Examine the Strengths and Weakness of the Argument for the Existence of God Based on Religious Experience (18) Essay

790 WordsJan 5, 20154 Pages
Examine the strengths and weakness of the argument for the existence of God based on Religious Experience (18) Religious experience presents an argument for the existence of God far different from more traditional teleological or cosmological arguments; its defining feature being an inductive argument with a posteriori factors of experience. A religious experience means there has been an encounter with the divine, making it backed among religious believers as convincing evidence of God. Religious experiences occur in an extraordinary way that does not apply to straight forward empiricism, but rather happen in a spiritual, mystical or religious condition. This often makes them somewhat unfathomable, as they are so outside the normal ‘I-It’ experiences. These experiences would be referred to as ‘I-Thou’ by Buber. Due to this, William James has justified this unfamiliarity with defining ineffability as one of his four characteristics of religious experiences. Not only does this help understand the inability to speak of religious experience as it is numinous but it also coincides with many existing perceptions of the divine. For example, the via negative would reinforce this idea as both concepts paint God as a supernatural, immeasurable being; this is a big strength for religious experience as it fits into traditional perceptions of God, making it more convincing for theists. On the other hand, atheists may be sceptical of this feature of religious experience. A.J. Ayer would point out ineffability to be a large weakness of religious experience as proof for the existence of God. He points out that if something transcends human understanding it is unintelligible. If something is incomprehensible, Ayer argues that it cannot be spoken about significantly as no religious statements would be synthetic or analytical. This of course is a big weakness of religious
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