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Religious Language And Non Cognitive Language

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Religious language is essentially the communication about religious ideas, faith and belief. Significantly religious language refers to the terms and phrases we use when discussing God and his nature; it is an attempt to talk about God using our non cognitive language. Religious language falls into two categories; cognitive and non-cognitive. Cognitive language expresses facts and knowledge that can be proved to be either true or false. Whereas, non cognitive language expresses things which are neither true nor false. There is a debate whether religious language is truly meaningful because the concept of God is something ‘other’ and ‘timeless’, yet we only talk of things using our knowledge that is acquired through our sense experience. Therefore, if something is ‘other’ and ‘timeless’, technically is it not part of our experience and thus how can we talk about it?
Firstly, it can be argued that religious language has been proven to be meaningful. The ‘Via Negativa’, or ‘The Negative Way’ is a way of talking about God which focuses on saying what he is not rather than what he is. It is based on the idea that because God is transcendent, we cannot therefore speak of him. However, we can clearly say what he is not. It’s a bit like the game ‘Guess Who’, as once we know what God is not, we can work out what he is. The Via Negativa was put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius in a book called ‘Mystical Theology’. This is a good way to approach the subject of God, since our language is
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