The Argument from Religious Experience

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  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 11-05-13 17:24
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  • The Argument from Religious Experience
    • William James' Argument
      • The existence of God is supported - not proven - by religious experiences
      • RELIGION: individual and is based upon the feelings you have during a religious experience
        • Religious experiences are more important than teachings and rituals
      • Religious experiences are phenomena that occur in our brains
        • However, there is a supernatural element too
        • Argument is based upon 3 Principles:
          • Empiricism: religious experiences are received through our senses, so can be studied scientifically
            • Everything is biased, even scientific experiments, so it is not worth pointing out that REs are subject to bias
          • Pragmatism: The truth is whatever is helpful to an individual at that time
            • Therefore, if someone is claiming to have had an experience and it has had a positive effect, then it is true for them!
          • Pluralism: religious experiences can contradict each other, but this doesn't mean they are not genuine
            • Whether or not it contradicts another is irrelevant to whether it is true to reality
            • People have varying backgrounds, so how someone interprets the experience will depend on their culture
    • Richard Swinburne's Argument
      • Religious experience provides an important argument for the existence of God
      • Argues religious experiences are genuine using 2 Principles:
        • Principle of Credulity: If someone believes they've experienced something, they probably have
        • Principle of Testimony: Unless they are a liar or disturbed  a person's description of a religious experience is probably true
        • The Cumulative Argument follows these principles:
          • Most people who think they have had a religious experience actually have...
          • ...and most people who say they had one actually think they did.
          • Together, these mean most religious experiences are genuine: God probably exists.


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