Philosophy - religious expereince

OCR notes on religious expereince

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  • Created on: 19-05-12 16:56
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Religious Experience
An experience with religious significance e.g. the act of worship in a religious
A person's experience of something or a presence beyond themselves.
There are many definitions of religious experience which can in a general way be
divided into two groups: direct and indirect experiences.
Direct religious experience: Refers to events where God reveals her/himself
directly to the person having the experience. The religious experience is not
chosen or willed by the person; the person experiences or observes God in some
way. For example, Paul on the road to Damascus met the risen Jesus who
communicated with him. Rudolph Otto pointed out that a central element of
direct experience of God was an `apprehension of the wholly other', which he
called the `numinous'.
Indirect religious experience: Experiences, thoughts or feelings about God that
are prompted by events in daily life, for example observing the stars in the sky
and having thoughts about greatness of god the creator.
Rudolph Otto:
Religious experience `wholly other' which he called the `numinous'.
Awe, wonder, beauty used to describe a religious experience, but the nature of it
is ineffable.
Ineffable- beyond human power and abilities to fully describe and communicate.
A numinous experience is one of the "mysterium tremendum et fascinans" ­ that
particular experience that both attracts and repels with a sense of awe.
Numinous - The feeling of being in the presence of a greater being which is with
you yet somehow distant from you. Otto also observed that subjects were
drawn into experiences with both fear and fascination, something termed
mysterium tremendum et fascinans.
William James:
James describes religious experience as `divine'.
He argued that all normal persons have religious experiences and since God
is the final judge of truth, then God, as the object of religious experiences must
be accepted as factually true.
James further observes that the religious experiences in question tend to have a
profound effect on the lives of people and even whole societies, implying that
such effects cannot reasonably be attributed to hallucination.
It is much more reasonable to believe that a real God is responsible for religious
experiences than to attributes the profound effect of those experiences to a
mere imaginary being.
A religious experience has to have one of these qualities:
o Noetic: The experience leaves people feeling as though they have learned
something very significant. These experiences provide some kind of
insight or carry a message of revelation of truth.
o Ineffability/Ineffable: The experience is hard to describe in words, very
emotional. Those experiences that are so extraordinary they cannot be
described in a way that would make them intelligible to anyone who has
not had such an experience.

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Passivity/Passive: The religious experience happens to the subject
usually without conscious manipulation. Experiences that cannot be
actively sought or created. Often people describe their bodies being
`taken over' by a superior presence.
o Transiency/Transient: The experience is short in duration. Brief
experiences that do not last more than half an hour.
William James argued that religious experiences can range from experiences that
have little religious significance to those that are completely life changing.…read more

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Credulity-Experience is very reliable and the balance of probability says that
experience can be trusted. Even if some experiences tun out to be misleading we
should take the more likely view ­ which is that we can trust experience. He is
saying that it is more likely to be true than not to be true, therefore we should
accept it on balance unless we have convincing reasons not to. He is not saying
that experience is invaluable.
Testimony- Listen to what is given by others.…read more

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These leaders, especially the more well-known ones, are often referred
to as "anointed men," and the blessing itself is also often called the "anointing,"
or a "fresh anointing."
Corporate experience (bring happiness to many people), Drunk on the holy spirit
In Medjugorje, a tiny village in the former Yugoslavia, six people claim the Blessed
Virgin Mary has been appearing to them for over the past twenty one years. Her
messages are an invitation for all people to return to God.…read more

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Marx defined religion as the "opiate of the masses," a form of social control that
dulls the pain of oppression for the proletariat whilst preventing them from
seeing what needs to be done to stop their exploitation.
"People can't really be happy until the abolition of the illusion of religion" Marx
thus concluded that mystical experiences are the outward manifestations of this
drug induced state.…read more


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