- Created by: Steven Snowball
- Created on: 05-04-18 16:54
Types of Vision
- A type of Empircal Experience - experience through the senses. Seeing God in nature.
- e.g Berandette Soubirous - saw a vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes - 'I am the Immaculate Conception' - the priest then knew she had seen Mary.
- A type of Corporal experience - has no power over the experience - not perceived by sight.
- e.g. Pharaohs Dream & Josephs Dream
- The is no image - 'see things as they really are' - they can't be described using ordinary language.
- e.g. St Teresa of Avila - expereinces with Jesus Christ
Rudolf Otto - Numinous experiences
The Idea of the Holy - encounters with the scared / holy - the holliness of God.
- The numinous - relating to the power or presence of a deity (God)
- e.g. C.S.Lewis - Chronicals of Narnia - at 15 started an Atheist, had an ongoing experience and a 'compelling embrace for God and became a Christian at 30.
- Our feelings of the numinous are 'sui generis' (of their own kind) - God is different from anything and everything and is beyond the natural world.
- Numinous feelings are not just more intense feelings but in a complete world of there own.
- They are Non-rational - we can't use reason and explanation.
- They are 'mysterium tremendum et fascinans' (tremendous and facinating mystery)
- They inspire a feeling of awe and wonder, aswell as fear and terror
- It focuses on God's transcendence and iminance - God is so far from humanity we need numinous expereince to be able to approach Him.
William James - Mystical Experiences
'The feelings, acts & experiences of men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine'
- The objective of Mystical Experience is to have 'union with God'
- Religous Experience is Primary and Religious practice is Secondary - we dont have experiences because we go to church but they are an interaction with God.
- James doesn't see God as being omnipotent and is likely to be finite than infinite - God isnt a single entity rather a collection of Gods. He believes God is temporal and finite.
4 criteria for a mystical experience- PINT
- Passivity - beyond the person's control
- Ineffable - can't be described in words, has to be directly experienced, and cannot be transfered or imparted to others. A feeling you can't explain.
- Noetic quality - give new knowledge - so the experiencer learns new things
- Transinecy - can't be sustained for long
A mystical experience is so God can meet an individual and help them with personal concerns - God is not found in one relgion, but is perceived by individuals. God is unique to everyone.
Walter Stace - Non-sensuous & intellectual union
Does Mystercism make sense?
- Stace defines mystercism as non-senuous and non-intelectual
- Mystcis - someone who has had a religious experience not people.
- Visions are not mystical experiences - real experiences have no shape, smell, sound -they're non sensuous. However they are sensuous experience.
Types of Mystical Experience
- Extrovertive - sees the world of normal object - but a non-senuous entity, shines through it. e.g. Candle
- Introvertive - Ordinary conciousness is replaced by a new form of conciousness
Challenges to Religious experiences
Do experiences come from an external source? Does the mind act as a receiver? What is the meaning behind the experience from God? If the experience is generated in the brain, what is the meaning?
Relgious experiences are difficult to prove.
- We only have the word of the individual,
- If they are subjective / private they are only in the mind
- If there ineffible - they can't be explained by the experiencer
- There are natural explanations
- Some religious experiences contradict one another
- Some experiences are group experiences - you dont just rely on the testemony of one person.
- Just because they are private, doesn't make them false
- They may be ineffible, so difficult to compare and investigate, doesn't make them false
- There are so many reported experiences, its hard to say they don't happen.
Challenges to Religious experiences from science
Most challenges by science claim experiences are a product of the mind
1. Sigmund Freud - religion is wish-fulfillment by the uncounsious mind - when people claim to have visons - there just hallucinations caused by our need to have control over our helpless state.
2. TLE - Temporal lobe epilepsy - suffers are prone to have visions and expereinces - religous experiences are nothing more than abnormal states of the brain. Great religious figures have suffered with this condition. e.g. St Paul
3. TLE is supported by neurotheology - religious experiences are produced by electrical stimulations of the temporal lobes in the brain - The God Helmet is used to stimulate these lobes and found that they did indeed cause a religious like experience. This suggests that religious experiences of God are not from God but caused by the brain.
4. Religious experiences can be caused by certain drugs - e.g. LSD or entheogens - people who take them feel 'Divine from within' and claim to have religious experiences.
Responses to Science
- Freud's Hypothesis can't be tested
- All the remaining challenegs claim religious statments can be bought about by the individual's own mental state.
Religious believers respond
- God wants to give people religious experiences, these have to be processed by the brain as this is how we process things - the temporal lobes is the strutre of the brain God uses to bring about religious experiences.
- The mind can generate them and interact with God - as God is personal and relates to people in many ways - God's Holy spirit and Gift to humans is used as a guide and comforter.
- Christains don't have to wait for God to reveal something to them, they can reach out to God - for those who experience God through nature will experienece God's power.
- We reach out to God through our mind.
- For Christains, the mind can both receive and initiate the experiences from God and also reach out to God.
Swinburne's principle of Credulity
The existence of God cannot be proved by logical arguments - our experiences of the world suggets God probably exists.
The Principle of Credulity
- 'If it seems to someone X is present then X is probably present, what someone perceives is probably so'
- All religious experiences ought to be taken as genuine - the way things seem to be is the way things really are in the absence of 'special considerations.
Special Considerations - (However Swinburne rejects all of them)
- The Reliability of the claim - if the claimer is a frequent lier (Doesn't mean there lying now)
- The Truth of the claim - if the claims are perceptually unlikey (Can't prove claims are false)
- Diffiuclty showing that God was present in the experienece (God is everywhere)
- What can be claimed can be accounted for in other ways (God underpins all processes)
Swinburne's principle of Testimony
In the absence of special conditions the experiences of others are as they report them - unless there is evidence to doubt its true.
We should believe what people tell us provided there isn't a valid reason why we shouldn't
- 1. Someone who has a religious experience follows the Principle of Credulity
- 2. The Testimony of others who report similar experiences supports such a claim
Evaluation of Swinburne
- Relgious experiences are reliable evidence for the existence of God.
- However can we move from being convinced about the reliability of what people claim to claims about God?
- Accounts of relgious experiences are first-person private - how do we prove something that happened within their head and confirm their vision?
- Even if every expereince showed that it was an expereinece of God - it would not prove that God is the right explanation for such experiences.
In Favour of Swinburne
- If someone really believes they have had an experience of God, this will change their life forever. Since we often see a change in lifestyle after an experience, this is strong evidence for the reliability of the claim.
- This can then be supported by Testimony
- We need to consider 'the Cumulative Argument' - Relgious experience strengthens all arguments for the existence of God.
The Influence of Religious Experience
Religious experiences can be foundational - experiences have been the direct cause of founding of many religions. e.g. Saul, became Paul the apostle for Christianity.
Religious experiences are inspirational - causes martyrs - those who have died and convinced others have become saints e.g. Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa.
Religious experiences are at the heart of pilgrimage - e.g.Bernadette Subirous - a shrine at Loudres.
Religious experiences are Life Changing. e.g. Billy McCurry & Nicky Cruz- they bring about new life in people, some become inspired.
e.g Billy Cruz was part of a big gang, his friend, who was was an evangelical, tried to convert him and change his ways, but to no success. Eventually, over time the church held a meeting and this converted Billy and some of his friends to Christianity - they took all their gang related items to the police station and left the gang, at a price. He is now very active within the church.
The Value of Experience for Religious Faith
Religious Experience confirms faith - e.g. Teresa of Avila said that she didn't know that Christ had been involved with the experience - but she knew and felt that Christ was close by.
Religious experiences will strengthen faith for believers - they will feel the experiences and their beliefs hold truth and justice.