Types of religious experience - Swinburne

Note by , created almost 6 years ago

A Levels Philosophy (Religious experience) Note on Types of religious experience - Swinburne, created by davieschloe7 on 12/01/2013.

Created by davieschloe7 almost 6 years ago
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Ordinary experiencesExperiences where a person interprets a natural event as having a religious experience (e.g. the beauty of nature)

Extraordinary experiencesExperiences that appear to violate normal understanding of the workings of nature (e.g. Jesus turning water into wine)

God is seen or observed. Information may be revealed in the vision. They can happen when the person is awake or asleep (imaginative vision experience - experience is received through a dream)

Public experiences

Private experiences

Describable in ordinary languageExperiences such as dreams 

Non describable Direct experiences of God in which the divine is revealed to people. They go beyond human powers of description (ineffable).  Example: Teresa of Avila.

Non-specificCould include things like looking at the world from a religious perspective.



The voice of God usually communicates a message In the calling of Samuel, God's voice calls Samuel to be a prophet. In the story of Jesus' baptism, God's voice declares that Jesus is his son

CriticismHow do you know the voice is from God? There are cases of schizophrenics who've killed people because they've claimed God told them to

Teresa of Avila suggested that the criteria to use for religious experience should be: Does the experience fit in with Christian teachings or is it against it? Does the experience leave the person feeling at peace with the world and God, rather than distressed? If the experience didn't have these effects it was a sign that it wasn't from God, but from the devil

Swinburne's categories

Forms of religious experience