Religious Experiences

A basic overview of the Religious Experiences topic.

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  • Created by: Megan
  • Created on: 10-07-12 14:36

What is a religious Experience?

A religious experience can be defined in a number of ways but usually suggests an awareness or the presence of the divine.

  • 2 Types:

1) Direct= The preson feels they are in contact with God.

2) Indirect= Where there is an inner experience of God's action in creation and something other.

  • Martin Buber: God revealing himself to people on a personal level. 
  • Tillich: A feeling of 'ultimate concern', a feeling that demands a decisive decision from the one receiving it. 
  • James: God was present, though invisible he fell under not one of my senses yet my consciousness perceived.
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Types of Religious Experiences

  • Mystical: Experience of direct contact or oneness with God or ultimate reality.
  • Numinous: Experiences of awe and wonder in the presence of God.
  • Corporate: Religious experiences that happen to a number of people at once in the same location.
  • Conversion: The change of a person's religious identity because of their religious experience. 
  • Near-Death: Experiencing some form of life after death before coming back to life.
  • Responses to life and the world: A gentle, indirect experience which enhances a person's understanding of their life and the world around them.
  • Revelatory: Receiving enlightenment and knowledge, perhaps through a revelation from God.
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Factors that lead to religious experiences

  • Music and atmosphere

 

  • Meditation

 

  • Prayer
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Common themes between religious experiences

  • A feeling of deep, inner peace.
  • A certainty that everything will turn out for the good.
  • A sense of the need to help others.
  • A belief that love is at the centre of everything.
  • A sense of joy.
  • Great emotional intensity.
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Mystical Experiences

An experience of direct contact or oneness with God or ultimate reality.

William James relies on 3 main principles: Empiricism, pragmatism and pluralism.

  • Julian of Norwich
  • St Teresa of Avila

Why they prove God's existence?

  • If you experience God, you believe that he does exist.

Criticisms:

  • The experiences are deceptive.
  • Manipulation of psychological needs and illusions.
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Conversion Experiences

The change of a person's identity because of their religious experience.

  • The conversion of Saul
  • Nicky Cruz
  • John Pridmore

Why they prove God's existence?

  • William James suggests that the drastic change to a person's lifestyle is empirical evidence of a religious experience and therefore God.
  • Atheists have reported cases of religious experiences, so surely this is proof of God's existence.

Criticisms:

  • The experience is individual and so there is a lack of evidence to support the claims.

 

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Near death experiences

Experiencing some form of life after death before coming back to life.

  • Ian McCormack

Why they prove God's existence?

  • The evidence suggests there is some form of life after death and would therefore imply that God does exist.
  • The number of examples and evidence makes the argument more believable.

Criticisms:

  • The experiences could have been due to medication that the person was given, causing them to hallucinate.
  • As the experience is individual we can't really know what actually happened.
  • There is no physical explanation.
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Corporate experiences

Religious experiences that happen to a number of people at once in the same location.

  • The Toronto Blessing
  • Lourdes

Why they prove God's existence?

  • As this type of experience happens to a number of people in the same location this suggests some kind of religious significance and would imply that God is intervening in the world thorugh religious experiences.

Criticisms:

  • Some people argue that a corporate experience is only a pschological thing as we may see someone laughing and will get the same feelings.
  • The number of people these experiences happen to takes away the importance and significance of the concept of religious experiences.
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