‘The Religious Experience Argument

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‘The religious experience argument is the most convincing proof for the existence of God.’ How far do you agree with this statement? This essay will discuss the reasons both, for and against the above statement. I will analyse the arguments put forward by a variety of philosophers and thus reach a conclusion. Religious experiences can be defined as a subjective experience where an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine. An example of such can be noted Biblically from the times of Saul – a man who spent his life persecuting Christians. Randomly, Saul saw a light and heard a voice asking him why he persecuted Christians. After this, he had made a journey to Damascus where he realised that the voice he heard was in fact God. Saul took this experience as a form of realisation and converted to Christianity – which eventually led him to the title of Saint Paul - the man who was virtually responsible got moving Christianity from the Middle East to Europe. Philosopher Richard Swinburne divides religious experiences into five categories - two of which are public and three private. The first public event is an experience which can be seen by everyone. It is not particularly extraordinary; however it can be interpreted as so by various individuals. A second public event is one which can be seen to be breaking natural law. An example of such is when 70,000 saw the ‘sun dance’ in the sky on October 13th 1917 in Fatima, Portugal. The second category – private events contain three main points. One example of a private event is one which can be described in normal language. Another is one which cannot be described in normal language, also known as ineffability. The third private religious experience is when an individual reflects upon their life and concludes that God was in fact guiding them. These categories agree
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