A.J Ayer

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: 09grayn
  • Created on: 16-05-16 09:06
View mindmap
  • A.J. AYER
    • (1) The existence of God cannot be proved wrong by demonstrion
      • God is non-animistic (does not po**e** a soul)
      • Non-animistic religions such as Christianity do not believe that everything (including rocks, trees, animals etc) have souls
      • Ayer says there is no way of proving even the probability of the existence of God
      • If there was a probability, then this could be tested by empirical methods            Eg. Using our 5 senses
      • We should therefore be able to experience God in some sensory way- Ayer says this is impo**ible for us to do
    • (2) Design and Order
      • Some people consider tat through regularity or design, God can be seen through the beauty of the world.
      • This is the kind of evidence that we can experience through our senses.
      • Paley said  design gave us the knowledge of an intelligent God with a plan and a purpose
      • Miracle are though to reveal the nature of God
        • God can only be known indirectly in this way
      • However, believers say there is more to religious belief  than just an intellectual understanding of God- God is a 'transcendent being' whose work can be seen in nature
      • Ayer says that when religious believers say these things about God, it is meaningle**
        • This is because Gof is metaphysical(a spiritual being)- meaningle** because God is therefore unverifiable
    • (3) Impo**ible for us to know?
      • Ayer separates himself from atheists and agnostics
      • Ayer argues that asking if God exists is nonsense- it is a meaningle** question that cannot be answered positively and negatively
      • It is like asking a 'stupid' question            Eg "is fear pink?" How can we po**ibly know, its nonsense?
    • (4)  Sophisticatd Religions
      • When believers claim that God is doing something Eg creating thunder, this action is being attributed to the activity of supernatural person
      • Theists say that God does not have a body, and that He is not bound by time or space, but yet He is still a personal God
      • God is in control of the physical world but He does not have any physical attributes- Ayer says this concept is completely unintelligible
      • How can there be any such thing as non-physical person- it makes no sense
      • Ayer says that the word 'God' is used as a noun as if it stands for something but it cannot stand for anything meaningful because sentences in which the word God are used are not empirically verifiable
      • Ayer says it is our sense of awe and wonder at the natural world that leads us to religious belief- implying that if we did fully understand our world, we would not need religious belief
    • (5) Meaningle** Statements
      • Ayer does not say that religions are inevitably false- just that theists cannot say that  'truths' are meaningful
      • Ayer says 'religious feeling' may come from other causes and not nece**arily a 'God'
      • Ayer states: "There cannot be any transcendent truths of religion"
      • Truth-claims such as: "God has a plan for every individual", cannot be tested by empirical experiment
      • Ayer, along wih other Logical Positivists, says that statements like these are meaningle** with no truth value at all.
      • John Hick would argue that religious truth claims are in fact verifiable because they are 'eschatological verifiable'- in other words after death, these claims can be verified
    • (6) Is Ayer overstating or simplifying the case?
      • Ayer seems to be suggesting that there are 2 options with no middle ground
        • (1) Either God can be completely understood by the human mind
        • (2)God cannot be understood at all and is beyond human comprehensi-on
      • Most theists prefer the middle ground:although we cannot understand God completely, we can understand Him in part though analogy and models
      • Even theists who agree with Ayer that positive  truth claims cannot be made about God, would not agree that nothing intelligible ca be said about God altogether
      • Speaking about God in negative terms (via negativa) can still say something meaningful about God
    • (7)Empirical Testing
      • If people can have an intuitive knowledge of God, that they believe to be the truth, then we can also have an understandin-g of how humans respond to that of intuitive knowledge
        • Ayers argument here is that those people who have these experiences, doing so through intuition cannot expre** their truths in a way that meets Ayer's criterion of meaningfulln-e**
          • These truths can not be turned into statements that are empirically verifiable
      • If someone has a religious experience, they may well believe that God has revealed something of himself to them individually an privately and people who do not have this experience are not in any position to criticize those who do
      • Mystics in particular come in for criticism from Ayer here, because he says that mystics are therefore incapable of saying anything true or meaningful about the real world
      • Ayer says that if mystics really were being given the truth about God, they would be able to expre** it in a way that was genuine
      • Ayer is adamant that empirical testing is what makes statements meaningful, and he says that we all 'know' this
      • Ayer is saying that all true knowledge is expre**ible in words- but is it?
      • Ayer also claims that all truth is empirically demonstrable- but how can we demonstrate that something is just or unjust?- what is just to one person may not be just to another
    • (8)Religious experiences are meaningle**
      • Ayer believes his verification principle proves that you cannot demonstrate the existence of God through religious experiences
      • Ayer criticises those people who think we should accept reports of religious language experiences in the same way that we accept reports of experiences through our senses
      • Ayer says that we should only believe people who have experienced things through their 'sense content'
      • Ayer says that people who talk about religious experiences or a transcendent being can be disregarded because their words do not refer to anything meaningful
    • (9)The implications of Ayer's conclusion
      • Ayer concludes that there can be no such thing as religious knowledge
      • Using this statement, we can also say that there can be no such thing as moral knowledge either
      • If we cannot 'know' anything that is not empirically verifiable, this has implications for ethics as well as religion
      • How can we know that 'murder is wrong' if we cannot empirically test the concepts of right and wrong?
      • In Ayers view then, even moral statements are unverifiable and meaningle**
      • The belief Ayer hold on this view is known as 'emotivism' because he says all we are doing is expre**ing our own subjective feeling about murder- we are not referring to any actual facts that murder is in fact wrong.
    • (10)Intuition cannot lead us to true knowledge
      • Ayer says that true knowledge is found in science
      • Ayer says intuition does not lead us to the truth
      • The only way that intuition can become meaningful is if it is expre**ed in a way that is verifiable
      • Ayer contributed to the study of philosophy of religion because he raised questions about the meaningfullne-** of metaphysical discu**iong
      • Ayers verifiable theory did mean that he rules out abstract discu**ions about religious and ethical concepts though
    • CRITICISMS
      • Criticisms included saying that the verification principle did not stand up to its own rules about meaning
      • If the verification principle is right, then it is meaningle**, because it is incapable of being right or wrong- making i nonsense
      • Ayer responded to criticisms by saying that the verification principle was not a synthetic proposition- it was not making a statement about empirically verifiable facts.
      • Ayer said that the verification principle was analytic because it was making a statement about definitions
      • Ayer explained that the verification principle was analytic because it defined what 'meaning' is about
      • Critics say that this is not a definition of meaning that everyone would accept
      • The main criticism is that Ayer's view is too narrow and that there can be other kind of meaning that are not empirically verifiable

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Philosophy resources »