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In view of the requirement of verifiability that is demanded by certain philosophical schools, there seems little justification for what are conventionally recognized as theological statements. Certainly no one man has yet succeeded, except perhaps to his own satisfaction, in expressing religious notions in such language and in verifying by such a method that universal consent is gained for the validity of his system. If the charm of empirical verification is not invoked, then for some minds there is little reason to say anything. Obviously, given such rigid requirements for securing a sympathetic audience, theological discussion may find itself standing tongue-tied in the wings while logic and empiricism dominate the stage. But faced with the possibility of the eventual demise of theology, an effort is made to translate religious experience into intellectual terms which are acceptable to these critics. [excerpt]

Additional Resources

An excerpt from Ramsey's book, Religious Language: An Empirical Placing of Theological Phrases, has been removed due to copyright restrictions. A more recent edition of his book is available here.


This is a part of Section XXIII: Theological Meaning. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.