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Argument From Religious Experience Essay

1318 words - 6 pages

The Argument from Religious Experience

The argument from religious experience is the argument that personal religious experiences can prove God’s existence to those that have them. One can only perceive that which exists, and so God must exist because there are those that have experienced him. While religious experiences themselves can only constitute direct evidence of God’s existence for those fortunate enough to have them, the fact that there are many people who testify to having had such experiences constitutes indirect evidence of God’s existence even to those who have not had such experiences themselves. The Argument from Miracles When and where do religious experiences ...view middle of the document...

People have done some rather inexplicable things because they believe God told them to, even at risk of their own life. For example, at a time when it was extremely dangerous to be a Christian, Saul converted from Judaism to Christianity because he believed he had met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Bearing in mind that Saul (later Paul) was on his way to arrest and persecute Christians for spreading (what he believed to be) lies about Jesus being the Son of God, this makes his change of faith even more remarkable. The question many Christians will ask is why did someone like Saul convert to Christianity, if he did not have the religious experience he claimed to have had? Of course, the biggest problem with religious experiences is actually proving that people have heard God, or been in the presence of God. How do we know that people who claim these experiences are not simply convincing themselves that they have done these things, when when they have not? We should also note that some people have done some very wicked things because they believe God told them to do it. To read more on this subject see Killer Cults: Murderous Messiahs and Their Fanatical Followers {draw:frame} . Finally, many people in lots of different religions all claim to have had religious experiences. However, they cannot all be experiencing the same God, as different faiths tend to teach different things about who or what God is, and our relationship with God. So if someone says they have had a religious experience, how can they prove that their experience is genuine, and also that it is better (or more genuine) than those of people in other faiths? Common types of religious experiences Numinous: The sense of ‘awe and wonder’ a person may feel when they experience the presence of God in a certain place or building. It usually describes the feeling (or realisation) that God is very different from us - powerful and awesome. Some people usually feel this when they enter a church or a cathedral. However, they might just as easily have a sense of God's greatness by looking at the world around them (E.g. a sunset). Miracles: A miracle occurs when God acts in the world in a special way. Miracles are said to be things God does, which go against the laws of nature. People who believe God exists, usually believe God can and does work miracles. For example, miracles which involve healing the sick are often believed to be the result of prayer. Mystical Experiences: Some people claim to have experienced God in such an intense way, that they have literally been in the presence of God. Some people also believe they have become one with God at certain times. People who claim have such experiences are often called Mystics. It is common for Mystics to use a variety of spiritual techniques, such as meditation, to come into the presence of God in this special way. ...

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