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Discuss the issue that it is pointless to analyse religious experience

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Introduction

Siân Aiken Discuss the issue the suggestion that it is pointless to analyse religious experience. In its nature religious experience is not a topic of religion that cannot be empirically scrutinised. However it is still questionable as to whether there is a sufficient enough cause to analyse religious experiences or is it, at its best just a mere suppositious delusion on the part of the individual. Many thinkers have taken religious experiences as facts and although many have spoken at great length about the subject, there are those who view that the analysis of religious experience as meaningless and pointless. Firstly, in definition religious experience is an unexplainable subjective experience of contact with what an individual believes to be a transcendent or supernatural being. The majority of religious believers hold the view that religious experience is genuinely an encounter with God or the Holy Spirit. Christian mysticism believes that although God converses and is personally involved with humanity, it is only through mystical religious experience that God’s message can truly be encountered. If what they claim has any shred of truth, then it would not only be meaningful to analyse religious experience but it would also be necessary, as God, the supreme creator is conversing his ‘wishes’ and ’commands’ directly to the human psyche. ...read more.

Middle

Moreover, what was more important to James, was not the analysis of the experience but the effects that it had on the person. So in this respect, James? position on the worth of analysing religious experience is mixed, as he believes not in the worth of the cause or the root of the experience (suggesting that he may see it as worthless), yet devised a way of categorising religious experience so as to make them more analysable. Ultimately, he advocated that the study of religious experience may be beneficial as giving greater strength to the effects that it may have on people on a tangible level, but he didn?t suggest that through analysis of religious experience one could derive an argument for the existence of God. James believed that there was a substantial difference between institutionalised religion and personal religion. To James the thought of loving God who at the same time was all powerful and creator of the universe is a confliction. There is a strong secular argument, for the worth of analysing experiences. Freud, Marx and Jung all commented on the on the existence of ?religious experiences? or religious illusions as Marx referred to them. ...read more.

Conclusion

After numerous studies it was revealed that they both showed signs of temporal lobe epilepsy, supporting perhaps the idea that the feeling of God and the unknown sensations are a biological function of our bodies. Richard Dawkins, who is vehemently opposed to religion and religious experience on the grounds of their being very little evidence for the existence of God in the first place. He states that even if a person did encounter a 'religious experience' there is nothing to suggest that it is religious based rather than any other phenomenon of biology or the unknown. However Dawkins allowed Dr. Persinger to stimulate his temporal lobe to see if he could stimulate the feeling of a religious experience; and Dawkins stated that although he felt shortness of breath, he felt no religious experience. In conclusion religious experience, although hugely meaningful for a large amount of people, ultimately it will always be subjective. You should not confuse objectivity and rational logic with the idea of mystical feeling and because of this the nature of religious experience should not be analysed. However, religious experience provides a great deal of meaning and benefits to those who believe in it and their responses and the good and the bad that can result is worthy of analysis. ...read more.

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