Reasons To Doubt That Religious Experiences Came From God

Relevent for AQA A2 Philosophy Unit 3: Philosophy of Religion.

-This is part of a section on the Arguments for Religious Experience.

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  • Created on: 13-06-10 17:06

Universalism of Principles

- People from different cultures have cited similar ways of understanding the world.

- This applies to colour, size, solidity etc of objects.

- By contrast religious experiences are not so universal; they are culture- bound. From the Christian idea of God to the Buddhist idea of nothingness.

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Response From William James

- We shouldn't think that religious experience as a whole could give us a whole theological system.

- We could argue the reality of something spiritual, at most, and perhaps criticise the existence of such things.

- Or perhaps reach tentative conclusions about what that is really like.

- We may also argue that people can experience the same thing but disagree on what it is that they have experienced.

-It is also suggested that the reason Religious Experiences are culture-bound, is because God presents to the recipient, a lesson or experience in a context with which they are familiar with. For example, while teaching a young child the basics of mathematics, I would not start by saying "Mathematics is the study of quantity, structure, space, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns, formulate new conjectures, and establish truth by rigorous deduction from appropriately chosen axioms and definitions."

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Is God the Best Explanation for Religious Experien

- Is some other explanation just as good?

- Perhaps it is just people are interpreting the reason for the experiences to fit their own views about a God and the world. Applying meaning to emotional experiences that is is not the awareness of the divine at all.

- One response to this claim would be that many people are not expecting the experience to occur. For example, towards the end of his life, atheist philosopher had a RE which caused a total abandonment of his beliefs. And the dismissal of years of his philosophy as the result of this experience. It is clear that was not expecting anything religious to occur.

- Again, here is another point; reguardless of whether they are genuine or not, RE's have a very profound effect on those who experience them, and are totally real to the recipient. Do have the right to criticise somebody's inner beliefs?

-However, this still does not assert whether Religious Experiences are genuine or not, despite their value.

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Reason and Logic cannot prove or disprove the authenticity of RE's, or whether they come from God. They are impossible to measure, as they are a completely random, passive process. Perhaps science could explain away why RE's occur.

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