Religious Language

this is just what I was taught - not all of this is necessarily on the specification. I've highlighted quotes in blue for convenience

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  • Religious Language
    • Meaningless
      • non cognitive; doesn't convey information
      • equivocal: unclear language, ambigious
      • Logical Positivists/the vienna circle
        • verification principle
          • "the meaning of a proposition is the method of verification" Moritz Schlick
          • something is meaningful if we know how you can prove or disprove it - doesn't have to be true
          • AJ Ayer: Strong and Weak Verification
            • Weak: we can't prove it yet, it could only be proved in the past
              • "Muhammad is [...] the Messenger of ALLAH"
              • "God raised [Jesus] from the dead. We are witnesses of this"
              • John Hick - Eschatological Verification
                • parable of the celestial city
                  • "when they turn the last corner, it will be apparent that one of them has been right all the time"
            • Strong - we can verify it immediately using sense experience e.g Mary has red hair
              • limitations to verification - blind people, deaf people
          • this theory can't be proved by itself
      • the falsification principle
        • Parable of the Gardener
        • religious language isn't falsifiable so it's meaningless
          • religious statements die the "death by a thousand qualifications" (A.F.)
        • "what would have to occur or to have occured to constitute for you a disproof for the love of, or the existence of, God" Anthony Flew
          • loving heavenly father vs loving earthly father
      • anthropomorphism
        • the attribution of human characteristics or behaviour
          • disrespectful! we shouldn't do that!
            • Untitled
      • via negativa
        • language such as "good" cannot accurately describe God
          • we can only describe him in terms of what he is not; "God is not evil", "God is not human"
            • this really leaves us knowing nothing about God
              • Antony Flew said that all these negatives basically amount to nothing
          • god is beyond assertion and denial "free of every limitation, beyond every limitation" - Pseudo-Dionysius
          • Moses Maimonides - using positive statements to describe God is improper & disrespectful
            • limits God
          • god is ineffable
            • as believed in Judaism, God is too great/extreme to be described in words
          • but then saying "Not bad" is still limitation through language?
    • Meaningful
      • cognitive: communicates facts
      • univocal: clear language, non ambigious
      • Blik
        • R.M. Hare
          • falsification principle is good for cognitive statements but religious language is non cognitive and that's ok
        • parable of the lunatic (dons)
          • even though he won't let his belief be falsified, his belief is still meaningful because it affects his worldview
            • Flew called this argument a "dialectical dud-cheque"
              • all Hare has done is develop the "fraudulent substitute" of a blik
      • Parable of the Partisan
        • Basil Mitchell
        • people do let evidence count against their faith, but due to their commitment to God they believe in him
        • Flew responded that humans can change or make mistakes. God can't.
      • Language Games
        • Ludwig Wittgenstein
        • 'In most cases, the meaning of a word is its use'
        • different language games for different situations
          • jokes
          • shopping lists
          • scientific papers
            • needs evidence
          • religion
            • doesn't need evidence
          • you can't apply the rules of one language game to that of another
      • Thomas Aquinas
        • analogy
          • analogy of proportion
            • cat love < human love < divine love
              • Ian Ramsey's "models and qualifiers" theory
                • model = good
                  • infinitely good
                • qualifier = infinitely
                  • infinitely good
          • analogy of attribution
            • people look sick because they are sick
              • human wisdom is a reflection of God's wisdom
          • keeps us at an epistemic distance
          • Paul tillich - metaphors/symbols
            • closer to poetry than prose
            • "kingdom of God"
              • problem is metaphors mean different things to different people
                • victims of oppresive kings
                • symbols change and lose meaning over time
                  • traditional greek equilateral cross vs current longer latin cross
                • although Carl Gustav Jung says humans have always come up with similar symbols
                • leads to complete misunderstanding of entire religion
      • Moral Discourse
        • R.B. Braithwaite
        • religion is just metaphorical ways of talking about morality
          • "theological prepostions are not explanations of fact in the world of nature in the way in which established scientific principles are"
        • analogy
          • analogy of proportion
            • cat love < human love < divine love
              • Ian Ramsey's "models and qualifiers" theory
                • model = good
                  • qualifier = infinitely
              • analogy of attribution
                • people look sick because they are sick
                  • human wisdom is a reflection of God's wisdom
              • keeps us at an epistemic distance
              • Paul tillich - metaphors/symbols
                • closer to poetry than prose
                • "kingdom of God"
                  • problem is metaphors mean different things to different people
                    • victims of oppresive kings
                    • symbols change and lose meaning over time
                      • traditional greek equilateral cross vs current longer latin cross
                    • although Carl Gustav Jung says humans have always come up with similar symbols
                    • leads to complete misunderstanding of entire religion

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