CBS Zoom@Noon: “In the Image of God Created He Him” with Moshe Vardi

June 23, 2020 12:00PM - 1:00PM

One of the most mysterious texts in the biblical story of creation, is the phrase “In the Image of God Created He Him” (Genesis, 1:27). What does this reference to the “image of god” mean? After all, the Fourth Maimonedean Principle of the Jewish Faith is “He has no image of a body and is no body.”

Many interpretations of this phrase has been offered over the years, including the one that understands this phrase to mean that humans have free will.

I will discuss free will from a philosophical and scientific perspective and show that the concept is deeply problematic. Instead, I will argue that this phrase is the source of the concept of human dignity. Furthermore, I will argue that the principle of human dignity is the most fundamental moral principle in Judaism.

Moshe Y. Vardi is University Professor, Karen Ostrum George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering, and Director of the Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology at Rice University. His interests focus on automated reasoning, a branch of Artificial Intelligence with broad applications to computer science, including machine learning, database theory, computational-complexity theory, knowledge in multi-agent systems, computer-aided verification, and teaching logic across the curriculum.