An Introduction to Religious Language

What is religious Language?
Religious Language = Specialist religious vocabulary as well as religious, moral and ethical claims.
What are the uses and purposes of religious language?
Religious Language has three functions.
  1. To Expressive: They are used to express feelings and emotions. Peter Donovan argues that religion encourages to discipline their emotions in the right direction e.g. forgive wrong-doers. 
  2. To Performative: To perform an event e.g. a wedding.
  3. To Prescribe: To encourage or prevent people from acting in a certain way.
Difficulties with religious language
  1. It is subjective
  2. Difficult to describe something so out of this world and immaterial.
  3. Is humanizing an effective mechanism of describing something immaterial.
  4. Language is sometimes used univocally. (This means the words used to describe God mean exactly the same as when words are used to describe humans). However, is it fair to say that when we call God faithful we mean the same as when we call a dog faithful?
  5. If on the other hand we use words equivocally – this means that a word used to describe God does not mean the same as if it was used to describe a human. However, then can we ever know the meaning of a word?
  6. The last problem which this whole unit is about is the meaningless/meaningfulness of religious statements. Religious believers claim that religious language is cognitive i.e. it can be verified or falsified but other philosopher dismiss religion on the basis that it is non-cognitive i.e. you cannot verify or falsify it.

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