Religious Experience and Mysticism- Extra Notes

Some extra notes to clarify important points

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Additional points about religious experience
Swinburne would argue that an omnipotent and perfectly good creator would choose to
interact with human beings, and that religious experience therefore tips the balance in
favour of God's existence.
Brian Davies believes "the truth of a belief is not affected by the factors that bring the
belief about", i.e. even if the circumstances are questionable, the experience itself is not
necessarily invalid.
Hare, an antirealist, believes that we all have our own "blik", an unfalsifiable worldview- all
interpretations of religious experience and part of this blik, and so cannot be disproved as
evidence for the existence of God.
Ockham's razor suggests God is the simplest explanation for religious experience and
therefore is the most likely.
Charismatic experience= an experience of the Holy Spirit e.g. speaking in tongues
Alastair Hardy research unit= the religious experience research unit in Oxford; studies here
conclude that a majority of the population have had a spiritual experience.
Biblical religious experiences include:
Saul's conversion- St. Paul (Acts 9)
Pentecost and speaking in tongues (Acts 2)
Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3)
The Transfiguration (Mark 9)
Common features= sense of union with the divine, sense of separateness, time is
transcended, something is revealed, sense of well being.
St. Teresa of Avila- famous mystic, believed Christ presented himself to her
Mother Julian of Norwich- also had intense visions of Jesus
Introvertive mystical experience- mystics look inwards on their experience and understand
their oneness with the divine.
Objective mystical experience- the experience of the mystic is like that of the poet,
contemplating outward circumstances.
Clifton Wolters- "the Christian mystic is regarded as one who has been raised to a high
degree of contemplative prayer"


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