Sunday, May 19, 2013

Defining 'God'

Some Atheists take up positivism and AJ Ayer's verification principle when it suits them to block dialogue between Christians and Atheists. They argue any statement must be empirically verifiable in order for it to be meaningful. A word must have an analytic definition attached to it in order for it to be meaningful. Often these atheists will ask Christians to define attributes of God, like incorporeality, and scrutinize them as meaningless since they violate the verification principle. What is the problem with this? First, it confuses ontology with semantics. A word may be meaningless (the semantic element) to a person (the epistemic element) but it doesn't negate the fact the word has an ontological referent. Second, a word can be stipulated or understood by its use. But even if an atheist doesn't grant this we can still think of words as variables, like in Algebra, that are place holders with stipulated meaning. Third, to say all words or statements must conform to a principle of empirical verification is self-refuting. Since the above principle itself cannot be empirically verified. Nor can the words, like 'must' 'all' or 'words,' be empirically verified. But some have sought to reform verificationism by saying only positive definitions are meaningful. But on what basis? Apparently by the self-refuting verificationist principle. Words like 'non-contradictory', 'incoherent','invariable', 'immutable', and 'immaterial' are said to be meaningless because they do not refer to positive definitions. But on such an account it makes things like falsification in science meaningless. Since falsity is not positively definable. Thus this resurgence to revisions of positivism fall prey to the same problems of positivism and therefore should be rejected.

Some helpful links:

William Lane Craig Here

Greg Bahnsen Here

Christian Skeptic critique of George Smith Here

Anthony Flood Here 

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