To What Extent Is the Via Negativa the Only Way to Talk About God

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To what extent is the via negativa the only way to talk about God Within this essay I will be arguing that the via negativa is a very unhelpful way to talk about God as if we were to only talk about him negatively we would ultimately never know anything of God’s nature. Instead, I will argue that analogy is a better way to talk of God and I will refer to Aquinas’ ideas of analogical language. The via negativa (or apophatic way) claims that people can only talk about God in negative terms because he is transcendent and utterly different and greater than anything we can comprehend. Thus we cannot say what God is because his nature is beyond our comprehension. The word “good” in reference to God is meaningless as we cannot know what this entails; it is completely different from saying “the man is good”. According to the Via Negativa, to say “God is good” limits God’s goodness because it puts a human idea of goodness in our minds. Similarly if we talk about God being all-knowing, we can debate what this means but ultimately we cannot know for certain what it means to be all-knowing. The only things we can be certain of about God is what God is not; for example God is not evil. There are strengths to this theory, for instance it prevents us from making anthropomorphic statements about God, meaning we are not left with an inadequate image of God. However, is anthropomorphising God such a huge problem? Firstly anthropomorphic imagery makes God’s nature understandable for us, this is why God is depicted frequently in human terms within the Bible; for example in Genesis we are told that Adam and Eve “heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden”. In fact the Christian God became incarnate thus anthropomorphic imagery is very relevant. God was actually human through Jesus Christ, meaning we can describe God anthropomorphically. Of course christianity itself

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