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L50: Religious Language
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Vani Ravija
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  1. Aquinas believed it was possible to figure out the nature of God by examining his creation He took it for granted that the world was created by God & the link b/w creator & created order was clear. He takes his starting point the idea that God is the source of all things in the universe & universally perfect. All beings imitate God according to their mode of existence: "Thus, God is called wise not only bcz He produces wisdom, but also bcz as we are wise, we imitate the power by which He makes us wise. However, He is not called a stone, though He created stones, bcz in the name stone, there's a mode of being by which, a stone is distinguished from God. But the stone imitates God. Aquinas uses eg. of a bull to illustrate this. It is possible to determine an animals' health by examining its urine. If a bull's urine is healthy, then we can say it will be healthy. However, health of the bull is more completely & perfectly within the bull itself & is only reflected in its urine. Similarly, God is the source of qualities & He possesses those qualities first & most perfectly. Hence, there's an order of reference, i.e. these qualities apply to God first, then to others analogically. Bcz we're created in God's image, we have these attributes analogically; while God has them perfectly. Hick- Consider the term "faithful". A man or a woman can be faithful. We can also say that a dog is faithful. Clearly there is a great difference b/w faithfulness of a man/woman & of a dog, yet there is a similarity or analogy - otherwise, we would not think of the dog as faithful. We possess qualities like God (goodness, wisdom, faithfulness) bcz we were created in his image & likeness, but since we are inferior to God, we possess them in lesser proportion to God.


  2. 1. Aquinas believed that God was responsible for creation of the Earth & humans were created in His image. But this was refuted implicitly by Darwin & explicitly by Richard Dawkins. If one doesn't accept his assumptions, one doesn't have to accept that we can figure out what God is like by examining a creation that may/ may not be his. 2. Analogy picks some qualities, but not others i.e. good qualities. World also comprises evil, does God possess these qualities as well? Augustine- no such thing as evil, just falling away from (privation of) the good. 3. Analogy can tell us nothing new about God as it is based upon things already in existence, eg. we can figure out everything about a car designer from the car that he has designed. 4. The bridge Aquinas creates b/w things known & unknown is built of imaginary blocks However, some scholars would argue that it is possible to speak of life on Mars meaningfully w/o having had empirical experience of it. Eschatological verification can be suggested against this criticism. 5. Analogy cannot be verifiied, bcz the object one is illustrating by analogy cannot be empirically verified. 6. Swinburne- we don't really need analogy. When we say "God is good" & "humans are good", we may be using "good" to apply to different things, but to mean the same thing: i.e. using the word "good" univocally. However, analogy is valuable for those who are already in the religious language game, i.e,, who already believe. It can help them make sense of a concept beyond human comprehension & work as an aid to faith.