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To what extent does religious experience provide a compelling argument for the existence of God Discuss

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Introduction

?To what extent does religious experience provide a compelling argument for the existence of God? Discuss (45) While James may put forward a strong argument in favor of religious experience being at the core of all religion, Freud presents an equally strong argument that challenges this with a psychological explanation. Religious experience may provide an argument, but an argument that can always be counteracted. William James was an advocate of religious experiences. He believed that they were the very core of all religion and should be the focus when studying religion, rather that scripture or church. He believed in pluralism and so these experiences were all similar despite personal belief. Despite this, James accepted that there were various types of experiences, however he used the ?PINT? criteria to explain the characteristics a person would encounter when experiencing a mystical experience. This criteria explains that an experience is feeling a loss of control during a short-lived experience that give people revelations into truths that they cannot find words to describe. ...read more.

Middle

Soul mysticism is seeking personal knowledge and knowledge of God, Nature mysticism is the awareness of a presence in nature and God mysticism is the feeling of experiencing being God whilst retaining your identity. However all three strands are flawed. Soul mysticism can be entirely psychological and does not present evidence of God; it merely is searching for and finding yourself. Nature mysticism is vague and subjective. Similarly to how you may view the beauty of nature, you may view the interaction of God within it. And lastly God mysticism would mean that a human felt that they were existing outside of human understanding itself. As all three are personal experiences, and on certain levels subjective, they cannot provide an argument for the existence of God as no one but yourself can perceive the way you experience mysticism. Richard Swinburne considered that a loving God has reason to make himself known. He argues that since many people have experienced what they believe to be God, then rationally they should be believed. ...read more.

Conclusion

These experiences then lead the followers to interpret the world from their experience and to develop their own ideas about god. However Otto?s account is to simplistic, it cannot be suggested that all religious experience is numinous as many accounts of religious experience aren?t numinous in nature therefore suggesting that Otto?s proposal cannot prove the existence of God. However Marx produced a sociological explanation for religious experiences by comparing religion to a drug. He said that religion is the ?opium of the world? as people long to belong to the community. Everyone in a religious group forms a close community that draws people in. Even when looking at the British working year, Christianity depicts holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, both bank holidays and important Christian dates. Therefore religious experience does provide an argument for the existence of God but it?s flawed, especially when considering proposals like soul mysticism that are proving to be psychological. The most solid argument is that it is of a psychological reasoning that people experience such strong religious feelings and that that seems most plausible. ...read more.

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