Existence of God. From the eyes of Positivism.

According to positivism, existence of God is neither an inference nor a hypothesis. Valid inference from the seen to the unseen is possible only on the ground of previous experience of the invariable connection between the two.

But as the relation between God and the universe is not an object of such previous experience, we cannot infer the existence of God from the “existence of the universe.
Likewise, a valid hypothesis is one which is capable of being verified by new discoveries, which enables one to make successful predictions about the behavior of things and, wot is more, which is consistent with all established facts, experience or explanatory theories. Valid explanation must fit in with previously established knowledge and experience. But the hypothesis of God does not refer to such previous knowledge , nor does it enable one to make correct predictions about the course of events. Nor is it capable of being proved by new discovery.
To the contention tat the hypothesis of God is variable in after-life, the verificationist would retort tat the existence of such life itself is based on the pre- supposition of, and is closely linked with, the existence of the existence of God from the “existence of the universe. Likewise, a valid hypothesis is one which is capable of being verified by new discoveries, which enables one to make successful predictions about the behavior of things and, wot is more, which is consistent with all established facts, experience or explanatory theories. Valid explanation must fit in with previously established knowledge and experience.
But the hypothesis of God does not refer to such previous knowledge , nor does it enable one to make correct predictions about the course of events. Nor is it capable of being proved by new discovery. To the contention that the hypothesis of God is variable in after-life, the verifircationist would retort that the existence of such life itself is based on the pre- supposition of, and is closely linked with, the existence of God and, therefore, such an argument involves a vicious circle.

The positivists also argue tat a scientific hypothesis is discarded if and when proved false in the light of new discoveries or if it is found to be inconsistent with observable facts.
The religious hypothesis which makes such statements as “God is beneficial or merciful” is not so discarded even in the face of palpable instances in Nature of cruelty, horror or pointlessness.
Moreover such epithets as ‘invisible’, ‘infinite’, ‘eternally elusive’ etc, applied to God by the believer is symptomatic of the attempt of the believer to push God farther and farther from the grasp of verification, which in effect means placing him nowhere.
According to positivists, “the meaning of any statement which is not analytical is to be found in equivalent statements referring to actual or possible sense experiences.” In plain words the positivists make sense experience the only criterion of truth or falsity of a statements of facts.

Now let see the Defense Against Positivism.

Theologians and philosophers hv effectively met the logical arguments of the positivists. They hv contended tat the statements about God are falsify in principle, though not in practice. As to the charge tat many things appear to be evil and as such contradictory to the concept of divine justice or mercifulness, they hv replied tat evils and injustices do count against God, but they do not count against Him decisively, as we do not hv before us the entire picture, which alone cn furnish us the correct perspective of judging the real merit of things.
Moreover, according to them, viewpoints should also form part of the concept of meaning. In tat case religious language is meaningful as expressive of a particular viewpoint tat reveals a pattern. The positivists adopt the viewpoint of scientific empiricism, while a religious man adopts the viewpoint of spiritual purposefulness.

According to them God is both the object of possible experience and the focus of explanatory patterning. Just as in the Christmas Stocking Novelty a red-masked torch reveals magic pictures where in white light cn be seen only multicolored dots and nothing else, similarly the viewpoint of religious language reveals a beautiful pattern which scientific empiricism stops short of.
In their opinion the fact tat the language of art which opts for particular viewpoint is quite valid in its own sphere of discourse vindicates the right of religious language to be similarly valid.

Contradictions are vehicles of expressing singularity even of a human personality. They are all the more necessary or giving expression to the supreme singularity or transcendent otherness of God. Such contradictions of religious language are expressive of the difficulties of intellect in relation to a thing too high for it and of language in relation to a thing which far surpasses its power of communication.

The postulate of logical or linguistic positivism tat “the meaning of any statement which is not analytical is to be found in equivalent statements referring to actual or possible sense experiences" is itself a metaphysical statement incapable of verification through sense experience. Positivism, therefore, finds itself enmeshed in a self-defeating paradox by trying to banish all metaphysics.
Secondly, logical positivism commits an unpardonable tautology by starting with a criterion of meaning tat excludes metaphysical language from the beginning and then stating tat metaphysical language is meaningless.

The statement of the logical positivist “Metaphysics is meaningless" is another way of saying “That which deals with the trans-empirical possesses no empirical reference” and is, therefore, itself a meaningless tautology.

Thirdly, by its fanatical emphasis on language, logical positivism leads to linguistic solipcism or the positition tat we know nothing but language, which is hardly a tenable proposition. Even Bertrand Russell who was in general sympathy with the positivist trend, admitted in the concluding portion of his book “An Inquiry Into Meaning and Truth”, tat “complete metaphysical agnosticism is not compatible with the maintenance of linguistic proposition”.
Some modern philosophers hold tat we know much about language, but nothing about anything else. This view forgets tat language is an empirical phenomenon like another, and tat a man who is metaphysically agnostic must deny tat he knows when he uses a word.” Further, by stating that “the ultimate stuff of the world may be called physical or mental, or both or neither, as we please, in fact the words serve no purpose”, in his ‘Outline of Philosophy’ , Russell flings linguistic analysis itself into the four winds.
Finally, in their over-enthusiasm for purging philosophy from ‘a mass of meaningless lumber’, the positivists turn even some of the elementary laws of science into meaningless statements.

It hs been righty observed in the ‘History of Philosophy’ edited by Dr. Radhakrisnan that “in their youthful enthusiasm for science, the positivists propound doctrines which not only throw metaphysics into the sphere of the meaningless but also turn some of the basic elements of science, e.g. the universal propositions expressing laws, causality, etc. into meaningless statements ......
But it is still more amusing to note tat this criterion of meaning based on empirical verifiablity renders, as Wittgenstein and others hv to admit, the very sentences containing the criterion and other rules of syntax meaningless, because these sentences are about sentences and not about empirical facts which only the latter sentences refer to.”
Logical positivism thus proves to be its own undoing. The fate of the positivist with his disavowal of the spiritual sphere of discourse is very much like the fate of the Russian electronic translator which reportedly translated the statement ‘The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’ into something which when retranslated stood as “The wine is agreeable, but the meat is a bit too strong,” it being beyond the ken of the translating machine tat the statement belongs to a different sphere of discourse having non-material connotations. The naive verbalism of the logical positivists and linguistic philosophers land them in a similar morass of ludicrous senselessness and self-contradiction.

Post a Comment

0 Comments