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Examine and comment on how far the study of religious experience can illuminate an understanding of God with reference to answered prayer.. (50 marks)

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Introduction

´╗┐Examine and comment on how far the study of religious experience can illuminate an understanding of God with reference to the topic you have studied. (50 marks) Richard Swinburne, a British philosopher of religion states that: ?An Omnipotent and perfectly good creator will seek to interact with his creatures and in particular with human persons, capable of knowing him.? Suggesting religious experiences is a way in which a divine being seeks to interact with us, his creations. This view point is not universal and differs from a person to person. People today are still seeking the explanation and understanding of religious experiences and whether or not it helps illuminate our understanding of God. A religious experience is a non-empirical personal encounter with the divine. The topic within religious experience I have studied is answered prayer. Prayer is a way of intensely communicating with God, claimed responses people have received to their prayers lead them to believe that there is a God, listening and answering their prayers. According to many theists, which have experienced answered prayers, most of them would argue that the experience has illuminated their understanding of God. For instance, if a prayer has been answered, it strengthened their belief in God; with the experience it brings an awareness of something beyond us. Hence, for believers, this makes religious experiences the most convincing proof of the existence of God. ...read more.

Middle

The idea that such religious experiences, according to many believers, illustrates the nature of God and even the human mind, which in turn, illuminates our understanding of God. However, although many agree, there are numerous people that would argue differently, with dissimilar explanations to explain religious experiences. Religious experience is a diverse area in which philosophers and theologians have interpreted differently, in favour of religious experiences and their outcomes and there are also many that argue against. Many of the arguments in favour of religious experiences for the existence of God are argued inductively, meaning that they are based on subjective testimonies of individuals. Richard Swinburne in ?is there a God?? argues inductively that it is reasonable to believe that God is loving and personal and would seek to reveal himself to humanity as an act of love. This suggests that religious experiences can be felt empirically through our senses and interpreted non-empirically through our ?religious sense?. Also Swinburne claims that people, in general, tell the truth and that we cannot realistically work on the basis of always doubting their accounts of religious experience. Thus, if we are told that someone has had a religious experience, then we should believe that experience has taken place, even if someone else had a different experience. Swinburne argues that, unless we have evidence to the contrary, we should believe what people say when they claim to have had a religious experience: ?In the absence of special considerations, the experiences of others are (probably) ...read more.

Conclusion

He would that, and an ?answered prayer? is just a coincidence, because there is no such thing as religious experience. Psychologist, Freud also offers a secular explanation for religious experiences that coincides with Dawkins. Freud suggests that it is a reaction to a hostile world where we feel helpless so we seek a father figure, which ultimately leads to the projection of God. Similarly, French sociologist Durkheim suggests that God is a ?social construct? which gives society moral guidelines by which it can thrive. Thus, arguing that God and religious experiences are simply just an invention of the mind. Overall, does religious experience illuminate an understanding of God? I believe it does, although evidence cannot be empirically tested as they are too personal and subjective to prove convincing proof of the existence of God due to its format, it cannot develop or illuminate the understanding of God, for those who have not experience it or believe in God. However, religious experiences strengthened the belief in God for those who do, and sometimes it can lead to or encourage a belief in God. But by, strengthening our belief we have learn more about God, his nature, his capability and aspects of his characteristics in the way he has attempted to communicate, thru religious experiences. So, to a rather significant extent religious experiences can illuminate our understanding of God. ...read more.

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