This sample essay on Religious Experience Essay provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
The classic religious experience is a group of like-minded individuals who claim to have experienced the same thing, in the example given; the disciples claim to see Jesus after he had died on the cross. It is normally not believed by others and also some within the group.
The response tends to be that others tend not to believe your perception and experience. In John20, it was St.Thomas who disagreed with the other disciplines and stated,
“Unless I see the scars… I will not believe.”
This gives an example of one of one of many claims opposing religious experiences.
2) When saying that religious experiences can provide a “fountain of faith” means it can confirm someone’s faith and religion, making it more secure, or even making some believe in their own faith to a further extent.
It is a subjective comment.
3) Swinburne’s five types of religious experiences. Two being public and three private.
Public: * Personal interpretation – An individual sees God or God’s action in a public object or scene. I.e. Rainbow
* Breach of natural law – Examples such as people walking on water, a person appearing in a locked room, and turning water into wine. Less emphasis on personal interpretation here, although the sceptic maintains that whilst something inexplicable may have occurred, there is no need to attribute this to God.
Private: * Experiences which an individual can describe using normal language. E.g. Jacob’s vision of a ladder going up to heaven or the appearance of the Angel Gabriel to Mary. There could be interpreted as psychologically explained rather than a divine explanation.
* Mystical experiences – The mystic may be the first to admit that normal language is not adequate to express what has happened.
* God is acting in his or her life. An individual may say, “God’s hand guided me” – although if pressed he or she would admit that there is no specific evidence for this.
4) Vardy criticizes Swinburne’s analysis by saying that it suffers from the defect of making religious experiences appear very similar to ordinary experiences. Vardy believes that he has little feeling for what Otto described as “the numinous” or “an apprehension of the wholly other”.
5) “Numinous” means something, which indicates or suggests the presence of God.
6) Swinburne says we should rely on reports on religious experience because of two principles:
* The principle of credulity – Cannot be sceptical – need to believe in what you see. Essentially no difference between reality and non-reality. Reasonably possible or probable to existence of God. What seems to be, we should believe. “How things seem to be is a good guide to how things are.”
* The principle of testimony – Swinburne’s second principle claims that it is reasonable to accept that other people normally tell the truth. The principle says that we should believe what people have said. It tends to circle round we should treat a religious experience as we would treat any other experience. “In the absence of special considerations the experiences of others are (probably) as they report them…”
7) Vardy opposes Swinburne’s two principles and draws a parallel with the sighting of UFO’s. He says that it may merely be misinterpreted. He uses the example of if he saw a UFO it could simply be a meteorological balloon or a hand glider at an odd angle. Also, claims to have seen the Lock Ness monster. The probability of this seems to be low, and therefore the quality of the statement must be proportionally high. Vardy essentially claims that not all religious statements are true according to Swinburne’s theory. Swinburne states that we should believe what we have been told; however if it is a misconception then surely it cannot be rendered a religious experience.
8) Caroline Davis is generally anti the reliability of religious experiences. Her decision is highlighted when Vardy says that she maintains that, while some challenges may have been force, the balance of probability rests with religious experience pointing beyond themselves to something that has actually been experienced. She believes that religious experiences are due to psychological states, or that they should be dismissed because they are relative to different cultures.
9) David Hay of the Oxford Centre for Religious Experience. His contributions to religious experiences is that he had conducted many interviews throughout the country under carefully controlled conditions and has found that a very high proportion of people claim to have had experiences of a power or presence beyond themselves.
10) Being a believer affects your position as the claims can be substantial and, if they could be justified then religious believers would indeed be able to rely on religious experience. The claims could misguide or mislead believers in advocating such extraordinary perceptions on God and how others perceive him via a religious experience.
11) Davis defends the use of religious experience, as she believes that
“senses of “presence” provide very strong evidence for broadly theists beliefs. this includes the claims that human beings have a “true self” beyond their everyday “phenomenal ego” and that this true self intimately related to the divine nature; that there is a holy power beyond the world of the senses…and that human beings can find their most profound satisfaction in a harmonious relation with this holy power”
She relates to religious believers as humans who truly believe in themselves and what experience they may of claimed of seeing, by doing so she defends the use of religious experience.
12) Vardy suggests that in order to distinguish between an individual who claims to have had the religious experience to the second problem, which is, the person who is informed of the experience. Firstly, the person who claims to have had a religious experience, how is it possible to separate:
* “God appeared at my window last night” from
* “It seemed to me that God appeared to me last night”?
Secondly, in the case of the person who is told about the experience, how does one separate:
* “God appeared to him or her last night” from
* “He or she thought that God appeared to him or her last night”?
Vardy suggests that if the individual who has the experience is satisfied about its truthfulness, should others be convinced by the same report.
This is important as there can be a series of claims being told, for example if I were to say that I had seen God last night and told my friend who then told a friend and then was passed on in this manner, the claim can be seen as false and bits extended making the claim seem almost as inevitable as a game of Chinese whispers, I feel that by distinguishing the two it helps separate true and false claims.
13) The tests that Vardy proposes that we apply to check weather religious experiences transpire, are as follows:
* To what extent has the person who believes to have had a religious experience, life changed and has it had a major influence on their life?
* Or does it fit in with other claims that have been made within are traditional reports and other things that we claim to know?
These tests will help distinguish between weather a claim is in fact true of false or weather it has made a development or transformed someone’s life in a major way.
14) I believe that religious experiences tend to occur within faith as it justifies it more so than it not to be. However, I do feel that in some occasions religious experiences can occur to make an impact on an individual to either become a believer in faith and religion or convert into a different religion, highlighted with the immense change in St.Paul after his intervene with God. It tends to stay within the boundaries of faith, as those who tend to respect and worship God, are rewarded with visual and sometimes physical enlightenments of religious experiences.
When it comes to affecting its credibility, I feel it proves it more, as we are more likely to believe someone who has believed in religion, faith and God for numerous amounts of years, to an individual who maybe an atheist or simply does not take any interest in religion. As a whole I personally wouldn’t rely on any conception of a religious experience until I have experienced it myself.