Flashcards in Religious Language Deck (37)
what are the inherent problems of religious language ?
- all language is based on experience
- for language to be meaningful it must relate to whats being told e.g to discuss what it mean for water to be wet its necessary for us to have experienced water and to understand what wet means
- most of our language is about the physical world but metaphysical are harder to discuss as some reject this language as its not objective
Hume said statements about reality must be verified with evidence, since our language comes from the physical world it can seem limited when we talk about things beyond the physical world, the same applies to rligious langauge
traditional conceptions of God?
- timeless and infinite but these concepts are hard to verify as have no presence in the physical world
what are challenges to sacred texts + pronouncements as unintelligible ?
- we can describe places of worship and things a worshipper may do because this language deals with observable empirical words
when we suddenly talk of eschatological concepts language may not longer be understandable
therefor religious accounts and texts can be meaningless to outsiders
challenge that rel language isnt a common hared base and experience ?
- for language to be purposeful it must be something that can be agreed upon and if not empirically verifiable then its meaningless= some philosophers to believe religious language as inherently problematic e.g when talking about traditional conceptions of God there is no universal understanding like in the physical world so it cant be verified
what is cognitive language ?
- factual statements that can be prove true of false by empirical evidence
non cognitive language ?
- statements that cant be proven true or false, language not empirically verifiable, often includes feelings, this is often used in religious language as its language that makes claims about the believers attitude towards the world
what is logical positivism ?
- philosophical movement that cam out of the group of philosophers knows as the the Vienna circle including Witgenstein
- main principle of logical positivism was that only those propositions that can be verified empirically have meaning and what remains are tortological statements (self eplanatory statemnets) that can be verified
what is the verification principle ?
- theory developed by logical positivists
- judgements lying outside empirical evidence and logical reasoning are meaningless
what did Aj Ayer say ?
- he spread logical positivism
- said empirical methods have to be used to assess whether a proposition is verifiable
- claimed metaphysics was essentially meaningless
- religious statements are meaningless as they cant be empirically verified
- lead to rejection of any statements of abstract thought
What was Ayers later realisation ?
there are certain statements that cannot be immediately verified which we still consider to be meaningful
e.g no observation now could verify 'Lord Nelson won the battle of Trafalgar' but most poeple argue this is a meaningful statement
and 'all water boils at 100DC' but this isnt possible to boil water in all conditions
After Ayers realisation what distinction did he make ?
verifiable in practise (statements that can be verified by some observation or experiment that can be carried out today)
verifiable in principle (we know what it would take to verify it e.g historical statements could only be verified if you had been present at the time)
why does Ayers 2 distinctions not allow for religious statements to be meaningful ?
we don't know what it would take to verify it ??????
bit confusing this one, i shagged Ruby again, soz man
strong verification ?
- occurs when there is no doubt a statements is true as we can verify it using sense experience e.g Mary has red chair
weak verification ?
- scientific claims about the future are accepted as meaningful such as claims about the future which can be later verified
states for something to be meaningful there has to be evidence that could empirically refute it
, if this is possible then it means what is being spoken about has an empirical basis, propsed by karl Popper
- this means the statement 'God exists' is meaningless as there is no way to disprove it
what is and who developed the falsification principle?
and talk of parable of the gardener
- non falsifiable statements are meaningless
- e.g John Wisdoms parable of the gardener
believer is convinced ''someone must be tending to this garden''
sceptic says there is no gardener
the believer remained certain that there was a gardener despite the evidence the sceptic offered for there not being one
Flew used this to describe how religious believers refuse to let any evidence to count against their belief
criticism of verification ?
- john hick said the christian god is verifiable in principle e.g parable of the celestial City where two men are travelling along a road, 1 believes it leads to celestial city and one says its just a walk leading nowhere = eschatological verification
- the verification principle itself cant be verified
criticism of verification ?
concept of meaningless comes from the belief of the individual
- bliks have the power to radically effect behaviour
- parable of the university dons- paranoid student who believes all dons want to hurt him, no matter how many of his friends tell him this isn't true he still maintains the delusion
- applied this to flew, as student wont accept any evidence against his view
- therefore students blik is still meaningful because of the impact its had on his life
what did Basil mitchell say ?
- said flew misunderstood rel believers perspective when said they allow nothing to count against their beliefs
- said believers do allow evidence to count against their beliefs and believers are frequently face with challenges but part of their belief is to have faith against all doubt e,g Partisan and the stranger
what Did Richard Swinburne say about verification ?
- there are many instances where human languages were used in ways accepted as meaningful but not empirically verifiable e.g toy in the cupboard coming to life has maeaning to those who heard it
St Thomas Aquinas on non- cognitive and analogical language ?
said is summa theologica, 'we cannot know what God is but rather what God is not'
univocal language (a universal meaning regardless of context)
- e.g carpet means same thing in different contexts
- when the same term has more than one meaning or different meaning all together e.g bat
Aquinas rejected both types of language
- said we don't speak of God univocally as when words are applied to God they don't have the same meaning as when applied to a person as God is different to all humans
also argued we don't speak equivocal language as we cant have
what does Aquinas say about analogy ?
analogy = a comparison in which the idea or thing is compared to another thing that is quite different do it so explains the idea by comparing it to something that is similar to it e.g Paleys watch analogy in teleological argument
- analogies enable us to gain insight into what is being talked about
- Aquinas believes using analogy to speak about Gpd is possible since there is a link between humans and God 'let us make mankind in our image'
what is analogy of proportion ?
Aquinas considered universe was inhabited by different order of things
- these were hierarchical in the sense of status
- e.g Gods above humans and humans are above animals
- each order possesses particular characteristics which are appropriate to itself but the same adjective may be applied to another order
e.g saying a human and a fox are intelligent, although they refer to ability, intuition and judgement we do not understand the word to mean the exact same thing, the words are used appropriately according to their status
- for Aquinas its therefore possible to talk analogically about God by making reference to some human qualities, we can therefore understand what it is were talking about
analogy of attribution ? check with ellen
attribute = characteristic of feature that something possesses
- humans can be described through attributes 'good'
what did Ian Ramsey do ?
- developed Aquinas' theory through models + qualities
a model is an analogy to help express something about God e.g if we say 'God is good' the model is the word 'good', we have a human understanding of good and when applied to God it helps us understand him
when a believer uses a word such as father or shepeard we know what these models do and therefore can apply them to God.
Ramsey said these words can be used to describe God if we use qualifiers to make these words greater than their normal reality an example of such qualifiers may be 'almighty'= almighty father
religious language as symbolic ? what is a symbol and why is landy retarded, and give and example of a symbol
something that pints towards something beyond itself at a deeper reality e.g the cross pointing towards jesus's death on the cross and swastika
what did Paul Tillich do ?
- expressed power of symbols in non-religious way by looking at national flags
- flags convey feelings and nationalism and national identity
- said signs deal with facts whereas symbols deal with deeper meaning
- Tillich identifies 6 characteristics that make symbols the only way we can talk about God
- said symbols are vitally important in many religions
what did randell say bitch ?
- like Tillich recognised the power of symbolism , both religiously and non-religiously
what is a symbol?
something that provokes an emotional response to the people who use it or see it, Randell makes a distinction between symbols used in science and those used in religion