Friday, September 10, 2010

Why I Believe In Analogy

It has been some time since I have put forth the effort to contribute a post for this blog. Former posts of mine on "Reason From Scripture" have been dedicated to challenging the Thomistic doctrine of Analogy (Clarifying Analogy) and formulating a paradigm of archetypal/ectypal knowledge without resorting to the Thomistic notion (The Concept of Archetypal Knowledge). In this post, with a mild degree of humility and embarassment, I would like to demonstrate that I have had a change of heart and share the reasons that I am now a proponent and defender of a specific formulation of Thomistic analogy. Perhaps you too will find them compelling.

I was persuaded that we must resort to analogy in referencing God through consideration of the way in which Kant arrives at the notion of noumena. Kant is led to posit the concept of "the noumenal" through his recognition that logical possiblity exceeds the range of phenomena which can possibly appear to the human subject in his/her humanly conditioned mode of consciousness and cognition. Kant claims, for example, that that the human mode of consciousness is temporally and spatially conditioned so that the range of phenomena that can possibly appear to the human subject will be all alike temporally and spatially conditioned. Yet, no contradiction is involved in the notion of a timeless and spaceless "something" therefore it must be acknowledged that possibly such a "something" could exist though it can never appear within the human consciousness/cognition. Thus the placeholder: noumena. On Kant's formulation of noumena, however, one would have to remain strictly agnostic as to whether such entities exist and as to what they would be like since we are by definition and of necessity precluded conscious cognitive access to them.

In the domain of orthodox Christian theology, a notion of the being of God is given which defies conceptualization under the human mode of cognition. A God is confessed who is in His essence, according to systemmetized revelation, timeless and spaceless, 3 and 1, simple and multi-faceted, etc. While no two of the revealed aspects of God's nature yeild contradiction, taken together they clearly show that human cognition of God "in Himself" is precluded based on the limitations of the human cognitive intellective mode. Still, we are given in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, authoritative, infalible revelation as to what God is "like." Various creaturely pure perfections are supplied after these ends. With the application of each creaturely concept to God, however, it is to be remembered that this manner of predication only indicates what God is "like" in that He is
(perfection x) to a degree greater than can be humanly concieved. Thus analogical ascription to God of any creaturely pure perfection "x" sanctioned in Scripture could take the following analytic form: God's nature is "x" like creature s exhibits x but to a degree greater than can be humanly concieved. For instance: God's nature is "wisdom" like Socrates exhibits wisdom but to a degree greater than can be humanly concieved. Thus, through revelation, we are given an analogical notion of what God is like although He defies comprehension under our cognitive mode.

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