“God Has No Body” Part 4.2

Find Part 1 here.

In Part 4.1, I challenged the first premise. The premise originally stated that the purpose of Genesis 1 was to differentiate man from the animals. I argued that this was incorrect, or at the very least incomplete. Rather, the purpose of Genesis 1-3 is to teach us about the character of God, and Genesis 1 specifically teaches us that he is omnipotent and logical. The consequence is that we should not be looking for implied differences between God and man.

The modified argument is as follows:

  1. The purpose of the Creation story is to teach man about the character of God, and Genesis 1 showcases God’s almighty power and pragmatism
  2. The difference between man and animals is a rational soul
  3. Thus, instead of a physical body (which animals also have), the image of God found in man is their rational soul (which animals do not have) (2)
  4. Thus, when Genesis 1:26 speaks of man being made in God’s image, it does not refer to a physical, tangible body (3)
  5. Thus, God may be incorporeal (4)

The Second Premise

This argument claims that the difference between man and animals is a rational soul. This is a very plausible claim, and I will not be challenging it directly. Rather, my challenge will be first and foremost to it’s source.

This idea of a rational soul originally comes not from the apostles, or even the Church Fathers, but earlier than either of the two. It originally surfaced in the writings of Aristotle, who lived over 300 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. This idea that a rational soul is the difference between men and animals can be found in his book Nicomachean Ethics [you can find a number of translations in Google Books], in Book 1.

That this is an idea of Greek philosophy shows very clearly two things. First, as intelligent as Aristotle may have been, the fact remains that he was uninspired. His words do not carry the same authority as the words of Jesus Christ, or the apostles, or the prophets.  Though they sound good, his ideas may very well not be true. They are the “philosophies of men,” and should not be considered the same way we consider Biblical teachings.

Second, it shows that Greek ideas were influencing the formation of Christian dogmas. St. Augustine, in his Confessions, wrote of how he was influenced by Greek ideas.  He says,

By having thus read the books of the Platonists, and having been taught by them to search for the incorporeal Truth, I saw how thy invisible things are understood through the things that are made…. I now believe that it was thy pleasure that I should fall upon these books before I studied thy Scriptures, that it might be impressed on my memory how I was affected by them… For had I first been molded in thy Holy Scriptures, and if thou hadst grown sweet to me through my familiar use of them, and if then I had afterward fallen on those volumes, they might have pushed me off the solid ground of godliness” (emphasis added).

Augustine gives credit to philosophical books for keeping him on the solid ground of godliness, but nonetheless it was his understanding first of Plato, Aristotle, and other philosophers that effected how he understood the scriptures, that “impressed on [his] memory how [he] was affected by them.” Anyone who has participated in a discussion of a controversial theological subject knows that a person can “teach” just about any personal doctrine from their interpretation of scripture. It was the Hellenization of Christianity that affected the interpretation of the scriptures, and created the idea that what we have in common with God is nothing more than our rational minds.

The argument can be adjusted as follows:

  1. The purpose of the Creation story is to teach man about the character of God, and Genesis 1 showcases God’s almighty power and pragmatism
  2. The traditional philosophical difference between man and animal is a rational soul, but the scriptures do not support this idea; on the contrary, it originates with the pagan philosopher Aristotle, who lived 300 years before Christ.
  3. Thus, philosophy, and not scripture, suggests that instead of a physical body (which animals also have), the image of God found in man is their rational soul (which animals do not have) (2)
  4. Thus, when Genesis 1:26 speaks of man being made in God’s image, it does not refer to a physical, tangible body (3)
  5. Thus, God may be incorporeal (4)

Continued at Part 4.3.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on ““God Has No Body” Part 4.2”

  1. See also in scripture, God is much like man, or vice-versa. He has emotions, He thinks, He wills, He reasons. We are not at His level, just as computers are not at our level. The creation is less than, but like the creator. I would break the computer apart into CPU, HDD and memory, so the thinker, the short term memory, and the long term memory. So it has some of the components we do, but it is a crude facsimile.

    Moreover, you propose God is invisible. I would propose God the Father, specifically.

    John 1:18 – No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

    John 6:46 – No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.

    And Colossians and Hebrews expressly state that the Son is the image f the Father, the representation we can see. Before He had no physical body, but did appear as an angel, known as ‘The Angel of the LORD’ in some places, the pillar of cloud or smoke, the burning bush’, but they were seeing the Son, not the Father.

    After Jesus was raised from the dead, He did ascend bodily up into heaven, and it is quite likely He is who we will ‘see’ in Heaven, though He is one with the Father and the Spirit.

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