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Verification Principle

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Introduction

The Verification Principle offers no real challenge to religious belief. Discuss. (45) I would like to start this essay by explaining the background to Logical Positivism and the Verification Principle. The Verification Principle is a philosophical doctrine fundamental to Logical Positivism. Logical Positivists argue that a statement is meaningful only if it is either empirically verifiable or else tautological (You can get to its truth by the meanings of its terms). They believe that if you can give evidence to back up what you said then that evidence was what your statement was all about, e.g. "There is a cat outside the door". The Logical Positivists would say that you can prove this by looking outside the door and you will see the cat. It does appear to offer a real challenge to religious belief since they believe that the only way a statement can be meaningful is either that the meaning of the words prove this or they can be proved by some form of sense experience. ...read more.

Middle

However, clearly, it is not always possible to check the evidence for a statement. Therefore, the Logical Positivists argued that for a statement to be meaningful, it was enough to be able to say what sort of evidence could count for or against it. This is the 'weak' form of the Verification Principle. The main challenge to religious language was made by the philosopher, A. J. Ayer who was a Logical Positivist. He argued that the statement 'God exists' cannot be either true or false because there is no empirical evidence that can prove or disprove the statement. Therefore, he argued that it was a meaningless declaration. I would argue that the Verification Principle doesn't really offer a challenge to religious belief. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that some statements which we know are true cannot be proven through the words used. The principle appears to make all historical statements meaningless since they are neither analytic nor synthetic. ...read more.

Conclusion

It does seem logical since it does seem impossible to prove whether or not e.g. God exists. All the Logical Positivists have done is provided a theory as to why this is the case. It could cause a challenge to religious belief since often statements cannot be verified at the present time for example statements about life and death can only be verified if there is an afterlife. The Verification principle only questions a statement's meaningfulness. It doesn't actually make any claim about its actual truth. For example, "My dog is a Labrador" is meaningful because it can be verified but that doesn't mean that it's true. Finally, it seems not to cause a great challenge to religious belief for the main fact that statements about the verification principle itself cannot be verified (or falsified)! There are reasons here which challenge the principle and which make the principle appear logical. Therefore it is difficult to come to a firm decision about whether or not the Verification Principle offers a real challenge to religious belief. Emma Ward 08/05/2007 Emma Ward 1 ...read more.

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