be fertile and multiply", that is to participate in God's creative power and gave them dominion over all living creatures of the earth thus participating in God's ruling power. The prohibition not to eat from "the tree of knowledge of good and evil" suggests a participation of man in God's goodness. God created man good and has no choice but to gravitate toward goodness. When man chooses "evil" he is actually choosing a lesser good, himself or another creature in preference to God. Thus when man is good he is participating in God's attribute.

If we compare man to the animal kingdom, man's likeness to God can be seen clearly. Like God, man and women are intelligent which means that their thoughts rise above the purely material world of the animal. By abstraction they become aware of universal ideas which they may express in science and art. Man and woman can speak, that is, they have the ability to give meaning to sounds so to express ideas and desires which again transcend the purely material world of the animal. Like God we can communicate. Man is aware of who he is because God has endowed human nature with the power to reflect back upon itself."I am and I know that I am." The animal only knows. God knows all things and in man there is a desire to know all things including God, a search for the truth. The only truth an animal knows is its instinctual truth. God is eternal and man is immortal because he is destined to participate in the infinite life of God. There is no such knowledge and desire in the animal.

Man's likeness of God is not only in his soul but is also reflected in his body. For example, man can know but only through the senses. So the senses participate in man's desire to know and are designed by God to accomplish this end. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read the following:

"The human body shares in the dignity of the "image of God":
it is the human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul,
and it is the whole human person which is intended to become,
in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit". (#364)

Up to now we have explained man and woman's likeness to God in their nature but there is a supernatural aspect in their creation, that is, Adam and Eve were created in a state of original holiness and justice meaning, participating in God's divine life which pervaded their whole being. We read in the Catechism:

"By the radiance of this grace all dimensions of man's life were confirmed.
As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die.
The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman,
and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation,
comprised the state called "original justice".
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, #376)

5. Disfigured Image of God