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How far does Swinburne's argument for the existence of God based on religious experience succeed in overcoming the challenges to it?

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How far does Swinburne's argument for the existence of God based on religious experience succeed in overcoming the challenges to it? A Religious experience it can be portrayed as a 'mental event' which is undergone by an individual and of which that person is aware. The experience can be unplanned or it may come about by intensive training and self discipline. It is a recognized fact that people may claim to have undergone a religious experience, or some form of experience which reveals God to them. In recent times, Swinburne has focused on religious experience as one of the key arguments for the existence of God. Swinburne's argument begins with a definition of what he believes a religious experience to be. He states 'to the subject to be an experience of God (either of his just being there, or doing or bringing about something) or of some supernatural being.' If we go ahead and accept this definition put forward by Swinburne we are accepting the involvement of such beings under the class of 'some other supernatural being.' After the definition, Swinburne's argument takes two routes, the principle of Credulity and the principle of Testimony. The principle of credulity states, 'What one perceives to be the case 'X', is probably the case unless there were challenges put forward to why 'X' could not be the case. ...read more.


For example, a person may go to the Niagara Falls, and realise what a beautiful place it actually is, then conclude that because of this view God has revealed himself by his creation. Thus, they have undergone a religious experience. Davies argument towards Swinburne's definition succeeds quite well as it obvious in Swinburne's definition that he has no mention of nature- mysticism. There have been many criticisms put forward about Swinburne's argument, however Swinburne was aware of this when he went on to develop the four key challenges. One of the four key challenges states that if the subject 'S' was unreliable then the experience would produce unreliable results for example the recipient was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This can be countered by the argument put forward by William James. James recognised the fact that people may be under the influence of drugs and alcohol when undergoing a religious experience but saw no apparent problem with it. James states, 'The drunken consciousness is one bit of the mystic consciousness.' The second key challenge states 'the recipient did not have the ability to interpret the evidence.' this also can be countered by James. James feels that everyone has the capability to undergo a religious experience despite their ability. For example a person who might have a faulty mind could be seen to some, as a person who does not hold the ...read more.


For example, the ideas of Marx and Freud need to be proven in order for them to overcome Swinburne's argument. Marx and Freud would argue that it was not the case that an ultimate power has chosen to contact them when a person has claimed that they have had a relgious experience. However, if Marx and Freud could prove that the recipient did not have a religious experience and it was rather, the recipient reflecting their own needs as a human being, then Swinburne's argument would fail. But if they could not, then Swinburne's argument suceeds. Another main aspect I feel that strengthenes the argument put forward by Swinburne, is the fact if we were to prove that the recipient did not undergo the religious experience it is incredibly hard or even impossible. As we cannot simply 'check with God' to see if He was/was not present or involved in an alleged experience. Thus, strengthening Swinburne's argument and therefore overcoming the challenges put forward against it.Another main reason why I feel that Swinburne's argument is so successful at overcoming the challenges towards it is because with religious experiences is that cannot simply 'check with God' to see if He was/was not present or involved in an alleged experience. However, the definition put forward by Swinburne is not successful in proving the existence of God, as Davis suggests that Swinburne prevents the inclusion of aspects of nature-mysticism in our consideration of religious experience. Neesha Parmar 1 ...read more.

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