Both the natural sciences and Christian theology make widespread and frequent use of models, as aids to both theorising and teaching. However, models are based on analogies in the natural world, and the reality of God is utterly dissimilar to anything in that world. This dissimilarity has led to the development of apophatic approaches to theology, which seek to make meaningful statements about God in negative rather than positive terms. The idea of nescience – not-knowing – therefore has a home in theological discourse in a way that it cannot have in scientific discourse, predicated as the latter is on the generation of knowledge. This paper explores nescience through an examination of the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. By thinking in terms of what God is not, Dionysius points away from purely rational understandings of God towards the direct, mystical apprehension of God; and this is an approach within which models can only be otiose. The contrast between science and theology in the role played within each of them by models suggests a marked dissimilarity between them in their approaches to their respective subject-matter.
|Title of host publication||Issues in Science and Theology: Creative Pluralism?|
|Subtitle of host publication||Images and Models in Science and Religion|
|Editors||Michael Fuller, Dirk Evers, Anne Runehov|
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - 28 Jun 2022|
|Name||Issues in Science and Religion: Publications of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology|
- apophatic theology