An Apophatic View of God and Creation

Document Type: Research Paper


Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London, UK



The English Dominican Herbert McCabe highlighted some ideas of Thomas Aquinas on the knowability of God and on creation, which can usefully challenge some widespread commonplaces. The purposes of this article are two: to present McCabe’s sophisticated doctrine on the knowability of God and on creation in a systematic way, and to put this doctrine into its historical context. In the scattered and meagre scholarship on McCabe, both points are missing. In fact, despite being highly praised by leading intellectuals such as Stanley Hauerwas, Alasdair McIntyre, Terry Eagleton, David Burrell, Rowan Williams, Denys Turner, and Eamon Duffy, McCabe has remained widely unknown. According to McCabe, both the American creationists and some atheist scientists believe that God—given that he exists—is a powerful entity within the universe, and thus both the atheist and the creationist expect exactly the same elements in the universe. However, according to McCabe, God does not act like natural causes; he is not an element within the universe and not even the most powerful of all the elements, because he created the universe from nothing and is not part of it.


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