• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Philosophers have proved conclusively that religious language is meaningful. Discuss

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Siân Aiken ‘’Philosophers have proved conclusively that religious language is meaningful’’. Discuss. The religious language debate is not concerned with whether or not God exists or what God is like. It’s sole concern is with working out whether religious language means anything or not. On one hand you have the philosophers who believe you can speak and write about God, because God is reality. On the other hand, are the Logical Positivists who claim that statements about God have no meaning because they don’t relate to anything that is real. There are a number of philosophers who claimed to have proven conclusively that religious language is meaningful, for example Aquinas’ theory of analogy. An analogy is an attempt to explain the meaning of something which is difficult to understand and forming relations through attributes or relations that are similar. Aquinas rejected univocal and equivocal language when talking about God. Religious language often attempts to describe the attributes or qualities of God. This is hard because God is generally not something we have direct experience of, whereas most of the things that language refers to are things that we can experience e.g. ...read more.

Middle

During the 20th Century an issue that dominated most discussion about philosophy of religion centred on the meaningfulness of religious language. The problem with the communication of the ideas about God, faith, belief and practice, is that behind the words are concepts. Individuals have different understandings of the concepts and this may result in differing interpretations and meaning. There are some philosophers that argue that religious language is used in different ways that language is used in everyday life. It could show a person?s commitment to a particular faith tradition, or it could make a claim on behalf of that tradition. There are some philosophers who assert that religious language is cognitive and therefore something about God may be known. The problem with this is that religious statements are not about objective facts that can be proved true or false. If we are unable to validate religious statements based on objective facts that are open to cognition then religious language is considered to be meaningless. There is also the problem of how one can describe God when nothing is known about God. For example, is it right to refer to a supreme being using human terminology like ?He? and ?Him? or referring to what God ?said?. ...read more.

Conclusion

Flew applied the falsification principle to religious language and he concluded that religious statements are meaningless. Flew argued that that this was because there is nothing which can count against religious statements. Religious statements can?t be proved true (verified) or false (falsify) because religious believers do not accept any evidence to count against their beliefs. For Flew, there is no difference between meaningless and non-falsifiability. Flew argues that Christians hold their belief ?God is good?, even when there is evidence offered against his goodness. Flew uses the example of a human father desperate to save his child dying of inoperable cancer: the ?Heavenly Father? appears indifferent to the child?s suffering. To account for God?s indifference the believer allows nothing to count against the idea that ?God loves us as a father?. In conclusion I would say that even though I am a Christian I would have to take the side of logical positivists because it?s true we cannot empirically prove anything regarding God because there are so many contradictions of for example when we say ?God is good?, you have to question is he really and what evidence is there, because if he is a ?father figure? then why are so many people allowed to die so innocently to stop it, if he was good then he would have stopped it by now. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Religious language is meaningless, Discuss

    Even though we cannot falsify the fact as to whether to toys move or not, we can still understand the ideas of the toys moving. Even though we haven't seen God we have the knowledge to believe God does exist.

  2. The verification principle offers no real challenge to religious belief. Discuss

    Eg, is a post box red?, can be verified by observing post boxes. By indirectly verifiable Ayer meant a statement that is not directly verifiable or analytic and 'in conjunction with certain other directly verifiable evidence could support it. For example, scientists demonstrated their existence of black holes in space,

  1. "All Religious Language is meaningless"

    in reference to God, as he must have whatever qualities are necessary to inspire and create love, justice and goodness in his creation. Following this there is also the analogy of proportion, God is good at whatever it takes for God to be perfectly good and to be God.

  2. Religious language is meaningless. Discuss.

    Therefore this supports the statement. An criticism of this is that 'The parable of the gardener' is used to claim that a religious believer doesn't let any evidence count against their beliefs. However, within this parable empirical measures have been used in order to seek the gardener whereas religious believer would argue that God is found through faith.

  1. The Goodness of God

    Mankind is meant to respond to God's goodness by following his commands. God is seen to be a personality who sets high moral standards for his people. These moral standards were obtained through direct revelation. b) "It is difficult to believe in a God who is perfectly good."

  2. Ethical language is meaningless. Discuss.

    Moore said that we cannot use our sense to tell whether something is good but we can use our ?moral intuition? to say whether a moral statement is true or false. We recognise goodness when we see it ? it is something we just know.

  1. Is Religious Language Meaningful?

    This argument would claim that it is a tautology and so it is meaningful, however this is would be a very weak argument which would be unable to stand up against theories opposing it. A.J. Ayer proposed what would late be known as the weak Verification Principle? In his book

  2. Discuss the study of Religious Language

    The verification principle argues that Religious language is meaningless. It derived from the logical positivists in particular the Vienna Circle, philosophers who applied the principles of science and maths to language. They suggested that language is only meaningful if it can be defined in terms of the real world and it must be, analytic, mathematical or synthetic.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work