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Vagueness and the verifiability of ordinary faith

  • Denis F. Sullivan (a1)


The analysis of religious assertions in terms of a language game or in terms of eschotological verification are the two most notable defences today of the factual significance of religious language. But both of these approaches, I believe, are to be found wanting, not only on philosophical grounds, but especially on the grounds of faith. Neither of these approaches reflects ordinary faith, the faith of ordinary believers. And it is in terms of such ordinary faith that we can find the key to a more adequate answer to the challenge of verifiability.



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page 460 note 1 There are some logical problems involved in trying to conceive of God's action. See, for example, Nielsen, Kai, ‘The intelligibility of God-Talk’, Religious Studies, vi, 1 (1970), 16. But these problems, as has been pointed out, are problems involved in conceiving any personal action. See Hudson, Donald, Ludwig Wittgenstein: the bearing of his Philosophy upon Religious Belief (London, 1968), p. 40 and also Hudson's, A Philosophical Approach to Religion (New York, 1974), pp. 161–76 and Tooley, Michael, ‘John Hick and the Concept of Eschatological Verification’, Religious Studies, xii, 2 (1970), 196–9. The resolution to them, therefore, is to be found not in philosophical theology but in the philosophy of mind.

page 460 note 2 See Hick, John, Faith and Knowledge (Ithaca, 1966), pp. 95119, 177–8;Hudson, , Wittgenstein, pp. 4855;Hare, R. M.,New Essays in Philosophical Theology, eds. Flew, Anthony and Mac-Intyre, Alasdair (New York, 1966), pp. 99103.

page 461 note 1 Braithwaite, R. D., ‘An Empiricist's View of the Nature of Religious Belief’, in The Existence of God, ed. Hick, John (New York, 1964), pp. 229–52.

page 461 note 2 Hick, John, Faith and Knowledge, pp. 169–99.

page 462 note 1 Nielsen, Kai, ‘Eschatological Verification’, The Canadian journal of Theology, xvii, 4 (1960), 274–81

page 462 note 2 References in the text to The Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, vols i–v, eds Hartshorn, Charles and Weiss, Paul (Cambridge, 19311935), will be by the conventional volume and paragraph number.

page 462 note 3 MS 283, 137. The manuscript numbers are from Robin's, RichardAnnotated Catalogue of the Papers of Charles S. Peirc (Amherst, 1967).

page 466 note 1 In the Christian tradition the ordinary faith of the first believers has a privileged status.

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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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