Tuesday, 2 March 2010

On the Elimination of Religious Language

For the eliminative materialists, metaphysical accounts of mental phenomena are no more meaningful than talk of phlogiston and the four humors, or the idea that the sun orbits the earth. Once science manages to produce a detailed explanation of how the brain works--how physical changes relate to sensations and behaviour--words such as 'soul' and 'belief' will cease to have any purchase; the myth of the human mind will have reached its end.

But what to do in the meantime? Some eliminative materialists advocate a programme of lexical attrition: since metaphysical concepts are fictions with no basis in the physical world, the elimination of the vocabulary that supports them must result in the elimination of the ideas themselves. Without the word 'witch,' an old woman in black is just an old woman in black; without the word 'God', the sky is just an empty expanse of blue.

Needless to say, few people endorse this methodology. But what if there were another way to achieve the same effect? What if instead of removing 'misleading' expressions, one were to subtly redefine them? To remap them to physical phenomena?

This is the thinking behind Christian Rhyming Slang, an experimental project that aims to put the unique language of Christian worship to everyday use. 'Pope in Rome' becomes 'home,' so that one might say 'You have a beautiful pope' or 'ET phone pope.' 'Papal Decree' becomes 'key,' leading to such phrases as 'Can you give me the car papal? I think I left a carton of milk in the boot.' 'Church' becomes '(birch) tree,' as in 'I found two sturdy churches and slung a hammock between them' and 'Last night lightning struck the church outside my bedroom window, splitting it in twain.'

These phrases are fun to use, and come easily to anyone familiar with existing rhyming slang! So why not get started today? Call 02075 821 750 to order your copy of The Christian Rhyming Slang Handbook--the first 50 callers will receive a free instructional video starring Gary Kemp!

With your help, religious thought could be eliminated tomorrow. So don't delay; get slanging straight away! Admiral Ackbar!

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