Religious Experience (A)



  • A posteriori = inferring God's existence from sprititual encounter


  • Swinburne: "An omnipotent and perfectly good creator will seek to interact with his creatures"


  • Direct proof = empirical evidence (5 senses)
  • Synthetic = from observation
  • Subjective = open to interpretation
  • Inductive = number of possible conclusions


  • 'Probability argument'
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  • Vardy: need to analyse precisely what we mean


  • Vardy cited Swinburne - 2 types of RE:


  • Public/ Corporate: see God/s action in public scene/ object eg. night sky OR can be unusual - breaches laws of nature
  • Private: can describe in normal language eg. dream OR cannot describe in normal language eg. St Teresa


  • Smart: "involving some kind of perception of the invisible world or a perception that some visible person is a manifestation of the invisible world"
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  • James - 4 ways:


  • Ineffability: directly experienced to be understood eg. St Teresa


  • Noetic quality: revelations and illuminations helf to provide knowledge and transcend rational categories


  • Transciency: last for short time and modify life eg. Paul/ Saul


  • Passivity: beyond control eg. Ian McCormack
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  • Otto: refers to "being in the prescence of an awsome power"


  • eg. conversion events offer "wholly other" nature of God


  • Wesley: "I felt my heart strangely warmed as I felt that I did trust in Christ for salvation"


  • Bible - Isaiah: "For I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King"
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Near Death

  • Tyler: recall what happened whilst 'dead'


  • eg. Ian McCormack - stung by jellyfish, experienced divine power
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  • lead to RE eg. music, dance, meditation and prayer


  • Temple: "when I pray, coincidences happen and when I don't, they don't"


  • Meditation = prayerful state - seek understanding and union with God to deepen relationship


  • H. D. Lewis: "not just a feeling, but a conviction or insight, a sense that something must be"
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1. Experience of x idicates reality of x

2. Experience of God indicates reality of God

3. Possible to experience God

Conclusion. God exists

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  • Principle of testimony: unless evidence to contrary should believe people
  • Swinburne: "In the absence of special considerations, the experiences of others are (probably) as they report them"
  • 3 types of evidence to render testimonies unreliable
    • Circumstances unreliable
    • Evidence to suggest lying
    • Can be explained in terms other than God
  • Basic principle of rationality to believe them because so many = Principle of credulity 
  • Swinburne: "how things seem to be is a good guide to how things are"
  • Based on principles and examines concepts of cumulative and inductive arguments
  • Cumulative = based on many different arguments
  • Tyler: weight of evidence taken into account
  • Swinburne: combined RE alongside teleological, cosmological, ontological and moral arguments
  • Swinburne: inductively - reasonable to assume God loving and wants personal relationship
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