Tillich Jan 2010 question and mark scheme

Critically assess the views of Paul Tillich on religious language. [35]
Candidates may begin their responses by explaining what is generally understood by the nature and problems associated with religious language. Some may take the opportunity to try writing their ‘religious language’ essay which could focus too much on verification or falsification or even analogy. However to gain more than a general topic grade the bulk of the essay must address the views of Paul Tillich.
Candidates are likely to recognise that Tillich’s main contribution to the debates in this area was to develop our understanding of the use of symbols when trying to describe God.
Their explanations are likely to explore his belief that it is religious symbols which communicate the most significant beliefs and values of humanity. He would argue that when trying to put difficult concepts into words we are most successful when we use symbols. However it is important to keep in mind that the meaning attached to symbols is culturally dependant.
Tillich also recognised that the meaning of symbols can change over time and even be lost entirely. Candidates may explain that in searching for understanding different generations may interpret the same symbols in different way. The genesis myths for example may still be held by creationist to be literal in some sense while most would agree that the myths have symbolic content but no place in history.
In critically assessing these views candidates may argue that Tilloch was successful in using symbols to further the ability of religious language to express religious beliefs meaningfully and point to the use of symbols in religions they know; water in Christian baptism or the Stupa in Buddhism.
Alternatively they may use their knowledge of the scholars such as those in the Vienna Circle to assess Tillich’s work as pointless arguing that all attempts at religious discussion is by its nature meaningless.
As with the AO1 though, whichever route they take, it is important that they address the central issue of the question and not just fit a general religious language response into a Tillich first and last paragraph.

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