Religious experience presents a convincing argument to prove the existence of God. Analyse this claim (12 marks)

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Introduction

Religious experience presents a convincing argument to prove the existence of God. Analyse this claim (12 marks) The religious experience is an a posteriori argument with the philosophical proof if based on experience. The actual argument is as follows: P1 - I have a strange experience P2 - The explanation for the experience lies beyond me P3 - All things which are beyond me I attribute to God C - Therefore God exists Religious experience can be split into three types; mysticism, conversion and prayer. A mystical experience is the name given to the experience of having apprehended an ultimate reality that is difficult to express using normal vocabulary. Conversion is the changing from one set of beliefs to another. The word prayer includes every kind of inward communion or conversation with the power recognition, thanksgiving and petition. As the argument is based on a prior believe in God and the thought that he manifests himself occasionally and privately in some people's lives. This argument requires spiritual recognition as it cannot be proven by any form of rational justification.

Middle

For example as God is the creator, how would you recognise this attribute if you were to have a religious experience. The argument that 'you know' is too insufficient as there must be reasons as well as convictions. Swinburne states, in support of the argument, that there is no good reason to suppose that 'God exists' is somehow meaningless, or contradictory, or not possibly true. He says that one should not reject claims to experience of God by rejecting the whole idea of God. Swinburne also says that when someone explains about a religious experience they are only reporting how it appeared to them. Evidence has shown that experiences can give us grounds for supposing that things are as we take them to be. He argues that we can acquire knowledge from experiences and that we can acquire knowledge of God by religious experience. Swinburne also says that God does not defy human understanding and there is no reason, in principle, why people should not be able to correctly identify an object of their experience as divine. A common argument against the criticisms of this argument is that although people can make mistakes when describing how things are, does not mean that they are always mistaken.

Conclusion

Aquinas argues against the religious experience argument as he says that God is a reality which defines human understanding so he argues that if god accounts for the experiences we have, we are not in any position explicitly to recognise that any object of our experience is God. The main criticism of this argument is that experiences can often present false impressions, an example being that it looks as if the sun moves around the earth but it doesn't. People who suffer from various kinds of drug addictions may genuinely believe that the world contains fifty foot penguins but this is obviously not the case. These leads to many people believing that experiences can carry little weight when it comes to the question of God's existence. These criticisms often lead people to not supporting this argument and so many people question the premises and the believability of this argument. Aquinas puts forward many criticisms for this argument but these stem from his strong belief in God prior to this argument. Freud, looking from a more psychological approach, also apposes the argument looking at the area of making a mistake rather than the likelihood of God appearing to people. Words = 1,170 Hannah O'Shea-Herriot R.S. A Level Philosophy

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