Rahim Islam is a National Speaker and Writer, Convener of Philadelphia Community of Leaders, and President/CEO of Universal Companies, a community development and education management company headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. Follow Rahim Islam on FaceBook(Rahim Islam) & Twitter (@RahimIslamUC)
If you stare out into the universe and take in the sun, moon and the stars; watch the rivers flow and the world’s (three quarters) awesome seas and oceans; admire the highest and most majestic mountains and the energy, minerals, and natural resources buried deep into the earth; acknowledge the multitude of gifts that the earth produces from the sweetness of sugar to the bitterness of salt; and the millions of other physical attributes and benefits of creation, you must conclude that this existence we call “life” is not some accident.
If you believe in a higher being, a Creator, a supreme being (God), you are instructed that this existence we call life is by design and we are told to have faith.
The laws and principles that govern creation are perfect and have existed for billions of years.
The intricacies between life and death (change) are an absolute marvel that we must acknowledge.
There are so many daily miracles: the seasons changing every few months; the day changes into the night and night changing into day; humans inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide and plant life does the opposite (we sustain each other); the remarkable birth of our children knowing that the possibility that a future leader has just entered he world, just to name a few.
As you study creation, you must come to appreciate that there is a definite hierarchy within creation with man as its sole benefactor – man is at the top of the food chain.
While we have come to learn much about creation, there is so much that we don’t know and probably will never know. When did this creation begin? Some equate our beginning with the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible (estimated 6,000 years ago); some say 30,000 years ago; and some say billions of years ago.
The fact of the matter is that no one really knows the beginning of life nor how vast this creation is. With new technology we now can see new planets, stars and new solar systems. Some scientist say they have discovered a new sun. No one really knows the extent and or the depth of the universe – it’s never ending. With three out of five scientists not believing in God, the discussion has always persisted – does science refute faith or does science address a different set of questions, with answers that can point toward faith? The relationship between religion (faith) and science (facts) are sometimes at odds with each other – when the fact of the matter is that they should support each other.
Science and religion generally pursue knowledge of the universe using different methodologies – the common denominator is that both are reflecting on the universe. Science acknowledges reason, empiricism, evidence, and is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about nature and the universe. Proponents for religion argue that the universe is finely tuned for life, with certain fundamental parameters in nature that make our existence possible, however; we would be surprised to find ourselves in a universe in which we couldn’t live – most of the universe is rather inhospitable to life. While religion includes revelation, faith and sacredness both religion and science point you to the same conclusion; there is a Creator and this Creation is no accident – Creation has been designed.
Just like the architect of Creation (God), Creation is so massive; the human mind is unable to contain it all. The human mind can’t contain God. Humans can only come to know God through His characteristics and through His Creation (everything in creation is a sign from the God).
The mysteries of this Creation are unfolding daily and what is absolutely clear; this Creation is the ultimate mystery full of on-going revelations.
These revelations speak to us about the Creator (God) and what our relationship should be with Him and what our relationship is with each other. The culmination of knowledge (science and inspired) creates a standard for human behavior today. This is why it is critical for man to study and marvel Creation, so that he can absorb and embrace his role in Creation.
All behavior is learned (good and bad). My fundamental belief is that when you know better, you can do better – isn’t that what is expected. If you don’t know your purpose, then how can you fulfill it? If you think you’re somehow superior, then you will treat others inferior. If you think that you’re somehow inferior, then you will hate yourself and treat others superior.
How is that we expect anything differently? It is impossible to ask someone to do something he doesn’t know anything about – he must be taught (instructed) and he must learn. As humans, we have a unique capacity because man is a very special species – it goes back to our beginning, origin, and our purpose. Where did all of this come from? How did man get this special favor? The historical biblical account of the creation of Adam and Eve states that God made the first man in His own image. What does this mean? And why is it important?
The architecture of Creation begs and challenges man’s intellect to the creation having an architect, designer, creator (God) – the wonders of all of creation confirm the existence of a Creator (God) – It’s really a no-brainer. The Creator prepared the earth as a habitat for man; created the fish life, the bird life, and animal life. How all of this happened remains a mystery and part of the Creator’s own mystique.
Given the power and amazement of His creation, He commanded (or willed) each event to happen and it was done (if you know another answer, I’m ready to listen).
This is where science and religion begin to go in separate directions, but I say they shouldn’t because Creation is so perfect in its design that the architect must be perfect.
The architect also has the ability to “will” into existence His plans – this shouldn’t be a heavy concept for those who understand. Since we will never really know and if you must have an answer, one must be able to combine his faith with his logic?
With the creation of man, there appears to be a big difference, a distinction with all other creation. The inspired record reads: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:26-27). Now I’m not a theologian and I’m not even a student of the Bible, but I do believe in this concept which is supported by many other religious doctrines.
I also believe that this concept has been abused and misused and have elevated one group (white superiority and supremacy) and disintegrated another group (black inferiority). Unlike some who believe, man is not a close cousin of the animals, nor a distant relative of primitive plant life, he is someone great, wonderful and different, the most excellent of all God’s works, and a special expression of the divine’s nature, created by the Creator’s own personal activity provided that he knows his role in creation.
Everything in Creation has a role and responsibility towards the sustainability of Creation – and man has the biggest role and responsibility.
Man’s life is not the result of some spontaneous “coming together” of molecules within his body, nor is it derived by evolution from any animal or ‘lower hominid’ (as theistic evolutionists teach), but is a direct gift from the Creator. When the Creator created man in His own image, I believe the image wasn’t anything physical because physical reduces the discussion to limitations and the Creator has no limitations. The image of the Creator is the characteristics of His “spirit” and His “will” – these are the things that men are suppose to emulate. Man has abused his position by portraying himself as the God and has led man down a poisonous path that supports hate of other humans and the destruction of the earth. We hear about the ultimate friction between good and evil; God and the devil and many of us are confused by this dynamic. My belief is that this contrast is part of the Creator’s design. The devil, if he does exist (I do believe that a devil spirit exist) is part of God’s creation – this is no accident. Also, the devil is not in competition with God. God has no competition. The devil spirit is competition with the human spirit and has used humans to elevate himself to God; God-like, or kin to God.
Even though man, one of the Creator’s most complex creations with a soul (spirit) and will, he is still enclosed within a physical body that has a predetermined end date – so the physical characteristics of man (his body) can’t be what we are holding up high in comparison to the Creator. Every human that is born will taste death and his spirit will leave his body. It is his spirit that is his identity not the body.
No matter how great or beautiful the body, it will be of no use to anyone once that human spirit leaves it. I’ve personally seen the last breath leave the bodies of both my mother and my father and once that happened, that body was no longer my parents – they were empty corpses. So, I ask you, why is the image of God portrayed in human physical form when this is obviously the lowest level and form and who does it benefit? The birth, death and the life of human beings can’t be equated with anything associated with the divine (the human being is in complete dependency on the Creator’s Creation and has no independence – an obvious characteristic of the Creator).
The whole world and specifically many Black Americans have been given the wrong ideas about God. They have been made to look for the God that they can see with their physical eyes, which is impossible. Your thoughts about an invisible thing bring many ideas and pictures to your mind. When these ideas and pictures begin to take shape or form in your mind, you arrive at a concept. A concept of a thing is how you see that thing in your mind. Many Black Americans have been given the wrong ideas about God and religion. This is because they have been made to look for the God that they can see with their physical eyes.
The Church taught Blacks that God, the Creator of the heavens and the universe, is a three-in-one-god. Blacks were told that there was God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Ghost.
The Church used a picture of a white man on a cross as Jesus the son of God. Blacks believed that the white image that they saw on the cross was God. So, the divinity or the god that they worshiped was in physical white flesh – this is a false image of the Creator of the Heavens and Earth (God).
Since the image of a white man was put on the cross as Jesus, Black people identified white physical flesh with God which has made them accept and love white people and reject their own group and hate Blacks. The tricky plan of white divinity made Black people worship a visible, whitened god. When something is visible, you can see it with your physical eyes, and a white Jesus on the cross is the visible god of the flesh conscious church.
What would be the impact on white children if for hundreds of years, a Black man was portrayed as God, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. How much would that white child love hate or dislike themselves while loving someone else.
This “lie” has been devastating to the overall psyche of Black people, especially our children. The myth that young children are blind to race has been debunked time and time again, and studies have found that the self esteem of our youth is easily influenced even before they hit puberty.
To help illustrate this, a group of preschool-aged black children were given the choice between two dolls – one Caucasian and one with darker skin – and were told to point at either doll to answer the questions asked by an interviewer. The results were shocking. “Can you show me the doll you like best or the one you want to play with?” The first black girl immediately picks up the white doll, and the next four young black girls choose the same. Of the group, only two picked the darker-skinned doll. At one point, the interviewer asked one girl to pick which doll was the nicest, to which the girl responded by picking up the white doll – but when asked which the bad doll was, she picked the black one. When the interviewer asked her why she chose the “bad” doll the way she did, the girl had a surprising answer: “It’s black.”
At such a young age, these young girls are already showing signs of self-loathing and internalized racism. Is it possible that our society is perpetuating a standard of beauty that is impossible for these girls to attain, thus trapping them in insecurity and low self-esteem for the rest of their lives? The “doll test” was first performed by Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark in the 1940s. They found that while most black children identified with the black doll, they would much rather play with the white doll. The test has been repeated numerous times since with the same results; for example, student Kiri Davis re-did the test in Tampa Bay, Florida and found that 15 out of the 21 black children preferred the white doll. Another experiment done by Good Morning America had similar findings. GMA found that out of the 19 young black girls they interviewed, the majority believed the white doll was prettier. Devastating doesn’t quite cut it. Coupled with institutional and structural racism, a mass media campaign that portrays Black people in the worst light; this has ripple effects in our society, beyond the direct effects it has on these young girls.
The impact of portraying a white man as God is damaging to all people – it’s a deviation from the real image of God. It especially hurts white people because it has given them a sense of superiority that has allowed them to do some of the most despicable acts to Blacks under the guise of religion. More than 400 years ago our ancestors were taken from Africa and forever enslaved under a form of chattel slavery never seen before in history – this was done by white Christians against Black people. The slave trade flourished and millions of Blacks were forcibly relocated from their mother land, and ultimately stripped of their culture, heritage and history and became free labor for new industries in the Caribbean, South and North America – this was done by white Christians against Black people.
Sir John Newton, famous Christian hymn writers, was a slave trader. He wrote “How sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” and “Amazing Grace.” The name of one of the most famous British slave vessels was “Jesus.” The Christian Church quoting apostle Paul gave sanctioned to the global industry of slavery. After slavery, Blacks lived in absolute terror in which they were segregate, burned, and lynched by Christians. During Jim Crow , it wasn’t unusual to see a Sunday service interrupted so that clergy and members of the church could join a mob attack against Blacks. When the punishment had been enacted, usually the death of a Black man, the participants would return back to church and resume their worship of a white God. When Blacks demanded civil and equal rights and/or reparations for the pain and struggles that are clearly documented – it was Christians who opposed this with all their power and influence.
The Creator (God) made man in His own image, it wasn’t anything physical but it was that man has the ability to emulate a will similar to God’s will. Of all the creatures created by the Creator (God), only the human has the ability to implement his will freely. Man, possesses a mind, a heart, and a will. The mind, or intellect, allows him to think rationally, not by sheer instinct like an animal. The heart, or emotion, enables him to feel, unlike a robot or machine, human experience. The will, enables him to make decisions and choices that have “real” consequences. It is his capacity for action, a capacity that allows him to choose this over that and those instead of these (free will). Humans have the ability to make certain choices on their own (i.e. free from compulsion, force, or coercion). Those choices are extremely compromised when he doesn’t know his purpose in life set forth by the Creator.
For example, humans have the ability to choose to go to the store or stay home, to buy a newspaper or not, to eat beef or to eat fish, etc.; such choices are within the natural capacity of human beings. People are free to act according to their nature.
People are not free to act contrary to their nature. I cannot choose to fly. Yes, I can choose to travel by airplane, but I cannot choose to sprout wings or become a bird. My will, you see, is not entirely free. It is bound by the limits of my nature. We do not have the freedom to be anything we are not. Man, in other words, is not free to act outside the boundaries of his human nature. He cannot live the life of a fish in the ocean or fly like a bird in the air without external resources enabling him to manipulate his natural environment. Just as that is true on a natural level, it is also true on a spiritual level – he is not free to associate himself with the Creator (God) he is a member of Creation. There is the Creator and there is Creation and the two shall never be combined.
The God likeness is also linked to man’s intellect. God has endowed man with intellectual ability which is far superior to that of any animal.
Man was given a mind capable of hearing and understanding at a very high level, intellectual emotions capable of responding to humanity in love and devotion, and a will which enables him to make choices. Man has been equipped, not only to love the Creator, but also to be the sovereign vice agent of the earth. Like the Creator, man’s intellectual gifts are further seen in his ability to design things and then make them, to appreciate beauty, to compose glorious music, to paint pictures, to write, to count to large numbers and do mathematics, to control and use energy for his own benefit (e.g. fire, electricity, nuclear power), to organize, to reason, to make decisions, to be self-conscious, to laugh at himself, and to think abstractly. All this behavior is non-instinctive, as distinct from animal behavior, and as such it is of unlimited variety.
In my next article I will discuss how and why human beings are described as the caretaker for all of Creation and are prepared to be the world’s custodian when man knows “how” he is made in God’s likeness.