Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Terminology Tuesday: Predication

Predication (analogical, univocal, equivocal): Application of descriptive terms, or “predicates,” to God. If one assumes (as many do) that human language gets its meaning from its application to finite, created objects, then there is a difficulty as to how such terms can apply to God. Recently, Richard Swinburne and William Alston have argued that some predicates can apply univocally (with the same meaning) both to God and to creatures. Thomas Aquinas held that positive terms can be applied to God—but only analogically. According to such a view, we do not know exactly what we mean when we say God is good, for example, but only that his goodness resembles (though exceeds) the goodness of creatures. Equivocal predication is application of the same term to God and creatures with different meanings.1

1. C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 96.