Religious Language Analogy


Religious Langauage - Aquinas

St Thomas Aquinas - 1225-1274- Language used to two ways - univocally (one universal unambigious meaning) or equivocally (more than one meaning) - nothing can be predicated univocally of god and other things - predicated (the ground or basis of the argument) - univocal language could not describe god because he is so different from us - no reference to context- Use of analogy - imperfectly understood - human beigns too limited and god too great - example of Paley's watchmaker - 'let us make man in our image'

Analogy of proportion - different orders of thing - god above all of creation as it's source - intellgence means different things when applied to a human and a fox - a human bring is intelligent it proporotion to what it means to be intelligent for a human - a human being is food in propotion to waht it means for a human being to be good -> god is good in propotion to what it means for a god to be good - 'he is said to be named from his effects' //// Analogy of attrubtion- attributes were entirely divenly inspired - human beings can only be good because they come from god - human beings are not food independently of god because they are dependent on God - things being healthy are not healthy by themselves but are healthy in their relationship with the animal - 'when we say god is good we mean nothing mroe than God is and is the cause of Good'

1 of 4

Religious Language - Ramsey

Ian Ramsey - book called Religious Language (1957) Qualifier and disclosure

Religious language grew out of religious situations - disclosures - moments where the person was often able to grasp an understanding of the divine - realisation that there was something else - decree of commitment that they provoked from the individual

Models - based on Max Black's argument about insight models- key terms used to describe god had an idea about the reality that the bliever was commiting to - farmer shepherd, king and rock -

On their own were insufficient ways to properly refer to refer to God - need qualifiers - added to earlier terms to provide them with the qualifty and sense that they were greater than normal - transendent and almighty

'how to qualift observational language so as to be suitable currency for what in part exceeds it'

2 of 4

Challenges to Aquinas and Ramsey

Hume recognised that analogy is only as good as the point at which the two things being compared are similar 

Vienna circle - how do we know what constitutes god - without it being able to be qualifeid empirically - unless we are able to do this the comparison fails

assume God's existence - without the existence of god there is no point of comparison

God is different and therefore the meaning of the words is different

ramsey's use of qualifiers only serves to underline the fact that we do not fully understand what we mean when referring to God - 'They disclose but do not explain a mystery' - Ramsey

3 of 4

Used to help understand religious teachings

Draws a connection between the creator and his human creation - sutiable point of reference betweent he two

Insights into religious and practice can be gained through the idea that god is the source of all human activity - human experiences as gateways to the divine - believers have clear points of reference to understand religious tradition - meaningful context

Ramsey's models help to disclose divine attributes and his qualifers have a sense of impossibility - assists religious believers in understanding how it is possible to talk about things

provides a way to talk about things like angels slvation and life after death - practically useful

'let us always be cautious of talking about God in straightforward language' - Ramsey

4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Philosophy resources »