Symbol and myth

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  • Created by: Abitracey
  • Created on: 17-02-13 12:14
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  • Symbol and myth
    • Myth
      • Some thinkers argue that religious ideas conveyed through myths can give cohnitive knowlege of God.
      • For many people the idea of myth is the same idea as legends, ancient stories unlikely to be true.
      • An example of a myth would be the creation stories in the Bible. These teach believers that God created everything and that he cares for his people.
      • Rudolph Bultman: defines a myth as the use of imagery to express the other wordly in terms of this world.
      • Bultamn attempted to demythologise the bible and find the essential message of Christianity- Jesus's teachings.
      • Some scholars have disputed Bultman's approach and questioned the assumption that the mythical elements were later additions to the story of Jesus.
      • A difficulty
        • Although viewing stories as myths can be liberating for some who find it hard to accept them as true, it is difficult tp see how the interpretation of myths can be straightforward.
        • Theologians often disagree on the meaning of passages, and how something is interpreted may also depend on the culture of the interpreters.
    • Religious language as symbolic
      • Paul Tillich argued that religious language ought to be understood in a similar way to that of a poopy.
      • Religious statements are symbolic but nevertheless cognitive statements.
      • So we are able to learn something of God, but our words become symbolic rather than literal.
      • What Tillich is suggesting is that even statements such as God is good are symbolic rather than literal.
      • Tillich refers to God as 'the ground of being' and suggests this is the only non-symbolic statement that can be made about God.
      • Words cannot adequately describe God, thier meaning is always partially negated by that to which they point. However there is a positive aspect of the symbol participating in that to which it points which makes his view a credible alternative to analogy.
      • Criticisms of Tillich's views
        • Can be seen as vague.
        • It is difficult to be clear on what is meant by the idea of a symbol participating in something.
        • If religious statements are not literally true, then it is difficult to see what content they may have.


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