A retweet from AC Grayling (@acgrayling) of this page made me email myself at work, because I had to share it with my yr13s. They’ve been studying with me (and my philosophical partner in crime) meta ethics and religious language. I love when we get to the end of the topic and they turn around and say ‘so what we’re doing is pointless?’ Studying whether ethical and religious language has any meaning is incredibly mind blowing, but in terms of a debate it has so many levels.
How meaning is measured? Whether all statements need to be verifiable or falsified to have meaning? And is the meaning universal? These questions barely scratch the surface of the topics, but Grayling brings up one of the key points.
My husband (a science teacher) always says you can’t argue with a deeply religious person, because they use the argument ‘oh but it’s the unknowable plan/will of God’ etc. I remember reading a philosophy book that even used the phrase ‘moving the goal posts’ when describing how a religious person might discuss religious beliefs. When their ideas or definitions are questioned they simple change the parameters of the term.
So is the fact that the religious world won’t set out the conditions or situations by which their beliefs could be falsified (which would then subject it to being tested like other theories ) a cop out? Or are we being unreasonable to suggest faith is exactly like science; I mean it wouldn’t be called faith otherwise.