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

Religious Experience is Nothing but Fantasy. Discuss (35 Marks)

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Religious Experience is Nothing but Fantasy. Discuss (35 Marks) The above criticism to religious belief was proposed by Sigmund Freud; who thought that the origin of relig exp (religious experience) is rooted in the unconscious and that they are a product of eschewed psychosexual development. Freud rejected any appeal to the supernatural to explain these occurrences as our mind regularly deludes itself, pointing to dreams as an obvious example. The materialistic approach to explaining relig exp has led scientists to pinpoint specific physical causes of this phenomena; St Paul of Tarsus is thought to have possessed a form of epilepsy. In this case, Paul's relig exp would be a fantasy but perceived as real experience. A theistic challenge to materialism is that God and organic explanations of religious phenomena. In this way our brains may be wired up to experience God; materialism does not necessarily deem all relig exp fantasy. ...read more.

Middle

This would be seconded by Ludwig Wittgenstein who indentified religion as a closed language game; proposing that the experiences are fantasy is not an accepted move and is only know to the outside observer. Ergo, to say religious experiences are fantasy excludes the one accepted explanation upon which religion is based; God did it. The term fantasy is vague; does this indicate a belief that we want to be true and know is false or rather a true deception ourselves. The former seems plausible in the case of Mass Hysteria e.g The Toronto Blessing, where our desire to fit in overtakes our desire to be right; what psychologists call Normative Social Influence. As James pointed out, these psychological explanations do not necessarily reject God. However, they do give us no reason to believe in him via Occam's razor (believe in the most simple of the explanations) ...read more.

Conclusion

Kant's reasoning is not the reason to reject religious experience as fantasy; as with religion there can only be one wholly true explanation of religious phenomena. Only one religion can be wholly true as they make incompatible claims; and so we must dismiss most religious experiences as fantasy. And if we reject most religious experiences, then those remaining must be of the same psychological nature so they too can be dismissed as fantasy. James's pluralism is merely another get out clause; another 'death by 1000 qual' which offers no explanation to how faiths are linked, and is infinitely less simple than materialism. In conclusion, not every criticism levelled against religious experience is sound. However, only one is sufficient; that because we can track the experience of God to psycho/physiological phenomena, there is no reason left to believe in God even though the two are not mutually exclusive. Since the debate cannot be resolved ala Russell, we must assume the answer is not the theistic one. ...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. The verification principle offers no real challenge to religious belief. Discuss

    scent and makes no sound, a gardener who comes secretly to look after the garden which he loves". Flew's argument is that religious believers act in the same way as the believing explorer. Flew gives the example of saying God loves people, even if disaster happens.

  2. "Religious Language is meaningless." Discuss.

    The second way is being equivocal. This is where the same word is used in two different situations and with totally different meanings, for example, a bar of chocolate and a bar at a pub. Therefore, all the words we use for God, such as love or superior, could mean absolutely nothing.

  1. Religious Experience is a construct of the mind - Discuss

    Nevertheless, sociologists would argue that religious experience is a reflection of the society you've grown up in, that's why in the main Catholics have visions of Mary and Hindu's have experiences of Shiva. Karl Marx is the most notable sociologist to speak against religious claims, he objected to the validity of religion, and in effect against religious experience.

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

    She lived in a cell which was attached to a church in Norwich, and lived a complete ascetic lifestyle. Julian just before she died became seriously ill and on her deathbed she accounted for 16 visions she had experienced. These experiences are questioned though due to Julian's poor health and

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

    Yet if one takes the other standpoint that a leap to faith is negative as it clouds the individual from rationalisation and openness to potentially more realistic explanations and flaws. Just as John Wisdom's parable of the Gardener shows how a religious belief is unfalsifiable, a religious experience contains the same inherent flaw.

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

    So it is no great thing if his servants disguise themselves to look like servants of righteousness. In the end they will get exactly what their actions deserve.? (Good News Bible) After all, the Toronto Blessing has left some of those affected by it damaged as a result of seizures,

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

    an encounter with the ?holy? The categories seek to give what is essentially inexpressible, a defined language. They are not verifiable, but they go some way to allowing them to be at least weakly verified and explained. Another, one of the most recognisable philosophers/ psychologists to be associated with religious experience is William James.

  2. To be is to be perceived Discuss

    However, for idealists they aren?t fazed by this problem because the philosophy idealism states that there are no physical objects behind the sense data we perceive anyway. Therefore, when an idealist is looking at the table, all they are seeing is the sense data of the table.

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