Overview of Religious Experience

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  • Religious Experience
    • Visions
      • Group Visions
        • Visions that are seen by more than one person - British Army at Mons
      • Individual Visions
        • Visions seen by only one person - Bernadette at Lourdes
      • Corporeal Visions
        • The object is external but only visible to certain people
      • Imaginative Visions
        • The image is produced in the person's imagination
      • A vision can be defined as something seen other than by ordinary sight, i.e. supernatural
    • Conversion
      • Conversion from no religion to a faith
        • e.g. Augustine
      • Conversion from one faith to another
        • e.g. Sundar Singh who was raised a devout Sikh, and consencrated from his youth to become a Hindu sadhu
      • Conversion from faith (believing) to faith (trusting)
        • The reformer Martin Luther, who was a monk and a priest
      • A conversion can be defined as 'a process of religious change which transforms the way the individual perceives the rest of society
      • Results of Conversion
        • The loss of worry
          • The sense of perceiving truths not known before
          • A sense of clean and beautiful newness within and without
          • The ecstasy of happiness is produced
    • Mysticism
      • Mysticism is usually understood in a religious context, similar experiences may happen to anyone
      • Experiences can occur without preparation and at any time and might not be understood as religious experiences at all
        • It's often seen as a spiritual journey in which the ultimate goal is achieved: union with God. It's an experience of oneness with the divine.
      • Hans King, Rudolf Otto and Wayne Teasdale
      • William James' features of Mystical Experiences
        • Passive - It happens without acknowledgement
        • Ineffable - Can't describe it in words or ordinary language
        • Noetic - new knowledge
        • Transient - fleeting
    • Challenges to Religious Experiences
      • Michael Persinger
        • He is a cognitive neuroscience researcher who agrees that the temporal lobes have a significant role in religious experience
          • He says that religious experiences are no more than the brain responding to external stimuli
            • Persinger has developed a helmet which produces weak magnetic across the hemispheres of the brain, specifically the temporal lobe
              • Over 900 people who have taken part in the experience claim to have had some form of religious experience
                • It is thought that this happens because when under the influence of the helmet, the brain is deprived of the self-stimulation and sensory input that is required for it to define itself as being distinct from the rest of the world


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