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Religious Language
Key words for this topic:
Univocal ­ words that have the same meaning at all times
Equivocal ­ a word that can be used to describe different things
Cognitive ­ subject to being true of false
Non-cognitive ­ not subject to being true or false…read more

Slide 2

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Two Problems of Religious Language
The use of both univocal and equivocal words when
used to describe God leads to problems
Univocal words ­ anthropomorphise God which
contradicts the idea that God is unlike anything
we know e.g. God cannot be good in the same
way humans are good
Equivocal words ­ becomes a meaningless
statement as we don't know if the word can be
applied to God as we don't know the context in
which the word is being used…read more

Slide 3

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The Vienna Circle
Formed by a group of empiricists in the 1920's. They developed two main ideas:
Logical Positivism ­ scientific knowledge is the only factual knowledge, therefore a
person must have sensory experience of something to be able to draw conclusions
from it
Verification Principle ­ some statements are meaningful others are not. Meaningful
statements are those that can be explained through sensory experience or that are a
Tautology ­ something that is true
by definition…read more

Slide 4

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Evaluation of Vienna Circle
· If statements have been verified through sensory experience they
will always make sense to everyone
· Statements cannot be proven wrong
· Too rigid, there are many statements we know to be true that do
not fit in with this criteria
· Scientific laws become meaningless ­ we know gravity to exist but we
cannot empirically prove it to be in action everywhere in the world at the
same time
· Historical statements become meaningless ­ we did not experience the
holocaust therefore it is meaningless to say that is occurred
· Emotional statements become meaningless ­ we cannot experience what
someone else is feeling…read more

Slide 5

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Ayer ­ Weak Verification
Ayer acknowledged the
problems of the verification
principle which lead him to
develop weak verification
Weak Verification
Doesn't have to be proven
by direct observation but it
must be provable or highly
probable…read more

Slide 6

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Evaluation ­ Weak Verification
· More flexible than strong verification
· Enables us to make meaningful statements about history,
science and emotions
· Weak verification allows some statements about God to be
meaningful which contradicts one of the aims of the Vienna
Circle (to disprove the idea of God through language)
· The verification principle itself is not a tautology therefore
some will not see it as meaningful
· John Hick's eschatological argument…read more

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