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Catholic Dictionary




Man's capacity for knowing God by reason and apart from revelation. According to the First Vatican Council, "the one true God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty by the light of human reason, from things that are made" (Denzinger 3004). Consequently human beings have the ability to know the one, true personal God who made the universe. The subjective means of obtaining this knowledge is human reason in the condition of fallen nature. The source of this knowledge is the world, bodily and spiritual, of created things. This knowledge can be certain and not merely probable.

The Bible, in the Old and New Testaments, also teaches that the existence of a personal God can be known from reflection on nature. Thus the Israelites were told, "Through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures, we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author" (Wisdom 13:5), and according to St. Paul, "ever since God created the world, His everlasting power and deity--however invisible--have been there for the mind to see in the things He has made" (Romans 1:20).