Monthly Archives: July 2007

The Face of God

The face we assign to God when we are children is a well-worn cliché by now: an old white man with a wise, wrinkly appearance and a long snow-white beard. As we grow older we realize that the probability of God looking like Santa Claus or even George Burns is, indeed, very low.

As I get older (and hopefully, wiser), I realize that the probability of God having human attributes is even lower. We, as human beings, have historically had a tendency to think of God as being physically similar to us, likely because of the belief that He created us. But how probable is this idea?

First of all, if you, like me, assume that there is only one God for all peoples, what would His race be? Would He be white, black, Chinese, Indian? I think the answer is most probably none of the above.

Would this God be male or female? We always refer to God as He, likely because this is the way in which he is referred to in the Holy Books. Yet, at the same time, we are told that God is not a human being. He had no mother or father to speak of, and he cannot have a human relationship, and it follows that He cannot father a child. However, it is a distinct Christian belief that God impregnated the virgin Mary resulting in the future prophet Jesus. (This, of course, also assumes that God is a He.)

I think it is highly unlikely that God has a gender. Having said all this, the attributes we assign to God are overwhelmingly human ones: goodness, kindness, mercy, benevolence. Why do we assume that God is just like us?

I think the reason is that assigning human attributes to God simply makes it easier for us to believe in such a being. Consequently, many of us are guilty of believing in our rabbis, priests, and mullahs, as if they themselves were God.