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What does the phrase Religious Experience mean?

Direct Religious Experiences ­ Rudolph Otto
Cases where people encounter god in a direct way
EG Paul on the road to Damascus
Otto pointed out the eternal element of direct experiences was an
apprehension of a wholly other which was numinous
Nature of…

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Vision Experience ­ Teresa of Ávila
Divine is seen or observed
Information may be revealed
Awake or a dream
Intellectual vision ­ the experience is seen rather than something
EG Teresa of Ávila ­ `saw Christ at my side ­ or, to put it better I was
conscious of…

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William James' Argument from Religious Experience
Book ­ Varieties of religious Experience
Psychological approach
Interested in explaining the nature of the wide variety of religious
experiences people have
James assumed religious experience was the source of religious
institutions and central to religious belief
Thought churches were secondary to religious experiences…

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Are Religious Experiences Veridical?

Swinburne suggested two principles used to assess claims about
religious experiences
We have good reason to believe what a person tells us
Three reasons why we have good grounds to disbelieve
1. Reasons to believe they were mistaken ­ e.g. drugs

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Physiological Challenges
One argument against R.E is that they have physiological cause eg did
Paul have epilepsy ­ seeing the bright light? Or a brain tumour?
Weakness to the argument is not everyone who had a R.E was suffering
from an illness that could cause side effects such as hallucinations,…

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That's why people in different cultures have R.E of different things/ people
influenced by the young Hegelians and suggested religion was an
alienation from one's self
Religion was about mythological beliefs and ab unreal god distracting
people from reality
Religion is the opium of the people
Form of…

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large number of people who have R.E suggests god exists
many philosophers argue that with other arguments for gods existence
suggests it is likely that god exists
authority of a religious experience doesn't extend past the mystic
philosophical demonstration of gods existence based on religious
experience is not possible


Veronica Aaronson


Very good notes. Many thanks.

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