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Liena Altai

Liena  Altai


Total Article : 47

About Me:Sixth form student with an interest in a wide variety of topics such as languages, history, philosophy, politics and literature

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Can we use religious experiences to argue for the existence of God? (3)

Can we use religious experiences to argue for the existence of God? (3)

On the other hand, some philosophers reject the argument that religious experiences can be evidence for the existence of God as they have found faults with Swineburnes’ principles. A RE is exclusive and only happens once yet it claims to show the existence of God but Gutting states that if someone claimed to see his dead aunt, he would want “more than just their report to confirm this”. However, the weakness in using RE as evidence is that you cannot go beyond a claim of having one. Metson says, is that, “if someone has seen God, I would want others to have seen him also”. As God is believed to be omni-benevolent, why would He only reveal himself to some people but not others? This conflicts with characteristics of God and therefore, to avoid clashing claims, religious experiences cannot show you God. Additionally, Martin proposes a negative principle of creduity. He states that it is equally as valid to believe those who have not experienced God and therefore, it is valid to follow this with the conclusion that God does not exist. However, Swineburne responded that just because one person is wrong it does not mean that everyone is wrong. Senses should still be trusted. 

Criticisms towards James’ arguments also highlight that the claim of religious experiences being evidence for God is weak. The issue of his reliance on empirical evidence is raised. There is no certain way to check its credibility as empirical evidence can easily be deceiving. Russel states that, “we can make no distinction from the man who eats little and sees heaven and drinks much and sees snakes”. Moreover, if a RE is ineffable, how can it be used as evidence? Ayer says that, “if a mystic admits… his vision… cannot be described then he must also admit that he is bound to talk nonsense when he describes it”. So even the recalling of the RE is not solid enough to be used as an argument for the existence of God. Grouping these philosophers together, they have set the criteria of needing to repeat the RE to others, whether verbally or else how, in order for the claim to be taken seriously. As this cannot happen, the argument for God using RE is significantly weakened. Wisdom’s parable also supports these statements that there is little to no difference between something that cannot be proven and something that does not exist at all. On the other had, James responds by saying that it is unrealistic to expect something out of the ordinary to be explained in the ordinary. Furthermore, Davis states that each experience should be judged on its own merit those who judge them should be experts. This could suggest that atheists should not set their own criteria for what a RE should be able to do as they have not had one nor do they believe in God.

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