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York University
Social Science
SOSC 1009
Julie Dowsett

1. The purpose of religious language is to describe God; however, there have been religious languages in which difficulties have been raised. There are 4 theories of religious languages which will be explained below. Firstly, Anthropomorphism is a language which is taken literally, basically what we mean about God’s attributes is the same as what we mean about our self. It is univocal (one voice) meaning the language has one meaning and it’s the same when applied to God and human beings. However, this language fails because it lacks in the perfection of God; hence one cannot have both perfection of God and be in an anthropomorphic position. It also introduces the complimentary class meaning when you include something in one category it automatically excludes it from another. For example:-One cannot include God from the things that are good and exclude God from the things that are not good. Moreover, there is mental anthropomorphism which is an idea that God has a mind. Suppose if you say; God has desires and if you say God is infinite, that’s a contradiction and the only way to resolve the contradiction is to drop one of the claims. For example:- If one is praying to God, does he feel God understands his prayer, and if he does then that means God has a mind. If God doesn’t have a mind then prayers will be pointless. Here there is a contradiction between God having a mind and God being eternal. Secondly, Extreme mysticism offers a theory of descriptive language. Extreme mystics base their criticism on Aristotle theory of descriptive language. Whenever your describe something your performing an act of inclusion and an act of exclusion. For example: when you’re saying a ball is red is you’re including in the class of all things that are red but excluding all the other possible colors in that class. One cannot introduce God to a complimentary class because God is known to be infinite and if you include him in one class and exclude from another that’s a misrepresentation of God. The problem with them however is that there is no difference between extreme mysticism and atheist. For example, “God has a plan or God is good”. Moderate Mysticism uses metaphors and symbolic way of talking about God, unlike anthropomorphism where everything is literally. We don’t take what moderate mysticism says to be literally. The problem however with moderate mystic people is that in order to explain themselves, they need to have a literal meaning with what they’re saying. However, if we did that it would be just like anthropomorphism which is already a fail. Lastly, Analogy is to describe God. In this type of language they are trying to capture the similarities and differences between us and God. This is because anthopomorphytes were very similar to God and extreme mystics were very different from God. The reason why this language fails is because we cannot observe God; therefore, we cannot observe how we are similar or different from God. Anthony Flew said how you have to set up criteria to verify what we are saying about GOD is true or not. When we try to verify what we are saying about God, the language becomes meaningless. However, the verification has to be done through an empirical fashion and the onus is on the believer to do that. They do believe God has some resemblance to us but they want to see the similarities and differences. Since one cannot see, touch or smell God for analogy to work, one has to observe the effects and determine similarities and differences between the two. As a result, this language also does not work. 2. In part 10 the discussion is whether God is both infinitely power and benevolent... Cleanthes and Philo both believe that good and evil things happen however Cleanthes believes that God is both infinite and benevolent which Philo does not agree with. The first hypotheses about the designer of the world is created by Cleanthes as mentioned before is that God is both benevolent and infinite. Philo creates the following arguments against these hypotheses proving them wrong. Firstly, Philo argues that whatever God wills comes about. However the fact that nobody is happy therefor God does not will their happiness. “ His power we allow infinite: Whatever he wills is executed: But neither man nor any other animal are happy: Therefore he does not will their happiness” (Hume, 156) Secondly, argument that Philo makes is God is infinitely wise however people are not happy. Philo says the course of nature is not designed to keep us happy and God does not tend the nature to promote human or animal felicity. In conclusion these arguments go against the claim divine benevolence of God because happiness is not promoted by the designer of the world. Thirdly, Philo argues by saying that, “Have not all pious divines and preachers, who have indulged their rhetoric on so fertile s which may attend it? This world…….intricacies of his providence”(Hume, 158). Cleanthes counters Philo`s arguments and challenges the empirical claims made through reconstructing Philo`s claim. Cleanthes replies back by saying, “No! There arbitrary suppositions can never be admitted, contrary to matter of fact,…..establish its reality”(Hume, 158). He keeps the hypotheses the same however changes the fact and the answer. For argument one, the hypotheses is whatever god wills comes about, Cleanthes believes humans and other animals tend to be happy therefore God has willed happiness for humans and animals. Second reconstructed argument by Cleanthes was that God’s wisdom is infinite, therefore God has willed to support human and animal felicity. However these restricted arguments are
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