An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion by Kai Nielsen (auth.)

By Kai Nielsen (auth.)

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But we have no understanding of 'a person' without 'a body' and it is only persons that in the last analysis can act or do things. We have no understanding of 'disembodied action' or 'bodiless doing' and thus no understanding of ' a loving but bodiless being'. Moreover, we must ask, as Edwards does, 'What would it be like to be, say, just, without a body? To be just, a person has to act justly - he has to behave in certain ways ... [this] is a simple empirical truth about what we mean by "just"'.

To alter the meaning of these terms does not help at all to make intelligible THE INTELLIGIBILITY OF GOD-TALK 29 the plain man's concept of God that Ziff was supposed to be talking about. Zitrs talk of 'logistic legerdemain' is but a fancy name for changing the subject. To reason in the way Ziffdoes is not to show that the set of conditions are mutually consistent; it is simply to rationalise and be evasive. Perhaps these conditions can be shown to be mutually consistent, but on face value they appear to be inconsistent and Ziff has not begun to show that they are consistent.

Religious people, or at least those who reflect, are themselves perplexed about it. To those who think they can understand it, it is well to ask them, in a concrete way, for the truth-conditions of their claims. If they can give none, we have good grounds for being sceptical that they, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, understand what they are saying. 34 . This consideration, which I admit is still ultimately fundamentally question-begging, gains in an indirect way added force when we recall that 'God's acts' and 'God's love' could have a use through an ancient concept of God in which God is thought to have a body.

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