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Analyze the concepts of religious experience as an argument for the existence of God.

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Introduction

a- Analyze the concepts of religious experience as an argument for the existence of God. (12 marks) A religious experience is an encounter, or perception of the invisible world. It is non empirical as it is a 'mental event' undergone by an individual. Martin Buber differentiated between normal phenomena, which he described as the 'I-It' relationship (where things are just classified), and the 'I-Thou' relationship (which a relationship is taken deeper to a much more personal level). There are 3 main times of religious experience: prayer, conversion and mysticism. Prayer can be considered religious experience in 2 ways; the feeling of the Divine presence despite His distinct nature to us (Rudolph Otto called this 'numinosity'), and the relationship that seems to grow between the Divine and the individual. Sabatier distinguished between mental prayers (not verbal), and petitionary prayers (where one asks for something), the latter of which is a form of acknowledgement of God's power and goodness, and resignation to His will. Prayer can also have mystical states, which were explained by St Teresa as the prayer of quiet (brought about by meditation and does not interfere with other mental functions), the prayer of union (more emotional, ...read more.

Middle

William James provided 4 characterizations of mysticism: ineffability (indescribably using normal language), a noetic quality (they are states of knowledge not just emotion), transience (can't be sustained for long), and passivity (can't be controlled by the mystic). Mystical experiences usually have various stages, the first of which being the purgative state where the mystic is prepared and purified through meditation. The 2nd stage is the illuminative stage, where the mystic is enlightened both cognitively and emotionally. The last stage is the unitive stage, where the mystic gains a continuing union with the Divine, which is the same as spiritual marriage in prayer. Therefore, in essence, mystical experiences are primarily total submission of the self to the Divine. Thus, religious experiences that confirm or bring about knowledge of the Deity, and are argued impossible without the existence of the Deity, as there seems to be no specific organ of sensory that perceives them, thus denying their existence on biological grounds, imposing a greater level of existence. b- Evaluate the view that this argument supports the probability of the existence of God. Although religious experience is said to bring about knowledge of the Deity, there are philosophical and theological difficulties. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is also a difficulty with prayer, as it is said to be pointless if God is omniscient. Blaise Pascal however explained that "God instituted prayer to lend His creatures the dignity of causality." This is justifiable as if omniscience whiles the need for prayer, than it can also be applied t omnipotence, denying the need for any human to do anything because God's will be happen anyway. On the other hand, it is theologically unjust that religious experience is not universal, and only some people experience it. C. D. Broad answered this as some people are tone deaf and cannot appreciate music, others might not have the capacity for religious experience. Swinburne presented the principle of credulity to support religious experience as means of attaining knowledge of God. This principle explains that religious experience is like any other experience, thus should be accepted unless there is strong evidence against it, given there is reasonable probability that God exists. This probability is proven high through other arguments; however, religious experience itself provides knowledge of God (although it only provides the individual with that knowledge and not everyone). Thus, religious experience strongly supports God's existence, but not that of a specific religion or specific worldview. ...read more.

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