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Flashcards in Religious Experience Deck (28):


An encounter with god

Eg near death experience, miracles, prayer, visions


Definition of a vision?

Where a person sees an object, sounds or figure that isn’t part of normal reality but the person believes they have a religious origin


What are the four types of vision?

Individual: dream based
Individual: corporeal


What’s a group vision?

Visions seen by more than one person

Virgin Mary appeared 6 times to 3 Shepard children wanting peace in Russia


What is a dream based vision?

Seen by only one person, through a dream
Joseph’s vision about Mary’s pregnancy


What’s a corporeal vision?

A physical body seen in the real world by one person
The angel appearing to the Shepard’s


What’s an intellectual vision?

Visions that bring a message
Wise men warned not to return to king Herod


What can the content of visions be?

A message: muhammed receiving the Quran

Religious figure: st Teresa of Avila had a vision of an angel with a spear which pierced her heart

A place: guru nanaks vision of god’s court where he was escorted to god and commanded to drink nectar


What’s the definition of a conversion?

A process of change which alters a persons view of the world, in a religious sense


What are William james’ features of conversion?

Can be passive- unexpectedly comes upon someone
Or active- specifically seeking a spiritual experience
Can be transforming
Slow or fast
Often involuntary


Different types of conversion?

Atheist to faith- CS Lewis

Faith to faith- sundar Singh was a Sikh, had a vision of Jesus and became Christian

Inner self- unifying the inner self. Jung believed religion brought psychological wholeness

Deepening of faith- can have intellectual belief which deepened to come from the heart

Moral- leads to increased moral standing. Giving up drugs to be religious


Definition of prayer?

In a basic sense, the activity of speaking to god


Who was Teresa of Avila?

She joined a Nunnery at a young age
After a severe illness she had a vision of a wounded Christ which inspired her to develop her prayer life


What did Teresa of Avila think?

4 stages of prayer referred to as 7 mansions
She considers the soul to be like a castle that contains mansions

True union can only be achieved by intense concentration and discipline through a life of prayer


What are the stages of prayer?

1. In the 4th mansion ‘prayer of consolations’ where human will is captivated by god’s love

2. 5th mansion ‘prayer of simple union’ god placed himself in the persons soul

3. 6th ‘spiritual marriage’ feelings of painful longing, spiritual happiness and visions

4. 7th highest possible state of prayer where the soul has reached union with god


What is mysticism?

A union with god
A feeling you can’t put into words- ineffable
Eg Sufism in Islam, Moses in Christianity receiving 10 commandments


What are Ed millers characteristics of mystical experiences?

Transcendent- beyond physical world
Ineffable- indescribable
Noetic- gives you knowledge
Ecstatic- fills you with joy
Unitive- makes you feel whole


What are the types of mystical experience?

Unitive- goes from separation from god to connection. Saul to Paul

Transcendent- experience is beyond this world. Sufism

Ecstatic- makes you feel something. Toronto blessing, so full of Holy Spirit people behaved like animals, uncontrolled laughing


What did William james believe?

Pragmatist- not a fixed definition of a religious experience
Pluralist- many ways to experience god, his existence is a probability


What were William James’ characteristics of a mystical experience?

Passivity- the experience is not caused by you
Ineffable- can’t put into words
Noetic- gives you knowledge
Transient- the experience is short lived but the effect is long lasting



What did Rudolf Otto believe?

You can’t empirically test a religious experience but you can look at the validity through the feeling it makes. The experience of the ‘holy’

He called the holy ‘numinous’ so for him a religious experience was numinous


What does mysterium tremendum mean?

A marvellous, terrifying, mystery
How Otto described a mystical experience


What happened to Father Yves Dubois?

Had a numinous experience when standing in front of Mary.
Overwhelming certainty of the presence of the mother of god, an awareness of purity, her holiness was frightening
Filled with awe


Who challenges religious experience?

Caroline Franks Davis


What does Caroline franks Davis argue?

We can never gather any empirical evidence so they are always subjective and can’t be proven objectively
Probability of had causing it is highly unlikely


What is Caroline frank davis’ three pronged attack?

Description related challenges- the description is mistaken and an ordinary event is misinterpreted

Subject related challenges- the person reporting is ill or on drugs, prone to exaggeration or lacks scientific understanding

Object related challenges- no way to prove it was caused by god


General challenges to religious experiences?

They present an immature view of the world based on blind faith. No empirical evidence
Freud’s psychological challenge: religion is a neurosis and can be reduced to the workings of the mind so a RE is a construct and not objectively real
Religious people aren’t prepared to let them be tested
Drug induced
Placebo, group hysteria
Different religions say different experiences, they can’t all be right
An experience may not have been caused by god
Persinger’s God Helmet: an experience can be caused by sending electrical impulses through your brain


Support for religious experiences?

William james believed the effects they caused was evidence enough
We can know the inner beauty of someone like we can experience God who is non-physical
Richard Swinburne: principles of credulity and testimony, reasonable to believe what people say
Different experiences due to cultural beliefs
Their positive impact must make them valid
Test of time, Otto just reworked James’ so it must have been good