RE 2 Evaluation

  • Created by: Rebecca
  • Created on: 21-12-15 17:39
Why does religious experiences being empirical support their veridicality?
They are based on human experience and represent an a posteriori argument for the existence of God
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Who supports the cumulative argument for religious experience? Why does this support the veridicality of them?
David Hay - found that over 50% of people claim to have had a religious experience of some kind - can thousands of people be wrong?
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What is the 'noetic' quality of religious experience and how does this support the idea that religious experiences come from God?
Noetic quality means religious experiences reveal/communicate a message/new knowledge to the person experiencing them (e.g ability of the disciples to speak in new langauges after receiving Holy Spirit) - shows they must have come from God
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Explain the idea that miracles show that religious experiences are veridical.
Lots of reports of miracles happening after religious experiences - e.g. Bernadette's experience with the Virgin Mary led to the discovery of a mountain spring at Lourdes, which has healed lots of people apparently.
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How can William James' pragmatist view - the idea that what is useful is what is true - be interpreted as a weakness of the idea that religious experiences are veridical?
He argues that the veridicality of the experience is not very important/less important than how useful it is to the believer. If the experience has beneficial effect on a person's life, then it could be said to be 'true' (yet might not be in reality)
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Why, for Swinburne, should we expect religious experiences to happen if we accept that God is an interventionist God?
A God involved in relationships with humanity had lots of reasons to make himself known through divine revelation (e.g. to show his love and concern)
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Swinburne's principle of credulity supports the veridicality of religious experiences. Explain it.
'Unless we have overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we should believe that things are as they seem to be'
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Explain Swinburne's principle of testimony.
'In the absence of special considerations the experiences of others are probably as they report them' - we should obky doubt testimonies if there are clear reasons to
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Why does Swinburne's principle of testimony support the argument for the veridicality of religious experiences?
We should presume that reports of religious experiences are genuine rather than false - we would normally believe what people tell us so why should it be any different with religious experiences?
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The 'Miracle of the Sun' in Portugal was witnessed by 70,000 people and is an example of a corporate religious experience. What is a strength of the veridicality of this type of experience? How can this strength be challenged?
Corporate religious experiences are harder to explain as a result of personal delusion or illness. However, they could be seen as a form of mass hysteria or hypnosis.
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Why is the subjective nature of religious experiences a challenge to the proof of God's existence?
They are only authoratitive for those who experience them, and cannot be proved objectively - I cannot get inside your personal experience to see if it is real. No way of objectively testing religious experiences in a way that everyone could accept.
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What is the neurological argument against the veridicality of religious experiences (CLUE - left and right side of the brain)
Religious experiences may be the result of unusual right-side brain activity. Right side of the brain deals with feelings/emotions, the left with logic/reason. Those who have religious experiences may just have an over-active right side of the brain.
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Why is the argument from personal interpretation a challenge to the veridicality of religious experience? (CLUE - religious or not)
Unreliable as depend on personal interpretation. You will be biased towards the religious experience being real if you are a Christian and may just class it as an ordinary life experience if you are an atheist.
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How can the strict testing measures used by the Roman Catholic Church to verify Marian apparations actually be a weakness in challenging their veridicality?
The religious experience reports are viewed with scepticism, and only 9 apparitions out of millions reported have been officially approved.
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Explain the idea that religious beliefs can induce religious experiences and why this challenges the veridicality of religious experiences.
If the person is expecting to experience God through their religious beliefs then they are more likely to believe they have, even when they have not (only think it real as it confirms their beliefs) and it was just an ordinary experience.
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How does Freud attack the veridicality of religious experiences?
Said that religious experiences are just expressions of psychological needs - e.g. numinous expresses our need to have an all-powerful father as human ones are unsatisfactory, mystical just as a wish to feel safe - 'oceanic feeling'/back in the womb
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What is William James' Common Core Argument, which he says demonstrates a higher reality that is causing religious experiences and so belief God causing them is reasonable? (1)
All religious experiences have the qualities of ineffability, noetic quality (deep and direct knowledge of supernatural gained which can't be achieved through reason), passivity (no control) and transiency (temporary but long-lasting effects)
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How does William James' self-authenticating argument for religious experiences support their veridicality? (2)
Experiences hold great authority for those who have them, people absolutely convinced it was real due to noetic quality showing God's relationship with the world, passive suggests something beyond this world, conversion = indicates higher power
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What is William James' beneficial effects argument, used to support the veridicality of religious experiences? (3)
Experiences create 'good disposition' in those having them; people are happier, more positive, more moral and more psychologically whole, something real beyond world must cause them; 'real effects require real causes'
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Try to remember one of William James' quotes from 'The Varieties of Religious Experience' (or as much of it as you can)
'the truth of an idea is not a stagnant property inherent in it. Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, it is made true by events'/[everyone has] the right to believe [in what they wish]'
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What did William James NOT try to prove?
Did not try to prove if religious experiences were true or false - just stressed that they should be observed/analysed objectively and rationally
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What part of Freud's argument about religious experiences did William James reject? Why did he reject it?
Rejected the view that religious experiences were the result of a repressed sexuality because he saw this as an attempt to discredit religion by those who have started with a hatred towards it
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In William James' book, he analysed hundreds of first-hand accounts of different varieties of religious experiences. Explain one crucial one and state why this could undermine his argument that religious experiences are veridical.
One case study = homeless drunken man who became a preacher; the man said that he 'seemed to feel some great and mighty presence. I did not know then what it was. I did learn afterwards that it was Jesus.' - but DRUNK, very unreliable; hallucinating?
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What are 3 strengths of William James' argument for religious experience?
1) effects so powerful and positive - has to be God?, 2) Swinburne's principles of credulity and testimony, 3) so many similarities between different reports of experiences that would not be present if the reports of them were made up, surely?
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How does Bertrand Russell criticise William James' argument?
'the fact that a belief has a good moral effect upon a man is no evidence whatsoever in favour of its truth' - somebody could be affected by the story of a hero, but this could happen even if the story was a myth and the hero was entirely fictional
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How does Anthony Flew in his book 'Theology and Falsification' criticise William James' argument?
Argues that statements which cannot be tested empirically are meaningless. He would therefore reject James' test of religious experience through its results in the life of individuals/their 'beneficial effects' (Ayer would agree)
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What is Michael Persinger's hard materialist criticism of religious experience?
Religious experiences can be willed and created by a scientist - illusions. 'God helmet' to stimulate frontal and temporal lobes of brain to create feeling of a 'sensed presence'
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What are some strengths of Persinger's theory?
1) only weak electromagnetic impulses needed to create the experience, 2) those with temporal lobe epilepsy prone to having religious experiences, 3) Andrew Newburg - 'God spot' - can activate 'belief networks' in the brain to create experiences
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What are some weaknesses of Persinger's theory, aside from the fact that his God Helmet did not work on Richard Dawkins in 2001 (other than affecting his breathing/feelings in limbs)
1) assuming that everyone's brain works like those with temporal lobe epilepsy, 2) James - 'real effects require real causes', 3) Swinburne,Craig, Alston; unfair to doubt unless 'some overwhelming evidence to suggest that they are delusional' (Craig)
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How does Freud criticise religious experiences?
Says they are a form of infantile wish-fulfilment; repressed trauma in childhood makes us need to feel safe and secure, project these qualities onto God as father figure,oceanic feeling. But no God in reality,illusion, need to mature
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How does Marx criticise religious experiences from a sociological perspective? (clue: desperation of the working class for the capitalist society to change which leaves them wallowing)
Religion keeps people oppressed. Bourgeoisie intimidate the proletariat and make their position known in society through false class consciousness. Poor turn to God in desperation to relieve suffering/inferiority feelings, rich feel guilt; illusions
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Name one weakness of Freud's criticism of religious experience.
As we get older, we get more mature. Why would we drag with us to adulthood the unachieved infantile wishes desired in our childhood? Absurd to say childhood wishes have caused the belief in such a complex being like God.
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Name one weakness of Marx's criticism of religious experience.
Assumes that experiences only happen to those desperate to change class position/society order. What about those who are comfortable in life and happy, and just worship God as he is the most supreme being conceivable? (as Anselm states)
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Expand further on William Lane Craig's argument for religious experiences.
Belief in God just as rational and 'properly basic' as belief in the material world. They aren't arbitrary beliefs - they're 'grounded in our experience' - sight/touch/hearing etc. 'Perfectly within your rights' to believe unless proven delusional.
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Who would support William Lane Craig's argument?
Swinburne; principles of credulity and testimony, Ockham's Razor; things are usually as they appear - if it seems like we are having a Marian apparition we probably are, Alston; don't reject just because unusual; sense perceptions generally reliable
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Who would criticise William Lane Craig's argument and why?
Freud and Marx - religious experiences more to do with the mind, not the senses - illusions to bring us wishes of safety/comfort/security and to make us feel better in times of suffering
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Aside from arguing that we shouldn't reject reports of religious experiences just because they are unusual, and that we shouldn't immediately doubt them as our senses are generally reliable, what does Alston say about experiences being verified?
Religious experiences are not unverifiable/uncheckable, as the way you check anything is by making other sense observations, and other people's religious experiences are also sense observations
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What statistic from a survey does Alistair Hardy use to support the veridicality of religious experiences?
Variety of surveys show that over the past 30 years, between 31-49% of British people claimed to have had direct personal awareness of 'a power or presence different from everyday life'
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Name a quote from Alistair Hardy - founder of the Religious Experience Research Centre - that supports the veridicality of religious experiences.
'If there is a God there are likely to be experiences of him. There are religious experiences, therefore there is a God.'
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How would Dr William Lane Craig support Swinburne's principles of credulity and testimony?
Argued that unless we have a reason to prove that the experience is delusional, we have a right to believe that what we have experienced is veridical, as belief in God is a properly basic belief
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Name one weakness of Swinburne's argument for religious experience.
Swinburne argues that it is reasonable to disbelieve a religious experience if we have 'strong' evidence that God doesn't exist, but doesn't say what classifies 'strong' and 'weak' evidence - different interpretations of 'strong' and 'weak' evidence
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Name one weakness of Alston's argument for religious experience.
Sense perceptions aren't as reliable as Alston says - our mind's influence can affect their reliability. If our mind tells us that God exists and we are so convinced that he does, our senses may trick us into seeing something that isn't really there.
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Card 2


Who supports the cumulative argument for religious experience? Why does this support the veridicality of them?


David Hay - found that over 50% of people claim to have had a religious experience of some kind - can thousands of people be wrong?

Card 3


What is the 'noetic' quality of religious experience and how does this support the idea that religious experiences come from God?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Explain the idea that miracles show that religious experiences are veridical.


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


How can William James' pragmatist view - the idea that what is useful is what is true - be interpreted as a weakness of the idea that religious experiences are veridical?


Preview of the front of card 5
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