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Religous Experiances

  • Date Submitted: 01/15/2015 10:12 AM
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The argument from religious experience is the argument from experiences of God to the existence of God. In its strong form, this argument asserts that it is only possible to experience that which exists, and so that the phenomenon of religious experience demonstrates the existence of God. People experience God, therefore there must be a God; case closed. In its weaker form, the argument asserts only that religious experiences constitute evidence for God’s existence. This form of the argument has been defended by Richard Swinburne with an appeal to the principle of credulity.
Are Religious Experiences Perceptual?
Both types of argument from religious experience assume that religious experiences are a type of perceptual experience, i.e. a type of experience in which the person having the experience perceives something external to them.
Some, though, argue that religious experiences involve imagination rather than perception, that the object of the experience is not something that exists objectively in the world but rather is something that exists subjectively in the mind of the person having the experience. This suggestion might be supported with an appeal to the possibility of fabricating artificial experiences of God.
Conflicting Religious Experiences
A further difficulty is the problem of conflicting experiences: adherents of all religions claim to have had experiences that validate those religions. If any of these appeals to experience is valid, then surely all are. It can‘t be, however, that all of these appeals are valid, because the various religions are mutually inconsistent; they conflict. None of these appeals to experience is valid, therefore.
The Subjectivity of Experience
Objections may also be raised along lines suggested by traditional philosophical scepticism. There are powerful philosophical arguments that our experiences of the external world, i.e. of the familiar everyday objects around us, are insufficient to justify belief in their...


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