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Symbol, Analogy and Myth by Mind Map: Symbol, Analogy and Myth
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Symbol, Analogy and Myth


Signs and Symbols

Sign - something that points you in a certain direction, eg Road sign

Symbol - something that points you in a certain direction AND communicates a much greater understanding., eg The Cross

Why use symbols

Easy to recognise - communicate beliefs

Forms an association with the given faith

Creates an understanding which does not have to be given in words

Use of symbols in religion

The Cross

The Menorah

Kneeling whilst praying

Stained glass windows

The 5 Ks

The Fish

Paul Tillich

Symbols communicate the values of human beings, eg Cross is a symbol of good

Symbols can't be put into words, A permanent lighted candle in churches represents God's presence.

Religious symbols work differently to non-religious symbols, Religious symbols are universal. Non-religious symbols are open to interpretation.

Ideas about God, He said that God is the 'ground of our being', God is the basis for all that exists and the meaning behind existence, This must be the ultimate concern of everyone., The ground of being can not be known in a personal way, it can only be understood through symbols.


What is a myth?

A story which communicates the ulitmate beliefs of a culture etc. (p392)

Examples:, Robin Hood, King Arthur, Greek Myths eg Jason and the Argonauts, Aesops Fables

For religious people it communicates a particular world view, examples, Creation in Genesis, Noah's Ark, Virgin Birth, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, For Christians they communicate some responses to the ultimate questions in life., It does not matter if these stories are literraly true or not - what matters is the meaning and messages behind them.

Attempt to demythologise myths

Rudolph Bultman, NT scholar, attempted to remove the supernatural view of the world in the NT

This attempt failed, it meant ignoring the miracles and other 'non scientific' events in the stories of Jesus

You need the myths in the stories to give them meaning, the truths are expressed through the story.

Issues Raised

1. What qualifies as a myth?, What if there is more than one myth that claims the truth?, Robin Hood - multiple myths surrounding the one character, Creation in Genesis - TWO accounts - which is right??

2. How do myths communicate values and truths?, eg Creation in Genesis which is right??, Old view - humans can do what they want with the earth, New view - humans should preserve and protect the earth (stewardship)

Analogy (Aquinas)

An analogy is comparing two or more related items eg. the human brain is like a computer

Proportion - the extent to which it compares, This refers to the nature of what something is, If you say 'that's a good car' you mean that it measures up to the idea of what a good eg.Audi - a bad car would be a KA, So if we say God is good, what we mean is that we understand the nature of God to measure up to what it means to be a God.

Attribution - the qualities of something, Words such as 'just' and 'good' are words that can be used to descibe God, However, to say that a baker is 'good' and that God is 'good' does not mean the same thing, There is interpretation in what makes a 'good' baker, So, with God, Aquinas says that we have to look at the way God is revealed in the world to say that God is 'good', The goodness of God is shown through his creation because he is the source of that goodness.

Aquinas rejected the Via Negativa, he thought that it was wrong to talk of what God is not so....

He came up with another way, talking of God in an analogous sense......God is good (we understand what it means but God's goodness can not be compared to our own)

God is good, but in a different way to humans


Does analogy tell us anything?, If the idea of 'good' for God is not the same as for humans, then doesn't it make the word meaningless for God?

Literal language, Aquinas rejects the literal use of words to compare to God, eg 'good' because it does not mean the same for him, Some have suggested (Swinburne) that this is incorrect - good for man is the same as good for God

Does creation really reveal God's goodness?, What about poisonous snakes, earthquakes, hurricanes, the ability for humans to kill each other etc etc. Is that an analogy of goodness?