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

The falsification principle offers no real challenge to religious beliefs

Extracts from this document...


The falsification principle offers no real challenge to religious beliefs. In 1955 Flew introduced the falsification principle. Flew went on to say 'To state that something is the case is logically to imply that something else is not the case. We can find out the meaning of a statement by asking what would be compatible with its truth'. In simple terms, a believer's claims about God are only meaningful if the believer is willing to agree on what would cause those claims to be falsified. For example the claim 'God is good' is only meaningful if we are prepared to accept that the opposite may be true. Only if we acknowledge the reality, say, of evil and suffering and therefore the possibility, in principle at least, that God is not wholly good does the concept 'good' have any meaning. Flew went onto to say that religious language died the 'death of a thousand qualifications' as believers do not allow anything to count against their beliefs and they tend to keep qualifying belief's when anything appears to count against them. However, there were challenges put forward to the falsification principle, one of the key challengers was R.M Hare. Hare claimed that Flew was basically right about the falsifiability of religious beliefs; religious beliefs are not really cognitive assertions because they are not falsifiable, but wrong about the implications of this, as they are meaningful and important. ...read more.


Believers have faith and belief in their religious language and just because it cannot be verified or falsified does not mean it is meaningless. The whole point of belief and faith is to have faith and trust in god, and therefore believers do not allow evidence to undermine their faith. Someone who went along these lines was Basil Mitchell who argued that religious beliefs, which are cognitive assertions, are falsifiable in principle but not in practice. Believers are not, however, able to say precisely what would count as a falsification, which implies that in practice we may not be able to say with certainty whether such beliefs have been falsified. Richard Swinburne went on to say that there are statements that cannot be falsified, and yet we understand the meaning behind the statement. He went on use the example of the toys in the toy cupboard, we might not be able to falsify whether or not the toys move, but we still understand the idea of toys moving. Even though I feel that this challenge is quite successful towards the falsification argument I also do believe that it contains some flaws. Going back to the example of the toys in the toy cupboard, if this was the case then people all around the world could believe in absolute absurdity. ...read more.


In conclusion the challenges put forward by Hare, Mitchell and Swimburne towards the falsification principle would suggest that the falsification principle does not really offer any real challenge to belief. Overall I feel that Hare was very right in saying the falsification principle could not be used on religious statements as they are non cognitive, and also that religious language cannot make factual claims but it still has meaning, because it influences the way in which people look at the world. Also following in this line was R.B Braithwaite. I feel that R.B Braithwaite put forward a very strong argument in that religious language cannot be verified; people might understand stories and understand the morals behind them. Take for example the parables told by Jesus, Flew would say that these parables are meaningless because they cannot be falsified and the verification principle would say that meaningless because they cannot be verified by empirical methods, however believers would find these parables meaningful because the understand the true meaning behind them, and understand the morals behind them. Thus, I feel that the falsification principle does not provide real challenge to religious beliefs, because not only are religious statements non cognitive, so the falsification principle does not apply, but also because different people can take religious beliefs different. To some people religious beliefs do not have to be falsified in order for them to be meaningful. Neesha Parmar Miss Stanners ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Religion in the Media 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 GCSE Religion in the Media essays

  1. Discuss the merits of theories of secularisation with regard to religion in modern Britain

    In terms of the morality surrounding religious beliefs, considered in terms, for example, of people's belief in the 10 Commandments, the extent to which people believe selected Commandments apply to themselves and whether or not they think others believe it, the evidence is again mixed.

  2. "Assess the view that religious language is meaningless."

    The implication of this is that apart from tautologies (analytic statements, see below) all other statements are meaningless. Ethics, aesthetics and most importantly religious statements are all rendered void as they cannot be depicted, for example "Stealing is wrong" cannot be mentally depicted in the way that "I stole your pencil" can.

  1. Televisions representation of religious people.

    This in Islam is totally forbidden, as a Muslim is only allowed to marry another Muslim. So, this was also depicted totally untrue. If the script writers would have had a converted Christian, it would have been more suitable. Children nowadays, if they saw that they might think it would

  2. Religion in the workplace: implications for managers.

    The men have charged the leading religious newsweekly with libel and invasion of privacy because it had written in 1994 that, as Roman Catholics, the managers exhibited "either denial or moral blindness" when they went ahead with a planned move to shift 2,000 unionized jobs from the Milwaukee area to nonunion plants in the South.

  1. Religion in the media.

    I think that some people might not like this programme and think that it was not fashionable because it was more for the older people that couldn't get to the church in time for the hymns. I also think that some people might not have liked this programme because it

  2. What are the powers attributed to God, or gods? What power is conferred by ...

    Nonetheless, it is still the case that Christian values underpin many of the institutions in British society today. Parliament and most local councils begin their meetings with prayers, and the Church of England has (since its sixteenth- century break from the Roman Catholic Church)

  1. Are Near Death Experience's a valid form of Religious Experience

    One can have wonder at the beauty of linguistics and sculptor. These experiences are called Peak Experiences, for they heighten mood. The central problem is how to interpret these experiences of which there is such a huge variety. Human experience is open to interpretation in either a Theistic or an atheistic manner.

  2. Verification Principle

    In both cases, we have everything that we need to prove whether the statement is true or false. Logical Positivists believe that verification is not about the truth or falsity of a statement but about its provability. The reason why it appears to offer a great challenge is because religious

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