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Examine the strengths and weaknesses of the argument for the existence of God based on religious experiences.

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Introduction

´╗┐Examine the strengths and weaknesses of the argument for the existence of God based on religious experiences. (21) Religious experiences are described as ?something that is not a substitute for the divine but a method that is used to bring people closer to God?. They are usually divided into two main categories; direct experiences where the person feels in direct contact with God and indirect experiences, where the person feels an inner experience of Gods action in creation. Although many scholars such as Martin Buber and Kierkegaard believe that religious experiences prove the existence of God, others such Harris and Dawkins believe that what are so called ?Religious Experiences? do not prove the existence of a greater being. It is these two contrasting schools of thought that lead to the argument I am about to discuss in the following essay, as to whether or not, religious experiences prove the existence of God. Firstly, a key argument in favor of religious experience, is a posteriori argument that relies upon the premise ?The experience of X indicates the reality of X?. From this first premise, we can claim therefore that ?The experience of God indicates the reality of God?. ...read more.

Middle

but the argument depends upon the whether or not the evidence is accurately interpreted by the experient and can therefore never be proven by scientific or tested means. The cumulative argument is provided as another attempt to prove Gods existence via the use of religious experiences, however as opposed to the other arguments it attempts to combine different arguments in one with the idea that together they are more convincing than one argument alone. However, this is debatable as an argument as it is widely believed that combining weak arguments together result in a weak argument as opposed to creating a stronger argument. Finally, the principles of Testimony and Credulity form another argument in favor of religious experiences as prove of the existence of God in claiming that in general people tell the truth and that we cannot realistically work on the basis of doubting their accounts. Just as we cannot doubt basic facts about the world because we have not experienced it ourselves. The principle of testimony claims that unless we have evidence to the contrary we should believe what is claimed, it is argued ?In the absence of special considerations, their experiences of others are as they report them?. ...read more.

Conclusion

Cole claimed that many were and still are skeptical about the religious experience of ?speaking in tongues? as the experience itself is unsound and unreliable and he claims that this experience does not match up correctly with the so called experiences we read about in the Old Testament. Another group, is near death experiences, which has been heavily criticized and called a ?mental Phenomenon that many scholars claim is not a religious experience but rather an experience that is caused by lack of oxygen to the brain in the experient. In summary, the main arguments against religious experiences, claim that if God doesn?t exist, we can therefore not experience him. We can also defer that everything is open to a non-religious interpretation as there are no tests to verify religious experiences and testimonies are unreliable in today?s age where peoples mind are continuously open to doubt. Therefore, in conclusion the argument of existence of God, regarding religious experiences is very open to debate as the neither the strengths nor the weaknesses outweigh each other and the argument is again very open to personal interpretation, therefore it is widely agreed that the argument is different to each person regarding their beliefs and personal views. ...read more.

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