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Religious language is meaningless, Discuss

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Introduction

"Religious language is meaningless." Discuss. Religious language is the communication of ideas about God, faith, belief and practice. The problem with religious language is that individuals have different interpretations of these concepts and will result in a difference in the use of everyday language. For some it is deemed meaningless because it is equivocal and the meaning is unclear. Yet, for some philosophers, religious language is meaningful and serves a purpose. Some deem religious language meaningless as there is no way of verifying the language. Others see the language from a different perspective to religious believers, and this allows non believers to have an open mind about religious language. There are several different types of language related to religion; cognitive and non cognitive, synthetic and analytical, univocal and equivocal. Synthetic, non cognitive and equivocal apply to religious language as everyone has a different opinion on things and we can gain a better knowledge to say what God is not rather than saying he is everything. Religious language is meaningful because we don't know how to falsify it. John Hick mentioned religious language was seen as believing in something and experiencing something. The logical positivists formulated the verification principle and they were concerned with the meaning of words and the way we use them in the context of God. They believe God's talk was meaningless as they are metaphysical statements. They believed for a statement to be deemed meaningful we had to be able to verify the truth hood through our empirical senses. ...read more.

Middle

He said Flew missed the point that believers have a commitment to trust in God based on their faith, and for this reason they do not allow evidence to undermine their faith. Mitchell says they look for answers to prove to themselves God exists. He also mentioned the death of a thousand qualifications. R. M. Hare stated falsification can be used for cognitive statements but it cannot be used for non cognitive statements because religious language cannot be falsified but it doesn't mean it has no meaning. He used the example of the student. The student was convinced dons were going to kill him and he wouldn't accept any evidence against them not wanting to kill him. Even though he wouldn't accept any evidence against his belief, it is meaningful to him because of what he thought. Hare also went on to say that looking at the world in this way is seen as a "blik." Religious beliefs are bliks because of the impact they have on every individual's life and the way believers look at their lives that is different to somebody else's. R. B. Braithwaite wanted to prove religious language has a purpose because it has the function of conveying ideas and in itself makes it meaningful. He said the errors of the Verification and Falsification Principles had been to treat religious language as cognitive language when it is actually non cognitive. As it is based on our emotions, it can be very hard to prove something meaningful based on emotions as everyone's emotions are different. ...read more.

Conclusion

Language games exist within all forms of human activities and lives. He said people who are not in the game will not understand the use of the language and will find it meaningless to them. Religious belief has its own language and non believers will find religious language meaningless as they are not in the religious "game." Problems develop when the language "goes on holiday." This is when words are used outside of their context and we use ordinary language to describe God. This should never happen. Wittgenstein has acquired some critics to his theory. The first is that different faiths have a different language game and it is extremely difficult to share those differences between the religions. Secondly, all religious believers are involved in different language games in one way or another. Religious language has not become totally isolated so there must be a common ground between religious language and other language games. If there is a common ground, non believers are able to understand religious language and decide whether or not it has a meaning for them. Thirdly, non believers might be able to understand the language better than a religious believer as they have an objective view on the use of the religious language. Believers take the language for what it is and cannot be subject to anything else. In conclusion, believers would agree it is difficult to talk about God. The meaning of the word God applies to a being beyond human understanding. Believers recognise that any discussion of God is limited, but they would argue religious language does have meaning and purpose. ?? ?? ?? ?? Caryl Williams 13E 1 ...read more.

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