Religious Language


The verification principle

The verification principle provides method of understanding religious language in any form, whether it is through scriptures, such as the bible or personal understanding: it concludes that one must be able to verify a statement as true or false through evidence. This could be in the form of tautologies, empirical or mathematical evidence. The verification principle states the use of metaphysical language is meaningless within the bible. A metaphysical statement is all things 'non-physical' or not within this realm. The verification principle attempts to solve the issue revolved around interpreting religious language as people are not sure what is being communicated through God and scripture. Ayer, whom followed 'The weak form' of the verification principle, constructed the argument and said that in order to verify a statement, one needs to be able to back up the statement with evidence of facts or through our senses, this has provided an issue for religious language as scripture speaks of an entity of which we have no conception of, essentially making the Bible meaningless and it cannot be verified; for example, stating that ‘God is omnipotent, omniscience and omnibenevolent’ – there is no empirical evidence that God does in fact exist, let alone possess these qualities, and there is no analytical or synthetic way of verifying such statements. A verificationist stated there are two types of statements that lead to meaningful conclusions; analytical propositions and synthetic propositions. Analytical propositions are statements which already contain all the information we need in order to come to a conclusion or decision regarding its significance, an example of this is 2 + 2 = 4, whereas a synthetic propositions are statements which can be verified through our sense, for example, 'it is raining' and therefore viewing and feeling with our own senses to also conclude it is raining.

A 'blik'

A 'blik' is a well-known response to the verification principle. Hare argued that a 'blik' is a particular view of the world which may not be based on reason or fact but equally cannot be verified or falsified. Hare believe that although statements are not open to being true or false like literal statements. This is because religious statements are non-cognitive. These are statements that do not communicate knowledge, information or facts and therefore do not have a truth value, an example of this is 'do not steal'. This is an example of a non-cognitive statement because it provides a moral guideline to follow; this can be linked with Braithwaite’s moral assertions as he believed that religious language teaches one to behave in a certain way rather than provide a factual message – this can then be applied to the creation story in Genesis, as it is non-cognitive and should not be interpreted as factual evidence for the existence of God, instead it is an analogy which can be applied to the existence of God. Even though one is aware of the basis of the story in Genesis is not strictly true, a theist


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