Analyse the key strengths of the argument for the existence of God based on religious experience. Evaluate the view the weaknesses of this argument lead to its rejection.

Essay by uzzi04High School, 12th grade November 2009

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"What is religious experience?" A religious experience can be described as a non-empirical occurrence and can be perceived as supernatural; or a "mental event" undergone by an individual, it can be spontaneous or may be brought as result by intensive praying. The receiver usually seems to have been "drawn into a deeper" knowledge and awareness of God; however the experience itself is not a substitute for the Divine. The experiences are usually individual, unique and subjective; "genuine" experiences to help the individual to live a better life.

There are different types of religious experiences; spiritual experience, sacred experience, or mystical experience all being subjective; where an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine. A religious person believes they have had an experience of God, or another religious figure. Religious experiences can range from God actually speaking to a person, to someone being aware of God's presence, or even a miracle.

Therefore, religious experiences are not easily categorised as one thing or another. However, what we might say is common to all of them is that they are somewhat extraordinary events, and very different to ordinary everyday experiences.

Rudolf Otto in his book "The Idea of the Holy" uses the term numinous to describe a personal experience of spiritual power. Otto uses the ancient Latin, "numen" translated as "the presence of a god or goddess" and suggests that religion must derive from a being that is totally separate from this world; in the presence of such being numinosity is experienced. Martin Buber takes numinous into consideration but stresses that the existence of personal relationship exists regardless of numinous. He suggest the relationship in formed on two levels; viewing people and things as phenomena or taking a relationship further by probing deeper. Buber believes God...