Religious Experience

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A religious experience is descibed by Martin Buber as "when God reveals himself on a personal level", however descibed by Nininan Smart as "some kind of peception of the invisible world " Whilst definitions vary, one can agree that there is one absolute- which is that the RE debate is a posterioi as it is based upon the premis' on experients. Hence it is also inductive. 

One begins the RE debate with William James, who decribes RE's as deep, personal and key to understanding religion. James develops 4 main qualities of a mysitcal experience, which include Passivity, Ineffibility, Tranciensy and Noetic Quality. All 4 of these quialities are self authenticating and an example of someone who experienced all 4 is St Teresa of Avila. Stricken with illness for 20 years, she experienced numerous religious expeirences, in particular mysical experiences. As a result her life was changed and she wrote a book called the Autobiography. In this book, she explains how the soul passes through 4 strages to reach God. The first stage0 names devotion of the heart can be linked to William James' ineffibility quality. It is clear that William James thinks that RE's are the best form of Gods existance as he quotes Religious Experiences are "much more convincing than results established by mere logic ever are". 

A second philosopher who studied RE's and defined them as "a personal enocunter of awe and mystery", is Rudolf Otto. Otto mainly focused on numinous experiences and explained that they involved a vision, feeling of awe and then dispair, this can be seen in Isiaiah 6:5 " for my eyes have seen the King, Lord of hosts". Ottos works also covered Conversion experiences. A well known example of someone who converted to religion after an experience, was Saul, later know an Paul.In the book of acts it states "Suddenly abright light shone on Saul, causing his entire body to fall to the ground". This experience of God must have been profound as, as a result, Paul was a changed man. 

A final figure, who conturbuted to the RE debate, is Richard Swinburne. To begin with, Swinburne explains that there are 2 types of experience. Public and Private. An exmple of a public…


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