When I reflect on the nature of humanity, I must consider such concepts as imago Dei, immateriality/materiality, and personhood. What is a human? Basically, a human being is a created/finite personal being who is a conditional unity, a psychosomatic agent, composed of both an immaterial and a material substance, not inextricably bound together yet designed by God to function in unity. The immaterial aspect of our being consists of such categories as mind, consciousness, rationality, emotion, and will. The immaterial self is not a synonymous term with “soul”, because the soul is the human person in total. The soul, is that which God created with an immaterial and material self. There is not a dichotomy between a body and a soul but rather the soul consists of a dualism between a material and immaterial aspect. The material aspect is the sensate, the somatic, part of the psychosomatic being. It is the part of the human person which is made up of physical matter, for example, the brain and central nervous system.
The human person was created by God in His image, that is, in the imago Dei. We find in the book of Genesis that no other creature besides humanity is in the image of God. The meaning and significance of the imago Dei has been controversial throughout history. There are a number of ways to interpret the imago Dei. The image may be substantial to the human being such as the human ability to think rationally. It may be a functional category e.g the actions that humans engage in like having dominion over the earth or it may be a combination of the two such as the human capacity to relate with others in a functionally communicative way.
We know that everything that exists has been produced, at some level, by a creative act of God. Reality, therefore, reflects the God who made everything and who continues to sustain everything in existence (Col 1:16-17). All finite beings come from the same Source and thus as we reflect on the nature of created things we can come to know, to a limited degree, the essence of their Source, which is God.
We do not and cannot know God in his infinitely intensive essence, but we do know the essential mode of his existence- He is personal. Humans are therefore personal existents imaging their Maker. What differentiates personal existence from any other form of existence is self-consciousness, or the idea of otherness. This personal awareness or self-consciousness distinguishes me from other beings whom I know are not me. Personhood, is obviously much more than biochemical reactions and bodily functions. The conscious person develops and matures, psychosomatically, throughout life as a result of environment and heredity, yet despite any corruption of either materiality or immateriality, the personal existence remains.
I hope to develop more on the imago Dei in furture posts- Lord willing