by Dr. Peter Jones
There is a Bible text for truthXchange! Deep in the Old Testament, in the rarely-mentioned book of Ecclesiastes, you can read:”TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE” (Eccl. 4:9)
I am cheating a bit. Ecclesiastes is talking about two people in a bed keeping each other warm while one person alone freezes all night. However, there is a qualitative sense to this notion. In the very first verse of the Bible we discover Twoism. The triune God, who alone existed, created the cosmos. In God’s mind two kinds of existence, that of the Creator and that of the creation, were better than one, though I am not suggesting any lack or imperfection in God’s being. Moreover, the Genesis text shows that the Creator employed the good principle of distinction-making Twoness that makes the world go round.
- He “separated the light from the darkness” (Gen 1: 3-5);
- He “separated” the dome of the sky [signifying the outer reaches of earth) from the far-reaching heavens (Gen 1: 6-8);
- He “separated the day from the night” (Gen 1:14-19),
- He distinguished between humans and animals, and between human males and females (Gen 1:26-27);
- All these Twoist distinctions he declared “very good” (Gen 1:31).
In its approximately seventeen hundred years of existence, the “Christian” West has honored “Twoness” as the principle for living in this God-created universe. From this principle come the notion of human dignity and the Western concept of human rights, stated succinctly in Genesis 1:26-27. Human beings created in the image of God share in the very dignity of God himself. Indeed, a human life is so sacrosanct that taking it indiscriminately cannot be allowed and must be sanctioned by the ultimate penalty (Gen 9:6).
The “image of God” includes:
- Dominion: Just as God is Lord of creation, so man is given “dominion” over the rest of creation;
- Communion within difference: Just as God is a trinity of three persons who nevertheless rule as one God, so humans are different as male and female but, in forming one flesh (Gen 2:24), satisfy the command to multiply and fill the earth (Gen 1:28).
The modern world, with the recent invasion of pagan thinking, has lost this sense of a pre-determined created existence. Our culture now rejoices in liberation from heterosexual normativity, thus dismissing the importance of reproduction. In our vision of the future, we are constructing a paradigm based entirely on this-worldly speculations of our human identity.
“Transhumanists” believe we are presently shackled by our primitive Darwinian brains; that we are the result of an unguided evolutionary process that cannot make decisions about the future because it is only programmed to reproduce the same old genetic code. Humanists, they say, must become transhumanists in order to change human nature in three ways:
- Superlongevity, achieved through cutting-edge, computerized medicine to produce a world without aging;
- Superintelligence, accomplished by inserting artificial intelligence computer chips into the brain, thus bringing humans to untold heights of creativity;
- Superwellbeing, allowing us to be rid of depression, panic, anxiety, anger, and gradually to phase out suffering.
These cutting-edge thinkers are not unaware of the problems associated with their optimistic project. Agelessness produces overpopulation; “Artificial Intelligence” might have different goals than ours; selfishness can disrupt the program. Nowhere in the transhumanist agenda is there any hint of an original Creator who might have something useful to say on the subject. In spite of our lowly genetic origins, these brilliant technicians, with immense hubris, register no surprise that from such meager beginnings we could now have an intelligence quotient capable of radically recreating the human lot.
Anthony Flew, one of the most gifted of the twentieth century atheists, became a theist because he was unable to account for the mystery of the personal, thinking, planning, self-critical and self-conscious human being, who cannot be explained from pure physics, chemistry or computer science. He stated: “Matter cannot produce… agents who think and act…such a world…has to originate in a living Source, a Mind.”
It is because of the image of God within in us that our minds reflect the distinction-making mind of God, as atheist Flew finally understood. But since our minds work that way, so also do our bodies, according to the divinely revealed Twoist male/female pattern.
The image of God, imprinted on all human beings, is the good news of dignity for everyone. Christ, who is the ultimate image of God in flesh, the most dignified of human beings, bears the sins of fallen humanity in his own body. He is thus the bringer of the good news of final Twoist reconciliation with our Maker and Redeemer for all who trust in him.
Dr. Peter Jones is a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Director of truthXchange, and Adjunct Professor of New Testament, as well as Scholar in Residence, at Westminster Seminary California. This article appeared on the AQUILLA REPORT, November 28, 2013.