Challenges to Religious Experience


V.S. Ramachandran

RE could be explained by natural reasons.

Discovered that when his patients with temporal lobe epilepsy were shown religious imagery their skin resistance changed dramatically. This made them more prone to RE.

RE can be brought about by the temporal lobes.

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Michael Persinger

RE could be stimulated.

Developed a helmet that produced weak magnetic fields, particularly across the temporal lobes. Over 800 participants believe they had some sort of RE.

This happens bc the brain defaults to a sense of infinity when it is deprived of the self-stimulation that is required to define itself as being distinct from the rest of the world.

Individual RE of 'oneness with the universe' is bc sense of self expands to fill the perception of the world itself.

Oneness and unity in a RE is explained by science.

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William James

RE can be stimulated by drugs.

When nitrous oxide and anaesthetics are mixed with air it 'stimulate the mystical unconsciousness to an extraordinary degree.'

RE is the result of taking drugs/alcohol bc the hallucinations when taking drugs are similar to RE.

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Immanuel Kant

Questioned whether the finite can experience the infinite.

He believed that we live in a phenomenal world - we experience the world through our senses which can only experience objects within time and space.

Humans cannot expereince God bc God is not an object of time and space.

It is impossible for finite humans to experience an infinite God bc humans only experience the world as it appears to them.

They have not experienced the God of classical theism bc he is beyond human understanding.

E.g. Job 36:26 'How great is God - beyond our understanding! The number of his years are past finding out.'

Did the recipient really experience God bc bible teaches that God cannot be experienced by finite humans.

RE conflicts with biblical teaching.

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