Religious Language - Via Negativa

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Via Negativa

Supporters of the via negativa (the Way of the Negative) accept that statements about God can't be made accurately as God is completely different and greater than anything humans can comprehend.

Ex. To say 'God is good' means something different to 'Alex is good'.

It's argued that negative statements can be made about God (I.e. say what God is not).

Supporters argue that language when applied to God is equivocal. It's possible to say that 'God is just and merciful' but it's another thing to know what the phrase means when applied to God. They claim that because the language is equivocal; it avoids the pitfalls of using inadequate human language to describe the qualities of God, and in doing so avoids athropomorphising God.

Statements can be made about what God is not because by ruling out what He is not, we will discover what he is.

Ex. By saying 'God is not a bully, not hateful, not wicked' etc. may allow us to arrive at some limited knowledge of what God is.

Dionysius - God is 'beyond assertion…


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