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  • Created on: 03-05-13 13:34

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LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN argued that propositions can be meaningful when analysed
in the right context, these contexts are called language games.
What is or is not meaningful cannot be discussed independently of the
language game they are a part of.
What is Wittgenstein's theory of religious language as Religious language is always meaningful within the religious language game.
LANGUAGE GAMES? For example, under the verification principle `God loves me' is meaningless but
within a religious language game it carries significant meaning.
WITTGENSTEIN agreed with AYER that religious language is not empirical,
but he said that just because it isn't empirical doesn't make it meaningless.
WITTGENSTEIN says language games build up around `forms of life', the
collection of cultural practices that make use of the particular language game.
In this way, religious statements are no longer part of the empirical language
game; they have their own game with their own meaning.
A claim that God exists is not an empirical statement, it is more of a
"passionate commitment to a frame of reference." It is complete immersion
in and commitment to a language game.
Criticism: Using WITTGENSTEIN's theory means that we can never criticise religious
belief using empirical evidence, no language game can be criticised from within
another language game. (We can't criticise the religious game from within the scientific
What are some criticisms of Wittgenstein's language one).
games theory?
Criticism: While it helps believers find meaning in what they say, it detracts a huge
amount from religious belief; it means that religious belief is no longer allowed to
make empirical claims, something which undermines most religious doctrine. Religious
believers do think they are saying something factual when they say God exists.
BRONISLAW MALINOWSKI says religion is more than pseudo-science and serves a
higher social function.
A more primitive human than us faces lots of anxiety about events beyond
What is BRONISLAW MALINOWSKI'S opinion of religion their control like the harvest, disease, the weather etc.
as more than a pseudo-science? They might turn to religion or magic in order to relieve this anxiety.
They put their trust in religious/magical rites which promise to guarantee the
outcome of an event, like doing a rain dance.

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Religion then, formalises and contains the attitudes and emotions in a group
which might otherwise be destructive.
Social science attempts to explain religion in terms a social phenomenon by finding
features that religions have in common.
What are Edward Tylor + Max Muller's SOCIAL SCIENCE EDWARD TYLOR argued that all religion begins as animism.
explanations for religion as a social phenomenon? At the basic level, religion is a belief in spirit beings that interact with humans.…read more

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The most basic form of religion is not naturism or animism but totemism.
The totem represents all that is sacred within a group or a clan. All that is
divine or has authority is so through some connection with the totem.
Through the totem, society deifies itself and makes itself the authority on
moral code.
Society imposes behaviour through this code that serves its own ends of
stability and order.
R. B. BRAITHWAITE argued that religious language can have meaning through its
empirical use.…read more

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Criticism: This requires that we have some bodily continuity between now and the
What are some criticisms of John Hick's eschatological
argument? Criticism: How can we verify God when we reach the afterlife? How will we know
what God is?
Criticism: Religious statements have an impact on people's lives now; verifying them
in the afterlife is too late.
ANTHONY FLEW tried to solve the problems with Ayer's verification principle by
tweaking it a little bit; he came up with the `falsification principle.…read more

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Criticism: R. M. Hare's blik is an example of a belief that is unfalsifiable but still
very meaningful to the believer. Of course, this cannot be used to convince others
of the belief.
Criticism: The cosmological attempt to infer God from empirical data as does the
problem of evil.…read more

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If God is omnipotent and omniscient then his `divine plan' should already
be in order, why does he need to intervene to redirect it? Surely God
What are some general arguments against miracles? cannot make mistakes.…read more

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Criticism: How can a miracle possibly violate a law of nature? Any event that
seems to breach a law of nature can just be acknowledged and incorporated into
What is a criticism to the claim that miracles break the laws a new, more all-encompassing law; this is the basic principle of all of science.
of nature? Also, give 1 response to this criticism Response: SWINBURNE argues that when this happens we have two
1.…read more

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Response: HUME distinguishes between miracles and marvels. Miracles
are dubious because past experience would point to them being false, marvels
What are some criticisms to Hume's opinion that we should lack past experience that could disprove and so should be open to fresh inquiry.…read more

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In the words of HUME; "a wise man proportions his belief to the
evidence", so no evidence, no belief.
THOMAS AQUINAS believed that reason and faith can support belief together.
Reason through natural theology can teach us a lot of things about
God, for example AQUINAS' 5 ways are a reasoned, rational way to
prove God's existence.
Why does St.…read more

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Criticism: For the wager to work there must be one true God and one religion to
choose, otherwise one takes a huge gamble on following the wrong religion.
Criticism: The wager reduces faith to `spiritual life insurance', something that
appeals to self interest rather than a want to serve God.
Response: PASCAL says the wager should be a first step to belief, not the
entire reason for it, it might encourage "those who do not know the road" to
discover God on their own.…read more


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