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Affirmative way

Affirmative way. The approach to God which affirms that something can be discerned of his being and nature through reason and from the created order. It is therefore in contrast to the via negativa. A classic expression occurs in Christianity in the five arguments advanced by St Thomas Aquinas (Quinque Viae) from which he concluded that ‘the existence of God can be demonstrated from those of his effects which are known to us’ (Summ. Theol. 1, qu. 2, art. 2): it can be known that God is, but not, without revelation, what God is. The affirmative way is even stronger in some other religions, especially in Islam, where creation offers demonstrations of God subsumed under the same word (ayā) as that which is used for the verses of the Qurʾān; and in Hinduism, where the cosmic appearance may be the body of God (see e.g. Rāmānuja), and where in any case the true reality underlies all appearance. The affirmative way is the foundation of kataphatic theology in contrast to apophatic, though the two are necessarily linked, since even the ultimate kataphatic claim of Jesus, that ‘he who has seen me has seen the Father’ ( John 14. 9) does not produce God as an object among objects.

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