tag : bright yellow-green apples: via negativa

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Friday, August 06, 2004

via negativa

God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of other players*, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

*ie., everybody.

(from Good Omens by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gainman)

Do not suppose, because I call it darkness or a cloud, that it is a cloud condensed out of vapours that float in the air, or a darkness like that in your house at night when your candle is out. By intellectual ingenuity you can imagine such a darkness or cloud bought before your eyes on the brightest day of summer, just as, conversely, in the darkest night of winter you can imagine a clear shining light. Give up such errors; that is not what I mean. For when I say ’darkness’ I mean the absence of knowing, in the sense that everything you do not know, or have forgotten, is dark to you, because you cannot see it with your mind’s eye. And for this reason it is not called a cloud in the air but a cloud of unknowing that is between you and your God.

(from The Cloud of unknowing, author anonymous)

Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.

(from First letter to the Corinthians, attributed to St Paul)


Counterpoint. God is indeed revealed in the face of humanity; Jesus Christ as Emmanuel (God with us) demonstrated that. Matter communicates the out turned God. But negative theology is an equally vital part of faith. The unknowable essence, the 'ousia', of the ground of being is a radical witness against easy projection onto a wholly personified divine. The transcendent reality is beyond pinning down into being contained by the human mind, picture language is ever provisional, no matter the words of a thousand apologists like Stand To Reason and thier ilk.


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