Types of Religious Experience 1 - Conversion

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  • Types of Experience - Conversion
    • Refers to the change in direction or the turning around of someones life --> transform
    • It can be the product of or resulting in...
      • dissatisfaction with a system of ideas
      • a person begins to seek a way forward on an emotional and intellectual level
      • searching leads to a point of crisis and a decision is made
      • a sense of relief of pain
      • A change in direction or purpose
    • W. James
      • identified with movements of pragmatism and empiricism
      • 'Varieties of Religious Experience'
      • he suggested the psychological rationale for conversion
        • 'the unifying of the inner self'
      • believed it is the result of experience that gives it positive value, rather than the experience itself
        • a process which results in "smoothness"
        • self becomes unified
          • sick souls - pessimist
          • healthy minds - optimist
        • self-surrendring
        • transforming
      • results of conversion
        • loss of worry
        • perceiving truths
        • happiness
    • Moojan Momen argues there are 6 types of conversion experiences
      • 1. Intellectual - product of study
      • 2. Mystical - dramatic (dreams or visions)
      • 3. Experimentation - explores a faith before making a commitment
      • 4. Affectional - product of a positive relation
      • 5. Revivalist - appeal to emotion
      • 6. Coercive - takes place after a period of persuasion (mind-programming)
    • Why do conversions occur?
      • intellectual choice?
      • hypersuggestibility?
      • Marx saw religion as a projection of people's needs and the qualities people saw as important
        • experiences = illusions
      • Freud suggested there are psychological explanations
        • projections of our innermost desires
          • want to be reunited with parents --> portrayed by God (god = substitute for a parent)
    • Conversion as an Explanation for the Existence of God
      • 'Though the devil can give some pleasures, only God-produced experiences leave the soul in peace and tranquillity' - Teresa of Avilia
      • God of classical theism would be expected to 'seek people out'
        • people of sound mind can be trusted
      • When to reject a religious experience (Wainwright)
        • 1. We can prove the non-existence of God
        • 2. There are inconsistencies
        • 3. There is a natural origin known to cause false beliefs and delusions


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