Religious language as analogical

Katie Hanlon
Mind Map by Katie Hanlon, updated more than 1 year ago
Katie Hanlon
Created by Katie Hanlon almost 6 years ago


A-Levels R.E A2 PHILOSOPHY Mind Map on Religious language as analogical, created by Katie Hanlon on 06/09/2014.

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Religious language as analogical
1.1 Religious language is the communication of ideas about God, faith, belief and practice. Many philosophers and theologians believe that religious language is meaningful and has a purpose. They argue that it is non-cognitive and may use analogy to speak meaningfully about God. An analogy is a comparison between 2 things with shared or similar characteristics.
2.1 Many philosophers have argued that it is impossible to talk about things beyond our understanding, such as God as he is an infinite, transcendent and omnipotent being, however other philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas that we can talk about God through analogy. Aquinas said the same word could be used univocally when it is used to mean exactly the same thing, or equivocally when it is applied to a totally different sense. He argued when we talk about God we do not use words and images univocally and equivocally, but we use analogy.
2.2 He argued that because the bible says we were made in God's image and likeness, there must be some similarity between God and humans. However we are neither exactly the same nor completely different from God therefore we can only speak about him through comparisons (analogy).
3.1 Aquinas argued that because we are made in God's image and likeness, there must be some similarity between God and ourselves. Therefore we can attribute to God qualities that we find in humans. For example, Aquinas saw human wisdom as a reflection of God's wisdom.
4.1 He stated that after attributing a human quality to God it is then necessary to use an analogy of proportion. For example, we know what human power is so we can use the analogy 'God's power is similar to human power'. However God is all-powerful so we need to use an analogy of proportion, we can say 'God's power is similar to human power but proportionally greater'. We will never completely understand God's omnipotence, but an analogy of proportion helps us gain a better insight.
5.1 Ian Ramsey developed the doctrine by reference to what he termed 'models and qualifiers'. If we say that God is good, the model is the word 'goodness', as humans beings we have understanding of goodness, e.g. Mother Teresea was a good woman, and when applied to God, it is a model for our understanding of the nature of God's goodness. As we are dealing with God, the model requires adaptations, thus the term 'qualifiers'. We recognise that God cannot be literally good in our sense of the concepts usage, thus we need to qualify the word good with infinitely. 'God is infinitely good' helps us to gain a better insight into God's goodness, eventually gaining a better insight into 'infinite goodness'.
6.1 John Hick developed Aquinas' attribution of proportion by using the upwards and downwards analogy. 'Downwards analogy' can be seen when comparing animals with humans, the faithfulness of a dog to his mater is only a dim imperfect faithfulness when compared to human faithfulness. 'Upwards analogy' can be seen when comparing humans to God, love and wisdom are only a dim imperfect reflection of the perfect love and wisdom of God.
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