God Cannot Be Physical
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: I'm confused. You say that we should not come up with our own definitions of God. Yet, you say it is impossible for God to become physical. Isn't that limiting God? Where are the scripture verses that support your assertion that God can never become physical?
Mesora: Man cannot perceive that which is imperceptible, I refer to God. This is why one cannot come up with "definitions" of God. As Maimonides teaches, what we know of God is always in the negative. We cannot know what He is, we can only know what He is not, i.e. He is not physical, He is not emotional, He is not governed by anything, including time, he is not affected by anything, including His creations' actions.
Following are a few arguments refuting the notion that God can be physical:
1) "Limit" is not a negative. God being limited, in that He never becomes physical, is a perfection. For example, a human judge who can never make a mistake, limited to being right, is more perfect than a judge who can make mistakes. Being limited to perfection, is perfection. Being right is clearly a good. Being physical is definitely an evil, as it subjects the one physical to all sorts of damage, decay, destruction and death. Being physical is worlds apart from being metaphysical.
2) How can that which is not physical 'become' physical? This is an impossibility. Something which exists already in a metaphysical state, means that this is its nature. As God already exists in His perfection as non-physical, this metaphysical state is His very definition. It is as if you suggest that water can become dry. Then it would not be water. But even this impossibility is more plausible than God's transition into corporeality, as water is already matter. Change in moisture is more plausible than change in God. God cannot become physical, then He would not be God. An important point for those who ascribe to the notion of the Trinity.
3) Another absurdity from your premise is as follows: God is the Creator. To become physical means He is now the 'created'. These two are mutually exclusive. Equally impossible is that something physical can become God. Since it is already a created being, by definition, it cannot be the Creator.
4) Change implies imperfection. Something changes either to become more or less perfect. If we say God changes, (which opposes the verse in Malachi, "I am God, I do not change...") we are suggesting that He is either imperfect now, and is moving towards perfection, or He is perfect now, and is moving away from perfection. In either case, we suggest a moment where God is imperfect.
5) God cannot be controlled by the very laws He created. Becoming physical means he is governed by laws of the physical.
6) I quote Maimonides' third principle: