Negative Theology

There’s something important about Thomas’ approach to natural theology that isn’t immediately obvious: it is essentially negative. In fact, all natural theology is essentially negative.

Backing up a moment—natural theology is that branch of philosophy that deals with what we can know about God through pure human reason, given our knowledge and observation of the natural world around us. Natural theology depends in no way on any divine revelation apart from Creation itself.

The problem is that apart from revelation, God is almost completely beyond us. As Pope Benedict regularly puts it, He is the Wholly Other. And so natural theology, far from being a list of positive statements about God, is really a list of negative statements. For example, God does not change. God has no parts. God is eternal, i.e., God has no succession of time.

This is just something to keep an eye out for as we proceed.

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