Religious Point of View [PHIL2]

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  • Created by: Joe
  • Created on: 06-05-13 10:28

Religious Point of View

Seeing and Seeing-as

John Wisdom's Parable of the Gardener

  • Wisdom starts his parable off with two people in a garden, one notices the cut grass, well-kept flowerbeds and repaired fences and concludes there is a gardener.
  • The second notices a lot of rubbish blowing about, weeds growing and as neither have ever seen a gardener, concludes that there isn't one.
  • Wisdom concludes that from the same situation and empirical data, two people can draw completely contrasting conclusions.
  • These conclusions cannot therefore be solely based upon the evidence in front of them instead, the act of seeing the garden involves more than just seeing, it involves interpretation.

The duck-rabbit


The duck-rabbit illustustration, like Wisdom's parable demonstrate how we don't just see image, we see it with interpretation and preconceptions.

Seeing and seeing-as

Seeing, is where we view something without interpretation. Seeing-as however, is where we interpret and process what we see.


  • You look up at the night sky and see lots of bright dots against a black background.
  • This is what you see.
  • However really, you'd say that you can see stars in the sky.
  • This is seeing-as, you're interpreting the bright dots into something meaniningful based upon previous experience.


  • We don't just see-as when it comes to objects like stars, the garden or the duck-rabbit it is like it for our whole worldly perceptions including what it means and any patterns we321 see it as having.
  • A person with a religious point of view, interprets the world as having a religious meaning. A person with an atheist perspective, interprets the world as not possessing evidence of God.
  • It may depend on possessing religious concepts with which to interpret the world. Most of our concepts are themselves are dependent upon language.

Language Games

  • Some philosophers believe that possessing a religious point of view leads you to using the language of religion.
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein called the language associated to a certain point of view as a language game.
  • For example, concepts such as 'God's will', 'God's plan' and 'God's hand in events' enables someone to interpret the world in a particular way.
  • These concepts are therefore part of the religious language game which arises as part of the religious point of view.

With this in mind, we are lead to ask how justifiable religious claims are about the world. For example, are they based upon research or evidence? How coherent are their views, do contradictions exist between their beliefs? 

Verification Principle

The verification principle was created by A.J.Ayer who proposed a simple test to check whether a proposition is meaningful or not. The test states that something is meaningful if it:

  • Is a tautology (self-evident/ true by definition).
  • Can be verified in principle or practice.
  • For example, the statement the coat is in the cupboard is meaningful because we can check it in practise by looking the cupboard. 
  • However, the statement that giant killer


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