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A-level RS Exam Question

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by jovel, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. Compare and contrast 2 types of religious language.

    Could anyone advise me on the best way of answering this question?
     
  2. jerseyperson

    jerseyperson New commenter

    Sorry Jovel, can you just clarify what kind of help you're asking for? Is it the case that you're unsure what the different types of religious language are? In which case I'm sure some people won't mind sending you some resources etc. Or, are you saying you wouldn't know how to compare and contrast two if you had to? Obviously both are quite big questions!
     
  3. Yes, I'm asking both questions. Advice and resources to answer both would extremely useful!

    This question appeared on an A-level paper last week.
     
  4. I don't think it's a good question. It's not clear what the examiner is after.
    However you could look at liturgical language - often not in the vernacular, invariably archaic, with even translations like the Vulgate or the King James' Bible acquiring an aura of sanctity. You could compare with attempts to modernise the liturgy - use of inclusive language and the like.
    It's not a very good question for A-level students, who are unlikely to have sufficient knowledge of any language other than English to make a good answer.

     
  5. Perhaps I should change my question.

    Is this a good exam question for an A-level RS paper? [Edexcel 6RSO3 Developments]
     
  6. Could you use, Via Negativa, Symbol, Myth, Analogy?


     
  7. That's what I initially thought, but wouldn't it be difficult to compare and contrast any 2 of them?

     
  8. lam

    lam

    I teach this. I advise my students to compare and contrast Verification Principle and Language Games. Then it allows them to look at the purpose of language / whether it needs to be propositional or if anti realist language counts. It also allows them to explore whether religious language counts as meaningful. For the compare bit, I advise them to comsider the fact that neither approach think they do actually describe God.
     
  9. with a book on philosophy and another on philosophy of religion. i'd have to look it up, i don't teach A level, but that's where you'd find it.
     
  10. Are you considering the Verification Principle to be a 'type' of religious language? I'm a student and I've been taught that it's a debate/critique of (religious) language.




     
  11. Iam, do you have a copy of the paper? I'd love a copy.
     
  12. delahay

    delahay New commenter

    Hi Jovel,
    There is a big discussion on this question on the student room and Arthur Giles the Chief Examiner has replied through email to some centres. His response is included in the thread. It might help to reassure you. There has certainly been complaints from centres.
    delahay
     

  13. Aah, thanks. I've just had a look at it. I thought I was the only one puzzled by the question.


    Here's the link to the thread on TSR:


    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=1669593&page=5


    Now I'm very confused!

    1) Was it possible to answer the question?
    2) What was meant by 'type'? Is VP a 'type' of religious language?


    Here's Arthur Giles' email:


    "Hi although I set the question a couple of years ago as a matter of security I do not keep live papers at home and can only access it tomorrow. So you know more than I do -- what I can say is that verification in included in the list of 'a study of religious language' and in that sense comes into a 'type of religious language'. "


    And a quote from post #97


    "Unequivocally, verification IS NOT a type of religious language. It is a method of discerning cognitive meaningfulness in statements. Verification is thus a tool that can reveal what type of language religious language is.


    You could therefore have answered this question by talking about verification, but you would have had to do so by discussing the TYPE of religious language connected to verification. Now AJ Ayer and Antony Flew and RM Hare and Richard Braithwaite and DZ Phillips would say that verification principles reveal religious language to be of the non-cognitive type; but John Hick, and Basil Mitchell and would argue that a correct reading of the VP reveals religious language to be of the cognitive type, whilst Richard Swinburne argues that the tools used by Positivists (i.e. the VP and the FP) are flawed and so irrelevant in discerning what type of language religious language is.


    So although you will undoubtedly be given credit if you've written a straightforward essay that explains the VP and shows how it affects religious language and leads to the conclusion that RL is meaningless, you might be unable to have access to the top levels in AO1 on the grounds that you haven't directly answered the question. It doesn't mean you can't get a decent mark just that you'll might struggle to access the top marks.


    For what it's worth, there is NOTHING in any Edxcel documentation that talks about "types" of religious language. Given that fact, and that many candidates will have used VP / FP AS IF they were types of religious language, they may well have to modify the mark scheme and accept it as if it were. Cue howls of complaint from teachers at next year's INSET meetings on the grounds that their candidates who answered 'relevantly' are therefore being unduly punished. The answer of course would be to have someone setting the syllabus and exam that had a bettergrip on the realities of being a student taking the subject and a teachers preparing such students."


    There was a lot of confusion after the examination, and I am no wiser after reading these responses.


    I would be very grateful if someone could clarify whether this was an answerable question.


    Thanks!
     
  14. Sorry, I didn't know how to put the paragraphs in the first time:

     
  15. The question was:
    Compare and contrast 2 types of religious language.

    Could anyone advise me on the best way of answering this question?


    In order to go from that to the verification principle
    ‘A statement is
    meaningful if, and only if, it is verifiable by sense experience’
    a pupil would have to be so drilled in philosophical jargon as to be incapable of any rational independent thought.
    As
    a general rule, it's a bad practice to require a knowledge of Bloggs,
    unless you mention Bloggs explicitly and by name in the question. A
    pupil could quite legitimately reject the proposition above as both
    absurd and irrelevant to the discussion of religious language.





     
  16. lam

    lam

    I've got a copy of the paper at work.. can let you have it tomorrow if you want.

    The thing I would say is that you need to read the question in light of the syllabus and what they have been taught.

    My students that took this question have reported no difficulties in answering this question - they simply went down the dichotomy of "God exists" as an empirical proposition or whether "God exists" is not a cognitive statement, but is to be read in an anti realist stance, or as some kind of symbol etc... We have spent lots of time considering this, so my students seemed happy with that question.
     
  17. "I've got a copy of the paper at work.. can let you have it tomorrow if you want. The thing I would say is that you need to read the question in light of the syllabus and what they have been taught. My students that took this question have reported no difficulties in answering this question - they simply went down the dichotomy of "God exists" as an empirical proposition or whether "God exists" is not a cognitive statement, but is to be read in an anti realist stance, or as some kind of symbol etc... We have spent lots of time considering this, so my students seemed happy with that question."

    Thanks.


    Your response seems to indicate that I (alongside many others on TSR), have not understood the demands of the question. Perhaps we haven't received the level of preparation that you have provided your pupils.
     
  18. causabon99

    causabon99 New commenter

    It is not a great question, but try something along these lines: Language as Symbolic (Tillich) and language as Analogical, (Aquinas.) Quite a lot of meat here.
    Two different types of religious language - both starting off from the same point - the mystery of God. So then one asks which has the greater explanatory power, and what weaknesses of Aquinas' account does a symbolic address address and vice versa. The question of realism, and non realism, perhaps, and the absolute versus the culturally relative perhaps.
    As I understand it types of religious language must refer to symbolic, analogical, cataphatic theology, apophatic theology, language as 'language game', those kinds of things, or perhaps the word 'types' ought to be replaced by accounts of or theories of.
     
  19. Thanks.


    This question appeared on an A-level paper earlier this month.


    Causabon99, you seem to have summed up my problems with the question. I would not have had any problems with this question if the word 'types' had been replaced with 'accounts of' or 'theories of' - the question would have been clear.


    You mentioned the different types of religious language - does the verification principle qualify?
     

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