(Seminar Paper, Ateneo Philosophy Symposium, Xavier University, 1997)
1. Language, Truth, and Logic, a book written by Alfred Jules Ayer in 1936, is considered as something to popularize what may be called the classic position of the Vienna Circle. (PHP) Ayer, being one of the foremost members of the Vienna Circle, just like other logical positivists, is attracted to the methods of science. A follower of Auguste Comte, a 17th century French philosopher, Ayer argued that because of the essential character of language, metaphysics is impossible. According to Ayer, metaphysicians are working on literally senseless writings without even seeing them as non-sense. Since what goes beyond phenomena cannot be verified, then what goes beyond phenomena cannot be meaningfully described.
2. Since 'God' transcends observable phenomena, 'God' cannot be meaningfully described. No word could be properly attributed to God. This is quite clear in Ayer’s rejection of “the metaphysical thesis that philosophy affords us knowledge of a reality transcending the world of science and common sense”. (LTL) With the elimination of metaphysics, Ayer and other logical positivists also eliminate the meaningfulness of asserting the possibility of the existence of God. The word “God”, it is claimed, is meaningless. In Ayer's critical assessment, any language that deals with the transcendent is devoid of meaning. Any language that deals with a reality beyond sense data does not have factual content. Having no factual content, it is bereft of any linguistic significance.Any philosophical discussion on the meaning of the word “God” is due to a misunderstanding of the function of philosophy.
3. For Ayer, the only function of philosophy is analysis. It is the argument of logical positivists that it is the task of philosophers to make clear that questions should find significance in experience and that they should be verified, or else they are meaningless. But since metaphysics is concerned with what transcends human experience, it is literally meaningless. It is the view of logical positivists that the metaphysical utterance about the notion of a person whose essential attributes transcend human understanding is not an intelligible notion at all. And because God cannot be empirically verified, it follows that all assertions about God are literally meaningless. It is because a metaphysical being cannot be meaningfully described, Ayer asserts, even in language.What is logical positivism?Logical positivism is best described as “a general attitude of mind, a spirit of inquiry, and an approach to the facts of human existence”. (PHP) It rejects the assumption that the world has some ultimate purpose or end. Positivism “gives up the attempt to discover either the essence or the internal or the secret causes of things”. (PHP) It attempts to deal with facts by studying the observable relation among things. To a positivist, the laws of science are simply the laws of observable phenomena.
4. Although Comte is called the founder of positive philosophy, he did not discover this mode of thought, for as John Stuart Mill has said, “positivism was the general property of the age”. (PHP) Comte's chief mission has been the total reorganization of society, and this involves the total reconstruction of the intellectual orientation of his era. While he observes the success of science in France, which has been unfolding since the discoveries of Newton and Galileo, he also observes that science has not been assimilated in areas of politics, moral, social, and religious thought. The achievements of science have been outstanding, and what commanded so much respect for science is that it can be used to solve everyday problems, leading to new methods in physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, and industry. Inevitably, gaining a sense of authority from its accomplishments, science has challenged other ways of thinking, including metaphysics.
5. Positivism finds its value in the fact that science has been an essential component in the success of man’s material and social life. By employing the efficiency of scientific inquiry, positivism promises a solution to the problems not only of physical realities, but of the disorders of the society as well. Thus, the advent of a technocratic society has created the positivistic mentality. Scientists have created an atmosphere that by means of experimentation, all that can be known can be known by science.The points above in the end led to the idea that other than what science may be able to provide, all other things, including questions about the ultimate end or finality of man, bear no meaning at all. Frederick Copleston says, “what people want are practical and tangible results, and they become accustomed to look for science for anything that makes a difference”. (CP)
6. Scientific inquiry does not go beyond empirical data. Newton, for example, described the phenomena of gravity without going beyond the useful limits of scientific reasoning. Newton did not start by asking the essence of gravity, but started with gravity as a phenomenon in empirical reality. The Universal Law of Gravitation depends on actual observation in sense-experience, on what is empirically given. Newton’s discovery had great impact, and it managed to govern physics for four centuries until Albert Einstein came.People rely on scientific data in making decisions. The social sciences use scientific research before making any theoretical assertion. The scientific tool of research is used as basis and evidence in making claims. To be accepted and believed, a discipline must at least employ scientific means. Data cannot be interpreted in an arbitrary manner, therefore scientific research is necessary to obtain objectivity and universal acceptance. This is the ground and norm for theoretical validity.It can be asserted that, for positivists, “we have no knowledge of anything but phenomena, and our knowledge of phenomena is relative, not absolute”. (PHP)
7. Positivism emphasizes the view that “we know not the essence, not the real mode of production, of any fact, but only its relations to other facts. These relations are constant: that is, always the same in the same circumstances. The constant resemblances which link phenomena together, and the constant sequences which unite them as antecedent and consequent, are termed their laws. The laws of phenomena are all we know respecting them. Their essential nature and their ultimate causes, either efficient or final, are unknown and inscrutable to us”. (PHP)The statement above means that human knowledge is limited to empirical reality. And empirical reality can be known through the methods of science. It is science that provides us with an understanding about the natural laws of phenomena. The problem regarding what goes beyond phenomena, therefore, is not a problem for science. What is important is that science can know the order in the nature of things whose laws it can discover. For example, physics has formulated the laws of motion, gravitation, energy, and other laws concerning natural phenomena by means of actual experimentation.It is also a fact that we do not have the means to investigate what is beyond phenomena.
8. The world beyond us is unknown, for there is no tool that could bring us to such realm. It has no meaning for us. What is important is that science has contributed so much to the development of society and its total reconstruction. The success of scientific methodology in making a nation economically healthy exerted an influence wherein its tangible results offer much importance. As such, the laws scientists make become the criterion for factual knowledge.Knowledge comes from sensible human experience. In asserting that it is only through science where man acquires knowledge, positivism has shown its strong empirical inclination. Our knowledge is acquired by observing sensible phenomena. The process goes like this: a problem is identified and a hypothesis is made. Then, scientists gather data through empirical observation. These data are subjected to experiments. Results are tested to gauge their repeatability. This repeatability becomes the basis of what we call scientific knowledge. This scientific method, as we have shown above, is the only basis of our knowledge of the world.
9. We may begin by asserting that, “the meaning of a statement is the method of its verification. (LTL) Thus, it must be evident from the statement itself that it can be verified, or else it is rendered meaningless. Thus, Ayer claims that the principle of verifiability is supposed to furnish a criterion by which it can be determined whether or not a sentence is literally meaningful. (LTL) For the sake of clarity and to avoid confusion, it is necessary that we differentiate what Ayer calls a sentence from a statement, and what he calls a statement from a proposition. He defines them: “Any form of words that is grammatically significant shall be held to constitute a sentence, and that every indicative sentence, whether it is literally meaningful or not, shall be regarded as expressing a statement. The word proposition will be reserved for what is expressed by sentences that are literally meaningful”. (LTL) Ayer adds,No statement, which refers to a reality transcending the limits of all possible sense-experience, can possibly have any literal significance. (LTL)The meaningfulness of a sentence can only be derived from sense-experience. Since metaphysical sentences are not empirically verifiable, they are meaningless. It is in this sense that Ayer's principle of verifiability can be fairly described as a rigid form of empiricism. It is the characteristic of an empiricist to eschew metaphysics on the ground that every factual proposition must refer to sense-experience. Verification rests upon empirical observation. Observable data must be perceived by the senses to make the statement meaningful.
10. There are two types of statements, the analytic and the synthetic:“Analytic statements derive their meaningfulness from the definition of their words or symbols” (PHP).In general, analytic statements already contain or imply the predicate from the subject. For example, the statement "men are mortals" has literal meaning because the word men is defined in such a way as to include the idea of mortals. The meaning of analytic statements depends on the consistent use of their clearly defined terms. For the most part, they do not increase our knowledge, and for this reason they are mere tautologies. It is necessarily true only because of the meaning of its terms — the test of the meaningfulness of a tautology is the meaning of its terms.“Synthetic propositions are either true or false in each case, and their truth or falsity can be discovered only by reference to some non-logical or non-linguistic datum, a fact” (PHP).
11. Unlike analytic statements, synthetic statements can be either true of false. These statements require some sense-experience of the objects that such statements refer to in order to test or validate its actual or possible truth.From this distinction of analytic and synthetic propositions, the logical positivists formulated their concept of literal meaning. Analytic propositions have formal meanings since their meanings are derived not from facts but from the meaning of words. On the other hand, synthetic propositions have factual meaning because their meaning is based upon empirical observation.The function of philosophyWittgenstein sums up the whole point of analysis by saying that “all philosophy is a critique of language”. (TLP)
12. Philosophy is influenced by language, and philosophical ideas depend on grammatical and syntactical structures. (LP) Philosophy is all about syntax. It is the notion of logical positivists that philosophy should be busy defining terms for science. It must concern itself with the formal meaning of terms. Philosophy, they claim, defines knowledge, classifies propositions, and displays the nature of things. By displaying the nature of things, philosophy defines empirical knowledge. The sole function of philosophy is the analysis of language.Thus, it can be said that, “the only function of philosophy is logical analysis”. (PHP) It is the “function of logical analysis to analyze all knowledge, all assertions of science and of everyday life, in order to make clear the sense of such assertions and the connections between them”. (PHP) One of the principal tasks of logical analysis of a given proposition, be it a proposition of science or of everyday life is, therefore, to discover the method of verification of that proposition. Any proposition that cannot be verified by method is meaningless.
13. For Rudolph Carnap, the method of verification is either direct or indirect.If a proposition asserts something that one perceives, one asserts something that is directly verifiable. For example, the proposition "There is a girl walking on 5th street" is directly verifiable because one's sense perception is the ground for verification. On the other hand, if one says, "This brown-colored bell is made of iron," this involves an indirect verification. To determine that it is real iron, one needs to place it near a magnet and derive another observation-statement. Thus, a logical sequence follows. "This brown-colored bell is made of iron; this bell is attracted to a magnet, therefore, it is iron." In indirect verification, we draw certain observation-statements from experience in order to prove a proposition.While the task of providing empirical data is left to the scientist, philosophers are confined to language. For although philosophers will not increase human knowledge of facts, they perform the humbler task of clarifying the meaning of terms. (CP) The task of philosophy is meaningful because it works on propositions that are based on empirically available data. Philosophers work on propositions that science provides them.
14. In Language, Truth and Logic, Ayer says that science and philosophy do not contradict each other. They work side by side.To illustrate this point, logical positivists point out that psychology as one of the empirical sciences, can serve as a model to explain the relation between science and philosophy. Behaviorism, for example, takes cognizance of how human beings react to certain stimuli found in the environment, and the results are tested in order to understand certain human experiences. The sentences of psychology, as behavioral science shows, describe sensible physical occurrences.
15. The study of human behavior is grounded on facts that are established by way of critical experimentation. In this sense, the propositions of psychology pass the principle of verifiability since such propositions are empirically grounded, the subject being human behavior.Philosophy, in performing the task of logical analysis, will simply help clarify the terms used in the propositions (or assumptions) created by psychology. Philosophers must confine themselves to the clarification of the logical meaning of words, and the elimination of syntactical ambiguity in propositions. This can be illustrated when some philosophical works make clear to psychologists the meaning of response, freedom, automatic behavior, stimuli, human subject, etc. By doing so, psychological principles of behavior are laid down, their meaning made apparent. Having known the tenets above, philosophy, according to Ayer, “as a genuine branch of knowledge, must be distinguished from metaphysics”. (LTL)
16. Metaphysics, according to Ayer, is not a philosophy. Logical analysis depends on experience. Logical analysis does not involve what goes beyond experience. Thus, when logical analysis is applied to metaphysics, says Carnap, the result is negative. According to Carnap: “It is inevitable that metaphysicians cannot avoid making their propositions non-verifiable because if they made them verifiable they would belong to the realm of empirical science since their truth or falsehood would depend upon experience.” (PHP)Since metaphysical propositions are non-verifiable according to Carnap, they are formally and factually meaningless. Being formally meaningless, metaphysics does not have any clear definition of metaphysical terms because they do not belong to the realm of human experience. Being factually meaningless, it is suggested there is no way for us to understand what lies beyond human phenomena.
17. Ayer maintains that human language cannot meaningfully describe something that transcends human experience. The assertion that the metaphysical proposition "God exists" is meaningless comes from the fact that since God is not empirically verified, it follows that what we attribute to God is unclear and insignificant.In order to illustrate this point, let us take the proposition "God is intelligent." If we say that God is intelligent, the intelligence that we attribute to God is human understanding of intelligence and not divine intelligence because we do not have an experience of divine intelligence. Our understanding of intelligence is purely human, and hence, it cannot meaningfully describe divine intelligence.Thus, if the language of metaphysics does not assert something meaningful, it should not be considered as a valid philosophy.
18. Ayer notes, many metaphysical utterances are due to the commission of logical errors, rather than to a conscious desire on the part of their authors to go beyond the limits of experience. (LTL)The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics: it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. (PHP)
19. According to Samuel Stumpf, metaphysical propositions are “neither true nor false, because they assert nothing, they contain neither knowledge nor error, and they lie completely outside the field of knowledge, of theory, outside the discussion of truth or falsehood”. In order to understand this idea, it is necessary to make a distinction between empirical and metaphysical propositions. According to Ayer, empirical propositions are statements of observation, actual or possible, from which statements can be logically derived. (LP) This means that empirical statements are statements of observation from experience. It is only when statements, whether they are analytic or synthetic, are empirically verifiable that they may have literal meaning.
20. A sentence is factually significant to any given person if, and only if, the proposition it purports to express can be verified. Any empirical statement must be relevant to any experience in order to have factual content, for according to Ayer, any statement that is not relevant to any experience has no factual content. (LTL)For example, from the statement, "men are mortals," it is a requisite that the idea of mortality exists in experience to render meaning to the statement. The formal meaning of the statement is derived from the fact that the idea of mortality includes man, and the idea of man includes mortality. The statement is not senseless because its meaning is based on clearly defined terms — its meaning, as we have said earlier, comes from the meaning of the words "men" and "mortals" which can be significantly described in language, and thus, be rendered meaningful.
21. Ayer claims that there are no valid metaphysical propositions. The reason for this is the fact that the language of metaphysics that deal with the metaphenomenal does not pass the criterion of verifiability. Hence, if we are to consider Ayer's definition of a proposition, any metaphysical utterance can only be labeled as a statement. Metaphysical language fails the criterion of verifiability because they try to explain things beyond sense-experience. As we have earlier said, the realm of the metaphenomenal does not lie in the realm of human knowledge.Quite surely, the reality of God cannot be established by scientific explanation.
22. Metaphysicians, in dealing with the reality of God, have ventured into realities beyond phenomena. In dealing with such reality, the language of metaphysics has dealt with a reality transcending the limits of all sense-experience. But anything that transcends human experience is senseless because it is not based on empirical data.Any notion about God transcends human understanding, and it is not possible for man to significantly define God in human terms. A proposition that deals with God is therefore meaningless. A proposition, to be significant and to be literally meaningful, must be verifiable. In dealing with the notion of God, metaphysicians, according to logical positivists, assert something that is non-sense. If one is allowing that it is impossible to define God, Ayer argues, one is allowing that it is impossible for a sentence both to be significant and to be about God. God is beyond the systematic methodology of science. But the rejection of any language about God is a result of misunderstanding the relation between science and religious language.
23. The next task, taking into consideration recent developments in analytic philosophy, is to argue for the meaningfulness of any language that deals with a reality that is metaphenomenal. To do this, we must first deal with the tool that logical positivists use in discarding metaphysics. Henceforth, we will verify the verification principle.Science does not come across God in its investigations and indeed, whatever effort science makes, it will never be able to come across God because God is ex-hypothesi, unique. (CP)No metaphysician has supposed that one could investigate scientifically what is believed to be a metaphenomenal reality. Scientists, precisely as human beings, cannot see a metaphenomenal reality with their naked eyes. But this does not mean that one cannot have an idea of that reality.
24. Although metaphysical language is not a language that scientists use, it is still a rational use of language.To positivists, the validity of any metaphysical inquiry can never be accepted because metaphysics is not and can never be scientific. Logical positivism demands that any explanation of existence or reality should begin from science. Otherwise, any non-scientific explanation is not a valid explanation at all. Ayer points out that all explanations of facts are of the type of scientific hypotheses or else they are not explanations at all. (LP) Henceforth, to be meaningful, a statement must be scientific.
25. But the term "scientific" and "rational" are not equivalent terms. (LP) A metaphysical explanation may not be scientific, but it can be a rational explanation. When the metaphysician tries to deal with the transcendent reality of God, he is not dealing with something devoid of meaning. How and why? It is an established fact that science cannot explain everything in reality. What the scientist investigates are the things man directly observes in daily experiences. As an example, scientists have investigated how fast light travels or why sound cannot travel inside a vacuum tube.
26. On the one hand, the question on man's relationship to a transcendent reality is not a problem for science. And even if science will investigate such a problem, it will not yield any positive result. This is because the scientist does not and cannot have the means to investigate such a problem.In this sense, the Verification Principle, a method that relies on science, experiences an anomaly, an anomaly that became the basis for its ultimate demise. According to Copleston: If one says that any factual statement, to be meaningful, must be verifiable, and if one means by verifiable, verifiable by sense-experience, then, surely one is presupposing that all reality is given in sense-experience. If one is presupposing this, one is presupposing that there can be no metaphysical reality, and if one is presupposing this one is presupposing a philosophical position that cannot be demonstrated by the principle of verification. (LP)
27. The Verification Principle, in asserting that there can be no metaphysical reality, is asserting something that is unverifiable. In point of fact, Ayer experienced many difficulties in devising a satisfactory formulation for the Verification Principle, because the principle itself, to be meaningful, should be subjected to verification. Since Ayer presupposes that all reality is given in sense-experience, he certainly means that there is no metaphysical reality. But stating such assertion cannot be demonstrated by the principle because one cannot verify it empirically. Ayer is certain of phenomenal realities, but he cannot be certain if there is really no reality transcending phenomena.
28. To verify that all reality is given in sense-experience is a difficult if not an impossible task. The Verification Principle cannot account for the whole of reality because it is certain that we do not have the means to do so. The principle is an inadequate tool. It can never claim that all reality can be accounted for in sense-experience. Hence, if the principle is used to rule out the possibility of a metaphysical reality, it has to be subjected first to verification because it presupposes that there is no metaphysical reality or that there is no God. But there is no way to do this. Nothing can verify the verification principle. Certainly, it has experienced a dose of its own medicine.The certainty that there is an empirical reality does not necessarily mean that all reality can be found in experience. While it is true that our awareness is defined by observable phenomena, this does not mean that God, a reality beyond observable phenomena, is non-existent.
29. In view of the above, since the principle cannot verify that all reality is in sense-experience, then, it cannot rule out that possibility of the metaphenomenal or the transcendent.Ayer set a rigid requirement for verifiability, and that is, conclusive evidence, one that is equivalent to the theory of immediate acquaintance. But since it is difficult and too rigid as a requirement, he soon realized and which he later incorporated to the second edition of Language, truth, and logic, that a sentence, to be meaningful, need not be verifiable in the strong sense.
30. One has to admit that there are sentences that are at least probable, and since probability is not a logical impossibility, there is some sense in the proposition. The examples he cited include “that volcanoes exist in Mars” and that “there are craters in the far side of the moon”. For Copleston, on the other hand, a sentence need not be verifiable in the strong sense of the word verifiable, for “if the possibility of conceiving or imagining facts that would make the statement true will count as verifiability in the weak sense”, then, a sentence, to be meaningful, must be verifiable not necessarily in the strong sense. (CP)A sentence, to be strongly verifiable, must be empirically verifiable.
31. For example, the statement that "A certain person X is running" is strongly verifiable. Why? This is because the idea of "man" and the idea of "running" are found in sense-experience. The statement says something that is empirically observable. On the other hand, verifiability in the weak sense involves simply the possibility of conceiving or imagining facts that would make the sentence meaningful.But it can be established that statements about God could be verifiable, at least, in the weak sense. For instance, with regard to the idea of God, “when some experiential idea is relevant to the formation of the meaning of the idea of God in language, and such an idea is formed through reflection on the data of experience, then the idea of God in language fulfills the requirements for intelligibility or meaningfulness”. (CP)
32. According to Ayer, one cannot conceive of an observation that would enable one to determine whether the Absolute did, or did not, enter into evolution and progress. (LTL)This means that any knowledge about the God is beyond us, henceforth, beyond human comprehension. If it cannot be truly established by means of empirical evidence, it must be rendered meaningless. But let us see how such can be refuted.It is obvious that when we predicate attributes of God we do not invent entirely new symbols, we use terms that already have meanings, and these meanings are primarily determined by our experience. (CP)
33. The word "God" did not come from nowhere. It emerged from our appeal to everyday language to give a name to a being with whom we attribute certain experiences, experiences that could reveal the possibility of that being.
34. For instance, the Five Ways of St. Thomas are based on sense-experience, on observable human phenomena – change, causation, the orderliness of nature, et al are available to our senses. In this sense, we have given a meaning to the word "God." The meaning that we attribute to the word is made by reference to a non-linguistic or a non-logical datum, a fact. As we have shown above, the Five Ways of proving the existence of God are grounded on sense-experience, on things that we directly see.Thus, “if all the terms used in describing God were used in entirely different senses from the senses that they bear in the context of human experience, God could not be described; no attribute could be significantly predicated of Him” (CP).
35. If we take into account Ayer's claim that metaphysics is meaningless, then, the problem of being as a possible problem for the metaphysician also becomes meaningless. We must find a way in which the problem of being, the problem of God as Being, can be comprehended. We have to show how metaphysical language can be meaningful when it deals with the reality of God. It is a fact that the terms human beings attribute to God are human. But we have to use human language because we have no other. Copleston accepts the contention that the meaning of the term cannot be precisely the same when it is predicated of God as when it is predicated of human beings. (CP) But this should not be taken negatively.
36. To understand the terms we predicate of God we must first recognize the meaning of those terms in our experience.This becomes valid if, for example, we say, "God is intelligent". What we attribute to God as intelligence is but human comprehension of intelligence. We do not have an idea of God's intelligence in-it-self. But we know for a fact that when we say, "God is intelligent," we do not imply that what we mean is that God's intelligence is like ours. To satisfy this aim, we have to use analogy. The terms that are predicated of finite beings and God can only be used analogically. In that sense, when terms predicated of finite beings are predicated of God, such terms can be meaningful. This is to say, “A term which is predicated of God and of finite beings must, when it is predicated of God, be used in a sense which is neither precisely the same nor completely different from the sense in which it is predicated of finite beings. (Ibid)
37. One must be given a meaning sufficiently clear to him to enable him to recognize God, that is to say, to distinguish the divine being from other beings.Any discussion about the meaning of the terms predicated to God is a discussion about the meaning of linguistic terms. Understanding the meaning of terms before undertaking an inquiry whether there is a rational proof for the existence of a transcendent being possessing attributes described in certain terms is important so that our inquiry will not result in linguistic confusion. Thus, one must have some idea at least of the meaning of those terms.
38. We can make a distinction between objective and subjective meanings.“By objective meaning, one understands that which is actually referred to by the term in question or the objective reality referred to. By subjective meaning, one understands the meaning-content that the term has or can have for the human mind”. (CP)God-language always moves within the sphere of analogy. The use of analogy is the ground for the two classifications of meaning above that Copleston formulated in order to understand the meaning of the terms predicated of God. He classifies them into objective and subjective meaning. However, this should not be taken as a distinction between the true and the real meaning of the term and a purely subjectivist interpretation of the term. It is, according to Copleston, a distinction between that which is objectively referred to or meant by a term and one's understanding or conception of what is referred to by a term.
39. One's conception may be inadequate, but it does not follow that it is totally false. (Ibid) The objective meaning of the terms predicated of God transcends our experience. We do not have an idea of God in-itself. One cannot describe that objective meaning. The subjective meaning, on the other hand, is primarily determined by experience. This meaning is the only possible meaning one can attribute to God. It is not precisely true; but it is not precisely false either.We have no direct natural apprehension of God. We cannot observe God in experience, and thus, one cannot have a natural knowledge of God.
40. The use of analogy is by way of reflection on the things that do fall within our experience. When we do this, we locate our ideas in a middle position that make them not entirely adequate to what God means, but not entirely inadequate either. (RNL)Let us make a statement and test its validity. For example, we say, "God exists." Ayer may argue against such a statement because we do not observe God's existence in experience. For Ayer, the statement is non-sense. But let us derive an observation-statement from the statement "God exists." So we say, "If God exists, there is order in the world." We do not observe God in experience, but we can observe order in the world. The statement, on the other hand, does not suggest that the statement "God exists" implies that "there is order in the world." The reason why we derive the statement that there is order in the world if God exists is that, Copleston asserts, as far as philosophic knowledge is concerned, one comes to acknowledge God through reflection on some aspect of or factor in empirical reality. (CP)
41. Supposing that our philosophic reason for accepting God's existence is reflection on the order in the world, we can offer the statement that "there is order in the world” as an empirically verifiable statement, which is, according to Copleston, derivable in view of the empirical origin of our ideas concerning reality from the statement that "God exists." (Ibid) Of course, it is open to a reaction that we cannot justifiably conclude God's existence from the order in the world. But as we have said earlier, we do not imply that God exists if there is order in the world. What we wish to point out is that through reflection, the idea of the order in the world is not irrelevant to the idea of God's existence.
42. Our assertion that we can reflect from experience the idea of God's existence may be subject to many questions, but our assertion still remains meaningful for according to Copleston, human philosophic knowledge of the metaphenomenal must be acquired by reflection on the phenomenal, and cannot be acquired in another way. (Ibid)
43. Let us take the word “good” as predicated to God. It is a fact that we are likely to say "God is good" than say that "God is not good. Now, to say "God is good" is saying that "God is good, but not in the way that we are”. (TEG)We do have an idea of goodness. Thus, in the case of the term “good”, since there are in any case many ways of being good among creatures, there is nothing incongruous in saying "God is good, though not in our way." What makes it possible to be confident that the word "good" is in some instances applicable to God is that God is the cause of the goodness of each creature. It does not, St. Thomas insists, follow from this that to call God good is to say, St. Thomas thinks, that there is something we can only call goodness in God - goodness is the best word available for signifying this although it does so imperfectly. (Ibid)
44. If we reflect upon the phenomenal in order to attain any knowledge of the metaphenomenal, and to render meaning to our assertion about the transcendent, we need to use analogy. To say that there is an analogical relationship between God and the creatures he has made is to say that God and his creatures are linked together by common attributes - though this resemblance is not precisely the same, it is not precisely different either.Thus, we say, “what we try to mean may be inadequate, but it does not mean that it is non-sense”. (LP)
45. Metaphysics, in dealing with the transcendent reality of God, has embarked upon itself the task of understanding a language beyond the conceptions of science. The philosophy of Ayer certainly has strong points but his points are not that strong enough to rule out the possibility of a reality transcending human experience. Some things we say of God even though are imperfect cannot be improved on by denying them; their imperfection lies in our understanding of what we are trying to mean. (CP) Precisely because human language is limited, man's understanding of God is imperfect, but not incorrect.