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The Profession of Faith

17

known by all men with ease, with firm certainty and with no

admixture of error.”

14

IV.

H

ow

C

an

W

e

S

peak about

G

od

?

39

In defending the ability of human reason to knowGod, the

Church is expressing her confidence in the possibility of speaking

about him to all men and with all men, and therefore of dialogue

with other religions, with philosophy and science, as well as with

unbelievers and atheists.

40

Since our knowledge of God is limited, our language about

him is equally so. We can name God only by taking creatures as

our starting point, and in accordance with our limited human ways

of knowing and thinking.

41

All creatures bear a certain resemblance to God, most

especially man, created in the image and likeness of God. The

manifold perfections of creatures—their truth, their goodness, their

beauty—all reflect the infinite perfection of God. Consequently we

can name God by taking his creatures’ perfections as our starting

point, “for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes

a corresponding perception of their Creator.”

15

42

God transcends all creatures. We must therefore continu-

ally purify our language of everything in it that is limited, image-​

bound or imperfect, if we are not to confuse our image of God—

“the inexpressible, the incomprehensible, the invisible, the un-

graspable”—with our human representations.

16

Our humanwords

always fall short of the mystery of God.

43

Admittedly, in speaking about God like this, our language

is using human modes of expression; nevertheless it really does

attain to God himself, though unable to express him in his infinite

simplicity. Likewise, we must recall that “between Creator and

creature no similitude can be expressed without implying an even

greater dissimilitude”;

17

and that “concerning God, we cannot

grasp what he is, but only what he is not, and how other beings

stand in relation to him.”

18

14 Pius XII,

Humani Generis,

561: DS 3876; cf.

Dei Filius

2: DS 3005;

DV

6; St.

Thomas Aquinas,

STh

I, 1, 1.

15

Wis

13:5.

16

Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom,

Anaphora.

17 Lateran Council IV: DS 806.

18 St. Thomas Aquinas,

SCG

I, 30.

851

213, 299

212, 300

370

206