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In the Image of God
Video 3 of 5
Okay, so the question is how does that fit? This idea of conquering, how does that fit with this theme? How does it connect? Does it connect in any way with being fruitful and multiply? How do we understand that?
So I think it connects actually in a very, very fascinating way. Let's pay some attention to this word; Vekivshuha - and subdue or conquer or the earth, and let's get very practical for a moment. So you're a person, how is it that you're going to conquer the world in the sense of having dominion over animals? Having dominion against a bear, exactly how is that going to work that you're going to have dominion against a bear? Right? Let's just imagine a kind of encounter between human and bear, it might go something like this.
[Playing of clip in background.] Okay so imagine you're this guy, what do you do now? Too far to jump. Now imagine we could just stop the tape and offer this guy some advice, what would you tell him to do? Just kind of take out your Bible and just talk to the bear and say, look it says right over here in Genesis Chapter 2 that I am in charge of you, that I have dominion over all the beasts of the field and last I checked you, dear bear, were one of these beasts of the field, so I'm in charge, so please leave me alone. I don't think that would go very well. As a matter of fact, I think the rest of the encounter might go something like this. [Playing of clip in background.] No it certainly doesn't look very good for our friend Jo the explorer.
But the amazing this is, is that over time human beings have managed to put bears in zoos. Here's the Bronx Zoo, we have bears in zoos and bears do not have people in bear zoos. So how did that work? I mean bears are a couple of tons - six, seven hundred pounds, they're huge. This is just a little baby bear over here and it seems cute from far away but these things could tear you apart. So in the struggle of man versus bear, actually history has suggested that man has actually won, mankind has put bears in zoos. How did that work? The bear is so much stronger than us, how did we actually actualize this Biblical promise? How did we become in charge of bears?
The answer is that no one human being did do it, but human civilization over time did it, and the way they did it was through this. Through the creation of tools. Or, to use a fancier word, through the harnessing of technology. We built things, we built cages and we built swords and we built guns and slingshots, and things that would give us the advantage over the rest of the world. It was really technology - it is technology - that gives man the edge.
Now if you think about how technology works, if you think about it, technology really goes back to that idea we talked about before, that idea which we called Melacha. Remember two ingredients of Melacha, what is Melacha really, that kind of creative work? It involves (a) planning - it involves the brain, you think about a plan. But it's not just enough to think about a plan, I can't think about creating a gun and tell the bear, oh I can think, I'm very smart, I have the capacity, look at my SAT scores, I'm so much smarter than you. No, brain alone is not going to defeat the bear. What it is, it's a merger of brain and hands. Again, hands alone will not defeat the bear either, I can't go hand-to-hand against the bear. But, so to speak, if I use my brain in conjunction with my actions, with my hands, my brain directing my actions, I can actually mould the world to suit my plans. As a self-aware human being with intelligence and gifted with the ability to act on the basis of that intelligence, I can change the world. I can mould the world to suit my needs. It can start with something very simple, just a bone that I use as a hammer, but then it becomes ultimately 747s and satellites.
There's a remarkable book by Arthur C. Clarke later made into a film by Stanley Kubrick; 2001: A Space Odyssey, and in an early scene in this film it portrays what it sees as the dawn of mankind. There's this early human that is playing around with this animal skeleton and it discovers this bone and realizes that he can use this one bone in the skeleton to smash all the other bones. He comes back and uses this bone to defend his tribe from others, and then in exultation takes the bone and throws it into the sky. What happens is, is that the bone is twirling up in the air and then watch what happens next. The bone just turns into a satellite and all of a sudden the movie fast-forwards thousands of years into the future. The tools look a lot a different now than they did back then, now they have thousands of pounds of thrust lifting us into lower earth orbit. But they're still the same thing, they're the products of mind coupled with hands, working together over eons with the civilization, to be able to change the world, to dominate the world, to conquer the world.
Okay seeing what we've seen, let's come back to this text, I think a kind of fascinating kind of common denominator emerges here. So basically, as we were talking about, what this is about, is what does it mean for G-d to have created man in His image? Vayivrah Elokim et ha'adam betzalmo, betzelem Elokim barah oto - G-d created man in His image. Then we have this clue over here, like we talked about before; Zachar u'nekeiva barah otom - He created them male and female. As we mentioned before, that seems to suggest that one aspect of what it means to be created in the image of G-d has to do with what males and females can do, which is they can create themselves, they can re-create themselves. Human beings can create other human beings just as G-d can create human beings - and that's indeed the next thing as we mentioned before. Vayevarech otam Elokim, Vayomer lahem Pru u'revu u'mile'u et ha'aretz - be fruitful and multiply and fill the land.
Now, as we talked about before, this command over here to be fruitful and multiply is really something that animals do as well. Animals are also fruitful and multiply, so how is it that human beings are different than animals? Well of course human beings procreate and animals procreate but how humans and animals have children are still kind of different. Animals procreate completely by instinct, that's it, an animal is pushed by drives to procreate. A human being also has instincts to procreate, but they also have mind, they can use mind. Human beings get to marry, that's not an instinctual thing, it's something we choose to do when we plan about how it is that we have children. We guide the process by which we have children. To sort of summarize that, we might say that animals procreate by instinct alone; yes, humans are propelled by the instinct to procreate but they can also plan, they can guide this process through mind.
Now, if we come back to this text we therefore see this really interesting kind of common denominator between Pru U'revu - be fruitful and multiply and the next thing that G-d says over here, which is; Vekivshuha - and conquer the world. How is it that mankind conquers the world? Well we talked about that, is through tools. It's really that there are two kinds of creativity over here. There is what we might call biological creativity, expressing itself in; Be fruitful and multiply. There's also what we might call technological creativity, which is expressing itself in the creation of tools over here; Vekivshuha - and conquer the world. Here too, yes, animals build but humans and animals build differently. Again, animals build through instinct, they're propelled by instinct to build. Human beings we might have some instinctual drives to build but essentially these actions are guided by our mind. Human civilization, we figure out what we want to do and then we go out and build it.
John F. Kennedy in his famous speech why we go to the moon; [Playing of clip of John F. Kennedy's speech.] "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard, because that…" We choose to go the moon he said, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. It is a choice, a cognitive choice, that is that we make, and over time we use our mind to plan and to guide our hands and to build ever more sophisticated tools. Animals are pushed by instinct to build but they're not really pulled by the imagination of a long-term goal. An animal doesn't plan cognitively, it builds a web because that's what it does, it does webs, it does webs, it does webs.
So what emerges here is that what it means to be created in the image of G-d really is to be a creator, little creator, just like Big Creator. But there's two kinds of creating. There's creating the biological realm, there's creating in the technological realm. In the biological realm that means that we build through mind-directed action, we have children through mind-directed action. In the technological realm it also means we build through mind-directed action, it's just two different realms. I'm using the word build actually purposely over here, the same word, but it's fascinating, you know what the Hebrew word for child is? Hebrew word for child is Ben. You know what the Hebrew word for build is? The Hebrew word for build - Boneh. It's actually a verb form of this noun, just add the Heih to get the three-letter verb, but it's the same Beit, Nun, it's the same letters. Beit and Nun over here, Beit and Nun over here. Building and building. A child is how we build in the biological realm, tools are how we build in the technological realm.
Mankind expresses itself as a creature created in the image of G-d by doing these things, by creating and creating in the biological and technological worlds. The next question is, what does this have to do with anything - the next parts of the speech, verses 29 and 30? Interestingly, over here we're talking about mankind procreating, creating other humans, over here we're talking about how mankind relates to the animal world, he subdues it through tools, and over here we talk about how mankind relates to the plant world. When we come back next video I want to look at this further, these two verses over here, how is it that we relate to the plant world? Is there any special notion of - in particularly how we relate to plants - that has to do with our being created in the image of G-d? When we come back next video let's explore that.
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