By D. Z. Phillips
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Extra resources for Belief, Change and Forms of Life (Library of Philosophy & Religion)
Not only was there a forgetfulness present in the careless and loose use of Christian terms, but there were also philosophers and theologians about who were offering new interpretations of Christian terms . '8 It is the claim of philosophers to be talking of the 'real and abiding essence of the concept' which makes the issue a philosophical one. Were it not for this claim, all we would have is the analysis of two meanings, a noting of a conceptual transfor mation . One more complexity needs to be noted: not only is the new analysis said to reveal the only meaning that religious beliefs or promises could have, but the new analysis wants to travel in the name of the old, making claims in the name of the new concept which can only be made in terms of the old.
In the work of Kierkegaard there corresponds to ordinary language in Wittgenstein the language of scrip tures, which Kierkegaard understands. Without this latter assumption Kierkegaard cannot be effective . And this is not how it is in Wittgenstein . There ordinary language is taken to be language which we all understand. Here there is agree ment. But Kierkegaard's task is in that way more formidable . '4 In the light of these remarks, the observation that philosophical problems are resolved 'by arranging what we have always known' has to be reconsidered.
9 The suggestion seems to be that God has no obligation to create a world of any particular kind, since prior to his act of creation , there are no people to harm ! But this is no defence . If God were asked why he created such a world for people to live in instead of a better one, and should his answer be, 'They wouldn't know the difference', an appropriate reply, even if it could not be uttered, would be, 'No, but you did ! ' Having raised some difficulties concerning the possibility of a world of naturally good men which contains no actual evil and Swinburne's claim that God could not have an obligation to create the best of all possible worlds if that notion made sense, new difficulties arise in the Iigh t of Swinburne's further observations.