THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION Basil Mitchell Antony Flew THEOLOGY

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THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION Basil Mitchell Antony Flew

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION Basil Mitchell Antony Flew

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPH 1 - BM • Briefly

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPH 1 - BM • Briefly summarise what Mitchell is saying in this paragraph. • Flew has misunderstood religious believers, it is not that they don’t allow their beliefs to be falsified, indeed the problem of evil has caused many to question their faith. • This questioning of faith shows that they recognise that certain things would count against the existence of an all loving God. What is commonly considered to count against the assertion that God loves men? Pain (evil and suffering) What is it that stops believers from abandoning their trust in God? A commitment of faith Key words or phrases to look out for so that you can identify which paragraph this is: Flew’s article is searching and perceptive God loves men Detached observer

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPHS 2 – 5 BM •

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPHS 2 – 5 BM • • Briefly summarise what Mitchell is saying in this section. Like the gardener in Flew’s parable or the student in Hare’s, Mitchell’s partisan will not allow his beliefs to falsified but, unlike the other two characters, he does not qualify them to fit with the new evidence. Instead, he questions them, he goes through a trial of faith and continues to believe in the stranger based on his prior commitment of faith. Who does the Partisan represent? Religious believers Who does the stranger represent? God Why does the Partisan not give up on the stranger, even when he appears to be working against him? Because the stranger made such a significant impression upon him the night that they met. How is Mitchell’s partisan similar to Hare’s Paranoid Student? They both hold to their beliefs in the face of new evidence. How is Mitchell’s Partisan different to Hare’s Paranoid Student Hare’s Student ignores the evidence and qualifies his beliefs whereas Mitchell’s Partisan questions his beliefs and goes through a trial of faith. Key words or phrases to look out for so that you can identify which paragraph this is: Partisan Stranger

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPHS 6 – 8 BM •

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPHS 6 – 8 BM • • Briefly summarise what Mitchell is saying in this section. Mitchell acknowledges that there may come a time when continuing to believe in the stranger may become silly but accepts that this should not simply be the first time that things seems to be going wrong. • Mitchell thinks reasonable religious beliefs are those that have been questioned and struggled with. He argues that the very process of this questioning and struggle shows that religious believers do understand what would have to be the case for their beliefs to be proved false. What does Mitchell question at the end of paragraph 7? How long is it reasonable to trust in the stranger for when he can be seen acting for the other side? Why does Mitchell think it is impossible to say in advance what evidence will make a person give up a belief? Because it depends upon how strong their commitment of faith is. What does Mitchell believe makes religious beliefs meaningful? If a believer experiences a conflict, eg believing in an all loving God whilst at the same time witnessing evil and suffering. Key words or phrases to look out for so that you can identify which paragraph this is: Just silly Ambiguous behaviour Stranger

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPHS 9 – 11 BM •

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPHS 9 – 11 BM • • Briefly summarise what Mitchell is saying in this section. The key difference between Hare’s student and Mitchell’s partisan is that the student bases his idea that his professors are trying to kill him on a blik, and even when confronted with evidence, will not allow his belief to be falsified, instead he qualifies and adds to it. • Mitchell’s partisan bases his idea that the stranger is on our side on his initial meeting with the stranger – upon the impression that he made upon him, he questions his claim rather than qualifies it. What is the key difference between Hare’s student and Mitchell’s Partisan? Hare’s student qualifies his claims but Mitchell’s partisan questions his in light of new evidence. What does Mitchell’s Partisan base his faith in the stranger on? The impression made up him at their initial meeting. What do Mitchell and Flew agree on? That religious statements are assertions about how something actually is, eg the statement, ‘God created the universe’ is meant to be a statement about how the universe got here, it does not represent another idea. What do Mitchell and Hare disagree on? That religious statements are bliks (a person’s individual way of viewing the world). Key words or phrases to look out for so that you can identify which paragraph this is: Bliks Flew Hare Theological utterances

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPHS 12 -13 BM • •

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPHS 12 -13 BM • • Briefly summarise what Mitchell is saying in this paragraph. Mitchell concludes that there are 3 ways of interpreting religious statements. • 1 – We can treat them like scientific statements – Flew’s view • 2 - As vacuous formulae – what he considers Hare’s ideas about bliks. • 3 – Significant articles of faith – these are things that you are committed to and have a big impact on how you live your life. If someone views religious statements as ‘scientific’ what does this mean? Statements that should be discarded as soon as there is contradictory evidence (this is Flew’s view). If someone views religious statements as ‘vacuous’ what does this mean? This means that we never abandon them in the face of any evidence. This refers to those statements that are excessively qualified and perhaps Hare’s ideas about bliks. If someone views religious statements as ‘significant articles of faith’ what does this mean? These are things that you are committed to and have a big impact on how you live your life. As such, they are not abandoned easily, however this does not mean they are never abandoned. What does Mitchell think that there is a constant danger for religious people to do? People to fall into the trap of excessively qualifying their ideas and making them vacuous. Key words or phrases to look out for so that you can identify which paragraph this is: List of 3 ways of interpreting religious statements Vacuous formulae Failure in faith as well as logic

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPH 14 AF • • Briefly

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPH 14 AF • • Briefly summarise what Flew is saying in this paragraph. Acknowledges that this has been an interesting debate so far and outlines that he will concentrate his response on the works of Hare and Mitchell. Whose work does Flew say that he intends to address? Mitchell and Hare’s. Key words or phrases to look out for so that you can identify which paragraph this is: University Mitchell Hare

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPH 15 • • Briefly summarise

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPH 15 • • Briefly summarise what Flew is saying in this paragraph. Flew re-explains his idea of falsification – the idea that if a person will not allow any evidence to count against their beliefs then they are not sensitive to facts and are therefore meaningless. What is an assertion? A statement about how things actually are, eg the statement, ‘God created the universe’ is meant to be a statement about how the universe got here, it does not represent another idea. What is a theological utterance? A statement about God or religion. What does Flew accuse ‘sophisticated religious people’ of doing? Not allowing anything to count against their beliefs – not taking into account evidence that might prove them to be wrong. Key words or phrases to look out for so that you can identify which paragraph this is: Theological utterance Assertion Bogus

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPH 16 AF • Briefly summarise

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPH 16 AF • Briefly summarise what Flew is saying in this paragraph. • He thinks Mitchell is stalling or playing for time as there is no reasonable explanation for some contradictions such as the problem of evil and suffering working with a loving God. Therefore, at the end of the day, religious believers have to admit that their God doesn't exist or start "qualifying" their definition of him. What 3 points to Mitchell and Flew agree on? * They both think religious beliefs are assertions or explanations (unlike, say, R. M. Hare who thinks they are bliks) * They both think religious beliefs can be falsified * They both think that some believers make a mistake by making their beliefs "vacuous" (empty, meaningless) when they refuse to allow them to be falsified What mistake does Flew acknowledge he has made? He was wrong to suggest that all religious believers respond to contradictory evidence by "qualifying" their beliefs. He admits that Mitchell is right: many believers look for an explanation for this contradiction instead. Why does Flew believe that Mitchell’s Parable of the Partisan is flawed? He says it is not accurate to compare God to the stranger as regards the case of evil and suffering as the stranger is human and is therefore limited in what he can do to prevent it; yet God is supposedly omnipotent and should be able to. Why does Flew ultimately think that under Mitchell’s idea, people will end up having to qualify their beliefs anyway? He thinks Mitchell is stalling or playing for time as there is no reasonable explanation for some contradictions such as the problem of evil and suffering working with a loving God. Key words or phrases to look out for so that you can identify which paragraph this is: Theologian’s case Stranger Omnipotent Omniscient Mitchell

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPH 17 AF • • Briefly

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPH 17 AF • • Briefly summarise what Flew is saying in this paragraph. Flew shifts to R. M. Hare's concept of bliks, which he regards as mistaken. Flew has two objections to R. M. Hare's idea that religious language is nonfalsifiable but still meaningful. 1. Flew doesn't think ordinary Christians regard their beliefs as bliks 2. Flew doesn't think bliks are actually meaningful anyway What is Flew’s first criticism of Hare? That believers such as Christians treat their religious language as making factual statements - that there is a God, that Jesus rose from the dead, that the soul goes to heaven after death. They don't regard these statements as bliks the way Hare does. What is Flew’s second criticism of Hare? He points out that religious believers often use religious language to justify their behaviour or gives reasons why other people should do what they say. But bliks don't do this. Key words or phrases to look out for so that you can identify which paragraph this is: Hare Blik Christians

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPH 18 AF • • Briefly

THEOLOGY AND FALSIFICATION BASIL MITCHELL AND ANTONY FLEW PARAGRAPH 18 AF • • Briefly summarise what Flew is saying in this paragraph. Flew concludes by linking religious language to "doublethink" which appears in the novel 1984 by George Orwell. 1984 is a novel by George Orwell, set in a nightmarish future where the Government controls everybody's lives. • Flew suggests that religious language is also a sort of "doublethink" because believers convince themselves something is true (that a loving God is in charge of the world) while their ordinary experience tells them this is false (because there is gratuitous pain and suffering). Explain Flew’s comparison between religious believers and the idea of ‘doublethink’ used by George Orwell in his novel 1984. Orwell calls this trick of convincing yourself that something is true when you know it to be false "doublethink". Flew suggests that religious language is also a sort of "doublethink" because believers convince themselves something is true (that a loving God is in charge of the world) while their ordinary experience tells them this is false (because there is gratuitous pain and suffering). Key words or phrases to look out for so that you can identify which paragraph this is: George Orwell Doublethink