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After the collapse of positivism, two streams emerged in philosophy of religion regarding what religious language and beliefs are about: realism and non-realism.The vast majority of religious adherents are religious realists.Realists, as used in this context, are those who hold that their religious beliefs are about what actually exists, independent of the persons who hold those beliefs.
The practice of philosophy, especially in the analytic tradition, places emphasis on precision of terms and clarity of concepts and ideas.
Religious language is often vague, imprecise, and couched in mystery.
Others, such as Don Cupitt (1934–), have sought to transform religion.
Cupitt, a philosopher, theologian, and former priest in the Church of England, rejects historic religious dogma for, he maintains, it encompasses an outdated realist metaphysics and cosmology.
When logical positivism became prominent mid-century, philosophy of religion as a discipline became suspect.
By the latter half of the twentieth century, however, many philosophers came to the conclusion that the positivists’ radical empiricist claims and verificationist criteria of meaning were problematic or self-refuting. Quine (1908–2000), caused logical positivism to wane.
For Wittgenstein, this is true in all forms of discourse, including religious discourse.
In speaking of God or other religious terms or concepts, their meanings have more to do with their use than with their denotation.
Many religious statements, including those about God, are neither tautological nor empirically verifiable.
So a number of religious claims, such as “Yahweh is compassionate” or “Atman is Brahman,” were considered by the positivists to be cognitively meaningless.