Read Genesis 1:26-28. What special attribute was given to humans that was not given to the animals?
What exactly is “the image of God”? This question has generated a great deal of discussion, and opinions vary. But the verses provide some clues regarding the nature of the idea. First, note that to be made in the image of God implies that we resemble God in certain ways. One important aspect of the image of God is that God gave to humans dominion over the other creatures. As God is sovereign over all, so He has appointed to humans a share of sovereignty by giving them dominion over the fish, the birds, and the land animals.
Notice, too, that God purposed to make man in “our” image—that is, an image involving the plurality of the Godhead. Then He made humans male and female. The image of God is not fully expressed in an individual but in relationship. As the Godhead is manifest in three Persons in relationship, so the image of God in humans is expressed in relationship of male and female. The ability to form relationships is part of the image of God. Relationships, of course, imply responsibility and accountability, which means morality. Hence, right here we are given a strong hint at how morality finds its basis in the Creation story.
Humans have wrestled for millennia with the question of morality. Even before one gets into what is the right kind of morality, the whole idea of morality itself raises a host of deep issues. Why should humans, as opposed to beetles, fleas, even chimps, have a moral conscience, a concept that distinguishes between right and wrong? How can beings, made essentially of amoral matter (quarks, gluons, electrons, and so forth) be aware of moral concepts? The answer can be found in the early chapters of the Bible, which reveal humans to be moral creatures made “in the image of God.”