religious langauge : negative, analogical or symbolic

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  • Religious Language: neagtive, analogical or symbolic
    • Uses of religious langauge
      • to make truth claims
      • to evoke feelings of worship
      • to express emotion
      • to solemnise occasions
      • to pray
    • The via negativa or apophatic way
      • Supporters of the via negativa claim that in order to say things that are literally true of God, it is important to use only negative terms.
      • Negative terms might include things like 'invisible', 'incorporeal' and 'timeless'
      • this is becuase using positive terms of God makes God seem to small, as if God is like a human father or judge and as if God has only human wisdom or strength
      • Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite lived in the sixth century and was influental in developing the via negativa, arguing that people need to go beyond the need for understanding and enter a 'cloud of unknowing'
      • Moses Maimondes lived in the twelfth century and gave the example of describing a ship by explaining what it is not to illustrate how knowledge of God could be communicated
      • The via negativa can produce statemants which are literally true rather than requiring interpretation
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