Arguing the Existence of God from Religious Experience

Topics: God, Argument, Logic Pages: 3 (1112 words) Published: December 8, 2010
Analyse the argument for the existence of God from religious experience “A religious experience offers a sense of the ultimate and an awareness of wholeness, a consciousness of the infinite and an absolute dependence.” Edward Schleiermacher.

Religious experience has been a contentious subject for philosophers of religion in trying to actually define what a religious experience is, along with psychologists and religious believers. Otto, James, Hardy and Schleiermacher are among many people who have tried to define a religious experience and there basic understanding is it is an encounter with the divine. It is non-empirical, a personal occurrence that brings with it an awareness of something beyond ourselves. Those who have had such an experience count it as the ultimate proof of the existence of God. It is difficult to find a common theme with religious experiences due to the variety but you can divide them into two basic groups; a direct experience and an indirect experience. Testimonies of the occurrence of religious experiences can be found throughout human history, but do they prove that humanity has a link with God if they are true and if they are false, why are we so ready to believe them? Every testimony of a religious experience is unique and most occur to individuals in private but others are ‘corporate’ experiences, when large numbers of people share in the same experience. Despite the testimony of believers there is a vast range of alternative explanations for such events which means it is impossible to arrive at a definite understanding of religious experience and to verify or falsify whether such events occur.

The argument from religious experience is an inductive argument. Those who believe that religious experiences are proof of Gods existence usually argue inductively and look at the subjective testimonies of individuals to draw similar conclusions from their experiences that can only be explained in terms of the existence of God. Thus...
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