Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 1992
  • Online publication date: August 2010

Moral Values as Religious Absolutes


Religious Absolutes

Those who have had the benefit of a reasonably lengthy familiarity with the philosophy of religion, and more particularly with the God question, may be so kind to a speaker long in exile from philosophy and only recently returned, as to subscribe, initially at least, to the following rather enormous generalization: meaning and truth, which to most propositions are the twin forces by which they are maintained, turn out in the case of claims about God, to be the centrifugal forces by which they disintegrate. In simpler language, the greater the amount of intelligible meaning that can be given to the idea of God, the less grounds there would appear to be for assuming let alone asserting, that God exists, at least as a being distinguishable from all the things in this empirical world which are the source of the range of meanings available to us; on the other hand, the more we insist that God exists, a being over and above the things that make up this empirical world (the more we take the proposition ‘God exists’ to be a true proposition in this particular transcendent sense, for the adjective ‘transcendent’ has many uses) the less the amount of commonly available meaning we appear to be able to apply to God. Or, to put this in a manner which might obviate an obvious objection to it; either everything we know is tout ensemble, God, and then nothing in the world that we know is distinctively divine; or else nothing in this world is God, and then nothing that we appear to be able to know is God.