• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the suggestion that it is pointless to analyse religious experiences.

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the suggestion that it is pointless to analyse religious experiences. A religious experience is defined as a non-empirical event in which the individual(s) concerned makes direct contact with 'a higher entity' (in relation to or associated with God), and experiences a sense of wonder, insight, holiness and profundity. To this end, the individual may interpret the experience by following an experimental or a prepositional approach: the former allows the experience to speak for itself, without trying to define exactly what happened, whilst the latter extracts from the experience certain definitive propositions, which are then claimed to be religious truths. As a result, when we come to examine such events, we must therefore consider whether it leads to an exclusivist or inclusivist interpretation. For example, if an individual claims that the particular experience, such as Muhammad hearing and reciting the words of the Qur'an offers a unique and infallible truth - the words of the Qur'an are believed to be the words of Allah - then they will have a corresponding authority. However, alternatively, an inclusivist might be willing to accept that the Qur'an contains valid religious truth, but not that it can claim absolute truth. ...read more.


For Buber, the relationship with God was 'I-Thou', in which God represented the 'Eternal Thou', and was therefore seen as present in every other 'Thou' that we encounter (a similar view to Soren Kierkegarrd). However, there have also been various challenges to the view that religious experiences are meaningful and illustrate contact with a 'higher entity'. In 'Philosophy of Religion', John Hick stated: "In short, any special event or experience which can be constituted as manifesting the divine can also be constituted in other ways (and accordingly cannot carry the weight of a proof of God's existence)". Immanuel Kant (In a 'Critique of Practical Reason') also dismissed the validity of religious experiences on the grounds "that it is impossible to speculate about anything (originating from) beyond the limits of time and space (i.e. a spirit) when we are confined to them", whilst Ludwig Wittgenstein also expressed a very similar view, in which he famously declared in the final sentence of his work, Tractatus, "whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must remain silent". Furthermore, it is also important to make reference to the belief advocated by Sigmund Freud, who 'In the Future of an Illusion', argued that religion (and religious events) ...read more.


To this end, it is significant to make reference to the verification principle advocated by A.J.Ayer, which examines whether religious claims can be shown to be true, and the falsification principle (closely associated with Anthony Flew), which considers whether such statements can be shown to be false. In conclusion, it is clearly apparent that although there are various forms of religious experience, there are also contrasting decisions between many philosophers and psychologists as to whether such events can be considered of any significance and hold any true meaning. My personal view is that such events are undoubtedly 'meaningful' for the individual who experiences them, and are therefore an important element in a believer's faith. I can also appreciate the views of Jung and Durkheim, who are not concerned with proving the validity or religious experiences (or God), but are more interested in the positive role religion has in society. However, this does not detract from the various problems associated with such events including the fact that religious experience cannot be authenticated by means of intellectual or scientific proof (a factor which is relied upon ever more so in the modern 'scientific' era) and that each event is open to one's interpretation. James Yates ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Philosophy and Theology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Philosophy and Theology essays

  1. Discuss the claim that religious language is meaningless

    The difference between cognitive and non-cognitive statements also arose one particular philosopher, R. M. Hare. He stated that cognitive statements could be determined meaningless or meaningful with verification but not non-cognitive ones such as religious statements. He said that they are not factual but still have meaning because it influences the way we look at things.

  2. Nonviolence: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Tich Nhat Hanh

    order to awaken others to the fact that "the American course in Vietnam is an dishonorable and unjust one" (King).

  1. Comparing, Contrasting and Paralleling Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism

    For example, if the first letter is P, then a possible girls name could be Partap Kaur, and a possible boys name could be Puran Singh. One will notice, the naming of children is much more structured than in the other two religions.

  2. Post-Atheism: from Apophatic Theology to "Minimal Religion"

    and God, since only God is that primary and eternal "Thou," in whose presence Man defines himself as "I." One might assume that Bakhtin did not dare use Soviet publications to declare openly the religious subtext of his ideas. However, he offered no direct testimony about his own religious convictions

  1. Consider in depth the different forms of religious language and evaluate how far they ...

    Analogy is described as 'Parallelism, similarity; reasoning from similar cases' in the Oxford dictionary. Stiver describes analogy as 'a creative innovation involving the interaction of two fields of meaning.' This means that a similar theme/idea is presented and then relates to whatever is in question (God).

  2. Why was Luther so concerned with the issue of 'Justification by Faith'?

    be 'rediscovered' and the Church returned to the Golden Age, provide a vital precedent for Luther's close examination of the Bible on which his lectures at the University of Wittenberg were based, and his subsequent breakthrough on the issue of Justification.3 In addition to the importance of the ad fontes

  1. What is distinctive about the Existential approach to working with addiction? Discuss.

    Furthermore, the autonomous self is defined upon the continuing requirement of having to make choices, and of accepting the consequences that those choices have on themselves and others (Black, 1991). This is best summed up from the words of Sartre, 'to choose is possible, but what is not possible is not to choose.

  2. Compare St Augstine and Rousseau's view of justifying authority and power.

    rescue him; however, they were all assaulted and menaced by the local government. It was only when he escaped to the US embassy in Beijing, then was he able to petition for protection and fair treatment. Adopting Rousseauâs theory, it is clear that Chenâs natural rights are violated, which indicates

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work