Volume 2: In Our Own Image: Anthropomorphism, Apophaticism, and Ultimacy

In Our Own Image: Anthropomorphism, Apophaticism, and Ultimacy (Oxford University Press, 2017.


In Our Own Image is a work of comparative philosophical theology. It is a study of the roles anthropomorphism and apophaticism play in the construction of conceptual models of ultimate reality. It offers a comparative analysis of three major classes of ultimacy models, paying particular attention to the way those classes are impacted by anthropomorphism while tracing their relative strengths and weaknesses. It provides a constructive theological argument on behalf of an apophatic understanding of ultimate reality, showing how this understanding subsumes, challenges, and relates ultimacy models from the three classes being compared. it describes and compares competing ultimacy models, fairly and sympathetically. The conclusion is that all models cognitively break on the shoals of ultimate reality, but that the ground-of-being class of models carries us further than the others in regard to the comparative criteria that matter most.

This book has given me a chance to spell out my apophatic philosophical theology in some detail, showing how it relates to the major theories of ultimate reality in our time. The book:

  • provides a comprehensive systematic classification, comparison, and evaluation of the major classes of theories of ultimate reality;
  • offers a new, compelling analysis of anthropomorphism and apophaticism, including tracing multiple dimensions of anthropomorphism in various models of ultimate reality;
  • applies the central results from the science of cognition and culture in the reverent comparative competition while remaining firmly a work of philosophical theology; and
  • uses an anti-anthropomorphically-tuned “disintegrating metric” to determine which models are closer to, and which more distant from, the necessarily cognitively inassimilable ultimate reality.


This is the second volume in my Religious Philosophy series and the fourth to appear. Volume 6, which SUNY is publishing in mid-2018, will be next. So there’s just one more book needed to finish off this series, volume 4: Science and Ultimate Reality, and I’m working on that when I can.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Ultimacy

Chapter 2. Anthropomorphism and Apophaticism

Chapter 3. Agential-Being Models of Ultimate Reality

Chapter 4. Subordinate-Deity Models of Ultimate Reality

Chapter 5. Ground-of-Being Models of Ultimate Reality

Chapter 6. Conclusion