AO2 be able to evaluate how far religious belief and ...

AO2 be able to evaluate how far religious belief and ...

AO2 be able to evaluate how far religious belief and commitment is determined by ones religious experiences or lack of them. What is this question asking you? Religious experience is a basis for faith Religious experiences are mistaken and not a good basis for faith Religious faith should be based on other things (b) Personal religious experience is the only firm basis for religious belief and commitment. Assess how far this statement could be said to be true. [30

AO1] Evaluation of how far religious experience determines religious belief and commitment. Consideration of other factors leading to religious commitment, (e.g. upbringing, corporate religious experience such as public worship, religious rituals, tradition, reasoning, sacred writing) as well as personal religious experience, is expected for higher levels. An answer which is confined to merely demonstrating the importance of a religious experience must not be given more than Level 4. On the one hand, candidates may argue that a religious experience, e.g. conversion, answered prayer, witnessing a miracle, has the greater impact on an individual than any cerebral factors, begins or deepens religious commitment in a unique way and has usually been the catalyst of new religious movements. On the other hand, they may argue that the other factors (as listed above) are of equal or greater influence as they

are less subjective, more accepted by others, more common, more authoritative and longer-lasting in their effect. The basic argument Religious belief and commitment is based on religious experience Religious experience, e.g. conversion, answered prayer, witnessing a miracle, has the greater impact on an individual than any cerebral factors, begins or deepens religious commitment in a

unique way and has usually been the catalyst of new religious movements. Religious belief and commitment is not based on religious experience Other factors (upbringing, religious rituals, tradition, reasoning, sacred writing) are of equal or greater influence as they are less subjective, more accepted by others, more common, more

authoritative and longer-lasting in their effect. Faith can be based on a variety of things . . . Alister Hardy Research Centre David Hay Remember the key statistics 1/__of adults in Britain, USA and Australia claim to have had a religious experience __% of Britons claim to pray daily __% in America

__% of Finns said they had received help from God at some point in their life One in ___ Finns believed they had received an answer to prayer Alister Hardy Research Centre David Hay Remember the key statistics 1/3 of adults in Britain, USA and Australia claim to have had a religious experience 40% of Britons claim to pray daily 60% in America

37% of Finns said they had received help from God at some point in their life One in four Finns believed they had received an answer to prayer Religious experience is the best basis for faith Many examples statistics from Cole St Paul Life changing William James fruits e.g. Are genuine experiences Swinburne credulity and testimony Research this section of your essay

Principle of Credulity Principle of Testimony Impact on individual James ideas about fruits Dossett and Michael Argyle 104 Peter Cole Cumulative argument e.g. Swinburne concludes: On our total evidence, theism is more probable than not. Swinburnes approach is cumulative - it is all of the lines of evidence and arguments put together that he finds convincing. Knowledge of God is possible R.E. are testable and so are a good basis for faith How do we assess whether a vision is genuine?

The Catholic Church has a procedure for assessing the truth value of visions based on an evaluation of the facts of the alleged event Some positive criteria that need to be met.. 1. Evaluation of the individuals personal qualities: mental balance, a moral life, obedience to Church authority, willingness to practice faith 2. Evaluation of the content of the vision: they must agree with the faith and morals of the Church 3. It results in healthy devotion: greater prayer, works or charity etc. 4. After this evaluation is approved by the Bishop there

must be a lengthy period of devotion that results in a deepening of the recipients faith 5. Finally comes Papal acknowledgment The Lourdes visions were declared authentic in 1862 (4 years after Bernadettes visions) Example-the Fatima visions October 1917 3 shepherd children witnessed a vision of the Virgin Mary She also communicated 3 secrets to them

Were the Fatima visions genuine? Verified The visions occurred during a time when the Freemasons had gained influence in Portugal and tried to limit the power of the Catholic Church Many Catholics felt persecuted leading to a religious split in the country Some view the visions as an attempt by the Church to win back political control therefore . . . AO2 be able to evaluate how far

religious belief and commitment is determined by ones religious experiences or lack of them. Religious belief and commitment is not based on religious experience Can be mistaken Cant be verified or falsified Cant be tested Can challenge Swinburnes Principles of Credulity and Testimony Caroline Franks Davis they dont make a good basis for faith as they can be challenged

CFD argues there are three categories of challenges to the idea that a reported experience is genuine 1. Description related challenges 2. Subject related challenges 3. Object related challenges What do you think they mean? CFD Challenges

1. Description related challenges We should be suspicious of descriptions that are inconsistent or if behaviour is inconsistent with someone who has had a religious experience or if it is inconsistent with our knowledge of the world 2. Subject related challenges The subject is the person who has had the experience brainwashed? Drugged? Hypnotized? 3. Object related challenges If we have doubts about the thing that the person claims to have experienced exists difficult as ideas about what exists vary Religious belief and commitment is not determined by ones religious experiences

Philosophical Challenges Philosophers have challenged the idea that religious experiences are genuine experiences from God. A.J. Ayer verification see next slide Flew falsification and leaky bucket challenge Kant empiricism Counter arguments

Alston Swinburne principles of credulity and testimony Ayer, verification The value of religious experiences as a basis for faith is challenged by the verification principle, supported by the British philosopher and atheist A.J. Ayer. This is the principle that a proposition can only be meaningful if it could be verified analytically or synthetically. That is, we could only regard religious experiences as meaningful if we could check their truth through the

logical sense of the terms (analytically) or through gathering some body of supporting evidence (synthetically). Ayer is particularly critical of mysticism, because it tries to ascribe significance to a being (God) who, by definition, cannot be meaningfully described. If there is no possible way to check what is meant by God, then why should we accept the validity of religious experience as a basis for faith? Ayer a different view In 1988, the year before his actual death, Ayer choked on a bit of smoked salmon, passed out, and

his heart stopped for fully four minutes. When, with the help of medical assistance, he regained consciousness, he reported having a so-called near-death experiencea red light supposedly responsible for the governing of the universe shone, something resembling the River Styx appeared, and other trimmings were includedthat found its way into the National Enquirer. He told an interviewer for the Tatler that the experience made him a bit more wobbly on the question of the existence of an afterlife. Although this did not in any way qualify his lifelong atheism, it apparently made him, for the first time in his life, responsive to nature. Freddie has got so much nicer, his wife said, since he died. Ayer is quoted as having told his doctor that he would have to revise his opinions on life after death and God, since the experience was of his Creator. However, many of his supporters claim this was the ideas of a man beyond his intellectual prime and not to be taken seriously

Debating Ayer and Verification In Language, Truth and Logic Ayer claimed that statements about God could not be verified in any way: if the mystic admits that the object of his vision cannot be described ... he is bound to talk nonsense. But can religious experience really be criticised as meaningless, for lack of verification? Arguably, there are problems with Ayers arguments. Many normal, everyday experiences are not verified either; in social interactions we are used to taking things on trust, unless there are reasons not to. The whole concept of trust assumes that we do not require people to verify everything they say; this is the key point of Swinburnes Principle of Testimony. The verification principle itself has been subject to criticism, as it is not a

principle that can be verified analytically or synthetically. In that sense, is this statement about the nature of knowledge really in any better position than statements about religious experience? Flew and the Falsification Principle Religious experiences should have no value as a basis for religious faith their claims cannot be falsified and are therefore meaningless. Think about the Popper example astrology and astronomy Richard Dawkins also has something to say about this debate. In his book The God Delusion, Dawkins tells a story from his student days. He recalls that a

fellow undergraduate was camping in Scotland and claimed to have heard the voice of the devil Satan himself. In fact, it was just the call of the Manx Shearwater (or Devil Bird), which has an evil sounding voice. Not a good basis of faith as based on ignorance For Dawkins, this highlights the key problem with personal experiences. They are often used in an

appeal to God because people are ignorant of more straightforward physical or psychological explanations for what the perceive. It is an argument based on ignorance. Possible responses to criticisms Mackies claim that religious experiences are disanalogous with normal experiences seems harsh. William Alston suggests that there is continuity in our experiences, focusing on our ability to check perceptions, detect regularity, share experience, and have common views of public objects between cultures. Religion might well fit into this scheme. Dawkins use of a personal anecdote is not revealing of religious experience as a whole. In most cases, testimony or personal experience are not easily deconstructed in natural or

psychological terms. Contrary to Scooby Doo, there isnt always a perfectly straightforward explanation so, it could be a genuine experience of God and therefore it would lead to faith Religious belief and commitment is not determined by ones religious experiences because they can be explained in other ways The psychological challenge

You could choose . . . Or not include them at all Freud Jung Marx Sartre Use Cole, Webber and the old AS text book The psychological challenge Some psychologists hold that religious experiences can be explained by psychological factors, and therefore are not genuine experiences of God and do not determine faith. For instance: St Pauls experience on the Damascus road could have been due to an epileptic fit or may have arisen from subconscious guilt (stoning of St Stephen) so it is not a basis for faith

Perhaps they are psychological solutions to an emotional crisis e.g. a solution to the anxiety of meaningless (Sartre Webber 31), the despair of economic and political exploitation (Marx) , the need for a parent substitute (Freud). Could religious experience be explained in terms of voices from an unconscious part of ourselves? Jung Cole 101-102 - optional But, some scholars have argued that this could be God working through the unconscious mind. Could they be an inner disturbance projected onto the outside world in much the same say as a person may speak of spiders as disgusting? Religious belief and commitment is not determined by ones religious experiences because they can be explained in other ways Physiological Challenges

1. Drugs read pages 97 and 98 of Cole and write a summary of how drugs can be used as an alternative explanation of religious experiences 2. Research Susan Blackmore 3. Can you think of any problems with Pahnkes research? Physiological Challenges - Temporal Lobe What is the temporal lobe? V.S. Ramachandran Ramachandran and the temporal lobe

1. What experiment did Ramachandran use to show the significance of TLE 2. What were his conclusions Michael Persinger and the God Helmet Blackmore discusses Persinger 3. What experiment did Persinger develop to show the significance of the TL? 4. What were his findings/results? Use Peter Cole and Jordan Michael Persinger 98 99

Prof. R.S. Ramachandran 98 Can you think of any responses to this research? Optional additional points Genes External deprivation Religious belief and commitment is not determined by ones religious experiences because humans cant experience God

Theological challenge The God of Classical Theism can not be experienced by humans. You can make a link to miracles Maurice Wiles why some and not others Nelson Pike God is outside space and time Webber page 21 Example Theological Challenge 1. In the 9th Century the Muslim mystic (sufi) Abu Yazid was

convinced of his union with Allah, he stated Glory to me, how great is my majesty 2. Al Hallaj in the 10th Century claimed he was the divine incarnation. 1 Why do you think many Muslims at the time objected to Abu Yazids experience? 2 What does this mean, and what

do you think the response was? Theological challenge Islam rejected all mystical experiences until al Ghazali (12th Century) claimed that mystical experiences involve contact with the divine but the idea of total union with God is an illusion. Sufism is now an established aspect of Islam Theological challenge What is the general theological challenge to religious experiences? Counter argument 1. Look in the Weber extract and find C.A. Broads response and explain

how Blik can be used. 2. How did Hick explain the distribution of religious experiences? Faith should be based on other things Reason Anselm, Descartes, Hunt, Lewis Proposition revelation found in the Bible Karl Barth Should take a leap of faith Kierkegaard

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