Many years ago, I was at a University in the State of Andhra Pradesh, India to speak in an Open Forum on the “Evolution-Creation Controversy.” The auditorium was packed with postgraduate students, some research scholars, and a few faculty members. The lecture went well. I presented evidence from different branches of biology – molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, and paleontology that go against the theory of evolution and support the idea that God created the universe and everything in it, instead.
The Q&A time began and after I answered a few questions that were given in writing, the Head of the Department of Zoology stood up, made a brief comment, and then asked a question. He said, “Mr. Sudhakar, we cannot deny the evidence that you have presented to support your claim that the case for evolution is very weak and the evidence supports the conclusion that there must be a God. I do believe that there is a God. But I have a question. What is the sex of this God? Is it a He or a She or an It?
In response to this question, everyone present broke into laughter. I was a bit uncomfortable. I sent forth a telegraphic prayer and the answer came back almost instantaneously. God brought to memory a few things that I had learnt earlier that could help me answer the question. While thanking God in my heart, I was able to give an answer to the professor. I said, “Sir, if you do not mind, I would like to ask you a question, which would be a part of my answer.” The professor responded positively and so I said, “Sir, your question is exactly like that question that I am going to ask and the question is this – How many liters of love do you have for your wife?” The whole auditorium broke into laughter again. The professor was laughing as well, but was a little uncomfortable and I could see it. I then asked the audience if they understood the relationship or connection between the professor’s question and my question. The response I got was silence. They knew something was wrong with the question, but they did not understand. So I explained, saying, “We laugh at some of the questions because we know that there is something intrinsically wrong with them, whether we know it or not. If you consider my question to the professor carefully, you will know that liter is not a unit of measurement that we use when we talk about love. Liter is all right and relevant when we talk about liquids like water, milk, and oil. But you cannot use liter as a unit of measurement when we talk about love, which is not physical and liquid. This type of questions actually confuse categories and in philosophy they are referred to as nonsensical or meaningful questions.”
I pointed out to the professor very gently that just as liter is irrelevant when we talk about love; gender is irrelevant and does not make sense when we talk about God. Then I reminded him of what I had already explained: God was there before anything of the material-physical and time-space universe ever existed and He brought everything into existence. This means that God must be non-physical and non-temporal. If He is non-physical, then He must be non-biological as well, because gender is a characteristic of biological entities like animals, plants, or human beings that are a part of the physical-material universe. I explained further that God is trans-sexual and hence it becomes irrelevant to talk about that being’s gender. It does not make sense. We are mixing categories (the physical and the non-physical) here and making a ‘category mistake’, as it is described in logic. The professor nodded in agreement and sat down.
Then I went on to explain that the Bible uses the term, ‘He’ with reference to God both in the Old and New Testaments, not because He is a ‘male God’, but because God is a person and we are familiar only with male or female persons. This makes sense because the God of the Bible knew that there would be a point in human history when the trans-sexual and non-physical God, who is a Spirit, would come into the history in the form of a human being and that human being would be a man (for reasons well known to Him). So, I think, to maintain consistency throughout the Bible, even in the Old Testament God chose to use the personal pronoun ‘He’ with reference to Himself.
It is also interesting to note that in the Bible the traits that are there both in man and woman are found in God. This means that both men and women received some of those uniquely masculine or feminine traits or characteristics from the same God. God created both man and woman in His image and likeness and it is together that humans reflect the image of God. At this point, I saw people nodding their heads in agreement and the rest of the open forum went very well. I had an opportunity to clarify things further about God and how we could know God. You can see how the principles of apologetics (the principle of using questions that cause others to stop and think) can be put to effective use in our interactions with our non-Christian friends and lead the discussion in the direction of truth.
Note: A version of this was published in Apologia: Reasoned Answers for Life (April – June 2003, pp. 12-13).