Non- Cognitive:Logical Positivists: Non-cognitive, MP statements (about things beyond reality- God, heaven) are completely meaningless (like "square circles are green"), as there's no way of verifying if these statements are meaningful. A J Ayer: The term 'god' is a MP term. And if 'god' is MP, then it's not even possible that God exists. To say that 'God exists' is to metaphysically utter which is neither true nor false. He not only denies God's existence, but possibility of God's existence altogether since there's no way to empirically verify his existence. Later Wittgenstein and Religious Language Wittgenstein took religion very seriously, to the point of considering priesthood. He was opposed to natural theology (attempt to demonstrate God's existence from evidence in nature) & to the development of religious doctrines. He was more interested in religious symbol & ritual In his later works, he understood language to be not fixed, directly corresponding to the way things actually are, but rather to be a human activity susceptible to the vicissitudes of human life. It does not offer a picture of reality, but rather it is a set of activities called "language games Speaking of language is part of an activity, or a form of life. He gives the eg. of a builder. Builder A is building with building-stones: there are blocks, pillars, slabs, beams. Assistant B has to pass the stones on A's orders. For this purpose they use a language consisting of words "block," "pillar" "slab," "beam." A calls them out & B gets him the required stone. Speech & action work together. In many cases, the meaning of a word is its use in the language.
In speaking of God/ Brahman/nirvana/ dao, the meanings of words have more to do with their use than with their denotation. Language games reflect the forms of life of various religious adherents Parable of a lunatic. "A certain lunatic is convinced that all dons want to murder him. His friends introduce him to all the mildest & most respectable dons they can find, and after each retires, they say, "You see, he doesn't really want to murder you; spoke to you in a most cordial manner; surely you are convinced now?" But the lunatic replies "Yes, but that was only his diabolical cunning; he's really plotting against me the whole time, like the rest of them; I know it I tell you." A "blik" is a particular view about the world that may not be based upon reason/ fact & cannot be verified/ falsified; it just is & we don't need to explain why we hold our "blik". Eg. trust in the metal of a car to be strong enough. People either have right/ sane blik or wrong/ insane blik; the lunatic has the wrong blik about dons, whereas his friends have the right blik. Criticism: by Hick- 1- Religious beliefs/ bliks are based upon reason; people believe in God bcz they may have had a religious experience, or feel that the words of the Bible/Quran are true. 2- There is an inconsistency: Hare- there's a distinction b/w sane & insane bliks. But, he also claims that bliks are unverifiable & unfalsifiable. If we cannot prove/ disprove religious bliks, we cannot call them right/ wrong, sane/ nsane. Mitchell disagreed with the theory of "bliks". Religious belief & therefore religious language was based upon fact, though not straightforwardly verifiable/ falsifiable. Parable of a resistance fighter. "A member of the resistance movement is met one day by a man claiming to be the leadeir. The fighter is impressed & pledges his loyalty to the stranger. As time goes on, the fighter sees the "leader" helping out the resistance, but at other times he is apparently helping out the enemy. The fighter still carries on with his belief that the stranger is the leader of the resistance movement." Mitchell's parable is different to Hare's, as Hare's lunatic: 1- has no reason for mistrusting dons 2- will allow nothing against his belief. But Mitchell's fighter: 1- is willing to admit that things count against his belief in the leader (symbol of 0 2- grounds his belief in reason & fact: he trusts this man & has egs. of him fighting for the resistance. Mitchell: religious belief is based upon facts, but that belief cannot be verified/ falsified in the simplistic way demanded by logical positivists
Of course, the stranger will be able to reveal his true allegiance after the war & explain his mysterious behavior, similarly, all the peculiar & problematic parts of religious belief will be revealed at the end of time. This is similar to Hick's theory of Eschatological Verification, i.e., at the end of time (eschaton), all religious beliefs that require faith will be made clear by God: though they cannot be verified now, will be verified in future. Hick uses weak verification principle in reverse.