Humans, Animals, and the Image of God: An Examination of Difference in Kind and Difference of Degree Arguments for Human Uniqueness and Superiority Open Access

Trepanier, Brian Patrick

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/1n79h472z?locale=en
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Abstract

Humans, Animals, and the Image of God: An Examination of Difference in Kind
and Difference of Degree Arguments for Human Uniqueness and Superiority
Image of God language from the Genesis 1 account of creation has often been
used to justify human superiority over nature. A significant problem with this
approach is that the text does not identify what it means to be created imago dei
and throughout history the God-like characteristic associated with humans has
changed. This paper is an examination of the historical and traditional uses of
image of God language along with modern reinterpretations of these
perspectives that use both difference in kind and difference of degree
arguments. In addition, this paper examines how claims for human superiority
are undermined in light of modern scientific advances in biology, ethology, and
archaeology and whether or not image of God language should be used in or is
helpful for religious discourse in the present day.

Table of Contents

I. An Image Problem 1
II. Church Fathers and the Difference in Kind 4
III. Contemporary Approaches to the Difference in Kind 11
IV. Scientific and Rhetorical Insights on the Human and Animal Divide 23
V. The Human Difference as a Matter of Degree 56
VI. Abandoning the Image 71
VII. Bibliography 79

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