William James Views Essay

548 words - 3 pages

• God could not be known through sensory experience or logical argument
• Ordinary language cannot do justice to religious experience, because it is an experience beyond normal sense-experience
• Religious language is a ‘schema’ – an attempt to find clusters of words which approach the idea of expressing an inexpressible idea
• God is ‘wholly other’ – completely different and distinct to humans
• Humans are not able to know God unless he chooses to reveal himself
• The numinous is where God reveals himself and his revelation is felt on an emotional level
• Confusing regarding the issue of whether knowledge of God is gained through experience
• He says the theological ideas come after the experience
• He implies that numinous experience is a ‘once and for all’ experience – implies there can be no further experience
• To suggest that all religious ...view middle of the document...

He contended that the experiences are not numinous but are at their core a feeling of absolute dependence upon the divine.They are an awareness of a dependence on a ‘source of power that is distinct from the world’ that is at the heart of religion.
• Theology arises afterwards as people reflect on their experiences
• Religion is a ‘sense and taste of the infinite’
• Christianity is the highest religion as Jesus was the only example of someone who was completely ‘God-conscious’
• Too much emphasis on the subjective, reducing religion to emotion and removing the possibility of showing that religious claims are based on fact
• Some critics argue that there has to be the possibility of testing experiences again the Bible/Church doctrines, otherwise any experience would count (even those caused by drug induced hallucinations or mental illness)
• Research by Prof. VS Ramachandran (University of California) He discovered that heightened activity in the temporal lobe of the brain floods all senses with over whelming emotional experience similar to the account by believers of numinous experiences
• How can we know if it is God? The difficulty lies in defining God (Aquinas argued that we can never really understand God.
• AJ Ayer- it is impossible to verify the existence of God because religious experiences are unverifiable and thus it is unreasonable to believe them
• We all experience transformations in terms of our life priorities but the changes are usually gradual. ‘Crisis’ type events can cause rapid transformation.
• Edwin Starbuck (1866-1947) studied conversion and found parallels between them and the normal process of finding our identities in adolescence as most experiences occur between the ages of 15 and 24. He noted that non-religious adolescents also go through similar anxieties and depression before finding ‘happy relief’ and a sense of identity.
A surge of electrical activity in the brain could be responsible for the vivid experiences described by near-death survivors, scientists report

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