Religous Experience

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  • Created by: Rhiannon
  • Created on: 18-05-12 10:39

Religious experience

Mystical experiences – direct contact or oneness with God/ ultimate reality.

Numinous Experiences – feelings of awe and wonder in the presence of God.

Corporate Experiences – religious experiences that happen to a number of people at once in the same location.


Most would agree God cannot be proven or demonstrated to others.

·         The religious experience unit founded 1969.

·         Aim: to discover more about RE in the world.

·         Published findings in “Religious experience today” (Wikipedia pdf. file).

·         31% of British people have “felt close to a powerful, spiritual force” or “had an experience that they may consider to be religious”.

·         Can last a few seconds to a much longer period (no account of time).

·         Different to all other experiences.

·         Allows belief in afterlife.

·         Can give a change in person or “sense of purpose”.

Mystical experiences according to William James

They are strange and unexplainable

Gave four criteria for numinous experiences:

1.       Ineffable –beyond proper description.

2.       Noetic – mystical states are not just feelings. They provide deep/direct contact or knowledge of God.

3.       Transient – temporary experience but effects can last/ develop.

4.       Passive – not initiated by the mystic but have a sense that something is acting upon them.

RE’s are psychological phenomena in our brains but they are not just this, there is more to it than just this.

Based on 3 principles: empiricism, pluralism and pragmatism.


Numinous Experiences according to Rudolf Otto

Mysterium – the mystery of experience.

Trymendum- awe inspiring terror.

We are all still fascinated by these strange experiences.


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