‘Religious experiences do not provide convincing proof of the existence of God’. Examine and evaluate this claim (30 marks)

Topics: God, Philosophy of religion, Existence Pages: 2 (760 words) Published: January 19, 2014
Religious experiences cannot be explained empirically and tend to take place within a context of religious expectancy. Such experiences may be individual, in which a person becomes aware of the presence of the divine; or corporate, in which a gathering of people experiences feelings beyond expression – the ineffable. St Teresa of Avila described her experiences as: “God established himself in the interior of this soul in such a way, that when I return to myself, it is wholly impossible for me to doubt that have been in God and God in me”. Scholars are divided over religious experiences. Schleiermacher said they offered a sense of the ultimate, a consciousness of infiniteness and finiteness, and a feeling of absolute dependence. Wesley said that religious experiences inspired feelings of great joy, forgiveness, divine love and a desire to belong to God: “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ. Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me, that. He had taken away my sins, even mine” Rudolf Otto coined the term “numinous” to describe religious experience – as a feeling of something holy and beyond the physical world. Some religious experiences have been dramatic conversion experiences, such that which had happened to Paul: “... suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? (Acts 9-4) However, most experiences tend to be less dramatic and more personal, such as answered prayer or seeing the beauty of nature. One type, called a ‘mystical’ experience, occurs when a person becomes overwhelmingly aware of the presence of God. Do religious experiences prove the existence of God? The simple answer is that if religious experiences truly happen, then they come from God, and therefore he must exist. However, this begs the question of whether or not they happen, and the answer to this depends on whether or not we regard the evidence the evidence as...
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