Essay on “Evaluate the Claim That Religious Language Is Non-Cognitive and Therefore Meaningless”

Words: 1004
Pages: 5

In the debate about religious language, it is important that broadly speaking, there are two types of language, cognitive and non-cognitive. Cognitive language conveys facts i.e. things that we can know or be cognisant of. Non-cognitive language conveys information that is not factual; feelings and emotional claims.
Those who believe that religious language is non-cognitive and so meaningless stem their beliefs from the Logical Positivist. The Logical Positivists were a group of philosophers who were primarily concerned with the truth contained in statements we can make, or in other words, with what can be logically posited, or stated. The group began in Vienna, Austria in the 1920s and gathered around a philosopher called Moritz
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Flew argued that in the same way, Christians say ‘God is Good’ no matter what evidence is offered against this. He stated that these constant qualifications render religious statements meaningless because they die the “death by a thousand qualifications”.
There are several responses to Flew’s falsificationism. One such response comes from R M Hare who came up with the theory of the bliks. Blicks were ways of regarding the world that may not be based on reason or fact and are neither falsifiable nor verifiable. He felt that religious beliefs are ‘Bliks’ because of the impact that they have on the way in which people look at the world and their lives. Hare used the parable of the lunatic to illustrate his point, where the lunatic, despite being told multiple times still believed that all the dons were diabolical and cunning and plotting to murder him. Hare’s theory has been criticised heavily however, mainly by John Hick. Hick argues that religious beliefs or religious ‘bliks’ are based upon reason; people believe in God because they may have had a religious experience, or they feel the words of the Bible/Qur’an are true or a variety of other reasons. Secondly, he claims there is an inconsistency: Hare claims that there is a distinction between sane and insane bliks. However, he also claims that bliks are unverifiable and unfalsifiable. If we cannot either prove or disprove religious ‘bliks’, we