Mind Map by melaniealanaspea, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by melaniealanaspea about 5 years ago


Mind Map on Ayer, created by melaniealanaspea on 02/23/2015.

Resource summary

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 emperically verified.
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 nature.
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.
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