Picking holes in the belief systems of the religious is a fun but ultimately unsatisfying exercise.
By definition, faith doesn’t require empirical evidence. Therefore anyone with an enquiring mind can use the Socratic method to dismiss claims of the reality of reincarnation, prophets flying to the moon on winged horses or all animal life descending from ancestors saved from a flood on a boat.
We couldn’t let this pass, however; Episcopal Church considers making God gender neutral.
The headline is, in itself, amusing. Presumably God might have an opinion that should be considered by the committee, given that he/she/zhe will have to live with their decision?
I’m sure the church committee wouldn’t have phrased the headline in the same way so we won’t dwell too long on it.
Obviously the motivation behind this investigation is erm, something, something, blah, blah, diversity and inclusion.
One wonders whether there’s a a risk of a guest appearance by our old friend the law of unintended consequences, however?
Let’s look at the uneasy relationship the Christian faith has had with science, particularly evolutionary biology over the previous 159 years. There has been a cautious dance undertaken by people of faith to accomodate the increasing evidence that all life today is a result of millions of years of evolution and, therefore, the planet and all the beasties crawling on it wasn’t actually created in 6 days a few thousand years ago.
Somehow, otherwise intelligent senior members of the church have managed to negotiate a position whereby God still exists but the parts of the bible that seem to describe particular biological or geological situations that conflict with observed reality are to be taken as symbolism not “gospel truth”.
So, a gender neutral God, what’s the problem?
Firstly, perhaps we should remind ourselves of the evolutionary history and purpose of there being any genders at all. Put simply, having 2 distinct genders enables genes to be more effectively passed on to the next generation as new combinations will find evolutionary advantages that neither parent might have exploited with theirs.
Gender, therefore, is a function of reproduction.
A discussion about the gender of the creator of the universe and all life therein should also seek to answer what purpose the gender (or not) serves?
Does God reproduce sexually? If so, with whom? Mrs. God?
If God doesn’t need to reproduce sexually, then there’s no obvious use for a gender for God. Presumably this is going to be the crucial question the church committee pondering God’s gender has to get to grips with.
A supplemental question might be, “if God has a neutral gender, how might he/she/zhe reproduce?”. Presumably reproduction does occur by God as humans were made in their image (Genesis 1:27).
It might seem like a smart move to decree that the Christian God is gender neutral, but it risks opening up a much wider set of questions for which the church may struggle to find comforting answers.
Ultimately, the dogma behind most religions (probably all religions but I’ve not investigated every one) require a suspension of the use of logic and empirical evidence. Exposing logical fallacies with religion is therefore the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.