“God Has No Body” Part 4.4

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.

In Part 4.2, I challenged the second premise. The premise originally stated that the difference between man and animal was a rational soul. I argued that the veracity of this claim is more or less irrelevant, for the idea is philosophical, not scriptural. Thus, we should not put faith in it the same way we would put faith in Biblical teachings. As a side note, I showed that this was a good example of how Christianity was influenced by Greek philosophy, or Hellenized.

In Part 4.3, I challenged the third premise. This premise originally concluded that the image of God found in man was a rational soul. It was weakened by the changes made to premises 1 and 2, and was forced to be changed to include the caveat that such ideas were philosophical. I further argued (with the assistance of FAIR when it came to the Hebrew language of the original text) that when looking at the context of the verses, it was clear that it was far more likely that “image” referred to a physical, corporeal body than to a rational soul.

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); alternately, scripture suggests that image refers to a physical, corporeal likeness.
  4. Thus, when Genesis 1:26 speaks of man being made in God’s image, it is unlikely that such a reference is to a rational soul.  Rather, it is much more likely that the reference, while not excluding a rational soul, is to a physical, corporeal body (1) (2) (3)
  5. Thus, if God’s “image” refers to a physical body, God is corporeal (4)

Conclusion

Having investigated all the claims made in the original argument, it is clear that the foundational statements that led to the conclusion that God may be incorporeal were erroneous. This adjusted argument is much more accurate. Consequently (and ironically), it leads instead to a conclusion that God may be corporeal rather than incorporeal.

It is important to note that this argument is still inductive. We can only make a conclusion that is conditional (“if…”). Still, it is conditional for a much different reason than the original argument. The original argument was conditional because it was so narrow. Genesis 1:26 could refer to a rational soul, but God could still be corporeal. The scripture didn’t say enough one way or the other.

This new argument is conditional only because some may argue (however badly) that the only similarity between man and God is a rational soul. Because no argument is set in stone, and others may challenge the fourth premise above, the conclusion is uncertain. Yet, as the conclusion says, if God’s “image” truly refers to a physical body, then it is certain that he is corporeal.

That is a much stronger conclusion, and a powerful bit of evidence in favor of the anthropomorphites’ claim that God is embodied.

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5 thoughts on ““God Has No Body” Part 4.4”

    1. You’re exactly right! Jesus has a body, and that’s what this post series is about. Most Christians today believe God to be disembodied, an essential element of the doctrine of the Trinity.

  1. Is it? Tell me more, I find the concept of the trinity mysteriously fascinating. it’s something that once you think you’ve grasped it, you realise you haven’t! But I’ve found the essentials to be: The Father, the Son and the holy spirit are are equal in Godliness… the Son submits to the father (though that doesn’t mean the son is less equal, a bit like the husband and wife in marriage) then the holy spirit is Gods messenger kind of thing. Ha, not the best explanation. But I’ve never heard of ‘disembodiment’ and ‘trinity’ together (as an essential element, as you put it). I’m intrigued, tell me more…

    1. Mormons believe that the doctrine of the Trinity was not taught by the apostles of Jesus, but instead crept into the doctrine of the early Church after their death. It’s much closer to the Greek conception of God taught by philosophers like Plato.

      At it’s core, the doctrine is meant to be incomprehensible to our finite minds, so no worries on your explanation. It’s a doosey! But that is one thing I have a hard time with, for didn’t the Savior himself say that “This is life eternal, that they might know thee” (John 17:3)?

      The Nature of God can be a big subject. Why not start here – http://mormon.org/faq/nature-of-god/ – to see what Mormons believe, and if you have specific questions, feel free to message me.

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