(I) Examine the view that there is no difference between someone who says they have experienced God and someone who dreams that they have experienced God. (18)
(ii) To what extent does the atheist succeed in discrediting the claims of religious experience? (12)
What is religious experience? There are different explanations such as an encounter with the divine or a communication with God. Emotions directed at the divine-, like William James said ‘God was present…my consciousness perceived him.’ So, basically religious experience is an experience of the transcendent. “Why all this talk about arguing from religious experience?’ someone may be asking. ‘If you really experience God you don’t have to argue, you know he’s real, and that’s all there is to it. The self-authenticating nature of religious experience goes beyond the need to argue. The idea of knowing God by intuition through religious experience is an attractive one for Christians, and it seem quite consistent with the teachings of the Bible about how God is known. God makes himself known through ‘I-You’ encounters. Through becoming human in the person of Jesus (the incarnation), the idea of experiencing God is particularly significant to Christians. Awareness of God, oneness with God, the sense of his presence, the inner conviction of his reality- the situations and experiences which lead people to talk in these ways are vital for religious belief. The philosophical difficulties of intuitions, encounters, mystical experiences, and other sources of that sense do not detract from its importance of religion.
The first philosophical argument states- experience of X is a reliable indicator of the existence of X. It is common sense principle and it’s pragmatic, generally more useful to assume real existence of those things, which we encounter. An alternative for this argument is that what we experience is delusionary, deceptive or in...