The Problem of Religious Language

I was looking for an article to post when I saw that this is today’s featured article on Wikipedia.

It’s absolutely amazing that this kind of discourse is right at your fingertips. Literally. And for free.

The theologian Sallie McFague believes that the more recent problem of religious language is based on individual experience, owing to the increased secularisation of society. She notes that human experience is of this world rather than regular encounters with the divine, which makes the experience of God uncommon and potentially unnecessary. Because of this, she argues, religious language is both idolatrous because it fails to express sufficient awe of God, and irrelevant because without adequate words it becomes meaningless.

The Internet! I hear it’s gonna change the world.

8 thoughts on “The Problem of Religious Language

  1. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

    Did you read the article? This is kinda frustrating. The argument isn’t about some kind of ‘fantastical creature’ that may or may not exist inside the universe, it is about whatever unimaginable strangeness the universe may or may not be embedded within.

    1. winstoninabox Post author

      I’ve taken another look at the article and come away with a fresh perspective. Because I’ve no interest in belief myself I’m interested in a disinterested way how the games and parables relate to it. I’m interested in the claims that theists make because I believe that in debunking the false ones and challenging the unfalsifiable ones theists will be able to make an informed belief.

    1. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

      I guess I’m just on a Sisyphean quest to get you to see that you (and Dawkins et al.) are dismissing the God Hypothesis without understanding what it means, fundamentally. You wouldn’t use the kind of dismissive language you do, and you would have a much more robust and interesting argument for calling yourself an ‘atheist’, if you did.

  2. winstoninabox Post author

    I think what you’re really saying in the above is “what it means, fundamentally, to me”. What it means to you, inside your head, is your own belief. If you find some greater meaning to your life in the belief that there is a god, then that’s great – for you. Some people need that belief to give their life some purpose, and that’s fine.

    But I believe that as that belief can be altered by drugs, surgery, trauma, a change of environment, a change of social situation, then I’ve no interest in that belief. I’m interested in the claims that people make, and pruning those claims to get to truth that as the scientists that every single person is, we seek.

    If you find my reasons for being an atheists not interesting, then that’s OK. I feel the same way when some theist tells me that god loves me and there’s a heaven to go to. Forget I am one and engage with claims. As for the dismissive language I use, well I hope that I fall on the side of being dismissive to claims that I find weak rather than on the side of being dismissive to the individual who made them, you loon.


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