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AYER – ‘God talk is evidently nonsense’

2 main topics; religious language + religious experience

Religious language – verification and falsification debate

Ayer’s general justification for claim that G talk is nonsense;

1.      Lacks factual content/meaning = meaningless

2.      Lack of proof for/against God’s existence

3.      Lack of evidence that God talk contains any content 





By meaningless Ayer means something that can’t be verified

This isn’t the same as saying the words have no significance. 

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ayer continued

Content-less – no factual content, can’t be verified


Meaningful – verifiable – analytic (true by definition) /synthetic (true b y scientific testing)


Why isn’t God’s existence probable?

Probable implies God’s existence is an empirical hypothesis, ie: it’s a claim about which we can raise evidence for/against 

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more Ayer

EMPIRICAL – sense data, testing, experience, scientific enquiry

Ayer says God’s existence is not an empirical hypothesis, no evidence can be used either for and against it

Philosophy of religion – most people treat God as though he is an empirical proposition, design argument à order/beauty in nature

Miracles, religious experience, evil + suffering à all these are used as evidence to weigh up if God exists or not

Ayer says this is impossible. No evidence can be used either way so neither atheists/ theists are correct. Also arguments for God existing don’t prove existence of theistic God – loving, knowing and powerful eg: the design argument only proposes a design producing being not a loving God

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PARAGRAPH 6 – the mystic

·         Mystics à in Ayer this refers to people who claim to have knowledge of God by some kind of intuition or revelation – linked to religious experience

·         The mystic claims to discover facts about reality or God but is unable to explain or describe them , thus Ayer thinks they have no facts. If they did they’d be able to describe them

·         The mystic claims that their intuitive faculty is cognitive, ie: way of discovering facts

·         Ayer disagrees with this

·         People who believe in religious experience claim that they can have sensory perceptions/experiences of God in some way as for objects (apples, yellow patches etc)

·         In other words they claim direct knowledge of God by experience

·         Ayer disagrees, he says that knowledge of objects can be empirically verified eg: if i say the apple tastes sweet we could test the apple to see how much sugar is in it = analytic proposition

·         But the statement ‘G is a transcendent being’ can’t be verified because it’s not a synthetic proposition *transcendent – goes beyond physical, metaphysical

·         So how could we have sense data of him?

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PARAGRAPH 8 – conclusion

·         Ayer concludes that there’s no real thing as religious/moral knowledge therefore anyone who believes there is, is deceiving themselves

·         He comments that people who believe in religious experiences reveals something of  their psychology but nothing of their real world

·         Truths/facts belong to the empirical tradition ie: science

·         ‘G exists’ – no literal significance because it is a metaphysical statement (goers beyond the physical) so no possibility of replication of its truth/falsity

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·         Ayer concludes that there’s no real thing as religious/moral knowledge therefore anyone who believes there is, is deceiving themselves

·         He comments that people who believe in religious experiences reveals something of  their psychology but nothing of their real world

·         Truths/facts belong to the empirical tradition ie: science

·         ‘G exists’ – no literal significance because it is a metaphysical statement (goers beyond the physical) so no possibility of replication of its truth/falsity

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·         Lots of things we talk about – feelings/proportions/music/art etc have nothing variable about them but we still think they’re significant

·         Anselm says ‘G exists’ is analytic so no evidence is required but the statement is meaningful

·         Paley says ‘G exists’ is empirical +literally significant

·         Language games ‘G exists’ is meaningful to believers but has no literal significance outside the game

·         Atheism + agnosticism are incompatible with Ayers view because God is unintelligible because we cannot know what qualities of God mean in relation to him

·         Theists like Aquinas acknowledge that God is loving, good etc BUT also recognise that our concepts of these are finite therefore we can’t know what it means to say God is loving. 

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Ayer concludes that therefore statements about God have no content/meaning ie: we can’t interpret what they entail

Consequently theists maintain a contradiction of position by saying one can know about God is a TRANSCENDENT MYSTERY

If people followed Ayers views what would be the implications for understanding religion and human experience?

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The arts

What would be valued in Ayer’s world? Maths and science

Ayer’s world: no beliefs

You can only know/ believe in what you see

The arts rejected

The arts have no verifiable meaning or purpose therefore they’re pointless

No reason to continue the human race

Is consciousness verifiable?

We can only verify our own consciousness

We can’t prove others have minds à no need for communication

Communication would be limited to what’s verifiable eg: i am angry cannot be meaningfully said instead we would have to say i have a raised pulse

We couldn’t emotions/opinions 

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Implications for religion à God isn’t real or can’t be verified or falsified so it’s meaningless to talk about him. All metaphysical beliefs such as life after death are also rejected.


·         What statement does Ayer make that people disagree with?

·         Paragraph 3 – notion of a person whose essential attributes are non empirical, is not an intelligible notion at all

·         P3 – unless the sentences in which it occur express propositions which are empirically verifiable, it cannot be said to symbolise anything and Paley would agree

·         P5 – to say something transcends the human understanding is to say that it is unintelligible

·         God is the object of a purely mystical intuition and cannot therefore be denied in terms which are intelligible to the reason

·         If a mystic admits that the object of his vision is something which cannot be described then he must also admit that he’s bound to talk nonsense when he describes it

·         Talking about god is still significant to people

·         P4 – sentences which theists use to express truths are not literally significant

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·         Epistemology – the question of what we know

·         epistemology concerns how we gain knowledge

·         Is experience a reliable source of knowledge about the world?

·         Scientists and empiricists would say yes but obvious problems – eg: our senses can be deceived – optical illusion and there are Qs about whether sense data accurately represents objects

·         Intuition – a term with many meanings eg: a woman’s intuition sixth sense

·         Descartes à seeing in the natural light ‘means things known immediately such as logical statements’ (pure reason is reliable)

·         Can intuition or experience of God provide knowledge of him?

·         DONOVAN says intuition means something we’re sure of, and feel no need to justify because we have direct/immediate knowledge

·         This raised the Q can we have intuitive knowledge of God?

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·         In PARA 2 – he raises doubt about people who claim to be certain about things without justification. For example: dictator, the ignorant and people ‘blinded by prejudice’ often make claims

·         Implications à are religious people who claim to know God in one of the categories above?

·         Knowledge from intuition – some scholars claim to know about God from intuition they say it’s not direct experience of God but indirect knowledge of him through experience of finite things (eg: object/people)


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·         What are the similarities between knowledge of other minds and knowledge of God?

·         What philosophical argument could you link in with this?

·         Owen says i can’t know exactly what goes on in another persons mind but i can infer information about them by looking at their behaviour, habit, facial expression etc for eg: Beth’s smiling, Beth’s happy

·         Owen says it’s the same with God, i don’t experience G directly but i can infer knowledge of him by looking at his creation for eg the world is complex and ordered = God is complex and ordered

·         Links to teleological and analogy à PROBLEM: how do we decide which features of the world are God’s nature? Some things in the world are disturbed, unpurposeful, etc

·         We can discover things about other people in ‘stand out moment’ eg: how they react in emergency?

·         Similarly we get most knowledge of God through his revelation in Jesus who sacrificed himself to save us

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Owen suggests that knowledge of God can be attained in various ways, include;


·         order and complexity of nature

·         Religious scriptures à numerous scriptures from different faiths

·         teachings in church

·         personal experiences (religious exps, miracles)


PROBLEMS – diff sources may give different ideas about God

                        People interpret sources differently 

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Why is knowledge of God by intuition attractive to

·         Fits well with biblical views of the God reveals himself

·         Makes himself known through natural things

·         Personal, draws near, communicates, seeks fellowship with humanity.

·         Faith becomes a way of knowing as an intuitive response

·         ANALYSIS: can God be known by intuition? Problems arise because; miracles rely on misinterpretations to establish their meaning. Nature/the created order can be interpreted in different waysà or as being uncreated (big bang). There’s no proof that God seeks fellowship with human beings (except biblical accounts).


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Feeling certain and being right

·         Distinction between 2 types of certainty; psychological and rational certainty

·         Get at main point by comparing difference between feeling certain and being right, eg, can feel certain without being right

·         The feeling of certainty doesn’t mean we are right

·         Feeling certain is not a criteria of ‘rightness’

·         The criteria of rightness is that what you believe corresponds with reality, eg, i am right to feel certain that its 3:30 if it is in fact 3:30


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Knowledge about and experience of

·         Theologians claim that ‘experience of’ God provides more direct knowledge than ‘knowledge about’ God (intuition)

·         Martin Buber – I:it, I: u

·         I – it – relationships are object relationships eg, treating other humans as objects and not relating to them as persons eg, cahiers, teachers, witness etc.

·         I – U – relationships are where we relate to others as persons, the relationship’s reciprocal (give and take on both sides)

·         Buber says we can have an I- U relationship with God

·         He distinguishes between philosophical debate about god and experiential knowledge about God.

·         The Theologian says I – U encounter of God can’t be analysed/expressed in the same way that we don’t analyse relationships with others.

àThis is convenient for Theologians but unacceptable for philosophers who want to analyse the knowledge that supposedly gained. 

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1.      Sense of encounter may be mistaken – you think you know someone but you don’t really

2.      Having ‘experience of’ pre-supposes having the ‘knowledge about’ – Theologians argued about knowledge about God being less important than experience about God. Philosophers disagree, they say we must have knowledge about God first (particularly of his existence and nature). This is essential as without such knowledge how can we know if we’ve experienced God or not? (if Davies spider in the bath àI can only know it as a spider if i know what spiders look like).

·         Philosophers argue that ‘experience of God’ cant prove God exists/provide knowledge about God on its own

·         We must first establish that God exists and what God is like in order to know if religious experiences provide reliable knowledge.

·         This is in direct contradiction with the claims made by people who claim to experience God

3.      ‘Experience of’ is not in itself knowledge.

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Problems with intuition as a source of knowledge

·         What problem is Russell identifying? (relating to our knowledge of who we are in love with) – we might have intuitions that are inaccurate or incomplete, ie: when in love we may infer qualities to that person that may be they don’t have

·         Same may happen in intuitions of God

CRITICISM à the analogy is biased

Intuition provides more accurate knowledge in other areas of life, eg: criminology

Donovan argues against intuition as knowledge of God, saying that;

a.       Having intuitions of God assumes that he exists but doesn’t offer proof

b.      Intuition in other creations of life is more reliable as we can use checking procedures

c.       There are many diff. Intuitions of God (sometimes conflicting) Raising doubt about its reliability


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·         Weakness à to assume is like assuming that because one can read road signs, they can read psalms

·         Unclear whether other reading abilities have anything in common with psalm reading.

·         Similarly, what counts as knowledge of God is so in doubt no sound basis for deciding whether such knowledge could/couldn’t be arrived at through intuition

·         Strength à Christianity offers very comprehensive accounts of experiences, interpretations, doctrines, traditions, imagination etc that make up religious life as a whole à if Christianity is true God likely to reveal himself through intuition

·         Fatal weakness of reliance on intuition as a way of knowledge – can be appealed to in case of God/ the objects of religious belief


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making distinction between 2 kinds of certainty à 1) psychological certainty + 2) rational certainty

We can get to the main point by comparing the difference between ‘feeling certain’ and ‘being right’

One may feel certain without being right, EG: i may feel certain it’s half 3, after looking at the watch, but won’t go on feeling certain when i discover watch has stopped.

I can check appropriateness of my feeling of certainty against the rightness of the watch, but can’t check the rightness of the watch against my feeling of certainty.

è Feeling of certainty isn’t what makes us right though we often have feeling certainty when we’re right

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·         PROBLEMS with feeling certain:

·         Go with idea of having intuitive knowledge à sense of having an intuition may possess quality of clarity/conviction or a peculiar directness in some circumstances, EG: i may feel i am being watched or something bad/momentous is going to happen

·         What we feel certain about, intuitively was so


·         having an intuition has a recognisable feel about it that can be taken as a reliable sign f being right, whatever the circumstances.

·         If you have only the intuitive feeling of certainty to go on, how do you know in a given case that you are having that feeling? ß perhaps your memory of ‘the intuitive feel’ is letting you down this time, its not enough to say you feel certain that your memory is right because that’s just repeating the process (using intuition to check intuition itself)

+ if whatever seems right can be right, what does getting it right mean?

·         Reliability of our sense of intuition – not something to be taken and granted

·         We have reliable intuitions, no doubt.

·         It’s the ‘SITUATION’, not the feeling of intuition, that determines whether/not intuition is a reliable way of knowing in these cases

·         Our intuitive knowledge of others – the fact we have profound and certain knowledge may be false

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These are some of the difficulties that face anyone who argues from what seems to be an intuitive awareness, in religious experience, to conclusion that there really is knowledge of God

It’s not enough to emphasize the sense of certainty of the basic religious experience by giving it descriptions like ‘awareness’, ‘encounter’, ‘apprehension’ or ‘response’

è These terms take it for granted that there is a genuine object of experience, beyond the experiences of our mental states

·         Nor is it sufficient to point out as OWEN does, that we accept intuitive, non inferential knowledge in everyday such as sense perception/awareness of other minds

·         SENSE PERCEPTION – our knowledge of sense organs + range tests and checking procedures which surround experiences which they give us, contribute to the context in which our intuitive perceptions take place and help us to justify them

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‘Experience of’ is not in itself knowledge

·         Donovan debates about whether experience of something necessarily results in knowledge.

·         He uses the analogy of PREGNANCY concluding that being pregnant gives some knowledge (eg: what it feels like to be preggers) but doesn’t necessarily provide the full picture eg: doesn’t tell you when the foetus has fingers or when its heart starts to beat. Also being pregnant doesn’t necessarily lead to knowledge of causes and preventions of pregnancy

·         Donovan says that experience doesn’t automatically lead to knowledge; but provides opportunities for knowledge to be gained

è EG: going to 2 uni’s provides opportunities to learn about a subject, but also budgeting, socialising etc

·         But such knowledge only comes if you take advantage of the opportunities

·         He argues that its reflection on experiences that provide extra knowledge

·         Therefore experience of God may provide opportunities to learn about him, although they may just be snapshot of his nature

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In defence of theists, DONOVAN says that knowledge of God isn’t necessarily what one aims for in an encounter with God

As BUBER suggested, an encounter with God is a personal relationship, like a friend.

This isn’t the same as an interview/fact finding mission.


Believers may enjoy their relationship with God without claiming to gain knowledge from their experiences. The problem arises when they try to use experience to form philosophical arguments about Gods nature/existence.


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·         Summary of previous arguments

·         Donovan again distinguishes between theological and philosophical approaches

·         Believers are justified in being in religious experiences

·         Religious experiences – shouldn’t be disregarded as a method of knowing God just because it has its weaknesses, however, it shouldn’t be taken *** offering ‘self certifying’ knowledge of God.

·         In other words, other methods of knowing are needed to support religious experience

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P114 – knowing God by intuition is consistent with biblical teachingà but modern experience indicates that God is less active/only communicates with select groups – usually already believers. à leads to discussion about how people interpret religious experience à WEAKNESS = subjectivity

P114 à115 quote on revelation and faith ‘the essential content of revelation is ...’

·         ISSUES: the content of revelation is unclear or impossible

·         Describe à link to William James – for marks of religious experience àIN EFFABLE- cant be described

·         ‘the proper response to revelation is faith’

·         The quote implies ‘blind faith’ (link back to start of article- people who claim to ‘just know’ can be accused of arrogance, ignorance, irrationality, etc)– no intellectual reflection, just obedience to the divine will and that in God.

·         References to God revealed in nature à leads to debate about what kind of God àproblem of evil

è Does this world look designed – design argument 

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Donovan analysis

·         Donovan distinguishes between feeling certain and being right – same intuition not criteria of certainty i.e., feel certain without being right à this is a weakness of intuition and a strength in Donovan’s analysis 

·         ‘aren’t there too many...’

Depends if they’re consistent. When people have conflicting intuitions about God’s will this leads us to think they are unreliable. How do we sort the true from the false intuitions?

·         More intuitions – more likelihood of one being right- more likelihood there’s a God

·         Expensive encounters can be mistaken 

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àGod seeks person relations or person 2 person relations. This is an assumption. If this is true, why doesn’t he reveal himself to more people? Why be so picky

·         Strength ; it’s true to say that unless we know what God is we cant know when we experience it. Religious experience doesn’t follow scientific rules. This can be seen as a strength/weakness, doesn’t use scientific methods and cant be analysed scientifically, but does this make it false?

·         Can we have ‘knowledge about’ without ‘knowledge of’ without attaining ‘knowledge about’ = circular problem

·         Its claimed we need to know God exists to experience him

·         We may need to experience him to know he exists (intellectual theories, eg, ontological argument may not be convincing).

·         If religious experience doesn’t produce knowledge about God this is useless to philosophers, eg, William James says religious experience has a revelatory/noetic quality

·         Maybe there’s a mistake of religious experience, it’s just a relationship with God, not designed to reveal anything about him.

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Implications for understanding religion and human

·         The conclusions suggest that religious experience/sense of God aren’t enough to convince us that he exists

·         Implications for religions – they must use other methods to prove G exists

·         Implications for human experience – people who believe in religious experience as proof of G are misguided

·         Link to idea of God is a delusion

·         There may be no implications for believers, as they may disregard Donovan’s scepticism and continue to believe

·         Further indication for religion – Donovan often presents religious believers as uncritical, having ‘blind faith’ whereas philosophers are presented as intellectual and sceptical

·         Donovan concludes real  experience still significant for religion despite philosophical objections

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·         Debates about nature and existence of God

·         Philosophy of religion – observations about the religious belief and practice

These connect because religious beliefs concern God’s existence and nature but the phenomena of religion can continue without God (Freud and Marx)

Philosophy of religion develops because according to Hegel we assume we can’t know G so instead talk of religion

·         Deism: the kernel or religion is the belief in god as creator and belief in God as creator of moral law

·         Kant believes good will be rewarded in heaven, bad will be punished eternally. There must be cosmic justice

·         In order for justice to occur G must exist to pass judgement

·         Kant finds it inconceivable that world could be unjust


·         The husk of religion is irrational/irrelevant bits, eg: miracles, the life of Jesus


Particularly Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus’ divinity

·         Miracles as proof of Gods power over nature etc

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THE EMERGENCE of modern philosophy

·         Westphal comments on the emergence of modern philosophy

·         Saying – since we don’t know G we have to talk about religion instead

·         He introduces Hegel who rejects 2 types of philosophical theology; SCHOLASTICISM: the belief that reason + faith/revelation are in harmony – they work together to reveal God + DEISM: belief in reason alone, following Kant’s view that faith/revelation = irrational

·         Irrational knowledge includes miraculous/supernatural sources

·         Rational knowledge about God includes – God as creator and law enforcer

·         Deism is associated with enlightenment philosophy

·         Seems to limit religious claims to those which are ‘a priori’ or experimental and available to everyone

·         Scholasticism – combining faith and reason

·         Deism – pure reason

·         The ‘enlightenment’ refers to the period in history where people began to Q religious faith – 17th century


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    Science developing quick becoming area of study in own right

·         Scientists no longer saw themselves as revealing things about G/ his created order

·         This leads to a separation of wisdom into categories;






·         During this time enlightened attitudes to religion fell into 2 broad categories;

1.      Anti religious materialism – people who rejected all ideas of metaphysical things eg: God, souls, life after death etc

2.      People seeking moral unity – they saw religion as providing moral guidance, even if no longer convinces with its metaphysical beliefs

·         Deists followed this route

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·         DEISM: enlightenment rationalism

·         Aims to achieve moral unity and a non violent religion

·         They believe to achieve this must get rid of all different sects of Christianity because these cause conflict and disagreement

·         We must also reject all claims to special revelation/authority (particularly churches who claim to get revelations from God through speaking in tongues/religious exp)

·         Deists thought these caused conflict + tension because revelations not available to all

·         To achieve unity – should focus on what can be known by reason rather than faith


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1.      Knowledge to be seen as available through reason à as independent source

2.      Concern for religious tolerance

3.      Anti church principles – reject authority of church as source knowledge/political power

·         This brings the philosophical shift from talk of God (theology) à talk of religion (philosophy of rel)

·         Deists think we can work out our beliefs about God through our reason

·         Instead of G talk their concern to look at how religion effects morality

·         Can religion be used as tool for developing moral unity?

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KANT identifies the ‘husk’ of religion as all the ritualistic aspects of religion eg:

These are all seen as irrational and futile;

Church attendance




Kant also develops human humanistic approach    

è Our duties only extend to humanity

è We have no duties to God

Kant is beginning a process of INDIVIDUALISATION in religion

Ie: many no longer feel they have to go to church to call themselves Christ’s

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Also in ‘low churches’ ritualism is de-emphasized distinguishing them from ‘high churches’, ie: catholics and orthodox who are VERY ritualistic

Kant’s deistic church is based on the moral beliefs of the community (it goes from bottom up rather than top down) ie: the community dictates morality not God

Kant supporters, Pelogius argues that we get to heaven by good works. This is in contrast to Augustine who said our place was predestined and our actions were irrelevant à KERNEL


Kant also rejected all the historical and religious beliefs about Jesus ie: his divinity, resurrection, miracles etc à HUSK

Jesus is only significant as a moral exemplar, ie: he is an eg of how we should behave à KERNEL

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·         Schliermacker specifically opposes Kant’s ideals

·         He argues the husk of religion is; metaphysical and morality = non essential

·         The kernel of religion is feeling/exp of infinite/universal through the finite in other words exp of God is through everything (PANTHEISM)

·         Schliermacker also Q traditional views on God

·         He rejects ideas of God as an independent eternity and instead proposes a pantheistic view that G is the unity of all things.

·         This has eastern feel – similar to hindu beliefs on brahman

·         Mystical app to religion

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·         How does this impact on the traditional churches?

Schliermacker says they can continue unchanged although he’s recommending they don’t get too engrossed in their bodies and rituals

Through the churches he hopes they can all come to realise the truth of unity of all things à SCHMK things that the rituals and beliefs of churches are neither essential/harmful to the religion. The emphasis on the personal experience of God nor the church institutions

·         HUME & KANT – critique of Gs existence caused a devastating blow to the scholastic and deistic projects – this triggered shift from talking about G to talking about religion (ph of rel)

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Post Kantian reconstructions of deist project

·         Kant rejects the a priori arguments for Gs existence eg: ontological argument

·         He says we can know G and life after death exist through reason

·         In order to ensure cosmic justice ie: good are rewarded bad punished

·         There must be a) life after death b) God (to deliver judgements)

·         Kant always asserts that humans are naturally evil, problematic claim, what do we mean by evil? How do we establish what humans are naturally like when separated out from society, environment, their upbringing etc

·         Views on whether we’re good/evil = SUBJECTIVE

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Kant’s 3 principles of religion in the age of reason

1.      Morality can exist without religion

-          An action is good if it can be universalised, ie, we’d want everyone to do it and bad if it can’t, eg, people shouldn’t steal because stealing isn’t something we want everyone to do.

-          An action is good if it treats people as an end not a means to an en, eg, not using them for your benefit.

2.      Morality leads to religion, ie, Kant’s cosmic justice argument leads to belief in God.

3.      Religion recognises duties as divine commands, ie, God wills them this gives the duties more authorities and importance. Religions used to back up morality and help achieve unity.

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Westphal & Hegel

·         Why does Hegel reject views of Kant and Schk...

·         Hegel regects Schk’s beliefs in the direct experience of God

·         Hegel thinks Schk’s view = irrational and lacking in content. Needs to be explained better.

·         Hegel says Schk’s proposing theory about the nature of God/reality. it is Schk’s interpretation therefore requires analysis and argument

·         Generally Hegel wants to see more systematic defence, more reason, more analysis etc.

·         On Kant – Hegel objects to his reduction of religion to morality and finds his theory unconvincing.

·         Hegel wants to develop a new metaphysics

·         He distinguishes between philosophy and religion saying only philosophy can provide method of attaining the truth.

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·         Religion criticised - =too tied to sensory images and historical narratives eg, stories about Jesus

·         Hegel criticises scholastic and deistic movements saying they haven’t gone far enough from faith claims and aren’t adequate for discovering the infinite and eternal.

·         Hegel’s task – reinterprets notions of idea and spirit.

·         He follows on from Spinoza’s pantheism

·         Hegel wants to develop radical interpretation of Christian beliefs in the light of this à demythologising and symbol

·         He wants to systemise his thought into an argument

·         He’s proposing God must be reinterpreted as spirit in all

·         Hegel distinguishes himself from Spinoza’s pantheism

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·         Spinoza thought God was identical to nature, Hegel disagrees, he says God = spirit

·         Religion misunderstands relationship between human beings and the infinite spirit, mistaking it for another being (ie: in Christianity the belief we can exp G through real exp’s)

·         Hegel thinks religion needs radical interpretation, where realisation is that in mystical experience we realise our higher nature

·         Religion could produce knowledge of infinite eg: atman and brahman debate

·         What is good about Christianity according to H? – it elevates human spirit

·         Incarnation – means ‘G made flesh’

·         Jesus is God in bodily form  

·         Jesus is not only human whose divine

·         Jesus symbolises idea that all humans = divine

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·         Problem – it could be seen to elevate man to status of God à leading to the glorification/worship of mankind (see symbolism from Tillich)

·         Is jesus really just the same as us?

·         Is G being denoted?

·         Is this too radical to be seen as form of Christianity?

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HUME + hermeneutics of suspicion

·         Marx – questions what function religion plays in society? He legitimises social order. Economic and politic exploitation – eg: slave labour. Religion is means of encouraging cooperation of victims (slaves) + putting peoples minds at ease (the exploiters) additionally workers (slaves/victims) used religion as consolation for their misery. Therefore religion = social privilege

·         Nietzsche  - regards religious people as weak minded + sees them as having a ‘herd mentality’ he thought religious people were like artists who falsify reality to make it more pleasant

·         EG: life after death, justice + karma, God who loves us, meaning/purpose to life

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·         Alternative to these is bleak, eg: there’s nothing after death, no purpose to life etc

·         People who aren’t willing to face upto this are seen as weak by N

·         He objects to religion because it preserves too much of what ‘ought to perish, eg: the poor, oppressed and exploited ppl

·         Instead he advocates self improvement

·         We should all strive to become higher minds


The slave revolt in morals

·         Nietzsche believed ideal state was hierarchy

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·         Masters rules, slaves obeyed

·         Slaves began to resent masters

·         They’re too weak to object to their treatment so create ideological shift where they re-define all masterly qualities as evil and all slave qualities as good

·         Eg: the following characteristic evil according to slaves;

·         Hierarchy

·         Inequality

·         Exploitation

·         Leadership

·         Power

·         Arrogance

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·         Pride

·         Wealth

·         Lust

·         Following characteristics are good according to slaves;

·         Charity

·         Equality

·         Equal rights

·         Compassion

·         Obedience

·         Being poor

·         Modesty

Nietzsche thought the slave virtues would lead to degeneration of society for eg: if everyone’s obedient who will lead them?

He thought we needed equality so great could rise above mediocre masses

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Nietzsche evaluation:

Agree with view we like comforts and religion provides this

Why’s it bad to make life more pleasant?

Religion offers truth about reality

Aspect of both master and slave moralities are good but neither’s appealing in its entirety à eg: equality is worthy idea but can’t be achieved in its entirety...

Eg: can’t all be dr’s

Nietzsche’s view of Christianity not clear, does allow for hierarchy eg: pope etc

Are religious people really HERD animals?

Would N’s society be appealing – leads towards tyranny eg: hitler etc

Yes if higher minded

No if youre a slave

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What objections are being raised by Christianity?

Bourgeois Christianity is critiqued because its comparing the kingdom of God (infinite and complete) in our society (finite, incomplete, unfinished). Its suggesting that our social order is good particularly inequality hierarchy, therefore making our society legitimate.


Suggests all we have to do is be good member of our society, again encouraging acceptance of the social order. Westphal comments that the Bourgeois approach to   Christianity fails to accommodate important element of Jesus’ mission. When Jesus was a revolutionary, frequently challenged Jewish laws. Christianity = reform of Judaism so roots of the religion are grounded in change not acceptance of the social order.

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·         Kant, Hugh, Marx, Nietzsche  - sociological approaches

·         Hegel – radical interpretation of Christian beliefs

·         Bultmann – Demythologising

·         Tillich – symbol

·         Schliermacher – pantheism – Hinduism

What is Westphal demonstrating about Philofrel in this extract?

àNo clear conclusions – identifying shift from talk of God to talk of religion – clear divisions which are widening eg, churches, theist, and atheist

·         What criticisms may be raised against this approach?

àNo clear conclusions not clear what his view is 

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·         What links can be made between the extract and prior learning? à Bultmann (demythologisation)

-          Kant

-          Criticism; he wants to have a religion based on reason, rejecting faith. Is this possible? His own arguments for Gods existence seem to be based on faith in metaphysical fairness.

·         J and G are both re-interpreted; G - creator, J – moral exemplar. Significance of miracles is denied à contradicts the bible

·         Criticism – suggestion we could produce religion of moral unity based on reason is false, we can use reason to justify conflicting moral rules/ actions.

·         Implications – if everyone had the same reason and agreed on the same thing, would all be the same, for religions and denominations all become deficient and replaced by one church. Produces a bland religion. He wants all people to have access to religious doctrines, not different revelations in different churches – produces egalitarian approach. 

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Amanique Kaur

what does a with an accent on it mean?

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