Religious Experience

  • Created by: molly-24
  • Created on: 10-05-17 16:02

What Is Ultimate Reality ?

Ultimate reality =

> The absolute nature of all things 

3 main understandings:

  • A personal being 
  • An impersonal being- Transcendent. God is the "unmoved mover" or the "first cause with no cause". Does not get involved with creation = ambiguous  
  • Internal truth or principle
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Christian view of UR

Christianity :

  • Apostles creed = God is the maker of heaven and earth 
  • Bible =God is one. New testament = "God is love"
  • Nicene Creed= God return to earth to judge the dead " he shall come to judge the quick and the dead". Baptism is needed to repent and forgive sins 
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Buddhism view of UR


  • the truth is "seeing things as they really are" (Cush)
  • Buddhism isn't fixed and the idea of UR is fixed 
  • Ultimate reality= impermanent 
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Scholars on RE

David Greely: Triggers

  • Prayer
  • Beauties of nature 

Alistair Hardy: 21 Triggers

  • Beauty of nature 
  • Illness
  • Drugs 
  • Prospect of own death 
  • Prayer or meditation 
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Scholars on RE

David Hay 

  • Believes that RE is a part of our biological makeup
  • RE's are natural and part of our position as advanced animals of evolution 
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Scholars on RE

Rudolph Otto

  • Otto used the term numinosity to refer to being in a presence of an awesome power
  • Religion must be derived from a being separate from this world 
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Scholars on RE

Ninian Smart

  • Invisible and visible world 
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Scholars on RE


  • It is the person with the artists' eyes sees beauty everywhere and similarly, the religious person sees everything in terms of reality of God
  • Believer who sees things correctly
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Scholars on RE

John Wisdom

  • Gardener example 
  • Two people looking at a neglected garden. One is convinced that there must be a gardener.
  • They have own interpretations 
  • Subjectivity 
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Scholars on RE

Martin Buber 

  • Talks of an encounter with God as "I/Thou" encounter- not an it 
  • He is a personal reality 
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Scholars on RE

Carolin Davies

  • "Something akin to sensory experience"
  • Feelings like a reality - feeling is consciously aware of 
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Scholars on RE


  • Blessedness- previously unknown bliss and calm generated
  • Unified Vision- All things in harmony and united 
  • Sense of reality- Noetic knowledge or awareness is gained 
  • Timeless and spaceless- Time stands still and has no meaning 
  • Paradox- rules of logic don't apply 
  • Appreciation- Appreciation of divine and Holy 
  • Ineffability- Can't communicate the feelings generated by experience
  • Lost sense of self- priorities, and will of divine are all important 
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Scholars on RE



  • Individual sees God in action in public e.g. "the sunset is really the hand of God 
  • A breach of natural law.


  • Experiences which cannot be described using normal language 
  • Individual 
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Scholars on RE


  • We all have a sense of total dependence 
  • We have a deep intuition that enables us to perceive and appreciate the numinous 
  • "Sense of absolute dependence"- parts of the mind which are different from that used for rational thinking 
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Scholars on RE

St Bonaventure- 3 stages to mysticism 

1. Purgative stage - purified and prepared by prayer and disciplines 

2. The Illuminative stage- Mystic enjoys an experience which is emotionally and spiritually illuminating. Begin to realize truths and develop deeper understandings 

3. The Unitive Stage- Mystic enjoys a sense of oneness or closeness with God 

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Scholars on RE

Hans Kung 

  • Closing the senses and the external world 
  • Dissolving the self in God 
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Scholars on RE

William James 

4 features:

1. Passivity 

2. Ineffability 

3. Noetic

4. Transcience 

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Scholars on RE

William James hierarchy of mystical experience:

1. Sense of deeper meaning 

2. Surrounded by unexplained

3. Feeling of unity 

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Scholars on RE

Bernard McGuinn 

2 ways of knowing:


> Intellectual effort 

> God and truth don't exist here 


> Direct experience 

> Truth and God are here

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Scholars on RE


World of sense:

> What we see,smell,touch,hear

> Not real world 

World of ideal form:

>Invisible to us 

> Truth exists here

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Scholars on RE


  • Suggested that RE occur at the same time as micro-seizures in the temporal lobe of the brain (which controls higher process thoughts)
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Scholars on RE

Ludwig Feuerbach 

  • Experiences of god were simply human projection - imagination 
  • Humans are driven by fear of their own mortality and uncertainty of world 
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Scholars on RE

Walter. Pahnke 

  • Transiency- Passing quality which makes it different from day to day religious experience
  • Lasting positive changes such as:
  •  Personality integration 
  • Greater sensitivity to others 
  • Greater appreciation of the value of life 
  • Greater sense of the value of mystical experience 
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Scholars on RE

Researchers in Houston and Masters

  • Developed programs which enable subjects to sustain religious type experiences
  • Subjects gave following reaction:
  • Distortion of time and body perceptions 
  • Muscular relaxation 
  • Euphoria 
  • Anxiety 
  • A trance like state 
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