In its strong form, this argument asserts that it is only possible to experience that which exists, so that the phenomenon of religious experience demonstrates the existence of God.
Back to Top The Religious Experience Argument posits that one can only perceive that which exists, and so God must exist because there are those that have experienced him.
Many people have had what they label as religious experiences or revelations experiences of the supernatural, like heaven or angels or even God himselfand if we believe the everyday experiential claims which people generally make, it is argued, then we should be willing to believe these claims as well.
The 19th Century philosopher William James offered a variant on this argument, arguing that all normal people have religious experiences and, since experience is the final arbiter of truth, then God as the object of religious experiences must be accepted as factually true.
The Refutation Back to Top Opponents of the Religious Experience Argument claim that religious experiences involve imagination rather than perception, and point out that there is always the possibility of fabricating artificial experiences of God, or that the experiences may not actually be religious at all but are merely interpreted that way by religious people this would go some way towards explaining why it seems that we do not all have these religions experiences.
There are no independent criteria which can be used to separate genuine experiences from false or flawed experiences, and, with no reliable methods of testing, claims of godly communications cannot be accepted as valid.
Also, adherents of almost all religions which, remember, are mutually inconsistent and conflicting claim to have had experiences that validate those religions and, if not all of these appeals are valid - as the competing religions themselves maintain - then none can be.
When nations go to war, devout believers on both sides have been known to receive revelations assuring them that god was on their side, suggesting that neither side was reliably informed. The assertion is self-referential, as anyone claiming not to have had a religious experience e.
When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.
Many of those who do claim religious experiences and visions prepare themselves by food or sleep deprivation, isolation from human contact, the repetition of chants or prayer, and even the use of drugs, exactly the kinds of unusual and extreme physical experiences likely to result in hallucinations.
Also, by extension of the logic of the original argument, if someone actively tries to have an experience of a god and fails - and few would deny that this has occurred on numerous occasions - is this not a good reason to believe that the god probably does not exist? In addition, such visions are far from universal in near-death situations, and always seems to be consistent with the subject's belief systems e.
Catholics see saints, Muslims see Mohammed, Protestants see Jesus, etcwhich points more to some kind of psychological phenomenon rather than actual objective experiences of the after-life.
What might be called mystical experiences can be caused by profound contemplation of nature or, for that matter, by chemical substances, but this presumably does not provide any evidence for a supernatural entity or god.
Doctors and researchers, such as Dr. Studies of neural activity have shown that so-called "spiritual" acts like meditation and prayer are associated with specific changes in neural activity in the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain, and in the amygdala the part of the brain used to process emotions.
It is notable that temporal lobe epileptics tend to experience distinct episodes of religious fervour in the moments before a seizure. Yet another counter-argument is the skeptical view held by some that all experiences including hyopothetical religious experiences are necessarily subjective, and no matter how one person perceives the world to be, there are any number of ways that it could actually be.
Barely tangible religious experiences are, by their very nature, even more uncertain than our familiar and lucid experiences of the external world, which are themselves inherently unreliable.
An Argument from Religious Experience A great many people both throughout history and throughout the world have had religious experiences. These have typically included not only an awareness of a divine presence but also a qualitative change in the behavior of the one having the experience. The only kind of counter-evidence which would tend to show a religious experience not to be veridical would be any evidence tending to show that there is no God. In the absence of any such evidence, any religious experience is evidence for the subject (and via his testimony, for others) of the existence of God. The argument from religious experience is the argument that personal religious experiences can prove God’s existence to those that have them. One can only perceive that which exists, and so God must exist because there are those that have experienced him.
A theist might conceivably counter-argue this point by contending that, if ultimately nothing can be proven true, then we must rely on faith sometimes referred to as the Argument from Faith. However, there is a big difference between the everyday faith we all act on e.
Our commonsense, everyday beliefs are based on prior observations and experience, and there is therefore good reason to believe them.Proponents of the Religious Experience Argument also cite the “evidence” of near-death experiences, where claims are made of, for example, a bright light at the end of a tunnel where the claimants met and communicated with Jesus, their dead grandma, a long dead friend, etc.
Arguments from Religious Experience show remarkable diversity, (a) in the sorts of experience taken as data for the argument, (b) in the structure of the inference itself, and (c) in the alleged conclusion, whether to a vague Presence, an Infinite Being, or the God of traditional Christianity.
"At. RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE, ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. Arguments from Religious Experience show remarkable diversity, (a) in the sorts of experience taken as data for the argument, (b) in the structure of the inference itself, and (c) in the alleged conclusion, whether to a vague Presence, an Infinite Being, or the God of traditional .
An Argument from Religious Experience A great many people both throughout history and throughout the world have had religious experiences. These have typically included not only an awareness of a divine presence but also a qualitative change in the behavior of the one having the experience.
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.
Arguments from induction are unconvincing, as we only have one example - ourselves. There is no inductive case to assume that others are like ourselves in this manner (that is to say, conscious).
The difficulty of such questions without relying on 'experience' arguments might make us want to think again about the argument from religious experience.