'Corporate religious experiences prove the existence of God' Discuss

This is my argument for what I would include in this essays, I like the layout but instead of Advantages and Disadvantages my two sides will be YES and NO, one side agreeing with the statement and the other disagreeing

Religious studies:- philosophy of religion, ocr, a2 - jan 2012 paper


'Corporate religious experiences prove the existence of God' Discuss


  • Firstly, briefly in the introduction describe what a corporate religious experience is and with an example:- Toronto blessing 1994 is a well known one
  • Individual religious experiences are hard to have any authority for people other than the person experiencing it but corporate experiences show a stronger indication of something happening which has authority further than one person - it is widespread amongst that group
  • Swinburne would put forward his defence as with his principles of testimony and credulity = we should believe what appears to be true and what others tell us and group experiences have a stronger testimony
  • Psychologist Jung, however, would object Freud on the basis that numinous experience was essential to achieve psychological wholeness


  • People act differently in groups as they do as individuals so religious experiences can be highly influenced by the group whom is involved
  • It is known that prior to the toronto blessing there was a lot of prayers, hymns and preaching which can build up the atmosphere and enhance what happened. Russell said "people drink too much and see snakes whilst others fast too much as see God" - the whole situation was emphasised so it proves little about God's existence
  • It is difficult to believe in a God whom performs corporate experiences but leaves people starving in Africa it makes us believe in an undesirable God
  • Marx saw religious experiences as wish-fulfilment and origins come from society and would reject it in proving God as it is the opium of the people and rejected in on a sociological approach
  • William James saw that religious institutions such as the church were the source of religious experiences and he saw occasions of 'over-belief' which is what he would find to be true here as the group of people are influenced by one and other
  • On a psychological objection; Freud would say that the experience is due to childhood insecurities for a child figure


Although there are examples of corporate experiences, it is possible that they can be described in alternative ways as the experiences were built up prior to the experience in many cases. For this reason corporate experiences do not demonstrate the existence of God as the experiences can be otherwise explained as wish-fulfilment or over-belief and do not provide sufficient reasoning to prove the existence of God. 


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