Religious Experience - Edexel A2

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Religious Experience Essay

Religious experience does not provide a secure basis for belief in God.” Analyse and discuss this claim.

Few topics in philosophy and theology cause as much disagreement as religious experience. With its different definitions and numerous types, anything from seeing the Virgin Mary to being relaxed at the sound of your favourite piece of classical music, religious experience has attracted the attention of many scholars, both pro and anti religious experience.

Although they can take many different forms, there are several things that link different types of religious experience, although they do not always appear in every experience. They are a personal experience, especially the ones that involve some sort of divine influence. They also have a direct and prominent effect on the person’s life. If a person had experienced a near-death experience, and found that they had experienced a pleasant afterlife, then they would be more likely to be relaxed about death. Indeed, there are certain scholars who believe that one can only say that a religious experience has taken place, if there is a change in life. For example, Saul, commonly called Paul, had a famous conversion on the Road to Damascus.

All religious experiences, however, are convincing for the individual; no matter what the mitigating evidence, or how illogical the experience, the individual normally truly believes what they have seen or felt.

One of the greatest theologians of the age, Richard Swinburne, argues in favour of religious experience, including a clumative argument for the existence of God from the experiences. When one looks at the arguments from design, from ontology and from cosmology, one is looking at a particular part of existence. Swinburne argues that it is religious experiences that provide the best argument for the existence of God. By personally experiencing God’s existence in one’s life, it can bring about a more convincing belief in God than an inferred argument. When all of the arguments are cululated, an argument is formed which makes for a reasonable possibility for God’s existence.

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Swinburne feels that religious experiences can be put in to two main groups, public and private ones. Public religious experiences are ones where God’s actions are seen in the world at large, or in large scale events. When people argue for the existence of God from a design argument, they will often refer to seeing God’s wonder at work in the universe. Whilst the atheist may see nothing more than a starry sky, a theist may look at this and see the wonder of creation; a creation so perfect that it could only have come from God. The other group, ...

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