Posteriori argument - are encounters with a
divine higher being that can be mystical,
corporate, numerous and conversion. Where
these experiences have authority and
convince individuals their religious beliefs
are true and pass on a understanding of God
or in some cases persuade them to change
beliefs. However the evidence for this
argument is too subjective/personal.
Inductive argument, argues 4
common factors of RE:
Ineffability (the experience cannot be
explained - inexpressible), Passivity (no
control), Noetic (conveys knowledge),
Transcendent (passes quickly). These four
used empirical evidence based on the
description of the RE. James accepted a
psychological element but also argued for a
spiritual cause. He understood that RE was
the key to understanding the very
foundation of Religion and further, the
psychological truths of the human mind as it
uncovers the way in which the mind works at
an extreme level. Although there is no
concrete proof: 'it is reasonable to believe
that there is a personal God' who is
interested in the world and its individuals.
Culmative argument, argued that RE's give an
understanding of God, and 'fits' with God's nature and
an entirely acceptable; "Omnipotent and perfectly good
creation will seek to interact with his creatures and in
particular with human persons capable of knowing
him." Principle of TESTIMONY - we find that people
usually tell us the truth so we should go with the
balance of probability when we are told something and
accept their explanation. Principle of CREDUALITY - is
an experience which is normally reliable, to trust our
instincts and consider the "believability."
OTTO - said that God is the wholly other, this means he is a
being that is completely different to human beings. We can
only 'know' God is he chooses to reveal himself.
NUMEROUS EXPERIENCE is where God reveals himself and
is experienced on a emotional level. He also said that
believers interpret the world through the experience and
ideas about God may then be developed when believers
reflect on their experience.
OTTO implies that numerous is the only RE you can have
(what about the others?) so therefore his argument is too
Schleiermacher and Otto
Argued that experiences are two things: (1) experienced on a emotional level (2)
theological knowledge arises afterwards when the people reflect on the experience.
For Schleiermacher they are primarily
emotional experiences, deeper than
reason and at their core a feeling of
absolute dependence upon the divine.
St Teresa of Avila
Had mystical experiences she described how the person feels
that their soul/consciousness has left their body physically so
she created a test to see if RE's are genuine:
1.) Does it fit in with Christian teaching - urging the individual to do something positive has
to fit in with the benevolent God. 2.) Does the experience leave the individual feeling at
peace? beneficial experience?
Argued that God reveals himself to people on a
personal level as they experienced him in life and in
the world. He meant that RE's are like a intimate
personal relationship which we might encounter in
deep friendships with nature and God. He called
this an 'I-Thou' relationship which is different to
what we have in an 'I-It' relationship (relationships
we have with objects or people we don't know).
FREUD - argued that RE's are just 'illusions' and that they are just
creations of the brain and are simply false examples of our desires.
DAWKINS - wrote a book against the idea of RE's called 'The God of
Delusion' this is where he suggested RE's are just outcomes of alternative
A. J. AYER - claimed that RE's are all together fallacious. He also stated that humans
are mistaken and untrustable to believe them and therefore there is no proof for the
existence of God (verification principle - logical positivists).
FLEW - argued that religious believers were so convinced of the truth of their religious
statements that they often refuse to consider any evidence to the contrary
STARBUCK - a psychologist thought RE's might just be the normal
process/development of adolescence finding its sense of their identity.