1.1 Intro - 'Language, Truth and Logic'. Uses verification
principle, in order for a statement to be meaningful,
must be able to be tested & verified using emperical
methods. Existence of God must be taken on trust since
it can't be proved, so God-talk is meaningless, cannot be
1.2 Existence of a God of a non-animistic kind can't be proved,
non-animistic religion refers to a religion of a type other than that
which holds that spirits inhabit the natural world, nothing to
observe. Recognise through reasoning & analysis that attempts to
prove the existence of God are useless, cannot be based on
emperical observations/analytic truths. 'Super-emperical' attributes
of God are a priori assumed of God, beyond demonstrative proof.
1.3 Existence of God isn't a matter of probability, this entails
a degree of likelihood with evidence we can weigh up. If it
is probable that God exists, the statement 'God exists'
would be available to be tested by emperical methods.
Should be able to experience God in some sensory way,
isn't possible as he is transendent.
1.4 Some consider the evidence of regularity & design to
conclude God exists, teleological argument, used to
show the probability of God's existence is increased
by orderliness in world. Can be experience with our
senses, avoids Ayer's problem of God-talk. Ayer claims
when people claim that God's existence is
demonstrated by the order of the world, they don't
just mean to say that order is the same thing as God.
They don't constitute an emperical proposition about
God. Believers add other qualities (e.g. transendence),
God isn't just another word for regularity in nature.
He is a transendent being whose work can be seen in
1.5 Believers responded to the occasion of thunder with the
assertion 'Jehovah is angry', intended it to mean exactly the
same thing as 'it is thundering', it is possible for the
assertion to be an emperical proposition. Believers won't be
satistfied for claims about God's existence/qualities to be
reduced to claims about nature. God is a metaphysical term
(concerned with abstract ideas/ultimate concerns), they are
meaningless & unverifiable. Main focus of Ayer's article -
problems for language & meaningfulness arising from the
terms metaphysical & transendent. Believers often claim
God is in control of the physical world but isn't physical
himself, yet still is a personal God. Ayer claims there can be
no such thing as a person who has no physical attributes.
1.6 Biblical story of Moses & the burning bush.
Emperical encounter occured in which God was
made known to him. God couldn't be reduced to
the bush or defined by it, Moses focused on what
he could learn about God independant from the
bush. Reflects the transendent nature of God.
Causes problems as without an emperical
manifestation which could verify/falsify God's
existence in anture, there is no significant content
to believer's claims.
1.7 Important not to confuse Ayer's position with the position of
atheists/agnostics. Atheists answer the question 'Does God exist?' with 'No' &
agnostics answer 'It is impossible to know'. Ayer claims the question itself is
meaningless so it can't be answered. He is trying to express that there aren't
any transendent truths of religion, not to discuss the causes of religious feeling
& the life-span of religion. Truth-claims made by theists don't refer to anything
which can be emperically tested so are meaningless.
1.8 There is no middle ground when it comes to
defining God. Many theists assert that, due to
transendence, God can't be specifically defined.
Ayer claims there are only 2 options: God can
be completely understood by the human mind,
or God can't be understood at all.
1.9 Religious experience - many theists claim that they learn
truth through intuition, those who haven't had religious
experiences can't criticise. The 'knowledge' of God that
mystics have gained doesn't meet standards of emperical
verifiability. Many who've had mystical experiences can't
express it (William James) however the mystic doesn't
learn anything which can be emperically verified, therefore
they aren't saying anything meaningful. Isn't a genuinely
cognitive state, only gives insight into the mystic's mind.