Zelophehad’s Daughters

Could God Have a Tail?

Posted by Kiskilili

Our insistence on an embodied (male) God leaves us open to all sorts of doctrinal head-scratchers, especially regarding the relationship between the universal and the particular: can God in some way be a prototypical human male encapsulating or representative of characteristics of all, or is he just one more specific example in the category “human male,” with his own particular physiological racial characteristics (aboriginal Australian, say), bone structure, height, eye color, earlobe attachment, etc.?

Just for fun, let’s take this line of questioning in a more radical direction.  It’s clear that evolution has left us with several physical indignities that have yet to be straightened out:  back pain, Rh factors endangering the lives of some infants, enormous brains that don’t pass comfortably through the birth canal. Although God is a member of our species, as it were, it’s also clear that physically he is not exactly like us–not possessing blood, for one thing. Is it possible that evolution (even if teleological) significantly over- or undershot? Might God, the perfect male human exemplar of which we are only imperfect imitations, have a tail, for example, or ears on top of his head? Could he have an inner eyelid or retractable claws? Might he possess physical characteristics we can barely fathom, like sensory organs enabling him to perceive the world in ways beyond what we’re capable of (i.e. a sixth or seventh sense)? Or does God look basically like the guy down the street, and if so, what makes this particular physical form so special (when lions, for example, can see and hear so much better and run so much faster)?

26 Responses to “Could God Have a Tail?”

  1. 1.

    God is tall, broad-shouldered, with long white hair and a beard. And he wears a robe that comes down to his feet, open at the chest, but doesn’t show any nipple. And he glows. I thought you knew, that, k…

    Actually, this is a really intriguing question. Last night I went to see District 9, which involves [SPOILER ALERT] a man who morphs and takes on the form of one of the aliens. (All that jerky handheld camera action gave me motion sickness, though.) Your questions made me think of that movie. I don’t have any answers, though.

  2. 2.

    But how do we know there wasn’t a tail under that robe? ;)

    It does sound like a sci-fi movie, doesn’t it?

  3. 3.

    retractable claws?

    I know I plan to someday get me some of these in the eternities to come. Mine will be made out of adamanium too.

  4. 4.

    It’s clear that evolution

    I quit reading right there.

    Since there is no such thing as evil-ution, I’m not going to pollute my mind by reading the rest of these so-called philosophies of women. There’s no need to spend out time speculating about something that hasn’t been through correlation. The Committee will tell us all we need to know.

  5. 5.

    Actually, we do have at least a few instances where Christ’s current appearance is described.

    ” When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.
    And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.”

    And riffing on glory which we do not now enjoy.

    “We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.

    His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters”

    HTH ;) ~

  6. 6.

    How do we know God doesn’t have blood? What happened to the food Jesus ate post-resurrection if it didn’t get broken down an absorbed into his blood stream in his small intestine?

    If resurrected people don’t have blood then they don’t need food, and I don’t think I’ll much like being resurrected if I can’t eat!

  7. 7.

    I’ve always really liked that vision, Thomas. Speaking of riffing, it seems Joseph Smith was partially inspired, at least in his rhetorical turns of phrase, by Ezekiel 1, no? “I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty,” for example.

    What strikes me is that the resurrected Jesus is (a) “a man like ourselves” and (b) someone whose countenance is brighter than the sun and whose eyes are flames of fire–in other words, not really like ourselves.

    Of course this is Jesus and not the Father in any event. I wonder, though, specifically what we can extrapolate about resurrected beings. I was taught in seminary, for example–based on this vision–that everyone would have white hair in heaven. A girl in the class objected that she liked her brown hair and was told to go to the terrestrial kingdom, where the brown-haired people live.

  8. 8.

    That’s a good question, Emily. It was always pointed out to me that the “Father has a body of flesh and bones” (D&C 130:22) rather than “flesh and blood.” Not terribly convincing evidence. In any case, I always wondered what God was planning to do with the hordes of resurrected mosquitoes in the next life.

  9. 9.

    I know I plan to someday get me some of these in the eternities to come.

    It seems like they could be really useful. But maybe not for activities appropriate to heaven.

  10. 10.

    It seems like they could be really useful. But maybe not for activities appropriate to heaven.

    I can think of many peaceful uses for retractable claws. How about getting the shrink wrap off a new DVD? Or maybe slicing a tomato for a BLT? Picking flowers from the garden? They could also be used for more fun things, like popping bubble wrap. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination.

  11. 11.

    Good point, CS Eric. They could also be used to open those evil hard plastic packages that accompany so many electronic devices.

    Kiskilili, this post reminds me of an interesting question my son asked me this morning. He asked why, if God is the god of the whole universe, and there are likely aliens out there, God looks like us and not the aliens (assuming the aliens don’t look like us).

  12. 12.

    No. 11, oh Ziff, your son just blew my mind! What a great question!

    This reminds me of the split in opinion on whether Jesus is the one savior for all the universe, or whether each world has its own. The former view seems to be more common these days (the neo-orthodox take). But have you seen that NASA picture of how inconsequential earth is among the celestial bodies? So we just happened to luck out and be born on the same planet the one and only Savior of all creation everywhere experienced his mortal life? That idea seems so preposterous that people then make up apologia to try to defend it, to wit, that we were the only world wicked enough to actually crucify him.

    My head is exploding!

  13. 13.

    “A girl in the class objected that she liked her brown hair and was told to go to the terrestrial kingdom, where the brown-haired people live.”

    Snort.

    I think there are bodies Telestial, Terrestrial and Celestial, at least. I have no idea what that might mean for skin and hair color. It may be that Christ appears as he does only because he is being viewed with human eyes. Maybe to those He is living with, his hair is perfectly … whatever.

    I don’t prefer blonds, myself. But I’ve always been (too) persuadable.

    “So we just happened to luck out and be born on the same planet the one and only Savior of all creation everywhere experienced his mortal life? ”

    I’ve never believed this, Kevin. It’s a dodge. As my grandpa (who married a Barney) used to say “It doesn’t warsh.” There is another explanation for the Son creating all worlds. But I’m not going to go into what I do believe. I think sometimes the language of the scriptures is meant to force us to learn spiritually … because the language is poetic and symbolic. I think the type that says “words have meaning” will have the most difficult time understanding some things. I think I take the opposite tack of the mystics – the Mormon thing to do – which is to be the most literal when the scriptures read the most anthropomorphic and limiting. ~

  14. 14.

    If we are what God once was and He is what we can become, then how in the world is Christ the Savior of the whole universe? Just our God’s universe? And when does Christ get his own universe? And is there something inherent in being male that makes Christ perfect and thus could be our Savior? Is there a female counterpart? Could a woman be a Savior? Off topic, I know…just got me thinking!

    When I’m resurrected I’d like to look like Storm or Rogue…I want to be a buff hottie in the next life!

  15. 15.

    Well, we all know what Margaret Toscano thinks that God has . . . :P

  16. 16.

    Assuming God is a perfect being, we just need to ask if God having a tail is a more perfect state than not having one. On the one hand, having something like a prehensile tail adds to versatility and one with such an appendage could be deemed a more perfect being than without. On the other hand, even a prehensile tail seems pretty superfluous for an omnipotent, so one could argue that having a superfluous appendage is less perfect.

    Of course the second argument could likewise be extended to pretty much any part of the physical body. I.e., can God hear everything he wants even if he’s wearing Bode earphones? (or in vacuum?) if yes, ears would be superfluous and one could argue that having needless ears makes him less perfect so we should assume God has no ears. So it seems that if God has ears, he should have a tail, and if he does not have a tail, he has no ears.

  17. 17.

    You mean he’s not a vegetarian vampire?

    I’ve always wondered how the individual quirks of our particular bodies will be translated into perfected, celestial bodies. Will I still have the scars on my skin that tell the stories of my mishaps? Will hair and fingernails still grow and need to be cut? Will there be warts and hairy moles and birthmarks and stretch marks and cellulite? Will I need a push-up bra to have any shape?

  18. 18.

    like ourselves

    I’m glad to see people talking about this again. I remember being in law school and raising the question if one of my room mates was human? If so, how far a variance can exist and one still be human? How many genetic abnormalities, including different numbers of chromosomes and DNA changes can leave one still human?

    The answer, I think, is quite a few and quite far variance. Then we get to different orders of creation (the four exalted beasts John saw, who were individuals, but who represented orders and who qualified for exultation [they were happy -- ok, why not a pun in the middle of this comment?] in the kingdom of God).

    What is perfection? I laughed when a guy I knew told me that Farrah F was the archetype of celestial appearance … I hope I was right in my response, but it draws out the question of what is relevant and what is not.

    So, a tail, ears on the top of his head, three fingers and two thumbs on each of four hands with retractable claws and no legs or feet? Well, everything but the tail (or have we decided that the Hapsburgs who had tails due to inbreeding were no longer human or potential heirs of salvation)?

  19. 19.

    He asked why, if God is the god of the whole universe, and there are likely aliens out there, God looks like us and not the aliens (assuming the aliens don’t look like us).

    Oh come on. Haven’t you seen the movies? The aliens that don’t look like us all look kinda fake, don’t you think? Of course the aliens look like us.

  20. 20.

    I’ve always liked the analogy of us living in two dimensions with God living in three. If you have a bunch of stick figures (us) living on the surface of a piece of paper, God can sit out there watching everything happening on the paper. But say He wants to make an appearance. He can lie down on the paper too, and suddenly he appears out of nowhere and “looks like us”. But we can’t see the half of Him.

    This may be a bit of cop-out (“we can’t comprehend God”), but it helps explain why a resurrected Christ “looks like us”, eats like us, talks like us (unless He chooses to up the watttage), and yet is so much more.

  21. 21.

    I really like the idea of God being in a higher dimension, Martin.

    I’ve heard of people having tails, but not the Hapsburgs, Stephen! That’s wild!

    I’ve wondered the same things, Rachel; actually, I’d like to look completely different post-Resurrection. Either a redhead or an Indian–that would be my first choice.

    My thoughts have run along similar lines to Northbound Zax’s. In general, I’m not sure how to combine the limited anthropomorphic God of parts of the Bible and the omnipotent, omniscient creature of the philosophers. If God is omnipotent anyway, what use would he have for opposeable thumbs, for example?

    And this brings us to Kaimi’s/Margaret’s point: how can a male God transcend the particulars of his own bodily experience? We’re the ones saying “gender” (whatever we mean by that) is eternal, that male experience and female experience have always been and will always be different. Logically, that limits God. If God can transcend gender, then gender isn’t terribly eternal.

    I’ve often wondered (like Kaylana) whether we could have had a female Savior. It was interesting doing research for my presention to find quotes to the effect that what Adam did was next to what Jesus did. When we elevate the Fall that high, we seem to shy away from the implications for gender: it barely sounds Mormon to suggest that what Eve did was next to what Jesus did. When we speak of powerful cosmological figures, we speak almost invariably of males.

  22. 22.

    Some of the responses in this thread have been very interesting and entertaining (LOL Northbound Zax and Stephen M). What has struck me about all this is why one form of speculation (does God have a tail?) is so amusing, but another kind (the nature of the Goddess and her relationship to God and us) just makes my brain shut down.

    Probably because I don’t think the one is as important, and doesn’t hit so close to home.

  23. 23.

    Ziff,

    Kiskilili, this post reminds me of an interesting question my son asked me this morning. He asked why, if God is the god of the whole universe, and there are likely aliens out there, God looks like us and not the aliens (assuming the aliens don’t look like us)

    Wasn’t that resolved in Babylon 5?

    For those who don’t get the reference, the Vorlons are an advanced species who make themselves look like the spiritual leaders of each various alien race when they come out of their shells. :)

    So essentially God would appear to a 3 legged tailed alien species as a 3 legged tailed God. And to us he would appear like us. :)

  24. 24.

    If you accept divine concert theory, the question here is more or less irrelevant. I don’t see any rule that you have to be male to be exalted, for example.

  25. 25.

    Kiskilili, I like asking these kind of questions…a lot. Thanks for expounding on this one..and very articulately too.

  26. 26.

    Mark, I’m not sure how to understand your response–perhaps you think I was using “tail” euphemistically for “male member”? I can assure you I was being quite literal. For a discussion of God’s member, no doubt equally fascinating, see Margaret Toscano’s recent paper.

    Thanks, D’Arcy–it’s nice to see you here! I wish we’d had a chance to chat more at Sunstone. :)

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