A.J Ayers 'God- talk is evidently nonsense' Essay

Here is an essay I did from A.J Ayers 'God- talk is evidently nonsense'. Even though the conclusion is weak, my teacher gave it an A, so I thought I would put it up as some people may find it useful.

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  • Created on: 28-05-12 15:40
Preview of A.J Ayers 'God- talk is evidently nonsense' Essay

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a) Examine the argument and/or interpretations in the passage. (24)
This concluding passage from A.J Ayers `God ­talk is evidently nonsense' concludes the basis
of his argument that it is obvious to state god talk, like other feelings we have towards
things is meaningless because it needs to have evidence to be true, to be empirically
verifiable. It basically states there is nothing to the argument from religious experience.
Claims to religious or moral knowledge don't amount to anything, because they cannot be
checked by the senses. This is only interesting in terms of what it says about a person's
The passage starts to sum up the paragraph before on how religious experience is
`fallacious', meaning religious experience is just an error in the way we think, for example
even if there was a God, we may not know anything about what God is, and that religion is
just a misleading source of knowledge with people believing what they want to believe, it is
flawed. He states it is indeed interesting from a psychological point of view; however he
then brings in morality, something which we have not encountered yet in this essay.
A.J Ayer believes that moral experiences are just as nonsensical as per say religious
experiences therefore meaning morals are in fact just as meaningless. Even though he
concludes only on religious experience and morality, he also mentions some other points.
Furthermore he talks about what religion tells us from a psychological point of view, the
possibility of moral knowledge and the link between language and science.
There are many arguments/interpretations in this passage, for example the argument that
religious experience is flawed/false; however there are some arguments against Ayers.
Richard Swineburne would say "In the absence of any special considerations, the experiences
of others are (probably) as they report them", also using the principle of credulity saying
"How things seem to be is a good guide to how things are". Religious experience is to be
inductive, because it is reason based on probability, also being a posteriori argument. Many
factors make religious experience more credible, for example if they can be proved, is it has
happened to a large number of people, has made a change in the physical world, it's
prophetic, can be repeated, the person is sane, well-educated and it is non-expectant. An
example of a religious experience is the post resurrection of Jesus. It is very likely to have
happened because there are many factors that make it more credible, however it is religious
and cannot be repeated which makes it less credible. These ideas challenge Ayer. Ayer
however believes that the argument for religious experience is false because of the
verification principle. Religious language is concerned with speaking about God, and is difficult
because our words are not adequate to talk about a transcendent God. The verification
principle was applied to the principles of science and mathematics to language and argued
that, like knowledge, language had to be based on experience. For a statement to be
considered meaningful it had to be verifiable by out sense experiences; to see, smell, hear,
touch or taste. A.J Ayer observed that apparent inconsistencies in mathematical calculations
would be discovered to be the product of human error rather than a genuine difference in
the facts of the cause. For example, if 5+5 was to suddenly equal 9, a recalculation would
quickly demonstrate that an error of addition had been made. He observed that since the
existence of God cannot be rationally demonstrated, it is not even probable, since the term
`God' is a metaphysical term referring to a transcendent being which cannot therefore have

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God is meaningless. He argues that since the
claims of God's existence cannot be contradicted, is neither true nor false, cannot be valid:
`The notion of a being whose essential attributes are non-empirical is not an intelligible
notion at all'. Religious experience was also dismissed by Ayer: `The fact that people have
religious experiences does not imply that there is such a thing as religious knowledge'.
`Religious experiences are interesting from a psychological point of view'.…read more

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There are many points to discover within the ideas expressed in this essay. I think that
religious language can be meaningless in some ways because even though there are some
factors which make it credible, I don't think there is a strong enough argument to prove that
there is a God through religious language, it is only based on someone's interpretation and
feeling of religion.…read more






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