First 654 words of the document:
Are religious experiences veridical? ; can we actually demonstrate that the religious experiences of
people are what they seem to be? I.e. experiences of god rather than drug delusions.
`Principle of Credulity'; other things being equal, we have good reason to believe what a person tells
us is correct. In general, if a person tells us they saw a cat crossing the road, we believe them, even
if we have not seen the event. Even if only one person sees the event, it still counts. Unless there is
good evidence that they are mistaken.
Three reasons to disbelieve; maybe reasons to believe the person was mistake, e.g. hallucinations
due to illness. Second, we may have strong reasons to believe that God does not exist that would
count against religious experiences. Thirdly, there may be evidence showing that the event was not
caused by God, e.g. two twins in an arcade, you could think you saw John, but later find out it was
`Principle of Testimony'; it is reasonable to believe what someone tells you. For example if you best
friend tells you they experience a religious experience, what reason do you have to doubt them?
You may want to investigate it, but there's no reason to reject the claim. However, if the y are
renowned for being a joker or a liar may undermine your instinct to believe them.
Some argue that not everyone has religious experiences, and this maybe a reason to say experiences
are caused by something else. People dying of thirst in the desert hallucinate that they can see an
oases, but this not make the hallucination real. If religious experiences are like this, then they do not
This does not mean that religious experiences cannot exist. Swinburne argues that people may not
be able to recognise them as religiously significant if they have no previous religious knowledge, the
same as a person not being able to recognise a telephone if they do not know what it is. Therefore it
is more likely that religious people are likely to experience religious experiences as they have a
greater chance of recognising them.
The principles also draw attention to the importance of peoples' prior beliefs. For example, if you
believe that ET does exist, you are more likely to think reports of aliens or their space craft being
discovered as credible. If you do not believe they exist though there is less chance of you thinking
reports are credible. In the same way if there is evidence that suggests God could exist, it is not
surprising to hear of reports of religious experiences, which in turn suggests and supports God's
Argues that in the same way we have no reason to doubt the reliability of someone's' senses in
judging whether they can hear a bird sing or see a red car, we have no reason to doubt they have
experienced a religious experience in the same way.
Many people claim you can have a religious experience by using sociology or psychology. Alston
argues that this is a `double standard' because religious experiences are also `sense perceptions'. He
also points out that there is no reason to reject a claim just because the explanation is unusual.
Also rejects claims that religious experiences are unverifiable or uncheckable. The way you check
anything is by making other sense observations. All other people 's religious experiences are also
sense observations, which you cannot verify.
They do not show the experience of God, but they do show that it is not fair to simply reject religious
experiences as illogical and irrational.