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The Evidential Force of Religious Experience$
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Caroline Franks Davis

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198250012

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198250012.001.0001

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Religious Experience

Religious Experience

(p.29) II Religious Experience
The Evidential Force of Religious Experience

Caroline Franks Davis

Oxford University Press

Proponents of arguments from religious experience often succumb to the demand to provide a brief, precise definition of ‘religious experience’. To widen the definition to include all experiences referred to as ‘religious’ would be foolhardy, since people often use terms such as ‘religious’ and ‘mystical’ metaphorically, to refer to any experience which is overwhelming, extraordinary, thrilling, or sublime. Definitions involving the term ‘God’ are difficult to work with, since the term admits of such a variety of interpretations. In order to gain a much better understanding of religious experiences than a short definition ever could, this chapter considers a workable idea of what counts as a religious experience and looks at borderline experiences which are not deemed ‘religious’. Different types of religious experience are examined, namely, interpretive, quasi-sensory, and revelatory experiences, as well as regenerative, numinous, and mystical experiences.

Keywords:   religious experiences, interpretive experiences, quasi-sensory experiences, revelatory experiences, regenerative experiences, numinous experiences, mystical experiences

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