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Religious Experience - Edexel A2

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Religious Experience Essay "Religious experience does not provide a secure basis for belief in God." Analyse and discuss this claim. Few topics in philosophy and theology cause as much disagreement as religious experience. With its different definitions and numerous types, anything from seeing the Virgin Mary to being relaxed at the sound of your favourite piece of classical music, religious experience has attracted the attention of many scholars, both pro and anti religious experience. Although they can take many different forms, there are several things that link different types of religious experience, although they do not always appear in every experience. They are a personal experience, especially the ones that involve some sort of divine influence. They also have a direct and prominent effect on the person's life. If a person had experienced a near-death experience, and found that they had experienced a pleasant afterlife, then they would be more likely to be relaxed about death. Indeed, there are certain scholars who believe that one can only say that a religious experience has taken place, if there is a change in life. For example, Saul, commonly called Paul, had a famous conversion on the Road to Damascus. ...read more.


Caroline Franks Davis broadly agrees with Swinburne, taking the view, in The Evidential Force of Religious Experience, that with all the inferred arguments for God's existence, the probability is roughly equal for God's existence as not. Religious experiences, however, may tip the balance in favor of God's existence. C F Davis is most recognized in the field of religious experience for her three challenges over religious experiences, aimed mainly at Swinburne's principles of testimony and credulity. The description related challenge challenges the experience on the basis of self-contradiction, or the inherent difficulty that surrounds the use of language as a communicating tool. Since one person may not necessarily use language the same way as another, the use of language as a communication tool is flawed. The subject related challenge challenges the experience on the basis of the individual experiencing them, and the condition that they were in when they had the experience. If the person was under the influence, then their report may not hold as much weight as someone who had a religious experience when they were in a normal condition. However, a common rebuttal is that, just because someone is somehow mentally impaired, it does not nessecarly mean that what they experienced was not real. ...read more.


Although his definition of an experience is vague, his approach to identifying religious experiences is epically based, and is similar to more modern approaches, like those employed at the Hardy Institute. James also refers to the fruits of the experience being more important than the experience itself, a feeling that holds true with modern theologians. If the objections are combined, then it appears that any religious experience can be objected to in some way: a person's state, the language that they use, the experience, or the person themselves can all be used as an objection; Freud and Jung believed that religious belief was a neurosis, caused by the repressed love of the mother, or from "penis envy." Hume took a less scientific route when he said that theists could not be truly trusted, as they are prone to lying, and are devoid of a "good sense, education and learning" to make sure that they are not fooling themselves. In conclusion, if by a secure basis for belief, we mean a feeling of certainty, then religious experience will only boost the faith of those who believe, and strengthen the criticisms of those who do not believe in God. In short, the religious experience debate falls foul of Flew's vicious circle. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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