Flashcards in CHALLENGES and VERIFICATION Deck (15):

Explain the vicious circle as a challenge to religious experience?

-The character of religious experience depends upon the interests and backgrounds of a person- Catholics will experience Mary and Hindus will experience Kali.
- This implies that instead of Religious Experience being the basis of faith they are more likely to be generated by existing faith and commitment.


Explain the conflicting claims argument against religious experience.

- If religious experience provides evidence for religious truths...then which religion?
- Religious claims conflict with each other - Messiah (Christianity), Prophet (Islam) or Ordinary Man (Judaism).
- Stage "Many experiences are shaped and determined by pressure from the church."


Explain Sigmund Fraud's scientific challenges to religious experiences.

- Religion= no more than psychological obsession.
- Religious experience= an illusion, just a projection of the ultimate, oldest and most profound ideas people have.
-E.g. if someone claims to have an experience of Jesus suffering a religious person may accept this. BUT Fraud would claim the person is ultimately projecting their ultimate beliefs about suffering, helplessness and separation along with the salvation, hope and desire to be reunited with one's parent (in this case portrayed as God).


How did Ramachandran object to religious experiences?

- Compared epileptic and non epileptic brains.
- When temporal lobe patients were shown any type of religious imagery, their bodies produced a dramatic change in skin resistance- much greater than those without the condition.
- St Paul could have been epileptic.
- Did not completely dismiss that it could be the workings of God- God may have placed temporal lobe as means of communication.


How did Persinger challenge religious experience?

- By stimulating the temporal lobes with a unique machine he can artificially induce in almost anyone, what feels like a genuine religious experience.
- Uses the helmet which produces weak magnetic fields across the hemisphere of the brain.
- Over 900 people claim to have had some sort of experience.
- Claim to feel "at one with the universe" when performed on Tibetan monks and nuns claimed it felt the same as deep meditation.


How can we verify religious experiences?

1) A better understanding of God.
2) Surrendering to the power of the experience.
3) Shift in emotional centre.
4) Feelings of peace and joy.

"If it seems to a subject that X is present, then probably X is present; what one seems to perceive is usually so".
- Therefore we should accept this unless we can prove otherwise- (4 possible challenges)
1) Doesn't have the ability to interpret the experience.
2) Intoxicated or otherwise unreliable.
3) Prove whoever they claim to be there was not there.
4) Prove that although the person they claim to be there, was there but had no part in the experience.

SWINBURNE'S PRINCIPLE OF TESTIMONY: People usually tell the truth- the same challenges apply.

1) Experience should be within the traditions of the church.
2) Discussed with a spiritual advisor.
3) Change in the life of the person.


Explain Philosophical challenges to religious experience.

- Can the finite experience the infinite?
- To recognise God's characteristics we must also have these characteristics- it takes one to know one.
- God has no body- yet is said to be one being - God is radically different from an encounter with a person with no definite location.
-Therefore how could it be possible to experience him directly?


What signs did the Toronto Blessing demonstrate that qualified it's acceptance by Charismatics as evidence for holy spirit blessing?

1) Falling and resting in the spirit.
2) Holy Laughter.
3) Shaking and crying.
4) Crunching- (a vomit-like heaving)


What are the uses with Glossolalia and what is it?

- Speaking in tongues- experience is real to the person so James would argue that it is in fact valid.
- Emil Kraeplin- referred to people who speak in tongues as schizophrenic- calling it unhealthy.


What makes corporate experiences easy and difficult to verify?

EASY: Shows shared feelings and responses, numerically valid- as there are more witnesses, if they all recount the same thing it is more likely to have been genuine.

DIFFICULT: Why would God choose to communicate through making people barking like dogs. Sergeant claimed it could be the result of mass hypnosis. John White- "Learned patterns of behaviour". It would only take 1 person to derail everyone's claims. E.g. the Battle of Mons.


What makes individual experiences easy and difficult to verify?

EASY: Not mass hypnosis, "AUTHENTICATED PERSONALLY" - James, Paul goes against his previously established strong beliefs and cannot be therefore put down to wishful thinking.

DIFFICULT: don't appear as valuable quantitatively, not as many witnesses and other explanations can be applied to one person.


Why might William James argue that religious experience is valid proof of God?

- "The fruits that count".
- "Authenticated personally".
-More reasonable than to attribute some profound effects to God rather than a mere imaginary being.
- God communicates through "faulty minds" e.g. those with epilepsy- this does not take away from the value of the experience.


What did Anthony Flew say about claims of religious experience? And how did Caroline Frank Davis respond?

"If one leaky bucket will not hold water that is no reason to think that 10 will".

"Overlapping to fill in the gaps and prevent leaks" - Caroline Frank Davis- possible to take elements from each and end up with a powerful argument.


What is the key advantage of religious experience?

It related to people in a much more direct way- there are contemporary examples.

Approach is accessible and to a degree understandable.


What is the main issue with religious experience?

Dealing with something akin to emotion and non-empirical.