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Analyse the key strengths for the arguments of the existence of God based on Religious Experience. Evaluate the view that the weaknesses leads to its rejection

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Introduction

Analyse the key strengths for the arguments of the existence of God based on Religious Experience. Evaluate the view that the weaknesses leads to its rejection A religious experience can be defined simply as an encounter with the divine. It is a non - empirical occurrence that brings with it an awareness of something beyond ourselves. For believers an experience may be the most convincing proof of the existence of god - "God establishes himself in the interior of this soul in such a way, that when I return to myself, it is wholly impossible for me to doubt that I have been in God and God in me" (Saint Teresa). It is very hard to divide these experiences as it is hard to find a common theme from the variety of examples but perhaps the simplest properties to separate these are direct experiences (the person having the experience feels that he/she is in contact with God) and indirect experiences (inner experience of God's action in creation/immanence. A more complex way of splitting experiences into categories is put forward by Caroline Frank Davis who uses seven different groups including awareness experiences (seeing the work of God in the world), quasi-sensory experiences (having a vision/inner experience of God) ...read more.

Middle

The argument from effects explains how examples and testimonies from the bible eg Paul/Saul, Joan of Arc leading the French armies to victory after visions have had effects that were both powerful and positive, what other explanation is there for these? If religious experience was not a real occurrence as suggested by some philosophers (for example Dawkins - "if we are gullible and claim we have seen or heard a ghost or God...such manifestations are certainly not good grounds for believing that ghosts or angels, gods or virgins are actually there") then these results would not occur. It could be suggested that it is the individual's previous beliefs that affect their experience. Vardy says "if ones preconceptions favour particular types of experience one is more likely to be convinced by reports of them. If one is a sceptic one will need a great deal of convincing". Anthony Flew agrees with this ("experiences seem to depend on interest, background and expectations of those who have had them rather than anything separate or autonomous") and Nicholas Lash takes a slightly different yet relevant view whereby he attacks William James and goes on to say that we learn to see RE as a result of how we are brought up. ...read more.

Conclusion

He also goes on to say that religious believers are so convinced of the existence of God nothing will count against it, eg that God is both omnipotent and omnibenevolant despite the examples of suffering and evil in the world. After these arguments are taken into consideration, it is only appropriate to conclude that the value of this argument to a non-believer is only in as much as it points to another area of human life that might involved a divine being. Hick suggests that "the religious believer is living in terms of a meaning which may prove to be substantially true or may be an illusion; and the naturalistic believer is living in terms of a meaning which may be true or may prove to be an illusion". There still maintains however, a great number of philosophers and individuals alike who stand in favour of the argument, Swinburne for example, maintains that where all the other arguments for God are combined, a reasonable possibility of God's existence is created. Surely then, once combined with religious experience, the argument for God's existence is tipped towards the favourable - "our experience (our own or that of many others) ought to tip the balance in favour of God". ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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