Attack On John H. Hick?S View Of Verification Essay, Research Paper
Philosophy of Relgion
The Problem with Verification
In the following essay I will attempt to attack John H. Hick’s view of verification, and how it can be processed within steps. I will expand on how religion, and everything that is contained within it, can’t be verified at all. Although Hick discussed the problems of verification in Chapter 8 “The Problems of Verification” in Philosophy of Religion, he lacked discussion on crucial elements, discussing the problem of verifying religion as a whole.
The problem of verification isn’t just one problem but many. The problems of verifying something are needed in order to give that something credibility. To verify, is to make true, and in order to make true, you must question what is being verified and make sure it completely factual. Experiments, experiences, and interpretations are needed in the verifications process. Hick discusses the problem of verification, and applies a verifiable process in “The Idea of Eschatological Verification”.
In order to focus my analysis, I shall center my essay upon a discussion of the following six-step argument, assumed here to be valid, but not necessarily sound, making the issue of soundness the key issue:
(1) Hick demonstrates the problem of verification in which he explains the idea of life after death, by a step by step process of how it can be verified. Hick explains that because of certain underlying principles of verification, “life after death” may in fact be true because it can’t be disproved. However, I do not agree with Hick in that “life after death” can’t be disproved, does not mean it’s true. This leads my essay in which nothing in religion can be verified.
(2) The central core of verification is the removal of grounds for rational doubt. But I do not understand that. Does that mean: removing any grounds of rational doubt can instantly make something true? Rational doubt is rational thinking and doubting of a certain proposition. I can’t seem to remove my doubts that there is not “life after death”, but merely death, and when we die…we just die. Because of my continuous doubt of the subject, verification is not in fact taking place. But if someone were to think that in fact life did take place again after death, and there was no doubt of that, but absolute faith in the concept of it, verification is taking place. But my doubt continues to linger, prolonging verification. Does this mean that verification is completely revolved around individualism in which it depends: on the person trying to verify, what he or she is verifying, and how much belief do they have in what they’re verifying?
(3) Taking into consideration now that verification is completely up to the individual, “publicly verifiable” can’t be used to verify something and has no place it seeking answers. A factual assertion is something of fact and is completely true. Sometimes no matter how much that assertion is in fact true, it can’t be verified by all. Not everyone believes the same things. Suppose that there are only 3 groups of religions on earth and each religion has been verified as true. Some believe in proposition A. Some believe in proposition B. And a small amount believes in proposition C. Who is correct than? All propositions are supposedly true, than which one is the right one? If something is verified, does the verification make it absolutely true and right in which we should follow it?
(4) Hick than explains that “it is possible for a proposition to be in principle verifiable if true but not in principle falsifiable if false.” He further explains that the proposition may one day be verified if it is true but can never be falsified if it is false. This doesn’t seem to be true. If a proposition is found to be true, than it is true, but if a proposition is found to be false, it’s not false? How does that work out? What if something is never verified to be true or false? What is it then? “Life after Death,” for example, has never been proven to be true and it’s never been proven false. If one day someone was to find out that life after death is proven to be false, what is the notion than of “life after death”? Has it been falsified or is it still possible to be verified? Can something be falsified and than proven true and become verifiably true?
(5) Verification can only be sought out using interpretation. Interpretation is the main ingredient of verifying a proposition and since interpretation is different for all, nothing in religion can be verified. Person A thinks that there is life after death while Person B disagrees, thinking that there is nothing succeeding death. Person C however doesn’t know what to believe and decides to just go with his life and see what will happen. All die on the same day and all figure out the truth. Let’s say that Person A was in fact right and there is life after death. Person A has verified that in fact life after death does exist. Person B has also observed the fact that there is life after death also. Person C however sees the life after death experience just as death. Person C feels that life is not taking place after death rather that he is living out his death experience. He is not in fact living after death but “living death”. So now Persons A and B both feel that “life after death” has been verified. Person C has verified something completely different. Which person/persons is correct? Both and neither are correct because in religious terms, everything seems to be true and false at the same time. Just as nothing is true and nothing is false. Hick explains this: “In other words, neither of the rival positions is, even in principle, verifiable.”
(6) In order for something to be verifiable, it must be proven to be true, but nothing in religion has been proven to be true. The stories of Jesus, Moses and others, have merely been suggestions of what might have happened, not verifiable history. It can’t even be perceived as history because none of it has been proven to become fact. There are so many different types of religions and beliefs on subjects such as: life after death, God, religious behavior, that led to the question if any is really verifiable. Can you verify religion and it’s components? Can you verify faith and prayer, finding out if it actually does something? Can you go the opposite direction proving that none of this happened and no religion is true?
Is verification important at all? Is it necessary to try to prove something that can’t ever be proven? Religion is based on faith and beliefs that are the primary foundation in which others believe in. Faith and belief can not be verified and therefore have no part in verification. Therefore, religion can’t be processed into verification. No one can verify any positions that have to do with God and religion, or life and death.
The Philosophy of Religion-John H. Hick