I've been going to a (non-UU) Bible study for a few months, and in discussions that verse is often cited to prove the very point you're making. And while I totally agree with the conclusion (and I love the way the UUs state it front and center), I never really understood how it follows from being in God's image, because I never understood what specifically it *means* to be in God's image. It seems like such a vague statement that it's easily used as a post-hoc justification for whatever ethical position you want to hold.

The Happy Feminist

The notion of being created in God's image is not meant to justify anything. To me, the inherent worth of all human beings is an axiom, one of my very few articles of faith, requiring no justification. The notion of creation in God's image is merely a poetic or metaphorical expression of that axiomatic principle.

The Happy Feminist

(In terms of the way I view it, of course!)

Joel Monka

I take "in his image" to mean that we share certain attributes with the Divine. I believe that the essential God-like attribute humans have is unpredictability... without this, we would have been no better than wind-up dolls, scarcely worth the creating. By giving us the ability to act in ways that the Divine herself could not predict, we are the creation that keeps on creating. It would certainly explain a lot of things.


Happy, I forgot to mention what a thoughtful post this is. I can see now why we share some similarities in our characters, my dad was similar to yours, but not to the same degree. I really like how you have used your faith to help you see the good in people. Really great!.....I like you so much Happy, seriously, you are special!

The Happy Feminist



Thank you so much for writing this post. It brought tears to my eyes. Though I am an atheist, I know the feeling of worthlessness very well. Although in my case it never led to contempt for others (usually I put them up on pedestals, an entirely different but equally dangerous way of thinking), even now, I still struggle with feeling worthless, it is so ingrained into me. Actually, one thing that has, (at least intellectually,) allowed me to recognize that I have worth as a human being is feminism, especially feminist blogs like this. So thank you.


the inherent worth of all human beings is an axiom

Can one's own actions ever strip away one's inherent worth? Is it conceivable that one's presence in life actually causes more harm than good?

I'm not asking this because I want to argue a right or wrong position, rather I'm curious as to how religious folks view these parameters or limits. Was there inherent worth in Stalin and Mao? How to balance the 70,000,000 Mao killed, or the 20,000,000 killed by Stalin against their inherent worth.

I don't spend much time on religious axioms so I'm asking this question from a position of curiousity for I'm having trouble imaging inherent worth being axiomatic.

The Happy Feminist

First, I don't view this from a utilitarian, more-harm-than-good perspective. To calculate human worth in terms of more-harm-than-good reduces us all. Do a petty thief's crimes outweigh his kindness to his mother? I don't know.

Second, the reality is that in most cases in daily life, we aren't dealing with mass murderers like Hitler. You simply are not in a position to judge whether most people you encounter are doing more harm than good, or will in the future do more harm than good.

Third, even if someone does more harm than good, the fact remains that even the most depraved may be doing some good.

Fourth, even with someone like Hitler, I would not advocate torturing him for example. Even Hitler's basic dignity and humanity should be respected (if he were alive) even though he deprived millions of others of their dignity and right to live.


Thank-U for this post, reconfiming my own slowly acquired understanding.

An interesting note on the use of the male pronoun when referencing God in Biblical text, is that, apparently, the ancient Hebrew language wholly lacks a gender neutral pronoun. Meaning that any literally accurate translation of these texts becomes gender biased in any language with an "it."

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