man experiences many difficulties in coming to know God by the light of reason alone: Though human reason is, strictly speaking, truly capable by its own natural power and light of attaining to a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God, who watches over and controls the world by his providence, and of the natural law written in our hearts by the Creator; yet there are many obstacles which prevent reason from the effective and fruitful use of this inborn faculty. For the truths that concern the relations between God and man wholly transcend the visible order of things, and, if they are translated into human action and influence it, they call for self-surrender and abnegation. The human mind, in its turn, is hampered in the attaining of such truths, not only by the impact of the senses and the imagination, but also by disordered appetites which are the consequences of original sin. So it happens that men in such matters easily persuade themselves that what they would not like to be true is false or at least doubtful.’3

38 This is why man stands in need of being enlightened by God’s revelation, not only about those things that exceed his understanding, but also ‘about those religious and moral truths which of themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason, so that even 2036 in the present condition of the human race, they can be known by all men with ease, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error’.’4

IV. How Can We Speak About God? 39 In defending the ability of human reason to know God, the Church is expressing her confidence in the possibility of speaking 851 about him to all men and with all men, and therefore of dialogue with other religions, with philosophy and science, as well as with unbelievers and atheists. 40 Since our knowledge of God is limited, our language about him is equally so. We can name God only by taking creatures as our starting point, and in accordance with our limited human ways of knowing and thinking. 41 All creatures bear a certain resemblance to God, most especially man, created in the image and likeness of God. The manifold perfections of creatures — their truth, their goodness, their beauty — all reflect the infinite perfection of God. Consequently we can 213, 299 name God by taking his creatures’ perfections as our starting