THEME 3 POR RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE

  • Created by: Banisha.
  • Created on: 29-05-18 09:08

KEY FEATURES OF RELIGION

  • unxpected, rare
  • inexpliciable - cannot be explained by the laws of nature
  • awe inspiring - extra ordinary
  • seen by believers as coming from god - theistic proofts
  • christians = demonstrate/ authenticate that jesus came from god with the authority of god = christs divinity - authenticating signs 
  • can be interpreted symbolically
  • surprising event - act of power 
  • event within nature given a religious interpretation 
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SCHOLARLY DEFINITIONS OF MIRACLES - HOLLAND

HOLLAND - anti realist - focuses on subjective significance 'remarkable and beneficial coincidence that is interpreted in a religious fashion'

miracles are not violations of the laws of nature but coincidences - miracles my be consistent with natural law - may qualify as miraculous - better to see miracles as coincidences than falsify the laws of nature = focus on their significance to human life as signs 

contingency miracle - a sign pointing to god with religious significance that reveals god to people

uses examples of THE CHILD ON THE TRACK - train stops just in time not hitting the child 

STRENGTHS - easy to understand, coheres with science/ empiricism by removing supernatural elements, distinguishes beteen beneficial and non beneficial events 

WEAKNESSES - all miracles cannot be anti-real, religious miracles are regarded as historical objective facts, miracles become non-cognitive aspects of the mind that cannot be falsified, Hollands views of miracles suggests miracles are just delusions of the mind 

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SCHOLARLY DEFINITIONS OF MIRACLES - AQUINAS

defines miracles as 'those things which are done by divine power apart form the order generally followed in things - god intervenes with nature 

1. events done by god which nature could never do = logically/ physically impossible ie virgin birth

2. events done by god which nature could do but not in that order ie instaneous beings

3. events done by god which nature can do but god does without the use of natural laws ie noahs flood

STRENGTHS - allows miracles within the natural order of things, 3 types of miracles oulined and explained 

WEAKNESSES - no mention of gods purposes in miracles, who gets a miracles/ why?, why does god not intervene more if people are suffering? can we really call god all loving?

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MIRACLES AND NATUAL LAWS

traditional concept of a miracle includes two things 

1. an interuption to the process of nature that cannot be explained by natural laws 

2. an interuption that bears some deeper usually religious significance 

natural law - an observation that something will happen based on regular priori experience. NL are descriptive not prescripitive - they tell us what has happened - not what must happen 

problematic to define miracles in terms of breaking natural laws?

  • all the world is controlled by god - both natural/ unnatural depend on himm - makes no sense to speak of his intervention because it implies a time when god is not involved 
  • HICK - whenever an unusal thing happens we can just widen our natural laws to incorporate it - miracles get swallowed up by natural laws 
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DEFINITIONS OF MIRACLES

  • DAVIES - breaks in the natural order of events in the material world 
  • HUME - transgression of the law of nature by particular violation of the deity 
  • MACKIE - a violation of a law brought by a divine/ supernatural intervention 
  • AQUINAS - done by divine power apart from the order generally followed - 3 types 
  • HOLLAND - an extraordinary concidence of a benefical nature interpreted religiously
  • SWINBURNE - religious significance that reveal something about god/ religious truth 
  • THOMPSON - to call an event a miracle is to call it a marvel - evokes wonder and awe 
  • PURTILL- contrast idea, cant be clear about what a miracle is, act of power, sign of god
  • MOORE - miracle occurs when there is no other explanation
  • SUTHERLAND - transformation of a person/ situation, ability for good to break through 
  • FLEW - it could be remarkable power of human mind - like a placebo effect
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HOW ADEQUATE ARE DEFINITONS OF MIRACLES?

ADEQUATE 

  • Religious significance, contrast idea
  • breaks natural laws, self evidently important 

NOT ADEQUATE 

  • definitions beg the question - assume everything they are trying to prove 
  • miracle not analytic truths - various interpretations ie symbolic, coincidence, delusion
  • suffer same problems as religious language - antireal, noncognitive, symbolic
  • miracles are weakened by the arbitariness problem - who gets the rare miracle/ why?
  • pluralism problem - too many various definitions 
  • not open to verification/ falsification - could be defined as meaningless 

CONTRADICTORY? YES - hume/ swinbure see miracles as occuring outside laws of nature but aquinas sees them within, some definitions rely on realism and regard miracles as historic/ literal, others define them as anti real based on non literalism and subjectivity. NO - miracles can be varied/ divine purposes - they do not have to be limited to a single essence/ characteristic 

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8 REASONS TO BELIEVE IN MIRACLES

swinburnes principles - CREDULITY/ TESTIMONY imply that we can trust our senses and trust other peoples testimony 

swinburne argues that no single argument about god is persuasive on its own - argues for the cumulative case -adding arguements all together= stronger case than one by itself 

James - self authentication - experience fundamental/ important, identified the 'fruits' of religious exp such as miracles having a self evident authenticity

Davies 4 reasons - if a miracle is consistent with other things we know to be true = coherence, if the miracle is similar to other documented miracles = consistency, if the consequences of the miracle are morally good =consequential, if the miracle offers deep/ profound spiritual insights =  comprehension 

pascal - miracles are beyond philsophical investigation - a true experience of god could not be comprehened / explanied by philisophy 

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8 REASONS TO BELIEVE IN MIRACLES

james - belief in miracles is fideistic - fideism - means faith - insists on reason/ rationality are different, faith is always opposed to evidence = pointless trying to prove it 

swinburne/locke - authenticating signs - to know that miracles are considered important in the bible ,credentials are given by god himself 

LITERARY GENE - historical grammatical method - type of literature that is written determines its meanings - we are not entitled to see miracles as myths or symbols as they are interpreted literally seen as narrative texts 

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SUMMARY OF HUMES CRITIQUE OF MIRACLES

  • miracles are defined as breaking the laws of nature - however nl never break/ are uniform, experience of nl is the strongest proof against miracles - probability of a miracle taking place is so low as to render it impossible - wise person lives by observable evidence 
  • miracles are only supported by personal testimony - needs to be amazing that a witness should be wrong about their claim
  • witnesses of miracles need to be sufficient in number - welle educated/ rational with a good repuatation, performed in a well public place 
  • people like hearing miracle stories - more likely to believe them - pass on second hand stories to impress others even if they do not believe 
  • believers delude themselves - promote their faith with the best intentions 
  • we should reject religious/ miraculous claims because they come from non scientific/ ignorant principles of logic 'barbarous' miracle accounts come from pre literate/ pre scientific countries
  • all different religions of the world so all cannot be true - so they cancel each other out so no miraculous claims remain intact
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SCHOLARLY CRITICISMS OF HUMES CRITIQUE OF MIRACLES

COLE 

  • Hume wrote when evidence avaliable was written/verbal now we have a wide range of sources 
  • miracle accounts can only council each other out only if they are equal
  • some miracles may come from different sources ie evil therefore cannot cancel each other out
  • some religions accept truth claims - do not cancel each other our 
  • hume contradicts himself - a miracle in france reported by witnesses who were well educated 
  • humes criteria is too strict 
  • judges miracles by their frequency - believers argue it should be by their purpose 
  • how does science develop or evoke?

HAMILTON 

  • Miracle reports can be seen as evidence for more than one religion - do not cancel each other 
  • miracles have not been confined to ignorant barbarous people
  • no reason to believe religious people cannot distinguish between true/ false reports 
  • wrong to suggest religious people are uneducated - unfair generaliations 
  • what counts as a sufficient number? he is vague and imprecise 
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SCHOLARLY CRITICISMS OF HUMES CRITIQUE OF MIRACLES

HABERMAS CRITICISMS 

  • his definition begs the question - assuming everything he is trying to prove - not a sound basis
  • uniformitarian prejudice - approaches the world with an unfair judgement - cannot know what will happen in the future 
  • humes objections are unscientific - repeatable exceptions to laws which propel science forward and leads to new developments - only repeatable exceptions call for anew natural law 
  • hume does not weigh up evidence - absurd to disbelieve a miracle which has occured with overwhelming evidence 
  • hume says we should believe what is most probable - wise belief is based on facts not odds , confuses quantity of evidence with quality 
  • his policy of adding evidence would reject the belief in anything unusual/ unique 
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HOW EFFECTIVE IS HUMES CHALLENGES TO MIRACLES?

EFFECTIVE 

  • based on empirical/ scientific evidence
  • rarity of evidence is problematic
  • quantity and quality of testimony is problemtatic 
  • developing countries have less rationalism/ scientific methods of enquiry 
  • believers do not motives regarding the promotion of their beliefs 

NOT EFFECTIVE 

  • empiricism as a basis for his arguement is an assertion - not a fact
  • defintion begs the question 
  • criteria is too strict
  • outdates/ cancelling arguments out only works for precise examples
  • offensive to believer - makes unfair generalisations 
  • arguement is circular - defines miracles into non existence 
  • his arguements are vague 
  • what counts as good sense / education?
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SWINBURNES 11 POINTS OF MIRACLES

  • we can reasonably expect a personal god to interact with us occassionally 
  • miracles are given as authenticating signs of revelation 
  • miracles by their very nature cannot be too frequent 
  • analogy with parents - god responds to special pleading prayer 
  • miracles can be assessed with physical evidence, addition to testimony
  • reasonably find evidence for non repeatable expectations to natural laws
  • hume is bigoted and close minded
  • humes standards for evidence are unrealistically high/ strict
  • scientific evidence is not intrinsically better than historical evidence 
  • we can infer that violations of natural laws were cause by a god 
  • humes claim that miracles cancel each other out because they are contradictory is rarely true
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SWINBURNES 11 POINTS OF MIRACLES COUNTER CRITICISM

  • we can reasonably expect a personal god to interact with us occassionally - begs the question trying to prove too many assumptions 
  • miracles are given as authenticating signs of revelation - assumes literal interpretations of miracles
  • miracles by their very nature cannot be too frequent - does not explain their rarity
  • analogy with parents - god responds to special pleading prayer - does not explain rare intervention
  • miracles can be assessed with physical evidence, addition to testimony - physical evidence easy to manipulate
  • reasonably find evidence for non repeatable expectations to natural laws - begs the question
  • hume is bigoted and close minded- ad hominen fallacy- attacks the person not arguement
  • humes standards for evidence are unrealistically high/ strict - should be high to avoid error
  • scientific evidence is not better than historical evidence - science is replicable
  • we can infer that violations of natural laws were cause by a god - arbitary 
  • humes claim that miracles cancel each other out because they are contradictory is rarely true
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SWINBURNES RESPONSES TO HUME VALID?

VALID 

  • reasonable not to amend science with non repeatable singularity
  • logical to define miracles as rare by nature
  • use of analogies help to understand metaphysica; problems 

NOT VALID

  • arbitrariness problem - who gets the miracle?
  • arguements by analoy are disanalogous 
  • science and history arent the same - science can be repeated 
  • begs the question - assumes existence of an interaction god 
  • assumes literal historicity of biblical miracles 
  • attack on humes character- ad hominen fallacy
  • principles are too generous/ judge religious/ non religious phenonmena by the same criteria 
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MORE CRITICISMS

  • most scholars take a critical, non literal approach of miracles = anti realist view 
  • THOMPSON - dismisses miracles claiming they can be explained as coincidences can be rejected as pointless
  • GOETHE - claimed miracles as delusional and gullible irrationality
  • BULTMAN - argued the modern mind cannot be expected to believe miracle accounts - we need to 'demythologise' the stories - removal of the myth 
  • FEUERBACH - argued that miracles are projections of the mind subjective wishful thinking

hume and swinburne make assumptions/ use fallacies and argue assertions rather than evidence 

religious experiences strengthens, unifies, brings identity, purpose, affirms faith

religious experiences overcome doubts, strengths against temptation, helps with stress and adversity

ALISTER HARDY - religious experience - believes it is another conviction that there is another realm and dimension - transcendent - believes this affects the person view of the world - their behvaiour, attitudes

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EXPERIENCE AND REVELATION

  • revelation makes known the divine to humanity - any type of religious experience can be a revelation - directly/ indirectly communicate a religious truth 
  • relevations become a body of truth expressed as doctrinal propositions 
  • a non propositional view of relevation is about how people interpret and understand the significance of relevation 

WHAT IS FAITH 

  • involves action of the will
  • trust and belief in the body of truths 
  • aquinas believed faith was rational - requires divine relevation 
  • faith = believe that 
  • a belief that statement is a claim that something is a factual objective truth grounded in history and evidence 
  • faith = belief in 
  • a belief in statement implies trust in metaphysical realities ie salvation 
  • move from belief that to belif in comes from personal/ secondary accounts of RE, RE can strengthen a persons faith 
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VALUE OF EXPERIENCES FOR A COMMUNITY

1. affirmation of belief - most religions have a pivitol figure who founded it, their authority dervives from experience which confirms/ affirms message. In christianity god confirms his tasks with a religious exp and this is convinced other followers of the role, status, authority and trustworthiness of a person 

2. promotion of faith value system - religious experiences also reveal ethical standards - the moral teachings of jesus and the apostles and confirmed by miracles - the right and authority

3. strengthening the cohesion of a religious community - religious community can be strengthened by celebrating a past religious experience in acts 

  • build unity/ solidarity
  • strengthen the community through shared experience/ worship
  • establish common identity and sense of belonging - hightlight common purpose 
  • reaffirm faith through rituals, worship and creeds

christians involve an expectation that god will be present will speak and this can strengthen the cohesion of the community  

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VALUE OF EXPERIENCES FOR AN INDIVIDUAL

1. FAITH RESTORING - RE can remove doubts and restore struggling faith during prayer, meditation or through testimony of another person

2. STRENGTHENNING FAITH DURING OPPOSITION - RE can strengthen faith during oppositionby hearing others who have also faced opposition - prayer and meditation enables a person to gain strength and confront a situtation 

3. RENEWAL OF COMMITMENT TO RELIGIOUS IDEALS/ DOCTRINES - decision to make a faith commitment is a RE because it involves a sense of being 'called'- holy places can trigger renewal and recommitment to such places where something important has happened that has historical heritage 

HOW DOES IT AFFIRM BELIEF?

  • dreams, visioms, revelations, appearances, good evidence for the truth of christianity 
  • affirms belief in life after death 
  • demonstrates the power of jesus' ability to offer forgiveness
  • the disciples experience of the resurrection are the basis for the bible 
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RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE IMAPACT?

DO IMPACT - religious exp cannot be separated from religious belief/ practise 

  • prayer is a RE involves communion/ voice with god 
  • meditation is intended to bring greater awareness of god - aims to sek union 
  • rites such as baptism is RE
  • beliefs can be deepened by associated with RE
  • RE are the reason why doctrines and practises exist
  • RE unites believers into a common identity
  • RE are symbols which are still meaningful to the believer 
  • conversion exp have a clear impact on the individuals belief
  • joining of a religion involves ceremony that marks membership  

DO NOT IMPACT 

  • reading words from prayer can be mechanical/ lifeless - does not guarantee RE
  • reciting creed = verbal repetition - does not have to be a RE
  • conversions can be intellectual battles rather than RE
  • RE cannot prove gods existence = inductive leap
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RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES ENTIRELY DEPENDENT ON RE?

ARE DEPENDENT 

  • foundation of faith is past RE that authenticates authority central figure ie buddhas enlight
  • some events are associated with RE ie festivals/ pilgramiages 
  • private RE is central to religious community - shared worship can bring social cohesion
  • giving of a testimony demonstrates validity of faith and strengthens it 
  • RE establishes life/ validity of religious community
  • swinburne defends exp with principles of creduility/ testimony = rational + valid 

NOT DEPENDENT 

  • RE may be explained as pyschological constructs/ pharmacological inducements
  • RE can be decisive - exclusive to the few/ giving higher status to those who have experienced it
  • RE about the past might imply that God is from the past - not revelant to the present 
  • faith can be based on rational enquiry rather than personal experience - a reasoned faith does not require an experience 
  • RE may be subject to different interpretation/ views on their significance 
  • hume questions miracles could be basis for faith - selfcancelling/ weaked by testimony 
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