The existence of God Based on Religious Experience

2399 words 10 pages
1. Examine the strengths and weaknesses of the argument for the existence of God based on religious experience. (18) 2. ‘The argument merely indicates the probability of God and this is of little value to a religious believer.’ Discuss. (12)

In contrast to the classical arguments for the existence of God, namely the ontological, cosmological and teleological arguments, the argument from religious experience doesn’t just entail a set logical of points arriving at a conclusion on a piece of paper, rather it also necessitates sense-based experience, tangible to the individual who experiences the divine.

First and foremost, we must classify the argument from religious experience.

In general, philosophical arguments usually take one
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Al-Ghazali’s methodology is pertinent as it marks a time in Islamic thought where Sufism, or mysticism, became considered an orthodox practice. Al-Ghazali himself was given the alias “Proof of Islam” (Hujjat al-Islam). Religious experience is therefore seen as an important argument, if not concept within faith.

Is it really the case that God can be experienced directly; granted that people have what they call “religious experiences”, how can we verify that their cause is God and not some other cause; do the weaknesses of this argument necessarily entail the rejection of the conclusion?

Firstly we can discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the argument in terms of its premises. P1 states that “If an entity is directly experienced, it exists”. Arguably, the proof we rely on most of all in the twenty-first century is our own experience. If we have seen, heard or experienced something, we accept the “truth” of whatever it may be. For those philosophers working in the Empiricist tradition (Hume, Bertrand Russell, Dawkins), this is appealing. The premise is an analytic statement – it is generally true by definition -, and therefore would be accepted by Logical Positivists and their Verificationism.

P2 states that “God is the sort of being that can be experienced”. In the Classical Theism espoused by the three Abrahamic faiths, God is omnipotent, omnibenevolent and


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