By Humphrey Palmer (auth.)
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Extra info for Analogy: A Study of Qualification and Argument in Theology
And so they recite it from time to time, not so much to persuade others as to remind themselves, when taking off on speculative flights, that in their hearts they know they don't know what they're on about. 10 But if they don't know, then what's the good of going on? A very pertinent question, and one constantly pressed by the opponents of all religious talk, and as constantly shirked, they feel, by its apologists. Theology, these opponents say, is just cheating with words. If you admit to using words in an extra special sense you are really saying that you don't mean anything.
6 The Neo-Platonist writer known to us, appropriately, as not the Dionysius converted by St. Paul *, tried to list what God is not: Unto this darkness which is beyond light we pray that we may come, and attain unto vision through the loss of sight and knowledge, and that in ceasing thus to see or to know we may learn to know that which is beyond all perception and understanding (for this emptying of our faculties is true sight and knowledge), and that we may offer him that transcends all things the praises of a transcendent hymnody, which we shall do by denying or removing all things that are -like as men who, carving a statue out of marble, remove all the impediments that hinder the clear perspective of the latent image and by this mere removal display the hidden statue itself in its hidden beauty ....
That men are finite seems undeniable. And the steps from here to the conclusion, that human ideas of infinity must be inadequate, seem natural if not quite unavoidable. Moreover, every sincerely religious man feels that whatever he says about God is bound to be unsatisfactory and incomplete. As an Isaiah once tried to put it on behalf of God, My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, And my thoughts than your thoughts.