OCR A2 R.S. Philosophy of Religion notes

These are all the notes I made for A2 Philosophy of religion, compiled from 5 different sources. Enough to get you an A or A*.

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  • Created on: 27-01-16 00:14
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Inductive argument ­ if the premises are true, it is unlikely that the conclusion would be false.
Deductive argument ­it is impossible for the premises to be true but the conclusion to be false.
Analytical statements ­ true by definition (e.g. a triangle has 3 sides)
Synthetic statements ­ can only be verified by senses (e.g. it is raining outside
A priori­ based on logic and reasoning.
A posteriori ­ based on empirical observations.
Religious Language
Cognitive language ­ conveys facts and knowledge.
Non-cognitive language ­ things that are not factual, e.g. feelings, metaphysical claims.
Univocal language ­ words that have the same meaning in all contexts.
Equivocal language ­ words/language that has several different meanings, so unclear and ambiguous.
Religious language is not univocal (so the meaning of a statements is unclear), it is equivocal (as it
concerns the realm outside of existence, so there are different interpretations)
o So these arguments to religious language attempt to conclude if language has meaning or
not/if it is objectively useful despite it being equivocal.
Verification Principle
Logical positivists ­ Vienna, 1920s, concerned with relationship between the use of language and
knowledge, rejecting non-cognitive statements as meaningless.
A.J. Ayer(Language, Truth and Logic-1936)
o "A statement which cannot be conclusively verified cannot be verified at all. It is simply devoid
of any meaning"
o Analytic propositions (
a priori) ­ true by definition because this is required by the word (a
triangle has 3 sides), or because they are mathematical (2+2=4).
o Synthetic propositions (
a posteriori ) ­ true by confirmation of sense (I can see it is raining).
o Strong verification ­ an assertion only has meaning if it can be verified according to empirical
information, anything else is meaningless.
o Weak ­ developed to allow historical facts to have meaning. Some evidence is enough to make
a statement meaningful (e.g. eyewitness accounts).
Religious claims are meaningless as they are non-cognitive and cannot be verified.
Hick­ eschatological verification, talk of God may be verifiable in principle; convincing evidence is not
apparent now but may be in the future; i.e. when reach the "Celestial City" (heaven)
Swinburne­ propositions which no-one knows how to verify are not meaningless, e.g. toys that come
out at night when you are asleep, it is not possible to prove or disprove this but this doesn't mean it is
The weak form of verification would support some religious statements, e.g. some historical evidence
for the existence of Jesus and his acts, and evidence of possible design could support "God as creator"
Ayer's creation of the weak verification principle may suggest that the verification principle has gaps.
Falsification Principle

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A principle for assessing whether statements are genuine scientific assertions by considering whether
any evidence would ever disprove them.
Karl Popper(Conjectures and Refutations- 1963)
o Differentiate between genuine science and pseudoscience.
o Any theory that is impossible to disprove is an invalid theory e.g. Freud's psychoanalysis (theory
by which empirical data was interpreted, not tested against). Einstein's theory of relativity is
genuine science in Popper's view.
Anthony Flew
o Religious statements cannot be falsified, therefore religious language is meaningless.…read more

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A mystic, emphasises non-verbal experiences of God (mysticism).
o Tried to express in words the experience of mystical communion with Christ in poetry form.
Moses Maimonides­ (A Guide for the Perplexed)
o "God has no positive attributes...the negative attributes of God are the true attributes"
o "There is no similarity in anyway whatsoever between Him [God] and his creatures...the
difference between them...is absolute"
o A Neo-Platonist suggests God is ultimate and indescribable, only experienced by a mystical
experience.…read more

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It can help believers make sense of a concept (God) that is beyond human
o Criticisms
St. Paul­ we cannot accurately express God even through analogy until we see
Analogy tells us nothing new about God ­ analogies are based on what is known
through His creation.
Based on the notion that God exists ­ analogy has no meaning to non-believers
Implies that analogy is part of a language game (Wittgenstein), so no
objective meaning.…read more

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Similarity of relation ­ symbols are like analogies, e.g. the images of Jesus in
The Gospel of John: the Living Water, the Light of the World, Good
Shepherd; the True Vine. Symbolic relations of proportion are in operation.
o Understood to be a story that is not true but has other value e.g. inspirational and
o A literary device that enables us to talk about ineffable things.
o A method of interpreting reality, so haves symbolic meaning.…read more

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Means it is difficult to discuss religion and religious concepts if different faiths have different
religious languages.
D.Z. Phillips
o Religious language is a language game as religious language is not grounded or criticised in
reason; it's a system of its own.
o Statements such as "God exists" are not grounded in belief, instead they are expressions of
belief.…read more

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Passivity ­ not actively bringing it about, instead receiving something that is offered,
the divine teaches about the divine.
Ineffability ­ inability to describe the experience, descriptions are meaningless to
people that haven't experienced it.
Noetic quality ­ revelation, insights into normally unobtainable truths, knowledge
grasped through perception.
Transiency ­ lasting for a limited amount of time, but effects last longer, well
remembered experience.
Only gives probable explanations as it is an inductive argument.…read more

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Three types of vision
o Intellectual ­ gives knowledge of God; inner visions.
o Imaginary ­ strengthen faith, usually in dreams.
o Corporeal ­ when a figure is visibly present.
Bernadette of Lourdes
o Visions of a figure describing themselves to be the "immaculate conception" (Virgin Mary)
o Initially felt bewilderment but then overcame this with a great feeling of peace.
o She was suffering from asthma and contracted cholera at a young age.
St.…read more

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Everyone has transformations in ideas
If we stop trying to change then true change can occur.
All adolescents go through symptoms similar to conversion experiences.
Religious experiences begin with a feeling of incompletion ­ e.g. John Wesley.
Therefore religious experiences could simply be a person shifting their changing
o Swinburne­ (Is There a God?)
Can be used anywhere in religious experience
A realist­ believes that there are objective moral truths regardless of moral
Belief in God is reasonably possible.…read more

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Criticism ­ apparent contradictions in the Bible pose a challenge to this view.
Liberal view
o Roots in the early 18th Century during the Enlightenment period.
o Use of reason to discover truth, as opposed to blind faith, so rejects the miraculous as not
o Treat the Bible as any other text ­ not literally. Biblical "Higher Criticism".
o The Bible is a purely human book, so has no absolute divine authority.…read more


Jon Favreau

i rate this 6 cancers outs of 1

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