Religious Experiences

A set of revision cards for Edexcels Philosophy and Ethics course for A Level.

Topic: Religious Experiences

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RE's - Introduction

RE definition: Individual or group experiences with the divine, giving those involved an awareness of something beyond themselves.

  • Pyramid texts of ancient Egypt (2494BCE)
  • What can lead to RE's? (Music, dance, meditation)
  • Dramatic or subtle?

William James: "an overwhelming feeling of reverence"

Paul Tillich: "ethical consequences" and "human response"

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RE's - Main Body

Andrew Greeley: Characteristics of RE's (inner peace, joy, emotional intensity)

William James: (The Varieties of RE's 1902)

  • Passivity - Bernadette at Lourdes
  • Ineffability - St Teresa of Avila

Kierkegaard: Intuition + Risk = Commitment (Moses and Mohammad)

Group Experiences: Toronto Blessing - Pastor John Arnott "Big Holy Spirit Party"

Modern: Jackie Pullinger "Jesus is everything" "if it wasnt for him..." Kowleon Walled City Hong Kong.

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RE's - Arguments in Favour

  • Principle of Testimony - What a person claims is probably so.

Richard Swinburne: "The experience of others is probably how they report them"

  • Principle of Credulity - Jackie and M. Teresa deserve credit.
  • Inductive Argument -Testimonies of individuals with similar characteristics

Richard Swinburne: "Seek to interact with his creatures"

  • Cumulative Argument - Arguments added together are convincing

John Hick: "A rational person might claim to know God exists"

Caroline Franks Davies - "scales of probability are evenly balanced"

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RE's - Arguments Against

Wittgenstein - No single experience can be replicated exactly.

Freud - Similarities between RE's and obsessional neurosis such as hallucination.

Ramana Maharshi - Lives in Arunchala Moutains without commerce. Separating yourself from the world can have unnatural effects. "Self enquiry is the one direct and immediate way" Similar to Hildergaard of Bingen.

Toronto Blessing - A benevolent God would not let there be negative consequences (danger)

  • Religious texts can be of disputable Historical accuracy
  • You can't prove them with Science
  • If you reject God you'd reject any form of RE.
  • Influence of drugs/alcohol.
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RE's - Conclusion

RA Gilbert: (Ineffability)

"...difficulty of discussing non-empiricical concepts soley in terms ot the intellect"

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