Explain the argument from religious experience for the existence of God.

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Philosophy AO1 Question

AO1) Explain the argument from religious experience for the existence of God. (30 marks)

A religious experience can be defined as an experience of supernatural that draws a person into closer awareness and knowledge of the divine, and may take place spontaneously. There are different forms of the argument from religious experience which in turn, helps prove the existence of god.

The Inductive argument refers to any general characteristics of a religious experience, identified by William James. James notes four characteristics of these experiences – Ineffability, meaning the experience may be so overwhelming for the person that it is impossible for them to describe it verbally; an example of Ineffability includes the statements from St. Teresa of Avila where she struggled to fully describe her experience with God. “O my God, what must a soul be like when it is in this state!” she states.
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Noetic Quality refers to the fact that religious experiences provide a sense of deeper understanding and knowledge of the divine. St. John on the Cross describes his understanding of Noetic Quality through his religious experience as “My mind had found a surer way: a knowledge of unknowing, rising beyond all science.” Whereas James’ third way; Transience is the spontaneous and sometimes unpredictable duration of the religious experience a person experiences.

James’ final characteristic of a religious experience includes passivity – during the experience the individual becomes the passive recipient (they lose control because of the overwhelming ...

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