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 ANALOGY OF ATTRIBUTION
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
4 ANALOGY OF PROPORTION
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 RAMSEY'S MODELS AND
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 HICK'S UPWARDS/DOWNWARDS
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