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Discuss two criticisms of the argument from religious experience. To what extent is the argument successful in spite of these objections?

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Introduction

1. Discuss two criticisms of the argument from religious experience. To what extent is the argument successful in spite of these objections? The use of religious experience to justify cognitive belief in a personal God has caused controversy amongst theists and atheists alike. The argument hinges on the principle of credulity; that is, consistency demands that we should treat apparently veridical religious sensory experiences the same as ordinary sensory experiences unless there are special considerations. This and the principle of testimony thus prove God's existence; if someone tells you that they have had such an experience, it is usually reasonable to believe them. Being non-empirical yet an inductive and a posteriori proof, this argument has attracted a variety of criticisms. One such challenge is the "Naturalistic Objection" which attempts to explain these supposed religious experiences atheistically, be it through psychology or socio-economics. ...read more.

Middle

an experience of "x" is genuine if the experience is caused by "x". 2. If there is a God, then S/He as the first cause is the initiator of events. 3. Therefore if there is a God, every experience of God is veridical. 4. Therefore the psychological origin of religious experience is not incompatible with the veridicality of religious experience. This seems an attractive stance, however Franks-Davis disputes God's place in this causal change. As the "first cause" of Aquinas' Cosmological argument, God appears less direct and personal in the chain of events. She simply proposes that one should reapply the "principle of credulity", one should assume that it is veridical unless under special circumstances. This objection does, however, highlight an important aspect of theistic faith. According to Vardy, religious experience should not be the sole reason for belief in God as an epistemological basis could be disproved. ...read more.

Conclusion

This particular rebuttal is modest at best as it hopes to eliminate any variation and subjectivity to its detriment. Hick asserts (with greater success) that although religions have different cultural perspectives, they each have an equally true idea of "the Real". This is in accordance with his idea of the world's "religious ambiguity"; as there is an epistemic distance between God and humans, all interpretations of an event are reasonable until they are eschatologically verified. The crucial difference between the argument from religious experience and others such as the teleological argument for several is that it goes beyond rhetoric; it uses what many theists see as explicit and incontrovertible proof for an interactive and personal God. To the individual who encounters the supernatural, the event serves to enhance their faith. Theists can use them to intellectually justify their beliefs as a part of Swinburne's cumulative case. An argument's worth is ultimately difficult to gauge because it depends whether one rates being able to convert atheists over inspiring organic faith or substantiating one's own beliefs. Religious Experience ...read more.

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