Man was created in God's image, eh? How about, we can define god based on man?

An interesting passage in a book I’m reading right now. This is from section 12 of Edmund Husserl’s The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. I will present a snippet of the two paragraphs here, and then a sort of summary of them. I have edited the passage as much as I can to retain the sense, and hopefully made it more readable through changing some expressions.

I found this passage quite interesting, and I will attempt to give my own summary even though, I think, it speaks for itself. Husserl comments that once understanding reality became subsumed under mathematical pursuit (an idealized study), we (that is, mankind) became increasingly of the opinion that we could come to know reality (the universe) through a series of ever-expanding and ever-increasinly-accurate theories. By relating pure mathematics to reality, we have, then, a definitive end-point where, at a time infinitely distant in the future, all the particular ducks are put in a row and we can know reality for what it truly is. In this mathematization of the universe, then, comes the idea of this omniscience: the infinitely distant point where we have put all our ducks in a row. This omniscience, then, involves a mastery of the universe and knowledge of it. Thus, we can simultaneously not just idealize (through mathematics) the universe (that is, reality) itself, but we have a firm grounding for God and man, which become the same at infinity.

I do not intend to actually discuss Husserl here (see note 3) but I think this conception of science as “increasingly accurate” is so common as to nearly demand the conclusion Husserl reaches here. Not that it is not the point that there may indeed be practical limits on our knowledge. Indeed, since the time when God and man are the same is infinitely far we will never reach it, but the important point is that this becomes well-defined: the definition of God and the possibilities of man converge to the same point.

This isn’t meant to be a proof of God, of course. Husserl makes no point of saying God exists, and to say it is implied in the passage is quite a stretch. Merely that, given the conception of science as such through applied mathematics, we have an understanding of what it means to be God in an entirely different light.


1[sub]Husserl writes this at a time before Popper’s monumental work on the philosophy of science in which induction was removed as a method of knowledge aquisition and falsifiable deductivetheories were offered up instead in a manner which eliminated induction (perhaps only ostensively; Popper’s work is still debated over in intellectual circles).[/sub]
2[sub]Largely: the world of experience.[/sub]
3[sub]It should be remarked here that Husserl is presenting a popular conception of science, not strictly his own philosophy of science (which, indeed, is laid out elsewhere in the work).[/sub]

Of course, there are some typographical errors in the quoted passage.

First sentence: “…it wanted to be not vague and relative everyday knowledge…”

Fourth sentence: “It proved its possibility with the inspiring pace…”

At second glance I think that’s it…

God is omniscient.

Man will asymptotically approach omniscience through the advancement of science.

Therefore, man will become a sort-of-God.

I don’t think the idea is very original. This idea, and variatians thereon, have been bandied about since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, and probably much earlier.

Where has this any relation with the Biblical claim that God so called created humans in His image?

If humans were created in God’s image, then humans were God’s image since they were created.

This has nothing to do with:
Humans will come to the point that they maybe can become at the same level of God = God’s image.

Salaam. A

It doesn’t, Aldebaran, the idea is intentionally switched, that God is defined in the image of [ideal] man.


  1. It’s cute, but facile. You can say the point of any human activity is to become “like god”[ul]the point of medicine is to live longer, at it’s infinite extreme to become immortal, i.e. to become like god.

the point of earning money is to become more powerful, pursued infinitely, to become omnipotent, i.e. to become like god.

the point of defecating is to purge yourself of waste, i.e. to become pure, i.e. to become like god. [/ul] Husserl’s position sure sounds seductive when he talks about the mathematization of the world, but I’m not persuaded that there’s anything special about science or mathematics that changes our conception of ourselves or God - at least not from this specific passage.

I don’t think it’s the ambitions of science that change our perceptions, but the discoveries of science. There have always been utopians, there have always been mystics showing us the path to nirvana or the way to becoming the perfect man…but frankly, it’s been ever since Darwin that reality just isn’t what it used to be.

  1. Where are you two going with this? I’m not clear what the implications are if it were true. I’m not surpsied that the idea of God is just an idealized person (what else would it be?). We created God in our own image, and said vice versa.

  2. Science and math can’t possibly (even given t—>infinity) approximate the universe, and we can’t possibly attain omniscience because in order to that we’d have to have brains the size of the universe, or a computer that size, etc. etc.

How did you arrive at that conclusion?

How do you know that man won’t asymptotically approach some other, finite limit of knowledge instead?