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Drawing the Face of God -- Writer's Poke #424

In his TED Talk entitled “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” Sir Ken Robinson tells the story of a little girl in art class. When an adult asked her what she was drawing, she said, “I’m drawing God.” 

“But how can you draw God?” asked the adult. “No one knows what He looks like.” 

“They will in a minute,” she replied.

What a great response, and how true. This little girl has just as much right to decide what God looks like as anyone else, and yet there are some people that claim the right to tell us what God looks like. But just as we cannot know what God looks like, we also cannot know what God “wants," although again, there are plenty of people that will try to tell us what He wants.

Why do we let them? The adult in Robinson’s story above does not give the child the worst response possible, as a far worse response would have been for the adult to tell the girl what God looks like. Most people have no real sense of God, other than what they’ve been told. Most of us might understand that God isn’t really a large white man with a beard, but we nevertheless tend to picture Him that way; more importantly, we also tend to picture God as being the sort of God we have been taught by our cultural traditions. 

Obviously not everyone in the United States views God in exactly the same way, but the point remains: How many of us assume the right to draw God for ourselves – not only his physical image, but also God in the larger “purpose” sense? Sometimes I wish people could take their engrained beliefs and erase them as though they were written on an Etch-a-sketch. Unfortunately, our learned beliefs often permanently imprint themselves on our brains, and it’s difficult to ever know exactly what we think, or what we might have thought without the unfortunate contamination of those who came before us.

Draw a word picture of your idea of God. How much of your picture is original, and how much of it is derivative? 

“Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative (although the word derivative as a criticism is itself derivative). We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time.” – Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl


  1. Interesting. Can you give a proof that is epistemologically sound that no one can know what God looks like? You assert that the little girl has as much right as anyone else to decide what God looks like. I agree that the little girl has as much right as any other EXCEPT God to "decide" what God looks like. Of course if God does not exist then no one can decide what the non existent one looks like, I guess.

    Of course the shocker I heard many years ago about the person who claimed to have seen God, and was asked to tell them what God looked like, gave the simple answer "She's black". But can you know, again with certainty that will satisfy whatever rules exist for epistemology that now one can know various things about God? Of course if God lives/exists but is for whatever reason not observable by most human senses, it would be very difficult for people who rely on only the human senses other than those "special" ones to perceive God, wouldn't it?

    Is it rather a losing cause to try to prove the existence of God to one who cannot or will not believe? Of course. Is it less a losing cause to try to prove there is not God to one who "know" from experiences not necessarily perceived by others that God really is?

    This man is a pretty good stand up comic. That is good since I am not sure he is very creative. But I agree and have for a long time that most schools tend to take the creative from kids.

    Are you confident that you do not do that?

    1. Oh come on. Just draw your word picture of God. Be original, and have fun. :)

  2. He has a good idea of what he thinks is needed. I did not really get an idea how he thought we could get to it.

    1. He's written a few books. Read them. No, he cannot do it by himself. If enough people read his books and listen to him speak, then maybe something can change.


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