A2 Religious Language

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  • Created by: Lauren
  • Created on: 16-01-13 11:02
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  • Religious Language
    • Vienna Circle/Verification Principle
      • The Vienna Circle believed that any statement that can't be verified is nonsense
        • They came up with the verification principle - a statement is only meaningful if it's a priori/a posteori
          • Vienna Circle believed that science provides knowledge and religion and ethics should be avoided
            • God can't be discussed in a meaningful way and we can't know whether God exists - no experience can confirm this
              • Criticisms
                • Swinburne points out universal statements can't be verified
                • Statements about history, science and art also become meaningless.
    • AJ Ayer/Weak Verification Principle
      • Ayer agrees with the Vienna circle - statements must either be a priori/a posteori
        • Ayer says we don't have to prove something by a direct observation
          • Ayer's verification principle is an improvement on the strict criteria made by the Vienna Circle
            • Criticisms
              • Hick questions whether the VP makes religious statements meaningless.
                • For example, two travellers walking down the road arguing whether it leads to a city. He uses an analogy to link this with a believers view on God/heaven. The statements can be verified at the end of the journey.
                  • Eschatological verification
    • The Falsification Principle
      • Aims to improve on the verification principle.
      • It suggests nothing could ever lead to a religious statement being proven false
        • Flew believes that religious believers shift the goalposts so much that the claims they make are watered down so they are barely statements at all
          • He calls this "the death of a thousand qualifications
          • Hare criticizes Flew by explaining that there are "bliks" which aren't verifiable or falsifiable and religious ideas are just some of our bliks.
        • Flew questions what would have to happen for the existence of God to be disproved
    • The Via Negativa
      • Weaknesses
        • Results in a  limited understanding of God
        • Religious people seek positive knowledge of what God is
        • By saying something negative we are implying the positive statement as well
      • Strengths
        • Prevents anthropomorphic statements being made about God
        • More respectful
        • Supports the view of many thinkers that God is beyond description.
        • Adequately conveys God's transcendence
      • "The way of the negative"
        • God is different and greater than anything we can comprehend
          • So instead of saying what God is, we can say what he's not
    • Using Analogy to Understand God
      • An analogy is describing something that is unfamiliar by making a comparison with something we already know
        • Aquinas  said language can't be used literally of God
          • He uses analogy in two ways
            • Analogy of proportion
              • Analogy of attribution
        • Strengths
          • Avoids the twin pitfalls of agnosticism and anthropomorphism
          • Hick - Analogy enables us to make some statements about God but still preserve mystery
        • Weaknesses
          • If God is completely different to humans it's hard to see how words can be used in a similar way
    • Symbol and Myth
      • Tillich says that statements about God are symbolic rather than literal
        • "God is the ground of being" is the only non symbolic statement that can be made about God
        • Symbols have both positive and negative aspects
        • Criticisms of Tillich's Views
          • J H Randall - language is symbolic but is non cognitive and religious symbols function in a similar way to art. They just tell us about human experience, not external reality.
          • Some argue that if religious statements aren't literally true they have no value
          • It's hard to be clear what a symbol means, Tillich's ideas are vague
      • Bultmann says a myth is the use of imagery to express the other worldly
        • A myth draws people in and requires response
        • Theologians disagree on the meanings of myths and they can be interpreted differently
        • Bultmann tries to demythologise the NT to find the essential message of Christianity
    • Wittgenstein
      • The way we see and describe the world is a matter of perspective
      • The purpose of language is to enable us to represent the world - he sees words as tools
      • He respects religion and realises that it can't be analysed in a scientific way
        • Phillips agrees that religious statements can't be understood literally but have a profound meaning for religious believers

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