In this section of the Institutes we learn first of all about creation. Yes, it took six day, and the order of creation and the account indicate clearly that God created the Universe for us. Calvin indicates that we should not try to extrapolate more information from this than is already contained in the account. We don't typically think of theologians as humorists, but Calvin tells a kind of joke to illustrate his point, "When a certain shameless fellow mockingly asked a pious old man what God had done before the creation of the world, the latter aptly countered that he had been building hell for the curious." (Institutes, p.160, 1.14.1)
Chapter 15 is largely about the fall of humanity, describing how God did make humans more or less perfect to begin with, except they may have been a bit weak-willed. But humanity is degenerate from those first humans who were, in effect, the image of God. Calvin expresses a dualistic notion that humanity has both a corporeal body, and a spiritual soul. It is the soul that, in us, still contains the image of God.
In Chapter 6 of his Reader's Guide to the Institutes Lane poses 3 questions.
1. How does Calvin view our struggle against Satan? Basically, he sees it as an implacable one, in which there can be no compromise, no quarter given and no quarter taken. The devil's corps are "Legion" and the only real defense is the "armor of God". For a very interesting take on the whole devil vs. humanity struggle you might want to check out The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. They were much in my mind as I read this section.
2. Why is it so important to distinguish between human nature as created/fallen? It is important to do so, so that we do not somehow attribute the fallen nature of man to God. God made humanity "good" (and well). God also made humanity with free will - which humanity somehow lost in the fall (at least this is how I am reading Calvin). Humanity chose to become fallen.
3. How does Calvin understand the image of God? It is evident to me that Calvin sees the image of God in us as more spiritual than physical and not quite perfect. God made perfection in the first humans and only did God make his image perfect one other time and that was with Jesus Christ.
My own question: It seems like I have been seeing a fair amount of dualism in Calvin's theology. Do you think dualism is an essential part of Christianity, especially in the Reformed Faith as enunciated by Calvin?