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Myth Religious Language

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A2 Religious Language Notes on Myth

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Myth Religious Language

  1. 1. Religious Language Myth Neal, Mike, Joe, Bowditch, Nick & Tom
  2. 2. <ul><li>The myth is the most complex type of symbolic language, since it incorporates symbols, metaphors and models. </li></ul><ul><li>To many people, to speak of myths is to say that something is untrue. However a modern understanding sees myths as giving insights into human experience. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Some theologians have chosen to interpret religious statements and texts as myths. </li></ul><ul><li>There are many examples of religious myths: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Egyptian Gods </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Roman Gods </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Greek Gods </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Viking Gods </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>There are three senses in which the word myth could be applied to religious texts and religious statements: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The myth could be a story that is not true but has some other value for example Braithwaite argued that religious stories are inspirational to us, and they provide us with the motivation to lead a moral life. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The myth could literary device that enables us to talk about things that are “ineffable” i.e. beyond language. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The myth could be a method of interpreting ultimate reality. So myths have a symbolic meaning in the sense that they open up new levels of reality or as Randall argues their purpose is to bind communities together and urge us to take action. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>One advantage of interpreting religious language as mythological is that biblical stories, which seem strange to the scientifically minded, become more palatable. </li></ul><ul><li>There is a further advantage of not taking a literal view of religious language. </li></ul><ul><li>If we interpret the bible in a mythological sense then the stories of the old and new testament can not be proved wrong by scientific of historical evidence. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Taking a mythological view of religious language also side steps the criticisms of Flew and Ayer. Namely that religious language is not factually significant and therefore meaningless. </li></ul><ul><li>These attacks are irrelevant if it is conceded that religious statements are myths. This is because we don’t expect myths to be factually significant. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>“ And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” </li></ul><ul><li>2 Kings 2: 11 </li></ul><ul><li>The bible is full of such objectives and descriptions. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Rudolf Bultmann believers can no longer takes these biblical parables. </li></ul><ul><li>He agued that it is only by reading the bible as a mythological text that modern believers are able to square their scientific understanding of the world with the miraculous events of the bible. </li></ul><ul><li>It is clear to Bultmann that the bible was written in pre-scientific era when myths were everywhere and were an acceptable method of conveying meaning. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Criticisms of Myths <ul><li>A fundamental difficulty with interpreting religious stories as myths is that it undermines their status as true accounts of the events. </li></ul><ul><li>Alvin Plantinga argues that to claim that “god exists” is to make an existential assertion. It is not to talk symbolically of mythological of to adopt a certain attitude. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Plantinga maintains that when a Christian speaks of the existence of God they are claiming first that their exists a person of a certain sort a being who, acts, holds beliefs, and has aims and purposes. </li></ul><ul><li>This person, secondly, is immaterial, is perfect in goodness, knowledge, and power, and is such that the world depends on him for existence. </li></ul><ul><li>In other word, it must be capable of treating religious concepts, such as God, as if they refer to something real. </li></ul>

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