“God Has No Body” Part 2.3

Find Part 1 here.

In Part 2.1, I challenged three assumptions that are implicit in the argument: first, the fallacy of begging the question; second, the logical weight that John 4:24 is made to bear; and third, the trust in Biblical accuracy. In this response I pointed out the fallacy; argued that the logical weight on John 4:24 is indeed too much for a single scripture; and argued that it is possible that portions of the Bible, including John 4:24, are inaccurate.

In Part 2.2, I challenged the first premise. It claimed that John 4:24 said that “God is a spirit.” When looking at the original Greek, it is clear this phrase could be translated “God is spirit” (as the words “a” and “an” don’t exist in Greek, and this mirrors more closely other statements made by John), “God is life” (as “spirit” could be translated “life”), or “God is the breath of life” (as “spirit” could be translated “breath”).

The argument can be adjusted as follows:

  1. The Biblical verse John 4:24 has traditionally been translated “God is a spirit” in the KJV, but could also be translated in a number of other ways including “God is spirit” or “God is life”
  2. The Biblical verse Luke 24:39 defines spirit as incorporeal
  3. Thus, those who are spirits are incorporeal (2)
  4. Still, there is ambiguity concerning how the scripture should be understood (1), and we cannot assume that the scripture should be understood as “God is a spirit” even though it contains no language such as “God has a spirit”
  5. Thus, God may be incorporeal (3) (4)

The Second Premise

The second premise is analogous, which is important to note. Inductive arguments are the weakest type of  arguments because they only lead to conclusions that are conditional. What’s more, analogies are the weakest kind of inductive arguments because the conclusions we draw on how one thing (x) works based on how another thing (y) works is directly dependent on just how similar those two things are. In this case, the analogy depends on how similar God’s spirit is to our spirits.

For example, Hume’s persona Demea (in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion) criticizes Cleanthes’ use of analogy to prove that there is a great architect of the universe, saying:

“I shall be so free…as to tell you, that from the beginning, I could not approve of your conclusion concerning the similarity of Deity to men; still less can I approve of the mediums, by which you endeavor to establish it (emphasis added).

Analogies are the weakest kind of the weakest type of argument.

In this case, the strength of the analogy is objective. The Savior, when talking about spirits, was referring to unembodied or disembodied mortal spirits. This argument is talking about God, a perfected, glorified, and spiritual being. What then of the claim that since mortal spirit bodies (x) are incorporeal, God’s glorified spiritual body (y) must also be incorporeal? God is vastly different than his mortal children, and because that difference is so vast, the analogy is weak. We cannot necessarily make this tie between mortal spirits (x) and God (y) to determine his corporeality.

A Spiritual Body

This point is exemplified as we clarify the term “spiritual” body, which I used above, and distinguish it from mortal spirits.

In 1 Corinthians 15:44-46, Paul refers to resurrected bodies as “spiritual,” and the body of the resurrected Savior (as this argument so deftly points out) is one of flesh and bone. Bruce R. McConkie wrote,

“It might properly be said that “God is a Spirit” if by that is meant that he has a spiritual or resurrected body in harmony with Paul’s statement relative to the resurrection that the body “is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural [mortal] body, and there is a spiritual [resurrected] body” (1 Corinthians 15:44)”.

The argument can be adjusted as follows:

  1. The Biblical verse John 4:24 has traditionally been translated “God is a spirit” in the KJV, but could also be translated in a number of other ways including “God is spirit” or “God is life.”
  2. The Biblical verse Luke 24:39 defines mortal spirit as incorporeal; yet any analogy which draws similarities between mortal spirits and God is weak because of the vast differences between God and his children.  Further, Biblical scripture makes it clear that resurrected bodies like the tangible body of Jesus Christ are called “spiritual bodies”
  3. Thus, those who are mortal spirits are incorporeal, but glorified spiritual bodies like those of Jesus Christ are corporeal (2)
  4. There is ambiguity concerning how the scripture should be understood (1), and we cannot assume that the scripture should be understood as “God is a spirit” even though it contains no language such as “God has a spirit”
  5. Thus, God may be incorporeal (3) (4)

Continued at Part 2.4.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on ““God Has No Body” Part 2.3”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s