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What does God look like?
Sometimes, the simplest questions can be the toughest ones, too
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Clyde Kelly, 8, drew God in a scene with birds, grape vines, a butterfly and a tree. He also included something he learned in school, the Native American symbol for the Holy Spirit.

There are some spiritual questions that are so basic - but they are difficult to answer.

For example, have you ever wondered what God looks like?

Since only a few people actually saw God in the Bible, it's a tricky question to resolve. But religious scholars do have a few explanations.

"I think that (scholars) certainly understand the mystery of God," said Andrea Birch, the dean of the school of fine arts and humanities and professor of philosophy at Brenau University. "At the same time they understand the deep human need - it seems almost built in - to search for something more or feel that there is a higher power."

But because the question is so simple, even a child can offer an explanation. We visited Sunday school at the First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville and asked children there how they would draw a picture of God.

Mary Evelyn Brock, 8, drew God standing on a cloud holding her hand with the sun in the background. But she said she hadn't ever thought about what God looked like.

"Well, I've seen pictures of him in the Bible and these little Bible books that I have, so I've looked at them and I've thought about them but not really thought about it," she said.

And, in her drawing, God is wearing boxing gloves.

"He is holding my hand because I love him," she said. "He has gloves on ... I thought it would look funny."

Birch said many people feel it is important to put a face to God.

"I think that is our human need to try and understand something and have something recognizable," she said. "That is a classic dilemma; feminists sometimes say maybe it's a woman ... so I do think we feel comfortable with a face. We certainly like the idea of a father or mother, something that we can relate to in some way.

"But that has its drawbacks because whatever you make God, then it can look like he is excluded what he's not."

The Rev. Randall Popham, pastor at Lanier Hills Church, agreed that people have the need to think of God like us.

"He is, in a sense, like us," he said. "We were created in his image. But he is so much more beyond us, and we do it as a way to bring him down to our level. But he is so much bigger than that. He is a god of wonder."

In all of the children's drawings, God was in a human body, but the surroundings changed a bit.

Hannah Kelly, 6, drew God with brightly colored sparkles and light all around. She also added a window to his bedroom so he could see outside.

Vivian Robinson, 6, and Brooks Turner, 7, both drew God in vivid colors standing on the grass, in heaven, with clouds all around.

Both Hank Robinson, 9, and Keith Zottnick, 10, thought God would be clothed in a robe, sitting in heaven on a cloud.

But Zottnick had an interesting addition to his drawing - an asteroid.

Clyde Kelly, 8, also added a unique touch to his artistry. His take on what God looks like is a drawing with beautiful trees, birds, butterflies, flowers and grape vines and a bold Native American symbol.

"It is the Indian symbol for the Holy Spirit, I believe, but I might not be using the right colors," he said.

"The Scripture says we've never seen God face to face," Popham said. "But we've seen likenesses of him."

Popham mentioned that Moses and Abraham saw God but "he always had a different form and nobody saw him face to face," he said.

Children have such different but similar views of God's image, which is precisely the religious paradox Birch described.

"One of the most profound things that I think is someone like (20th Century philosopher Ludwig) Wittgenstein that talks about God like a paradox," she said. "So we end up saying God is everything, God is nothing. Our language can't hold it, so we say things that are contradictory like ‘God is everything, God is nothing, God is everywhere, God is nowhere.'"

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