Religious Language Symbols


Functions of symbols - Randall

Myths dependent on symbols to communicate ideas - religion and science were both human activies thatr performed different functions

John Randall - communication within religion that gave believers the greatest insight - twin pillars of religion being faith and reason - the wrold of natural science (post-enlightenment period, Newton ect) and natural theology had common purpose - reveal workings of the world - 'the function of religious beliefs is to generate knowledge and truth' - Things have consequences- unifiyng people - give people an identity - provided a common vision of values that people geld - cultural and religious identity - common way of communicating - religions symbols provide a function - Randall believed that all religious beliefs were mthology ie all religious beliefs are remliiogus symbols - any truth they held was not empirical truth - anti-realism - differences between the intellectual and the common man - Give humans a valuable insight into what it means to exist as a being within the universe- Signs and symbols are different - symbol was not reprentaitve (onlt itself) - function of symbol was unqiue - symbols in religion and science are different - did not provide empirical knowledge - religious symbols as motivitors - influences - religious symbols can revalse something about the world - 'make us see something out our experience and our experienced world' - parrel betweeon religious symbols and platonic ideas - see osmething that would not otherwise have been apparent

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God as Ultimate Concern- Tillich

Contemporary to Randall - published ar around the same time

Faith as the state of being ultiamtely concerned - spiritual concerns along side Maslow's heirarchy of needs- 'man's ultimate concern must be expressed symbollically because symbollic language alone is able to express the ultimate' - red lights and cars are not inherently linked but linked through context and convention - signs do not participate in reality to which the point symbols do

Six characteristics of symbols - (1) point beyond thenselves to something else -(2) participate in the rality of that to which they point - (3) open up levels of reality that are otherwise closed - (4) unlock dimensions and elements of our soul that correspond to the dimensions and elements of reality - (5) - symbols cannot be produced intentionally, they grow out of the individual or collective unconscious and canont function without being accepted - (6) - symbols grow and die

language of symbols = language of power - 'language of faith is the languaeg of symbols'

everything that is a matter of unconditional corn is made into a god - god is what concerns us ultiamtely

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Challenges to Randall and Tillich

at odds with the vienna circle - does not provide information about the empirically known world - is not verifiable, falsifiable, analytic, synthetic or mathematical is rendered meaningless

Edwards - 'philosophical confusion' - not able to express in literal terms anything meaningful

symbols may not be adequate - symbols change over time - an example of this being ichthus which is a symbol used by early christians to signify safe pace for meaing - the swastika was orginally a religious symbol meaning harmony

waht insight can a symbol provide if it is constatnly in flux

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Used to help understand religious teachings

Neitherclaimed to have a firm declaration

Randall - 'canot be taken as literal aconts of the divine. They are imaginitive and ifurative ways of consceiving the relations of men and their ideals to the nature of things and to its religious dimension - Randall - totems and early religious symbols - relefive man - symbols to convey knowledge about the world - not cognitive knowledge - intuitive knowldge

Tillich - lead the believer to their ultimate concern - by participating in the rality to which the symbosl pointed - 'they are symbols taken from our daily experience, not information about what god did once upon a time' - 'faith is not the belief in such stories' - understanding how symbols work in the mundane world

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