F Rosa Rubicondior: God's Body

Tuesday 27 March 2012

God's Body

What's this strange passage from the Christian Bible all about?

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:26-27

Think about this for a moment. Oh, I know die-hard Christians will say this refers to some sort of 'spiritual' image or likeness, whatever that is, but that can be easily dismissed. The word 'image' refers to something you can see. At a stretch it can mean a mental picture of something. So it very clearly means in the physical likeness of this god; looking like it, and whoever else it was referring to by 'our image'.

So from this we can be fairly sure that, if it's not a mistake, whoever wrote this thought this god (and the others) looked like a human.

But why do humans look the way they do?

Firstly, adult humans come in two types, male and female. They have quite different reproductive organs with different functions (about which more later). They also have slightly different pelvic skeletons to do with these reproductive functions.

Humans have heads with the main control centre of the nervous system in it. Their head also has sensory organs for seeing, hearing, tasting and smelling, and openings for food and an airway for eating, drinking and breathing.

What would an omniscient god need sensory organs and a central nervous system for? What would it need to eat, drink and breath for, and what would happen if it stopped eating, drinking or breathing? Presumably it wouldn't die because it's omnipotent, isn't it?

So, if this god wouldn't need a head what has it got one for?

Humans have chests with lungs and a heart in and ribs to protect them and to allow it to expand and relax to move air in and out of the lungs. They have this because they need to breath in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide so their bodies work. They have a heart to pump blood around the body to take this oxygen to the rest of the body and to bring carbon dioxide back to the lungs. This blood also takes nourishment around the body.

What would an omnipotent god need a chest with lungs and a heart for? If this god wouldn't need a chest, what has it got one for?

And what does it have on the front of this chest it doesn't need? Does it have male or female breasts?

What does it need an abdomen for if it doesn't need to digest food, excrete urine and faeces and filter impurities, toxins and dead blood cells?

What does it need arms and legs for, and a musculo-skeletal system for locomotion? If it is omnipresent it has no need for movement. Why would it need a covering of skin for protection and temperature regulation and something to grow hair and nails from?

And which set of genitalia does it have; male or female? And what does it need them for if it doesn't reproduce like mammals do?

In short, why would an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent god who lives somewhere other than Earth have a body fitted for living and reproducing in an Earthly environment with Earth's gravity, for finding shelter and food and mates and avoiding predators? And why would it look like a mammal of the anthropoid family?

I wonder if whoever wrote that passage got it wrong and meant to say:
“Let us make a god in our image, in our likeness, so we can claim it said we may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So men created a god in their own image, in the image of men they created him; male they created him because they weren't female.
Genesis 1:26-27
(Honest version)

That's probably what they meant. It's the only thing that makes sense unless they were very simple and, with the arrogance of ignorance and the over-confidence of the second rate, assumed they must be a lot like gods.

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  1. God needed an abdomen so he could sit in the shade (out of the heat of the sun) with Abram (soon to be Abraham), and eat lunch (Genesis 18:1-11). Duh!

    The Bible is funny, and it just keeps getting funnier every time I read it.

  2. Later in Genesis it becomes clear that being "in the image of god" does refer to physical appearance. Adam "begat" a son in his own "image and likeness." The words here are exactly the same used when talking about the creation of man.
    Of course, there are later instances where some people (Moses for example) actually see Yahweh physically, and he's man-shaped.

  3. In Genesis 1:26-27 you are taking the English term "image" to mean "physical appearance". The underlying hebrew tselem doesn't mean "physical appearance" but rather is akin to a shadow or shade likeness. What we are dealing with in the term is not any sort of hokey spiritual meaning of the term but it is rather a common metaphysical depiction perhaps most closely explained by Platonic typology. What scripture is saying is that man is created so that his essence is a shadow / shade/ type of God's essence. What man has in his own nature has a certain participation in God's own nature. No recognized Jewish or Christian interpretation of scripture teaches that "image" here means "physical appearance".

    How do I know what I am saying is correct? Well the Jews translated the Hebrew bible into Greek centuries before Christianity and the Greek translation here here is εικονα/ icon, a term that has very specific meaning in Platonic metaphysics.

    A lot of problem that people have with scripture is simply because they are using a modern metaphysics to interpret a text that was written using a dissimilar metaphysics. The bible is much more rational if the right metaphysics is used.

  4. You've touched on something here that I was thinking about recently. Rather than try to reiterate, I'll just paste the comments I posted on Facebook...

    Me: I would ask, rhetorically, is God in harmony with Nature? Then He must be a product of it, and therefore Nature precedes God.

    Bob: I don't see how one follows from the other. What necessitates that nature precede?

    Me: Because presumably - if you take the Biblical God character seriously - God has parts, has thoughts that come and go, has concerns with temporal activities, and therefore is subject to change. Anything subject to change must occupy some kind of continuum, and unless that continuum is co-integral with God, then God is separate from the continuum. Likewise, the concepts of Heaven and Satan - if one takes them literally - imply that there are beings and places existing in the same transcendent continuum, and those beings and places are also subject to change and have temporal concerns.

    Shortly after that another thing occurred to me. "Here's a naive question. If there could be a single God coming into existence ex nihilo then what is to prevent an infinite number of such events? Discuss."

    1. Is nature in harmony with God? Then nature must be a product of God.

      Both Plato and Aristotle have laid out sufficiently from a philosophical only point of view why nature comes from god not the other way around.

      Part of the problem with your conundrum is that you are reading the bible incorrectly. How do we know? It is basic philosophy that empirical things cannot be positive evidence for God. Therefore any empirical descriptors of God's nature in literature can only serve as indicators of what God is like not what God is. Thus when scripture states anything empirical about God's nature, we know these are allegory not literal statements of fact.

    2. Plato and Aristole both make the fundamental epistemiological error of believing that you can learn about reality just by thinking, rather than by actually observing it. This error was not corrected in the West until the Enlightenment, at which point science started actually making progress.

  5. Here is the result of an individual opening the Bible to page 1, intentionally searching for a statement he cannot (or more likely refuses to) comprehend, and drawing the conclusion that because he cannot/will not comprehend the truth behind the statement, it must therefore be false. This entire blog is built on the incorrect assumption that "image" should be taken as implying "physical likeness." It should not. I should imagine that that would be obviou. Anyone who reflected on that statement, especially in light of the entirety of scripture, for any significant amount of time could not possibly reach that conclusion. In fact, the only conceivable explanation for an individual's arriving at this conclusion is his having already determined that, regardless of what his reflection (or lack of) should reveal to him, he is not going to allow the possibility that this passage is anything but false into his mind. The premise of the author's entire argument is so easily swept aside that it hardly seems necessary to adress the exposition that follows. As Christ himself has put it, you have built your house on sand.

    1. So you haven't got anything sensible to say about the blog and have had to fall back on condescension, ad hominem and assertion to try to tell yourself you've dismissed it.

      Don't you ever wish you had to spend less time coping with cognitive dissonance and had a world view closer to reality and less based on belief in magic and mythology?

    2. What difference does it make how we interpret the word "image?" God apparently cared so little for his creation that he set them up for failure by telling them not to eat from a particular tree and then in a lapse of his own omniscience (how did that happen?) let Satan momentarily exit hell to tempt man in the form of a snake. He knew man would fail before creating them and then booted his creation from the garden they did what he already knew they would do. He is either evil or not omniscient or both.

  6. As you know -- you mentioned it elsewhere -- this text actually says something like:

    Genesis 1:26-27

    "Then the gods said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

    So the gods created mankind in their own image, in the image of the gods they created them; male and female they created them."

    Elohim is *plural*.

    Specifically, the plural of the generic Semitic word for "god", "El". The translation of "elohim" as "God" rather than gods is a common piece of mistranslation performed by both Christians and Jews, because the actual translation doesn't suit monotheistic doctrine. The gross dishonesty of this is evident when "elohim" is translated as "gods" in other contexts in the Bible (such as "you shall have no other gods before me").

    The text of Genesis predates monotheistic doctrine.

  7. I think upon closer scrutiny, the made in our image statement refers to us creating our miniature world (our personal Reality) with our spoken words just as God created all of creation with His spoken words.
    There by we are made in his image, we function as He functions. We do not look like Him nor have the same Physical structure or union of parts as He. We function as He functions, spirit formed into words and those words Spoken out loud bring forth and create Physical things here in our Physical world. As he used the Logos to Create , we use the Logos to create. So we are made in His image.

    1. Is that closer scrutiny before or after hitting the bong? Those words spoken, not 'communicated'. Spoken with what? A mouth? Vocal cords? The respiration of air? In NO WAY does it refer to US creating anything. It is a very specific non metaphorical creation myth.

    2. What the hell does 'we use the Logos to create' mean anyway? Just another way of saying it's all magic?


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