Ayer Implications

"God talk is evidently nonsense" 

Notes on the Edecel A2 implications paper for RS

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  • Created by: elliee
  • Created on: 09-06-12 10:44


Any talk on God is meaningless

1. Lacks factual content - meaningless

2. Lacks proof for / againt Gods existance 

3. Lack of evidence that God talk contains any content 

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Logical Positivism

Atheism - God doesn not exist 

Agnosticism - He may or may not exist we cannot know which 

Logical positivist - "God exists", "God doesnt exist" - not significant statements 

- Comes from the Vienna Circle and influenced by the work of Wittgenstein 

"The world is totality of facts, not of things"

- Only things that can be empiricaly verifided having meaning 

- Gods existance is a 'emprical hypothesis' no evidence can be used for or against

- "Does God exist" is not an analytic proposition and there is no data which can be verified using an epirical method 

- God talk is nonsense 

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The Mystic

Mystic - People who clame to have knoweldge about God by intuition or revelation - religious experience

- Know God because of intution 

- Have that feeling through experience 

- Terrisa of Avila "it is wholly impossible for me to doubt that i have been in God and God has been in me"

- Can't use words to descibe God 

- Swinburn 'principle of testomy' 

intution - Can't test this, Ayre - its false

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Proof and Probability


- Cant be false 2 + 2 = 4

- Logically necessary 

- 'a posteriri' (synthetic and inductive) or 'a priori' (anayltic and deductive) 


- Mesures the frequency or likelihood of an event 

- We make judgement 

Somthing can be true by definition (analytic) and true by testing (synthetic) 

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Certainity doesnt exist 

- No such thing as moral knowlegde 

- Anybody who believes in God is deciving themselves 

- Cant test facts on God 

- You can't know God 

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Ayer and morality

- Only statements of science and logic can be analysed

- No way of test morality 

- Moral statements are outside the scope of testing 

- "stealing is wrong" - cant test this statement

- Moral statements are meaningless

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Ayer- yellow patch

'I am seeing a yellow patch'

'I am seeing a transendent God'

- First is meaningful because we can test it 

- Second is meaningless because we cant test it 

However ...

Hick - Eschatological verification 

- After death we will know if God exists

- If we use this idea then the second assertion is verifiable 

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Other philosophers

Can the statement 'God exists' be meaningful 

R.M.Hare - 'blik', something that makes sense of the world for those who believe in it. 

Aquinas - 'analogical' use of the word 'exists', it has meaning but although it is analogous to what we mean by existance in human terms, it goes beyond this and has perfection which is lacking in human experince 

Tillich - It has symbolic meaning for the believer (national flag) 

Wittgenstein - Part of the language game theory, which is understood by those who are players in the game 

Paley - Regulatry in nature in the world explains that God exists (watch analogy)

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Science and God

Dawkins -

- For something to be proved there must be empirical data to support it

- Religion is a meme - a virus of the mind that has developed through cultures

- Without religion we would be more rational

- Agrees with Ayer

Michael Behe -

- There is no evidence of science at the molecular level of life

- God is an 'intelligent designer' 

Francis Collins -

- DNA is the language of God

Both see God in creation - against Ayer

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We take the logical positivists ideas 

- Emotions are inncorrect 

- Feelings have no value 

- Historical events cant be correct 

- Art / music have no value ecuase we cant prove that they are significant 

- No place for feelings such as love

- Intuition is wrong 

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Theologians ideas


"God exists" is a anaytic statement so no evidence is required, it is meaningful

Hume rejects Anselm because statements on existance are synthetic


"God exists" is meaniful to believers, language game theory 


Distroy religion, religious beliefs stop people being moral

People do good for God and not for others

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Effects on society

Many parts of society have been developed round religion 

- Eduction 

- Justice 

- Healthcare

- William Wilberforce - christian beliefs helped him abolish slavery 

- Martin Luther King - faith motivated him to fight for equal rights

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Hurrah - Boo Theory

- No way of proving morals

- We cant say that steeling is wrong 

Hurrah - Boo 

- "You were wrong to steel that money" is just an expression of feeling -"boo"

- "It is good to tell the truth" is just an expression of feelings - "Hurrah"

- Nobody has the grounds to criticise anyones ideas on morality 

- If i state "killing is wrong" and a murder states "killing is fun" 

- We have no ground to object each other

- Debbie Purdy "right to die in dignity" Ayer argue this is our own personal preferances and so we have the right to do what we want

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Alistair MacIntyre

- Dismisses all versions of emotivism 

- Human qualities give perpose to human life

- Supports the virtues given by Aristole 

- These virtues such as courage and pacience are the quailities that make our life meaningful and give it purpose 

- Emotivism is simply us giving emotional preferences

- Lord Harris (Bishop of Oxford) spoke on Radio 4

- as socities have devloped religious believes and morals have been lost 

- As people grow up they are becoming detached from religion and moratlity (violance - riots

- If we get rid of religion and morality society breaks down

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Ayer conclusion

- There is no real thing as religion 

- We can not know God

- Anybody who believes in God is deceiving themselves 

- There is no such thing as moral knowlegde 

- We can not dictate morals and beliefs 

- Only statements that can be emprically tested are meanful 

- Statements on God, religion and morality are all meaningless

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lovely ideas

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