Essay on Assessing the View that Religious Language is Meaningless

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Assessing the View that Religious Language is Meaningless In recent times one of the most compelling and interesting arguments against God and religion has come from linguistic philosophy. In very basic terms the argument points out the fact that religion must necessarily use language in order to express abstract ideas such as God, love and so on, and in doing so commits a fallacy because as soon as such ideas are put into words they become meaningless. However, this is a rather large generalisation; the specific arguments go into a lot more detail and most vary in some way from this basic idea. Before we look at these arguments, though, I feel it is necessary to emphasise just how important an…show more content…
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. This idea attracted several philosophers, including Moritz Schlick and Rudolf Carnap, who were working together in Vienna in the early part of the last century, and who expanded Wittgenstein's work. Their work involved looking at language to see what type of statements were meaningful or not, and they based their ideas on similar work in epistemology. There is a very powerful argument in this branch of philosophy that knowledge can only be gained through empirical experience. The logical positivists applied this idea to language, and came up with the verification principle. This idea, also put forward by A. J. Ayer, the main British exponent of logical positivism, is basically that only two types of statement are meaningful. The first is analytic statements (a priori), which are logical statements that justify themselves, for example "1 + 1 = 2" or "all bachelors are men." This type of statement is true by definition, and does not
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