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Evaluate the claim that corporate religious experience is no more than an illusion

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Introduction

´╗┐Fern Phillips U6CHA Evaluate the claim that corporate religious experience is no more than an illusion. 35 marks William James defined a genuine religious experience as ?ineffable, noetic, transcient and passive?, with the sense of divine revelation and oneness?. Therefore, corporate religious experiences take place when this sense of awe and inexplicable wonder occurs among a group of people in the same location. One key objection to the validity of corporate religious experiences is the possibility of interpreting them in ways other than those put forward by believers. Bertrand Russell famously said that some people get drunk and see snakes, other people fast and see God. Corporate religious experiences seem more impressive than individual ones as a number of people experience them, making them easier to verify than individual ones, which are almost impossible to authenticate. A famous example of a corporate religious experience recorded the Bible is found in Acts chapter 2 verses 5 to 13, where the disciples were having a meeting in an ?upper room? and ?suddenly tongues of fire appeared above their heads, and they proceeded to ?speak in tongues?.? These ?tongues of fire? which appeared above the disciples? heads were Holy Spirit, which enabled them to speak in different ?tongues? or languages, so that they could preach to people of different nations. ...read more.

Middle

ask ourselves ?why would God want us to act like animals if he intended us to rule over and care for the animal kingdom?? After all, acting like animals doesn?t glorify God; rather it might be argued that it dishonours him and humiliates his creation. Whether religious experiences are personal experiences like visions or voices or are corporate in nature, one main criticism is that they rely on personal testimony, not empirical evidence. The issue here is the multitude of problems that surround taking personal testimony at face value. For example, I personally might want to believe someone who says that they saw a vision of Christ, but even if the person himself is not lying and entirely believes that they saw Christ, does this mean that they actually did see him and the vision was not caused by lack of sleep, drugs, or a psychotic episode. Schizophrenia is a mental condition in which it is common to feel that God is speaking to you, or that you have been chosen by God in some way. All of these factors diminish the validity of personal testimonies. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion therefore, I can see why some believe corporate religious experiences to be true since some people having these remember them and it is more convincing when more than one person has the same experiences. Also speaking in ?tongues? is mentioned in the Bible and some positive results may ensue from these experiences. However, in my opinion modern day examples of corporate and individual religious experiences are merely an illusion and can mostly be explained by science and psychology. For example, the Toronto Blessing could merely be a result of hypnotism, and as for the golden teeth, it hasn?t been proved that the people concerned didn?t already have gold teeth. Also, behaving like animals is not mentioned in the Bible as a sign of the Holy Spirit working, convincing me that this has nothing to do with God. In fact, a lot of hypnotists can cause people to behave like animals under hypnosis, so might this not be the case here? As for healing rallies, this can be explained by crowd manipulation, peer pressure and mass hysteria. However, I do believe that the religious experience that occurred on Pentecost 33 AD was genuine because it had a divine purpose, to continue the preaching work started by Jesus Christ. Philosophy ...read more.

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