Religious point of View

God and the World

  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 20-05-12 12:40

The Religious Point of View

  • "Seeing as" – the way we perceive the world; natural & physical or spiritual
  • Scientists only see the world as physical and only talk of it in terms of the physical
  • Religious peoples see the world as dualist – physical and spiritual, and understand it in that way
  • These two language games are separate and can never be reconciled
  • Religious language is the area of concern
  • Can religious statements be verified?
  • 1920’s Vienna Circle, or logical positivists, concerned with language and to what extent it is meaningful (language has to be meaningful to be verifiable)
  • Logical positivism - The doctrine so named because it only recognises the positive sciences as valid sources of human knowledge
  • Ayer highlighted how impractical it was to need to depend on direct verifiability, and allowed the use of reliable sources.
  • Things that are non verifiable by ourselves with our senses and therefore meaningless 
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  • Hard form – a lot of things are non-verifiable because we ourselves can’t even test things (extreme universe, some scientific theories, ghosts, history (aka Henry VII lived or what he was like)
  • Weak form – AJ Ayer – allows the use of: reliable sources; future verification ( could be verified to make things meaningful). Religion can’t be applied even in weak form.
  • No reliable sources: could verify Jesus exists, but not the fact that he’s God’s son 
  • There is no future verification (but one response says can be proven when we die) - John Hick; eschatological verification “eschatology” you’ll know when you die
  • So religious language is meaningless
  • AJ Ayer said that the term “God exists” can’t be true or false and is therefore meaningless
  • However, Not really meaningless, because even if it is indirect, you are still affected by it 
  • As there is no proof, it’s an option to consider, even if you reject it
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Wittgenstein's Language games

  • The same words have different meanings in different contexts
  • How you understand a word depends on what group you belong to
  • Wittgenstein described this as language games
  • Each group has its own language game
  • One group will not understand the language game of another group
  • Scientists have one language game, religious people have another
  • Scientists only see a physical world, and only talk of it in terms of the physical
  • Religious people see a dualist world – physical & spiritual, and understand it in that way
  • These two language games are separate and can never be reconciled
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  • Richard Swinburne spoke of toys that come out at night.  For someone who has a scientific mind, it is nonsense, but for someone who has a belief in a magical world, then it is quite meaningful.
  • AJ Ayer - "Beliefs of a spiritual nature merely tell us of the psychology of the believer, and nothing of consequence about the world” - the beliefs of a person tells us about how the person thinks, but nothing about what the world entails
  • R.M. Hare coined the phrase “Blik” in 1950.
  • A blik is an irrational belief which appears meaningful to most people, but is very important to the person who believes it.
  • A certain lunatic is convinced that all dons want to murder him. His friends introduce him to all the mildest and most respectable dons that they can find, and after each of them has retired, they say, ‘You see, he doesn’t really want to murder you; he spoke to you in a most cordial manner; surely you are convinced now?’ But the lunatic replies, ‘Yes, but that was only is diabolical cunning; he’s really plotting against me the whole time, like the rest of them; I know it, I tell you.’ However many kindly dons are produced, the reaction is still the same.
  • Is religion a blik?
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Religious people have a foundational belief in a spiritual world.  It is a belief so strong, that for many, no amount of scientific evidence will shatter their beliefs.

They see the world in a different way to scientists, and for them, it is truly meaningful.

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“Belief in” -> personal expression of attitudes, ‘seeing as’ , a blik, a form of life. Significant and meaningful. Emotion and mental aspect.

Belief that” -> truth claim, factual belief. Proposition about a state of affairs, it will correspond or not and so will be true or false. Based on the physical world. Clear truth claim.

I believe that the Earth is round, because it can be proved, people generally agree.

I believe that Paris is the capital of France.

These might be wrong but they can be proved or validated.

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I believe in aliens or God.

I believe in someone -> trust

Can’t be proved but it is still a belief. Individual belief can’t be proven.

‘Blik’-> everyone has one way of looking at the world; positive or negative


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1. Life is short. Enjoy yourself- believe in

2. The world is flat. Believe that

3. Acupuncture gets results – in

5. The Liberal Party offers the best policies – in

6. Elvis lives- that

7. The growing divorce rate shows that marriage is a failed institution – in

8. The growing divorce rate shows the need for stronger commitments -  that

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