Religious Language

Who put forward "Via Negativa"?
Pseudo- Dionysius
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Why was "Via Negativa" devised?
Because words limit understanding.
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Why are positive terms about God misleading?
They are rooted into our language.
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What does "Via Negativa" do?
Describes what God is not (God is not a human).
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What did Moses Maimonides state about Via Negativa?
Language is meaningful when used negatively. Analogy of a ship- describing what a ship isn't, helps us get closer to what it is.
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What are the weaknesses of Via Negativa?
Say what God is not, no further in saying what he is. How can we describe what God isn't, if no idea what he is. Can't make judgements about something haven't experienced. Negative statements aren't helpful.
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More weaknesses of Via Negativa...
How can you rely on the God you worship if only rely on what he isn't. Contradicts statements in holy scripture that describe God positively.
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What was Brian Davies criticism of the Via Negativa?
If you eliminate negatives, we have no idea that what remains is God.
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How did Flew contradict the Via Negativa?
If all we do is talk about the corrupt nature of God, we are given no conclusive information. Negative speech amounts to nothing.
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Who put forward "Models and Qualifiers"?
Ian Ramsey
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Define "Model"
A situation we are familiar with.
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What does a qualifier do?
Develops the model and help understanding.
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Give an example of a model and qualifier.
Wise = model. God is infinitely wise = qualifier.
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What example did Ian Ramsey use to explain 'odd' words?
In a High Court, Mr Justice Brown finds that the accused is his friend from university and uses the odd word 'Sammy'.
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What did Paul Tillich argue about symbols, myths and metaphors?
They open up new levels of reality.
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What is a symbol?
A physical thing, that represents something non-physical.
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What is a metaphor?
A figure of something, where one thing is identified with another.
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What do signs and symbols do?
Point beyond themselves.
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Why don't signs participate in reality?
Because they are arbitrary representations.
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Why can't symbols be changed?
They become associated with the thing they are representing.
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What is the only literal religious statement?
"God is Being-itself".
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Explain the National Flag example for symbols.
The flag is a symbol for the whole nation. It points to the nation, it is part of the nation, it is the nation.
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What does the Star of David symbolise?
Judaism/ Jewish history.
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What does the Lamb of God show?
Jesus sacrificing for the sin of Adam and Eve.
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What did John Hick argue about symbols?
They are unclear and there is little difference between a sign and symbol.
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How did William Alston criticse symbols?
He said they are meaningless because we don't know if they are true or not.
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What did Paul Edwards state about symbols?
They are meaningless, as they cannot be verified or falsified.
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What did John Macquarrie criticise?
Paul Tillich, not symbols.
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Who is John Macquarrie?
An advocate of religious symbology.
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What did Macquarrie say about symbols and signs?
There is no difference between them. The phrase "clouds are a sign of rain" shows the sign and symbol cannot differentiate.
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What is a myth?
A traditional story, that contains supernatural characters and a moral lesson.
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According to Emile Durkheim when do myths change?
When societies change.
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What does Jaspers define a myth as?
Stories about God, that carry meaning.
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How did Rudolf Bultmann talk about the Bible?
It is literal and we must demythologise stories to separate myth from truth.
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What did Bergson say myths were?
Defence reactions against the fear of death.
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What did Bishop John Robinson say about a transcendent God?
It is a myth and God only exists within people's minds.
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Who said "Myths are cosmic child abuse"?
Richard Dawkins.
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According to J. Randall what are the four things religious language does?
Arouses emotion. Stimulates community action. Express non-literal experiences. Clarify experience with God.
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Who is Ludwig Wittgenstein?
An Austrain Philosopher, who was influenced by Logical Positivism.
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What was the name of Wittgenstein's book?
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What happened to Wittgenstein in 1930?
He looked anew at language.
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What is the main concept of the language games theory?
There is language whose meaning is not found in picturing objects.
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How was language games discovered?
Whilst watching a game of football.
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Explain the language games theory.
Language can be non-cognitive. Words are tools, look at their usage and find meaning. Language is a game and games have rules. Language is at its worse when used in the wrong context.
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What examples did Wittgenstein use in his language games theory?
Words for each game should be used in the context of that game, because it would be like playing netball with the rules of scrabble. Rules from a sicence game cannot be applied to religious game (look for physical soul).
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What did Dewi Phillips support?
Wittgenstenian philosophy.
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What was the name of Phillips' book?
The concept of prayer.
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What difficult time did Phillips counter?
The difficulty Religious Language endured as a result of Logical Positivists.
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Who said "To know how to use religious language, is to know God"?
Dewi Phillips
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What three points did Dewi Phillips make?
When someone says "I believe in God" real question = what does this mean. When a person prays, not presenting facts. When a person says "I believe in eternal life", not understood literally, but instead describing life.
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What are the four criticisms of Language Games?
Fail to understand what the word God means. Unfairly rule out God's existence. Don't allow cross-thinking between groups. Doesn't allow atheism to theism conversion.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


Why was "Via Negativa" devised?


Because words limit understanding.

Card 3


Why are positive terms about God misleading?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What does "Via Negativa" do?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


What did Moses Maimonides state about Via Negativa?


Preview of the front of card 5
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