Validating: Does Religion have a Special Kind of Truth?
Sometimes ‘truth’ is used in an ontological sense, i.e. synonymously with ‘actual state of affairs’. Now it is indeed true that religious doctrines often describe unique states of affairs, like the existence and transcendence of God.
Since these states of affairs are unique, their verification (in so far as they can be verified) may be very peculiar. It often seems very difficult to understand religious doctrines and to see how people can claim to know that they are true. We seem to be dealing with peculiar kinds of evidence.
Even when we can see the relevant evidence, it often seems difficult to understand how the doctrines correspond to the facts in question. For instance, it is hard to see the relationship between traditional Christological language and the facts recorded in the Gospel about Christ’s life, teaching and death. The reason for this is that theological language has, to use Wittgenstein’s terminology, a special ‘grammar’ and ‘method of representation’: it employs unusual concepts and adopts symbolic and mythological modes of description.
KeywordsBurning Coherence Stein Stake Alan
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