Religious Language

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  • RELIGIOUS LANGUAGE
    • Strong Verification Principle
      • (Logical Positivists) This approach suggests that a statement is only meaningful if it can be verified right there. In this case, only analytic and synthetic statements are meaningful.
        • - Too limiting. We cannot make meaningful statements about history.
        • - There are certain things that are not verifiable right now but are still meaningful. e.g. Gravity works around the world.
      • + It is true, we do tend to accept the truth  of things that are analytic or synthetic.
    • The Falsification Debate
      • Flew: Parable of the Gardener
        • In the parable, two men are camping in a clearing of a jungle. One believes that there is a Gardener who tends to the area. The other does not.
        • They set up traps to catch him. The believer goes on to say "he is invisible, he has no scent....." etc. Eventually none of the original features of the gardener
        • Implications for RL: FLew is suggesting it is MEANINGLESS as the believer refuses to accept falsification. As a result religious statements "die a death of a thousand qualification". This means they qualify God so much e..g he is distant, he knows better than us......
        • That there is nothing left of their original assertion.THEREFORE RL is meaningless as believers refuse to accept falsification - they refuse to say "This MAY prove he doesn't exist"
      • Hare: The parable of the lunatic
        • In the parable, a student is at University and strongly believes all the Dons (professors) want to kill him.
        • Although he is challenged by his peers, and meets some nice dons, he still believes it! His belief is known as a BLIK.
        • Implications for RL: Hare is suggesting RL is meaningful. This is because it is like a BLIK. RL should not be compared to scientific statements as it is different.
        • So religion is like a BLIK- a belief held despite the evidence against it. RL is meaningful despite not being able to be falsified.
      • Mitchell: The parable of the Resistance Fighter
        • he parable is set during war time and a resistance fighter meets his leader one night. They spend time together & he tells him "You may see me working for the other side, but I am still true to the resistance".
        • He then sees him working for the other side and other members do not believe that he is part of the resistance. The original fighter still believes despite the evidence against.
        • Implications for RL: RL is meaningful as statements people make are 'significant articles of faith'. The resistance fighter in the story is fully accepting of the fact the leader may be on the other side.
        • However, he has faith despite this. Mitchell is suggesting that Flew is wrong. Religious believers do accept falsification & thus their statements are meaningful.
    • Weak Verification Principle
      • Ayer, felt that the Strong VP is not the way we should approach meaningfulness. Instead, he suggested that we need to say what would verify it in principle. It does not have to be directly verifiable right now. This means statement about scientific theories can now be meaningful.
        • - we cannot verify the verification principle.
        • - Ayer himself rejected the idea.
        • - You cannot say scientific statements are meaningful but religious are not. So it fails!
        • + allows for scientific and historical statements to be meaingful
        • + Popular approach from both scientists and philosophers
        • - Hick: Eschatological verification. The story of the Celestial City demonstrates how it will all be verified after death, so we can talk about it meaningfully.

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