Strengths and weaknesses of analogy, symbol , myth and language games-Religious Language A2

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Isobel Wilson
Advantages of symbolism
o Can be used in other things such as art, architecture and body language
Body language ­ kneeling for prayer, prostrate themselves, bow their heads
or remind themselves of their position in relation to God
Paul Tillich `symbols open up new levels of reality'.
Jung `symbols express collective unconscious individuation'
Randall `Symbolic language binds communities together'.
Disadvantages of symbolism
May only be properly understood by those within a restricted community (such as
Wittengenstein's theory of languagegames)
Can contradict each other, be misconstrued (Nazi Swastika originally an Indian symbol
for `goodness'), misinterpreted and hard to gain comprehension from.
Advantages of mythological language
Provides a visual way of understanding abstract ideas, allowing easier
More likely to be passed on due to their often lively, exciting and memorable nature.
Several layers of meaning can be conveyed in one story.
Positive morals and messages are within the myths.
One can revisit stories again and again in order to gain more meaning than before.
Positive things can be communicated about God without resorting to the Via Negativa.
Allows the Bible to be aligned as meaningful when scientific theories such as evolution and
natural selection appear to contradict the Bible.
Biblical stories can be told and accepted in a scientific era of modern minds.
Bultmann advocated demythologizing the N.T and the O.T to enable Christianity to hold
what he saw as its rightful place as an essential, vital option in a fast paced world.
Mythological imagery has a tendency to be culturally determined
o Are likely to communicate most to specific geographical locations and a
particular time in history
o Because of this parts of the myth may be `lost in translation', distorting original
Interpreting the word of God as `myth' crosses territory that may suggest that the words
of the Bible are false.
Believers take the words of the Bible to be true literal accounts, not myths.

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Isobel Wilson
Strengths of analogy
Challenges the verification principle by explaining the complexity of religious
Avoids anthropomorphizing God because words are not meant to be taken
Helps to explain difficult concepts, such as God's agapeic love
Weaknesses of analogy
Aquinas based his work upon a number of assumptions that came from
religious belief.
Makes assertions about God even though it recognises that words are limited.…read more

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Isobel Wilson
· Rules cannot be adapted.
· Challenges are too easily rejected.…read more


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