Religious Experience

What is a religious experience?
1) An experience in a religious context, 2) A person's experience of something beyond themselves.
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What are Swinburne's five types of religious experience?
1) Private phenomena that can be explained (dream), 2) Private phenomena that CANNOT be explained, 3) Experience of God, 4) Normal phenomenon (night sky), 5) Unusual public object (resurrection).
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Define a mystical experience:
Used the describe the experience of direct contact or oneness with God or ultimate reality e.g Near Death Experience.
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Define a numinous experience:
Used to describe experiences of awe and wonder in the presence of God. (Otto and the numinous)
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Define a corporate experience:
Used to describe a religious experience that happens to a number of people at once in the same location, e.g Toronto Blessing.
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What is a ''vision''?
Used to describe experience of God or another religious figure appearing with a message, e.g Angel Gabriel.
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Describe the notion of ''voices''?
Used to describe experience of God or another religious figure appearing with a message.
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What is a direct religious experience?
Where someone encounters God in a direct way.
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What is an indirect religious experience?
Refers to experiences, thoughts or feelings about God but with no direct contact (e.g praying).
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What did Rudolph Otto say about religious experience?
A central element of religious experiences of God was an ''apprehension of the wholly others''.
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What did Otto describe the ''wholly other'' to be?
Numinous - meaning the world that is beyond the physical observable universe.
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What did Otto ultimately say about experience of God?
Because experience of God is ''numinous'' (the world outside of our world), direct experience of God is completely outside of our possible knowledge and experience.
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What did William James say about religious experience (in general)?
Religious experience was at the very heart of religion.
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What were the four characteristics of James' religious experience?
Passive, Ineffable, Noetic, Transient.
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What does ''passive'' mean?
The experience happens to YOU. You do not initiate the experience/have any control over it. You experience a sense of powerlessness having being taken over by an ultimate power often associated with speaking in tongues.
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What does ''ineffable'' mean?
Ineffable means you cannot describe the experience using everyday language. Similar to the problems of religious language - everyday wording would be inadequate.
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What does ''noetic'' mean?
You received a knowledge that you could not have gained through everyday experience. You learn something about God that you did not know before.
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What does ''transient'' mean?
The experience only lasts for a short amount of time.
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What did James say about the nature of religious experience?
Religious experience is a ''psychological phenomena'' - a part of a person's psychological makeup.
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What is a criticism of James' argument?
A religious experience could be a result of drugs or alcohol.
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Define a conversion experience:
A conversion experience usually leads to some sort of change in a person's life. It usually means converting from one set of beliefs to another.
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What examples of conversion experiences are there?
Muhammad Ali - converted to Islam. C.S Lewis - converted to Christianity. St. Paul on the road to Damascus.
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Which philosopher had a near death experience?
In 1988 - A.J Ayer - atheist philosopher, died momentarily after choking on a piece of salmon. His NDE made him ''wobbly'' on the existence of an afterlife.
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Give examples of mystics:
John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Walter Hilton.
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What criteria did Teresa of Avila create in relation to religious experience?
1) The experience must be in line with the teachings of the Church, 2) You must have discussed them with a spiritual advisor, 3) There must be some sort of change in the person's life.
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What did Swinburne conclude about religious experience?
''On our total evidence, theism is more probable than not."
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How does Swinburne define religious experience?
Experience of God, or some other supernatural being.
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What are Swinburne's ''principles'' regarding religious experience?
1) The principle of credulity, 2) The principle of testimony
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What is Swinburne's ''principle of credulity''?
We must believe that someone has had a religious experience unless it can be proved otherwise.
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What are the ''four challenges'' to the principle of credulity?
1) Experience been affected by external factors - make it unlikely to be true (drugs, person = compulsive liar), 2) Experiencer, unable to interpret experience (young child), 3) What they experienced was not there, 4) The experience - not conditioned
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What is Swinburne's ''principle of testimony"?
Swinburne acknowledged that people usually tell the truth - I should accept your statement of what you have experienced unless I can demonstrate positive grounds showing it to be mistaken.
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Define ''finite'':
Bounded, limited
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Define ''infinite":
Boundless, limitless.
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What does ''WYSIWYG'' an anagram for?
What you see is what you get!
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How does ''WYSIWYG" transfer to the beliefs of empiricists?
Empiricists believe that what you see is what you get. Experience is a sensory encounter with the finite, contingent world.
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What is God that we are not?
Omnipresent, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent and eternal.
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How would we be able to recognise these characteristics?
We would have to be them ourselves!
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Are we able to experience God considering the finite/infinite argument?
No - God is transcendent and immaterial and not even on our scope of understanding. The finite cannot experience the infinite, so we can't experience God. Have we ever experienced infinity??
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What did Descartes say about finite vs infinite?
Descartes said that the concept of infinity was like very large numbers (e.g infinity itself). We can't visualise them, but we can talk meaningfully about them. Similarly, we cannot imagine God but we can conceive him.
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What are some criticisms to the verification of religious experience?
Cannot be proven. The experience is personal to the recipient meaning that empirical testing is useless because there would be more than one conclusion. Experiences of God/divine are v. different - there isn't one criteria which an RE falls into.
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What did Freud conclude about religion?
He called religion ''wishful-fulfilment" - an illusion the mind created as an attempt with dealing with the outside world.
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Freud also said...
Religion is a form of neurotic illness which arises out of the unconscious mind.
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What did Marx say about religion?
All religious moral and political life is rooted in economics. Religion is ''the opium of the people'' used to suppress an undermine the minority. Society is organised to meet our needs.
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What did Michael Persinger do?
Conducted an experiment which induced a religious ''epiphany''
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What do colour and music have to do with religious experience?
Scientific evidence suggests that they heighten sensory experience.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


What are Swinburne's five types of religious experience?


1) Private phenomena that can be explained (dream), 2) Private phenomena that CANNOT be explained, 3) Experience of God, 4) Normal phenomenon (night sky), 5) Unusual public object (resurrection).

Card 3


Define a mystical experience:


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Define a numinous experience:


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Define a corporate experience:


Preview of the front of card 5
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