symbol and god essay

symbol and god essay

´╗┐Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the use of symbol as a means of expressing human understanding of god

Religious truths can be revealed in different ways such as through symbolic language, images, and statements. God is believed to be much greater than we can possibly imagine, as defined by philosopher Anselm (1033-1109) 'That which nothing greater can be conceived'. It can be difficult to use our own language as a way of describing God and his attributes. The complexity of talking about God is shown in the quote, 'God can be thought about more truly than he can be talked about, and he is more truly than he can be thought about' (De Trinitate - 'On the Trinity'). A symbol is something that represents something else and attempts to evoke a new insight, the purpose of a symbol is to represent characteristics or something / apply to a person idea etc. An example of a symbol would be a cross and people have different symbols in order to try and understand God.

A strength of using symbols is that they do help us understand the nature of God to an extent. There are many specialist religious words which are used to explain what God is like for example omnipotent meaning all powerful but for the average person and so that people universally can get an understanding of God the use of symbols could be seen as a strength. If you were to compare God to a rock in the way that the rock is strong and tough a lot more people would get the idea that God is therefore hard like a rock but it is the new insights of the symbol which can lead to different understandings of God. Some might see a rock as sharp and unforgiving, which in a way compares to the God seen in the first testament, whereas others may see rocks as incredible, and pleasing to look at. Different people interpret symbols differently and of course this can be a bad thing at the same time. An example of this would be the use of the symbol of a dove for purity and cleanliness because the dove is white,...

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