Did God Become Man? (part 4 of 5): Did God Become Man, Can God Become Man?
Description: Why logically the concept of God becoming a part of His creation contradicts the basic meaning of the term “God”, and vice versa.
- By Dr. Bilal Philips
- Published on 18 Jun 2007
- Last modified on 11 Jul 2007
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The question which remains is Did God become Man? Logically speaking, the answer is no, because the concept of God becoming man contradicts the basic meaning of the term “God.” People commonly say that God is able to do all things; whatever He wants to do, He can do. In the Bible of Christians it is said, “... through God all things are possible (Matthew, 19: 26; Mark 10: 27, 14: 36).”
The Quran of Muslims states:
“…Indeed, Allah (God) is able to do all things.” (Quran 2:20)
…and the Hindu scriptures carry texts of similar meanings.
All the major religious texts contain general expressions regarding the basic concept of God’s omnipotence. He is Greater than all things, and through Him all things are possible. If this general concept is to be translated into practical terms, one has to first identify and understand the basic attributes of God. Most societies perceive God as an eternal being without beginning or end. If, on the basis that God is able to do all things, and it was asked whether God could die, what would be the answer? Since dying is part of “all things,” can it be said, “If He wants to?” Of course this cannot be said.
So, there is a problem here. God is defined as being ever-living, without end, and dying means “coming to an end.” Consequently, to ask if He can die is actually a nonsensical question. It is self-contradictory. Similarly, to ask whether God can be born, is also absurd because God has already been defined as eternal, having no beginning. Being born means having a beginning, coming into existence after not existing. In this same vein, atheist philosophers enjoy asking theists: “Can God create a stone too heavy for Him to lift?” If the theist says yes, it means that God can create something greater than Himself. And if he says no, it means that God is unable to do all things.
Therefore, the term “all things” in the phrase “God is able to do all things” excludes the absurdities. It cannot include things that contradict His divine attributes; things that would make Him less than God, like, forgetting, sleeping, repenting, growing, eating, etc. Instead, it includes only “all things” that are consistent with Him being God. This is what the statement “God is able to do all things” means. It cannot be understood in the absolute sense; it must be qualified.
The claim that God became man is also an absurdity. It is not befitting of God to take on human characteristics because it means that the Creator has become His creation. However, the creation is a product of the creative act of the Creator. If the Creator became His creation, it would mean that the Creator created Himself, which is an obvious absurdity. To be created, He would first have to not exist, and, if He did not exist, how could He then create? Furthermore, if He were created, it would mean that He had a beginning, which also contradicts His being eternal. By definition creation is in need of a creator. For created beings to exist they must have a creator to bring them into existence. God cannot need a creator because God is the Creator. Thus, there is an obvious contradiction in terms. The claim that God became His creation implies that He would need a creator, which is a ludicrous concept. It contradicts the fundamental concept of God being uncreated, needing no creator and being the Creator.
Can Man Become God?
Man is a finite being (i.e., creation). Man is born, and he dies. These are characteristics which cannot be attributed to God because they equate Him with His creation. Therefore, God did not and will not ever become man. On the other hand, man also cannot become God. The created cannot become its own creator. The created at one time did not exist. It came into being by the creative act of a Creator who always existed. What is nonexistent cannot make itself exist.
As for the parallel concept that the human soul or spirit is divine, it is a way of claiming that man can become God. This philosophy forms the foundation of Greek, Christian and Muslim mysticism, as well as Hindu theology, and extends divinity to all humans and possibly all living creatures. It starts from the premise that, at some time in the history of the universe, bits and pieces of God became surrounded by material bodies and were confined to the earth. In other words, the infinite became contained in the finite. This belief attributes pure evil to God and ultimately eliminates the meaning of good and evil all together. When the human soul intends evil and does it by God’s permission, such an act is purely evil and worthy of punishment. Hence, the concept of karma was invented. Whatever goes around comes around. Karma explains inexplicable suffering by claiming that it is the consequence of evil in a previous life. God ultimately punishes any evil done by the parts of Himself within man. However, if human souls have independent wills from God, they cannot be at the same time God. Thus, each human becomes himself a god.