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Outline the argument from religious experience to the existence of God.

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Outline the argument from religious experience to the existence of God (8) It is an undisputed fact that some people claim to have experienced God. It is these religious experiences that have been used by philosophers to argue for the existence of God. The main way of expressing the argument from religious experience is as follows: P1 Someone experiences an entity C1 The entity exists P2 Someone has experienced God C2 God exists Those who champion the argument seek to differentiate ordinary experiences and religious experiences. The supporters of this argument argue that there are several key differences between the two types of experience: that religious experiences are completely different from what is normal and usual; that it is not usual to be able to describe a religious experience; religious experience cannot usually be checked (i.e. someone else cannot check to see whether it has happened or not); and it gives insight into the unseen. All religious experiences take the form of either 'a sense of oneness or union with the divine', 'a sense of dependence on the divine' and 'a sense of separateness from the divine'. All of these are to do with direct experience and this is what the topic of religious experience is debated on. When people claim to have had a religious experience, it can usually be categorised by being non-inferential, being experienced through one or more of the five senses and being something like the way that you would experience people. ...read more.


The idea of God appearing to someone is often rejected because the cynic believes that the idea of a God existing is intrinsically incoherent. That is, the claim is rejected on the grounds of non-belief; on the grounds that the descriptions of religious experience are contrary to our normal experience of this world and its limitations. Another criticism placed against the argument is that of a case of 'mistaken identity' of which there are two major instances. Firstly, there is the complete misidentification of the experience as an experience of God. For example, people have often mistaken someone for someone else and made assumptions and judgements built on these false premises; it is argued that the same line of reasoning could be applied to religious experience. Secondly, there is the more pressing issue of the misinterpretation of religious experience. It is argued that since we can all be so easily deceived by experience, it is unwise to use an experience to claim that something is the case. However, there are those who disagree with these criticisms because they do not imply a complete rubbishing of the experience argument; just because people can misinterpret events or experiences, this does not mean that every religious experience (or indeed any of them) have been results of misinterpretation. A main criticism of the argument is that the content of arguments for God from religious experience are far too vague to constitute anything approaching a proof. ...read more.


For example, you can love someone but it would be nearly impossible for this to be proven by tests of any kind. Some people have rejected the religious experience argument on the ground that some scientists seem to have found ways of explaining such a phenomena. Ludwig Feuerbach rejected religious experience on the grounds that God is the creation of human imagination; the product of a desire for there to be something else that the experiences of the world we normally inhabit. Neurologists from the University of California have also proved that stimulating a certain region of the brain brings about the sense of a spiritual experience. Believers do not think that this is a major criticism, however, because they argue this simply proves that God designed humans with an ability to receive religious experiences. The argument that the existence of God can be proved by religious experience relies on the assumption that the experience itself can give some sort of guarantee that you are right. In conclusion, I believe that is hard to believe in an argument that does not and cannot distinguish between feeling that something is right and actually being right. This is emphasised even more when we consider that nearly every human has, at one point in their life, been sure about something and then they have consequently been proved wrong. It is this misplaced optimism in subjectivity that makes believe that this argument has failed. Tom Hubbard -Green 16 / 10 / 03 ...read more.

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