RE2b(v) Challenges to the argument from religious experience 4 – God on the Brain

God on the Brain – transcript A BBC Horizon programme aired Thursday 17th April 2003 (transcript copied from here) RUDI: I thought that I had died and I had gone to hell. GWEN: I was almost thinking of my son as god. BERNY: It then turned out she thought I was Joseph, she was Mary… Read More RE2b(v) Challenges to the argument from religious experience 4 – God on the Brain

RE2b(vi) Challenges to the argument from religious experience 5 – natural explanations

Perhaps the key challenge to veracity of religious experience is the claim that that there are alternative explanations; that these are not supernatural experiences of God, but are natural explanations, the result of brain activity, such as temporal lobe epilepsy. This link between brain activity and religious experience have often been supported with reference to… Read More RE2b(vi) Challenges to the argument from religious experience 5 – natural explanations

RE2b(iv) Challenges to the argument from religious experience 3 – more likely explanations

David Hume, an 18th century Scottish philosopher is one of the most influential empirical philosophers.  Empiricism is the idea that knowledge comes from experience, so for Hume, the only we can know something is through some form of experience.  He once wrote that: “the wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.” By this he… Read More RE2b(iv) Challenges to the argument from religious experience 3 – more likely explanations

RE2b(iii) Challenges to the argument from religious experience 2 – the finite and the infinite

The second challenge to the idea of religious experience concerns the idea of the finite experiencing the infinite.  How can finite beings such as humans, that is, limited beings, experience an infinite being such as God? Experiences of any kind deal with out perceptions, what we perceive.  These perceptions are mediated.  This means that when… Read More RE2b(iii) Challenges to the argument from religious experience 2 – the finite and the infinite

RE2b(ii) Challenges to the argument from religious experience 1 – the problem of verification

Cast your mind back to Swinburne’s ideas on the Principles of Credulity and Testimony.  In this, Swinburne argues that if an account or testimony is credible, then we ought to believe it, unless we have clear, positive reasons for not believing the testimony. So, for example, if I said that for my 18th birthday I… Read More RE2b(ii) Challenges to the argument from religious experience 1 – the problem of verification

RE2b(i) Challenges to the argument from religious experience

We have spent some time considering the argument from religious experience for the existence of God and we know that the key question in respect of this argument is, Are religious experiences really of God? We have also studied various attempts to strengthen this inductive argument by providing evidence and reasons to support the claim… Read More RE2b(i) Challenges to the argument from religious experience

RE2a(v) Supporting the argument from religious experience – part 4: the subjects’ perspective

The argument from religious experience for the existence of God is an inductive argument, meaning if we are to be convinced by it, we need supporting evidence and reasons. So far we have suggested change in the life of the subject and the common phenomenological core are evidence to support the argument and the Principles… Read More RE2a(v) Supporting the argument from religious experience – part 4: the subjects’ perspective

RE2a(iv) Supporting the argument from religious experience – part 3: the Principles of Credulity and Testimony

So far we have presented two pieces of evidence that seek to strengthen this inductive argument from religious experience for the existence of God; change in the life of the subject and the idea of a common phenomenological core.  Both of these seek to provide additional evidence in support of the claim that religious experience… Read More RE2a(iv) Supporting the argument from religious experience – part 3: the Principles of Credulity and Testimony

RE2a(iii) Supporting the argument from religious experience – part 2: the common phenomenological core

In William James’ study of religious experience, he argued that in all the instances of religious experience he had studied, there was a common phenomenological core. Before we seek to understand what he meant by that, let us first consider what he means by these three words. Phenomenology is the study of phenomena, that is,… Read More RE2a(iii) Supporting the argument from religious experience – part 2: the common phenomenological core

RE2a(ii) Supporting the argument from religious experience – part 1: change

In the previous post we saw how the argument from religious experience for the existence of God works.  It is an inductive argument, meaning that while the premises support the conclusion, they do not prove it to be correct.  There are, therefore, alternative possible conclusions. The previous post ended with the idea that the success… Read More RE2a(ii) Supporting the argument from religious experience – part 1: change

RE 2a(i) The argument from religious experience for the existence of God

We know that religious experiences happen.  We know that many people have had experiences that we might call religious.  That these experiences happen is not in doubt.  What is open to doubt however is their veracity, that is, are they really, truly religious experiences?  For example, in the case of Saul’s conversion, clearly something happened… Read More RE 2a(i) The argument from religious experience for the existence of God

RE1e The Varieties of Religious Experience: Mysticism

The third type of religious experience you need to understand is mysticism. The word ‘mystic’ or ‘mystical’ is often used when referring to astrologists, fortune tellers and tarot card readers, but in our study, these are entirely separate. When we try to define mystical experience, we mean something like ‘union with the divine’, an experience… Read More RE1e The Varieties of Religious Experience: Mysticism

RE1d The Varieties of Religious Experience: Visions

The second type of religious experience you need to know about are visions. A vision is usually defined as something seen other than by ordinary sight, that is, not normally with the physical eye.  Usually visions are linked with revelations soothes contain some kind of information or message.  Consequently, visions are often found as part… Read More RE1d The Varieties of Religious Experience: Visions

RE1c The Varieties of Religious Experience: Conversion

Having considered the importance of religious experience and the nature of religious experience, our attention turns to the variety of religious experience, that is, the wide range of different forms of religious experience. Of the three you must understand, the first is conversion. The word conversion has its root in the the Latin word ‘convertere’… Read More RE1c The Varieties of Religious Experience: Conversion

Conversion: examples

Below are three key examples of conversion experience that you will need to accompany RE1c. C.S. Lewis Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast in 1898. He taught English Literature at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, but is best known for writing ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, the most famous of which is ‘The Lion, The… Read More Conversion: examples

RE1b The nature of religious experience

Defining religious experience can be very difficult.  There are many different religions and an enormous number of different types of religious experience.  Furthermore, religious experiences, like all experiences, are private and subjective, so comparing and grouping them can be very difficult. Richard Swinburne Swinburne (b. 1934) in ‘The Existence of God’ (1979) identifies 5 different… Read More RE1b The nature of religious experience