Religious Experiences

Mind Map by , created over 6 years ago

(Philosophy) Mind Map on Religious Experiences, created by jodiehall on 04/10/2013.

Created by jodiehall over 6 years ago
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Religious Experiences
1 An encounter with the divine a non empirical occurrence that brings awareness
2 they are difficult to define into one common theme but can be separated into two different groups
2.1 A direct experience - the person having the experience feels they are in contact with God
2.2 An indirect experience - there is an inner experience of Gods action in creation
2.3 Caroline franks davis suggests 7 types
2.3.1 seeing the work of God when looking at the world AWARENESS EXPERIENCE having a vision or inner experience QUASI_SENSORY EXPERIENCE
2.3.2 encountering the holiness of God NUMINOUS EXPERIENCE a conversion experience REGENERATIVE EXPERIENCE having prayers answered INTERPRETIVE EXPERIENCE a sense of the ultimate reality MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE receiving enlightenment and knowledge through revelation REVELATORY EXPERIENCE
2.4 common themes
2.4.1 feeling of deep inner peace a certainty that everything will turn out well sense of the need to help others a belief that love is at the center of everything a sense of joy great emotional intensity
3 scholars try to define religious experiences
3.1 Martin Buber "i and thou" God reveals himself to people on a personal level as they experience him in life and in the world
3.1.1 human relationships everyday are on a simple level "i-it relationship" serious and more meaningful relationships go deeper an "i-thou relationship" in relationships we experience God he is the "eternal thou"
3.2 Paul Tillich systematic theology states that a religious experience is feeling of "ultimate concern" a feeling that demands a decisive decision
3.2.1 an encounter followed by a special understanding of its religious significance "religious experience without religious reflection is blind, every claim to an experience of God requires examination"
3.3 William James "varieties of religious experiences" they draw on the common range of emotions (happiness, fear, wonder) but they are directed at the
3.3.1 divine
3.3.2 this gives the person an overwhelming feeling of reverence a joyful desire to belong to God a renewed approach to life
3.4 Schleiermacher argues that the most significant factor in a religious experience is that it is based not on religious doctrine but on faith
3.5 Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion" claims there is not such thing as religious language. they are merely expressions of a persons psychological needs.
4 Types of religious Experience
4.1 1. THE DRAMATIC OR CONVERSION EVENT a direct experience and the numinous. often a vision is seen accompanied by feeling of awe but also humility
4.2 2. RESPONSES TO LIFE AND THE WORLD gentler indirect experiences which enhance a persons understanding of their life and the world around them
4.2.1 they often come a result of prayer God guides them and helps them make sense of the world
4.3 3. REVELATORY EXPERIENCES divine self-disclosure God makes himself directly known by a vision or dream.
4.3.1 one crucial part for this type of experience is that the experient acquires new knowledge (universal truths about God, the future) two types: PROPOSITIONAL REVELATION God communicates his divine message to a human being (moses receiving the ten commandments) NON-PROPOSITONAL REVELATION through religious experience a person comes to a moment of "realisation" of divine truth (buddha gained enlightenment)
4.4 4. NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES said to occur when a person dies usually in a medical operation and is later resuscitated. number of core experiences found
4.4.1 a feeling of peace and ineffability, going through a dark tunnel, meeting a being of light, making a decision to cross a barrier or not
4.5 5. MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES a person experiences the ultimate reality which brings with it a sense of unity, separateness, dependence with the divine
4.5.1 difficult to describe in ordinary language They in some way touches and communicates with the divine and with levels of reality beyond spatio-temporal
4.5.2 THEISTIC MYSTICISM involves awareness if God and MONISTIC MYSTICISM offers awareness of the soul self and conscience
4.5.3 William James listed four charateristics of mystic experiences INEFFABILITY a state of feeling that defies description NOETIC QUALITY revelations of universal and eternal truth TRANSIENCY a brief but profoundly important experience PASSIVITY a feeling of being taken over by a superior authority
4.5.4 EXTROVERTIVE looking outwardsto see God in world INTROVERTIVE looks within themselves and sees their personal identity being merged into divine unity
4.6 6. CORPORATE EXPERIENCE large number of people seemingly experience God at the same time
4.7 THE TORONTO BLESSING peopel shook uncontrollably, wept, laughed and made unusual sounds. was spread all over the usa and candada and to the uk.
4.7.1 some see it as a blessing others see it as an experience engineered through mass hysteria and technology
5 FACTORS THAT LEAD TO RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCES scholars have accepted that certain conditions can trigger religious experiences.
5.1 MUSIC AND ATMOSPHERE most religions use music in worship offers a shared social experience Dance can also be used
5.2 PRAYER is a communion with God. comes in many forms (thanks,help guidance, forgiveness,praise) Gods answered prayers is a sure sign of existence.
5.2.1 Speaking in tongue can be seen as a sign of God within the individual often found in the charismatic movement and pentecostal church
5.3 MEDITATION theistic tradition is a prayerful state where a person seeks the understanding of and union with God.
5.3.1 Non theistic traditions such as Buddhism the aim is to seek the loss of self
6.1 the argument using religious experience as proof is an posteriori (derived from factual evidence) there have been thousand of testimonies
6.1.1 Are some problems: it is clear that experience of X does not indicate the reality of X are experience can always be mistaken. P1 would therefore be better seen as P1: experience of X indicates the probable reality of X Premise 2 creates further problems if regular experiences is open to misapprehension then experiences of the divine must be even more ambiguous it depends on appealing to non empirical and empirical evidence. if we allow that regular experience indicates the probable reality of X then experience of God must also indicate the probable reality of God but it would be reasonable that it is at the lower level of probability Premise 3 takes the implication of premise 2 a step further It is ambiguous someone may claim to experience God or is it that God can be experienced is it possible we experience God in the same way we experience others or the same way we experience unicorns. Premise 3 does not tell us that experience of God has actually taken place but that under certain circumstances it is possible God may be experienced The conclusion therefore cannot be sustained simply on the basis of the claims made in the premises. The most that can be claimed is that if experience is reliable it can indicate the reality of that which is experienced but this cannot be guarenteed
6.2 the argument is based on the premise that experience is in some way the product of facts about the real world
6.3 P1: Experience of X indicates the reality of X P2: Experience of God indicates the reality of God P3: It is possible to experience God C: God exists
6.4 THE INDUCTIVE ARGUMENT they look at the subjective testimony of individuals who claim to have religious experiences to find similar characteristics
6.4.1 and draw a conclusion RICHARD SWINEBURN argues inductively that it is reasonable to believe that God is loving and personal and would seek to reveal
6.4.2 Swineburn suggested that religious experience can be felt empirically through our senses and interpreted non empirically through our religious sense. If we are told someone has had a religious experience then we should believe that experience at all
6.5 THE CUMULATIVE ARGUMENT is based on the view that if we take all of the arguments about religious experience together then they are more convincing
6.5.1 if this was true the amount of religious experiences would result in religious experience most definitely being proof for the existence of God DAVID HUME responded to testimony "there is not to be found in all history any miracle attested by sufficient number of men of such unquestioned good sense, education and learning as to secure us against all delusions
6.5.2 several weak arguments put together does not form a strong one rather one large weak one
6.6.1 People normally tell the truth and we cannot always doubt accounts We dont doubt basic facts about the world that we have not directly experienced
6.6.2 PRINCIPLE OF TESTIMONY "in the absence of special consideration, the experience of others are (probably) as they report them" As people usually tell the truth there are only 3 types of evidence that should render their testimony 1. if the circumstances surrounding the experience are unreliable, for example through hallucinatory drugs 2. If there is particular evidence to suggest that the person is lying 3. If the experience can be explained in terms other than God for example if the person is suffering from a mental illness
6.6.3 since so many people have experiences of what seems to them to be God then a basic principle of rationality suggests we should believe them PRINCIPLE OF CREDULITY unless we have overwhelming evidence to the contrary we should believe that things are as they seem to be "how things seem to be is a good guide to how they are" religious experiences provided convincing proof for the existence of God "I suggest that the overwhelming testimony of so many millions of people to occasionally experience God must in the absence of counter-evidence be taken as tipping the balance of evidence decisively in favour of the existence of God
6.6.4 in support of swineburns position empirical research undertaken indicates that 40% of people have at some point had a religious experience PETER VARDY and THE PUZZLE OF GOD uses the example of someone supposedly seeing a UFO or the loch ness monster they may be mistaken therefore we should remain skeptical unless there was a great deal of evidence to support them "the probability of all such experiences must be low and therefore quality of the claimed experiences must be proportionately high"
7.1 Main difficulty with religious experiences is that they cannot be verified by objective, empirical testing we cannot carry out a scientific experiment
7.2 LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN used the notion of SEEING-AS suggesting that in fact each person sees their experiences differently some may think they
7.3 have experienced God others may think they have experienced something else. So all testimonies concerning religious experiences are unreliable
7.4 R.M HARE talks of religious experiences as a blik this is an unverifiable and unfalsifiable way of looking at the world.
7.4.1 The believer sees or feels something and claims it comes from God It is their personal interpretation and they believe it to be true. it cannot be proved true for everyone else and therefore the testimony is unreliable
7.5 JOHN HICK observed that testimonies of religious experience might also be equally well interpreted in non-religious ways
7.5.1 "any special event or experience which can be constituted as manifesting the divine can also be constituted in other ways and accordingly cannot carry
7.5.2 the weight of proof of Gods existence" people cannot experience God in the way they experience either the world or other people
7.6 NATURAL EXPLANATIONS experiences could be brought on by drugs or alcohol
7.6.1 research suggests that stimulation of the temporal lobes of the brain with electric shocks produces experiences similar to near death experiences PERSINGER claims that 80% of his research subjects They are more prevalent prior to earth quakes and this is likely to be a result of changed electro-magnetivity changing the mind state
7.6.2 SENSORY DEPRIVATION HOOD AND MORRIS have suggested deprivation produce religiousiity by reduced activity in the left hemisphere of the brain
7.7 SIGMUND FREUD gives a psychological explanation suggesting it is a psychological reaction to a hostile world. we feel helpless
7.7.1 and so create God in our minds as a great father and protector
7.8 Revelatory experiences are regarded as particular untrustworthy In Buddhism a revelatory experience is not accepted unless the experient is already
7.8.1 at a very advanced stage of meditation and others have shared their insight
7.8.2 Catholic Church alleged revelations are strictly tested to ensure they are in line with teachings of the church
7.9 near-death experiences can be seen by critics as far from religious experiences they are in fact some kind of mental phenomenon possibly caused
7.9.1 by a lack of oxygen to the brain particularly temporal lobes which is the center of emotion
7.10.1 1. If God does not exist there can be no experience of him 2.Any religious experience may be open to a non-religious interpretation
7.10.2 3.Experience can be deceptive and there are no agreed tests for verifying that an experience comes from God
7.10.3 4. The testimony of religious believers is unrealiable as their views may be affected by their pre-existing religious belief
7.10.4 5.Religious experiences may be the manifestation of psychological needs for instance to help us cope with fear of death
7.10.5 6. The emotions and sensations that come with a religious experience can be explained by biological or neurological imbalances in the body
7.11 RICHARD DAWKINS THE GOD DELUSION "if we are gullible we dont recognize hallucinations or lucid dreaming for what it is and claim it to be God
7.12 JEAN PAUL SATRE suggests that convertion experiences happen in time of personal crisis to help individuals cope
7.12.1 JUNG we have a God archetype that is imprinted in our psyche
8.1 does the language of religious experiences serve to convey anything significant. LOGICAL POSITIVISTS all religious language is meaningless
8.2 they cannot be analytic or synthetic and therefor eunverifiable
8.3 A J AYER dismissed religious experiences on the ground that "people having religious experiences is interesting from the psychological point of
8.4 view it does not in any way imply that there is such a thing as religious knowledge
8.4.1 if someone claims to have seen God they make the claim along the same ways as they would claimed to have seen a yellow patch the statement "there exists here a yellow-coloured material thing" expresses a genuine synthetic proposition which can be empirically verified "there exists a transcendent God" has no literal significance Ayer was criticising the religious experient who moves from asserting that they were experiencing a particular religious emotion to asserting that there exists a transcendent being who is the object of that emotion
8.5 whilst it is true that if there was no God we could not experience God there still needs to be proof that there is no God
8.5.1 Theists would argue that the existence of God is a better explanation than science can offer
8.6 although it is possible foe experiences to be open to both religious and non religious interpretations it is illogical to assume that all religious
8.7 interpretation are all incorrect. if it is possible to experience God then some of the accounts must be true.
8.7.1 one key empirical test for validity is to examine the effect it has on the person if compatible with what we feel should be expected as a result
8.7.2 of experiencing a benevolent divine being, then we may have stronger grounds on which to believe the claim
8.8 ANTHONY FLEW argues that the testimony of religious believers is biased irrational and questionable
8.8.1 it cannot be regarded as meaningful because there is nothing to count against it. religious believers are so convinced of the truth of their religious EG people continue to believe in an omnibenevolent and omniscient God even though there is evil and suffering so what would change their view? uses the parable of the gardener to highlight how people will change certain things to stick by and verify their beliefs
8.8.2 statements that they often refuse to consider evidence to the contrary
8.9 JOHN HICK ESCHATOLOGICAL VERIFICATION God may one day verify the religious experiences himself verification may be realised at the end of time.
8.9.1 Swineburn argues that it is perfectly meaningful for a personal loving God to make himself know to humanity

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