Perceptions of Ultimate Reality - Religious Language

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: ShaniWij
  • Created on: 18-06-13 16:43
Preview of Perceptions of Ultimate Reality - Religious Language

First 599 words of the document:

Religious Language Revision
There are fundamental problems with describing god (ineffability) and expressing his nature as either transcendent
or immanent
Theists however try to communicate their understanding of God - Islam has 99 names (`Ar-Rahman'- This is translated
either as `The compassionate' or `The Gracious') + Hinduism refers to Krishna as "the Supreme Lord of all beings" +
Judaism ­ Refer to God as `The creator' or `The Father of all...'
`God is unknowable and indescribable... God is not an object- not a lump of matter which will conform to our linguistic
definitions' - Paul Handley
Religious language can be used many ways
1) Truth ­ claims
Religious people use language to make claims about what is, or what is not ­ ie. "Jesus is alive today" ­
reasserts their religious beliefs are true + valid
2) Language can be used to express emotion and feeling
Emotion is an important part of life
Peter Donovan ­ Argues that religion encourages people "to discipline their emotions in the right direction,
to control their jealousies, to feel compassion for the weak, repentant when they have done wrong and feel
joy in happiness and success of others..."
Hinduism ­ words are used to invoke feelings of worship ­ ie. AUM (in meditation ­ places the mind in a
particular frame + on god)
3) Performatively
Words announce when something can happen ­ people can thank God using words of praise
Words can also be essential things such as Baptism+ Mass/Eucharist ­ acts which are central ­ "I baptise you in
the name of the Lord..." Gives the action religious meaning
Via Negativa [+Apophatic approach] ­ Moses Maimonides (1136-1204)
o Hinduism ­ Nirguna thought about Brahman ­ apophatic approach by saying what God is not (`neti neti') or
saying nothing at all as Brahman is the absolute (transcendent)
o God can only be described in negatives ­ these are used to emphasises the difference between God +
Humanity (apophatic/negative approach) ­ Ie. `Timeless' or `immortal'
o To give God Positive descriptions - "father" or "shepherd" ­ conveys the impression that God has a body, is
male, or has faults - automatically limits the understanding
Ie. `God is Love' ­ what love? We can only experience Human understanding of love ­ and it is characterised
by jealousy and inconsistency [Our understanding of love is flawed ­ thus to associate this flawed meaning
with God = limits his nature]
o Maimonides [Jewish Philosopher] was influenced by Aristotle + Islam philosophy
Aristotle ­ Concluded that God was outside time and space ­ thus utterly transcendent
Argued that it was best to say nothing as God cannot be conceptualised because of his transcendence ­ thus
any language attempt will be inadequate
Noted that language was limited in itself due to temporality (words change over time/ context of wording
constantly changes)
o Brian Davis ­ disagrees with Maimonides ­ saying nothing does not give an indication of what God actually is
by only saying what god is not ­ then it is difficult to understand God at all
Strengths of Via Negativa Weaknesses of Via Negativa
By recognising that a believer has to go beyond their If one speaks of God in Negative ­ it is difficult for
normal experiences in order to understand god ­ there someone who has NO knowledge or experience of God
is no limit placed on the Transcendent nature of God to understand what is meant ­ ie. Saying that White is

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

Black - statement is meaningless if the
person does not understand the concept of `black'
God cannot be reached through a process of elimination
Referring to abstract or transcendent qualities ­ the Antony Flew
believer is careful not to underline the belief that God is Argued that if someone tries to explain God as
the same as Humanity ­ He is beyond understanding indivisible, soundless, incorporeal etc.…read more

Page 3

Preview of page 3

Here's a taster:

Church suggest that these analogical language have to be inclusive ­ ie.…read more

Page 4

Preview of page 4

Here's a taster:

Symbols can become trivialised and original meaning is lost ­ Sabbath Day - Lost to modernity ­ treated as
another working day Part of this is due to the fact that some symbols can only be understood within the
community/ context (Wittgenstein ­ Language Games) there has to be shared understanding for the symbol
to be valid however as this association or acceptance is lost the meaning of the symbol declines in
importance and original meaning is lost
Tillich ­ stated that "Necessary to rediscover…read more

Page 5

Preview of page 5

Here's a taster:

X'nity to take its rightful place
o Darwinism has reduced the meaning of creation stories ­ process of scientific discovery ­ have caused Xns to
acknowledge that elements of the Bible ­ particularly the OT ­ ie.…read more

Page 6

Preview of page 6

Here's a taster:

Ward ­ VP excluded nothing at all, since all experiences are because it can be "verified in principle" ­ so the
existence of god can be verified in principles "If I were God then I would be able to check the truth of my own
existence...…read more

Page 7

Preview of page 7

Here's a taster:

It is for this reason that she suggest that more inclusive language is required + newer models are
needed ­ Suggested Mother, friend, Lover…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all resources »