RS - Religious Experiences

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  • Religious Experiences
    • Persinger's Helmet
      • V.S. Ramachandran
        • could be God's walkie-talkie
      • stimulate the temporal lobes  to create religious experiences
        • confirmed by monks
        • god blind, god partially sighted, god sighted
          • Richard Dawkins is god blind
    • spontaneous
    • types of visions
      • imaginary; seen with the mind's eye
        • Jacob's ladder to Heaven
      • corporeal: a figure is seen as externally present
        • St Bernadette's vision of Mary
      • intellectual vision: brings knowledge and understanding of God
        • Julian of Norwich's revelation
    • William James - the varieties of religious expereince
      • 4 characteristics of religious experiences
        • Noetic Quality
          • brings understanding of the truth
            • "and I was answered in my understanding" Julian of Norwich
        • Innefability
          • beyond verbal description
            • "i wish i could give a description [...] i find it impossible" St Theresa of Avila
        • Transiency
          • short lasting but life changing
        • Passivity
          • loses control to a supernatural being
            • "i abandoned and forgot myself" St John of the Cross
            • speaking in tongues, different personalities, writing with wrong hand
      • responses to criticisms
    • Types of mysticism
      • Soul mysticism
        • finding the hidden soul allows self fullfillment
          • "the chief object of man is the quest for his own self" F.C. Happold
      • Nature Mysticism
        • God is immanent. He is expressed through/united with nature
    • Sigmund Freud
      • people are completely material
        • to understand our psychology and biology is to understand us
      • religious experiences are illusions
        • kind of like metaphors- Christ on the cross represents suffering, helplessness, separation
    • problems of verifying religious experience
      • drugs/alcohol
      • often experienced individually
      • useless to empirically test
        • subjective experiences cannot be offered as scientific
      • they often portray the being they saw differently
        • doesn't make them all useless
      • Psychopathological issues - mental health issues
      • the mind can misjudge experiences under extreme conditions - mirages
      • a finite cannot experience an infinite
    • how to test religious experiences
      • coherence theory - is it coherent with other proven truths within a given system of thought
        • is it similar to other religous experiences
      • pragmatic theory
        • what is the consequence of accepting the experience?
      • correspondence theory - does it correspond with something we know to be true
    • Richard Swinburne
      • cumulative approach
        • "on our total evidence theism is more probable than not"
      • principle of credulity
        • "what one seems to percieve probably is so"
        • 4 key challenges (Caroline Frank Davis)
          • the circumstances (intoxication) or person (pathological liar) are unreliable
          • the recipient is unable to interpret the event (children)
          • we can prove what was seen wasn't there
          • we can prove that what was seen wasn't involved
      • principle of testimony
        • we should trust generally trustworthy people
    • Numinosity
      • Rudolf Otto
        • book - "das heilige"
      • describes the power or presence or realisation of a divinity
      • "Mysterium tremendum et fascinans"
        • fearful and fascinating mystery
          • like nothing we've ever seen before
          • scary
          • amazing/beautiful
    • William Stace
      • "a oneness or a One to which the senses nor reason can penetrate.’
  • how to test religious experiences
    • coherence theory - is it coherent with other proven truths within a given system of thought
      • is it similar to other religous experiences
    • pragmatic theory
      • what is the consequence of accepting the experience?
    • correspondence theory - does it correspond with something we know to be true

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