• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Religious Experience is a construct of the mind - Discuss

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'Religious experience is a construct of the mind' Discuss. Religious experience can be viewed in five different categories: vision experiences, voice experiences, corporate experiences, conversion experiences and numinous experiences. The claim above suggests that all forms of religious experience are created by the mind; this view is a psychological view and is adopted most notoriously by Sigmund Freud. Freud believed that religion is an illusion and an expression of people desires coming from a persons psychological needs. He believed that Religion is rooted in a childlike desire for a father-like figure such as God. Applying this to a religious experiences such as Paul on the Road to Demascus; Freud would say his experience of the 'bright light' and Jesus, were constructed by his mind as a result of his psychological needs. Freud could suggest that the conversion from Saul to Paul was a result of Saul lacking a fully supportive upbringing from his parents, hence why his mind created the experience to direct him to righteousness. However, there is little scientific evidence of the subconscious to support Freud's claims of the subconscious and deem 'nurture' as an explanation for all religious experiences. On the other hand, William James did believe in religious experience. ...read more.

Middle

He said that religious experiences are caused by desperate situations, not God, believing that the origins of the experiences root back to the church. For Marx, religious experiences are not constructed by the mind. Instead, he believed the church constructed a mythological religion, which by implication caused oppressed people to have experiences of God. However, evidence in history conflicts with Marx's view of religion. For example, in the American civil rights movement, it was the Baptist church of Martin Luther King Jr, which pushed for liberation - not oppression. Equally in scripture, the story of Paul on the road to Demascus demonstrates how religious experience could lead to the 'good', in the way Saul was changed to a good man, Paul. This show's that Marx's wholesome condemnation of religion is flawed, in addition to this, there's no evidence to suggest the communist philosophy makes people happier. Alternatively, Alston argued how the views of sociologists and psychologists are unfair to reject religious experience. He'd have said it was unfair to say religious experiences were a constructed by the mind. Alston said in life evidence is what you can gain from experience. For example, if you heard a bird sing, or saw a red car, these would be vouched for by sensory evidence, and people would believe you. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, there are some drugs such as LSD that can cause delusion and hallucinations, as can brain tumours. Another idea is that epilepsy or brain damage can cause experiences; epilepsy could explain Paul's account of a bright light. However, there's no evidence that everybody who has had a religious experience has some physiological explanation. In the corporate example of the Toronto Blessing, could all of the people at the airport have had epilepsy? The physiological challenges could be described as a defect of the body causing the religious experiences to be instead a construct of the brain, rather than a construct of the mind. The debate on whether religious experiences are valid and meaningful, or whether they're constructed or nurtured is ongoing. The psychological, sociological and physiological views are the main objections to religious experience. All viewing the experiences are either: constructed from a childhood deprivation, a result of the churches' construction of religion or, an implication of a physiological defect. Whilst, both Alston and Swinburne suggest there's no compelling evidence not to believe people. Swinburne even says, only religious people would recognise a religious experience for what it is, and the objectors are ignorant. On the other hand, William James takes a middle-ground and recognises that psychology could explain religious experiences. Claiming, the experiences derivation in psychology is evidence that religious experience is 'natural' and coordinated by God. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Assess the view that the different forms of religious experience are nothing more than ...

    The second secret that was predicted was that Russia would one day return to Christianity. And the last secret was a vision of a man dressed in white falling to the ground apparently dead. This is said to be the attempted assignation of Pope John Paul II.

  2. Religious Experience - Edexel A2

    Anthony Flew is also well-known for his objection to religious experiences, the vicious circle. Whilst perhaps the most relevant objections for long-term corporate experiences, the vicious circle challenge is one which questions the nature of the experience itself. As Flew says, the nature of religious experiences "seems to depend on

  1. "Religious Language is meaningless." Discuss.

    Myths are meant to demonstrate morals or meanings of why for example humans wear clothes or how the universe came about. The stories such as Adam and Eve or the Tower of Babel could all very well be true, however, as we have no proof of this, many theologians use these stories so to reveal the inner meanings of life.

  2. Why does the mind and body problem still exist?

    Some weaknesses of Dualism are it is not clear where the interaction would take place. E.g. Burning my fingers causes pain, right? Well apparently there are a chain of events leading from the burning skin to the stimulation of nerve endings. Another weakness is the principle of parsimony (Ockham's razor)

  1. Discuss the suggestion that it is pointless to analyse religious experience

    However the problem holds that although the experience may have been analysed by both secularist and religious person, they may both be guilty of pre-held beliefs, and thus commit a logical fallacy. Swinburne's principle of testimony has similar problems, although perhaps more weighted to the religious believer than the logical secularist.

  2. Conscience is the voice of God - discuss

    towards whom we feel guilty, and according to him it is God. His theory holds because it creates a possible reason for irrational guilt. However, it separates God from the human's ethical reasoning, only as a cosmic, silent disciplinarian, and more fundamentally it fails to consider that our guilt may also consciously be felt towards the those here on earth.

  1. Reductive physicalist accounts of the mind fail to fully explain the nature of mental ...

    actor is in pain; even though after the show he admits that he was not. The Behaviourists are able to offer a reply however. His actions can be explained through behavioural history ? via learning his lines he is behaviourally disposed to act in pain at a later stage.

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

    to as Holy Laughter), speaking in tongues (unintelligible to those hearing this), moving and make noises resembling animals and uncontrollable weeping. Among Pentecostal congregations, similar emotions and actions are evoked at religious rallies, where thousands of Christians congregate and are healed by a pastor who claims to have the power of the Holy Spirit within him.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work