A2 Edexcel Religious Language


What is Religious Language;

·       It is speaking about God - the WAY people speak of Him, and WHY they do It is UNIQUE in the description of God, of beliefs and uses TECHNICAL TERMS such as 'sin' - everyday words which have a religious meaning

·       Our words are NOT ADEQUATE to speak of God - this leads to MISUNDERSTANDING and CONFUSION

·       Cognitive language –

o   Realist Factual statements can be proved either true or false

o   Or they contain meaningful, factual content (to believers)

o   They are empirically proved

o   Anthony Flew suggested it is "anything else but assertions"

·       Non-cognitive language –

o   Anti-Realist

o   Deals with what is not to be taken factually but to be understood in other ways (symbols, myths, metaphors etc.)

o   It expresses a religious truth, in a religious community

o   There is no objective universal truth, it depends on the CONTEXT of the language

Verification Principle;

·       ANALYTICAL statements - a priori - true by DEFINITION - contain OWN verification

·       MATHEMATICAL statements - A.J.Ayer: Human error - not a genuine difference in the facts

·       SYNTHETIC statements - verified/falsified through empirical testing - if you know HOW to test (even theoretically) it has meaning

·       1920s Vienna Circle - language had to be based on EXPERIENCE - verifiable by the SENSES - EMPIRICAL Religious claims are meaningless - subjective - not empirically testable - God has no literal significance - Ayer: God claims are not true OR false (cannot be valid)

·       CRITICISMS –

o   Opinions/Emotions are meaningless if following Ver. Prin.

o   Laws of science are meaningless - 'always- cannot be tested

o   Historical - no one left alive to vouch for past events - meaningless

o   Ethics/ morals are meaningless - sacred/secular rules are based on universability

o   The principle ITSELF cannot be verified - fails own test

o   Ayer –

§  'Strong' verification - NO DOUBT

§  'Weak' verification - STRONG LIKELIHOOD

Falsification Principle;

·       What in principle makes it false

·       Flew:

o   Religions are meaningless because nothing counts AGAINST them - if you say He exists then you must accept the POSSIBILITY that He may not - Or the religious language they use is meaningless as it is not falsifiable

o   Anything is consistent with the claim - John Wisdom Parable of the Gardener


o   R.M.Hare –

§  'Blik'

§  Religious


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