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

Verification Principle

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

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. The falsification principle offers no real challenge to religious beliefs

    universe, and whether the things he says as a believer are true. R.B. Braithwaite pushed these kinds of thoughts clearly in the non-cognitivist direction. He argued that although religious statements are not cognitive assertions, they however can be non-cognitively meaningful because of their practical value.

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

    and privatised (a matter of individual choice). Because religion is seen, by Berger, as ideology (a meaning system for the interpretation of the world), he argues that religion is, by definition, "alive and well" because it represents, as far as we can tell, an indispensable element of human social life / existence.

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

    David Hay at the Oxford Centre for religious experience claim that a high proportion of those that declare a religious experience feel a power beyond themselves. The experiences are also not of a majority of mentally disturbed religious people. With religious experiences, every experience is unique.

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

    that religious terms are meaningful despite their lack of evidence, which definition are we to go by? Ayer's other contribution to verification was to split it into two categories, namely 'strong' and 'weak' (these distinctions apply mostly to synthetic statements). Strong verification (the type put forward by the Vienna circle)

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