February 23, 2003 / Volume 3, Issue 8
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
The Bible states that God is "spirit", ie. non-physical (John 4:24), and yet he is always called ‘him' or ‘he' as if he had a male body. Also, we read of God's feet (Psalm 18:9), arms (Jeremiah 27:5), wings (Psalm 36:7), hands (Job 27:11), eyes (Deuteronomy 8:3), mouth (Isaiah 1:20), ears (2 Chronicles 6:40), nostrils (Exodus 15:8) and legs (Genesis 3:8). Is there a contradiction?
The fact that body parts are often used to describe the Lord does not mean that He has a physical body. Certainly, if the reader will only consider a literal understanding of the words, then a contradiction is present. However, having been told in Scripture that God is not flesh and bones as we are (John 4:24, compare Luke 24:39), then it ought to be apparent that the references to various body parts is not intended to be understood literally.
When we read of the Lord's arms, His wings, His hands, often the writer's intent is to convey the care and love which God has for us, as a parent would hold his child or a bird would cuddle her young in her wings. The mouth of the Lord should bring to mind His word, the ears of the Lord speak of Him hearing the petitions of those who pray to him. In each case, the Bible writers are using physical descriptions to convey to us the actions and works of God.
The fact that God is called ‘him' or ‘he' throughout the Bible does not mean He has a physical male body. Men will often speak of a car in the female gender. Does that mean the car has the anatomy of a woman? Neither does God have any physical attributes which make Him a male. However, using masculine descriptive words helps to convey to us the work of God and His relationship to man. He is our heavenly Father. He is the Lord (master). These descriptive terms help us to understand in part the Lord's character.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible.