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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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Arguments from Religious Experience

Arguments from Religious Experience

(p.66) III Arguments from Religious Experience
The Evidential Force of Religious Experience

Caroline Franks Davis

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses several ‘arguments from religious experience’ which have had wide appeal. Some of them were not originally intended as ‘arguments from religious experience’ in the full sense, but they can be treated as such because they represent common lines of argument about religious experience. Most of them have the following shortcomings: they are all arguments for the existence of (or for the reasonableness of belief in the existence of) the Judaeo-Christian God; they tend to take the empirical research for granted, which can seriously weaken their case; many proponents of arguments from religious experience appear to demand too much of religious experience. In this chapter, the following arguments from religious experience are examined: the analogy with aesthetic and moral experience; the analogy with sense perception; the ‘sense of a personal encounter’ argument; the ‘all experience is experiencing-as’ argument; and an argument using the concept of basic beliefs.

Keywords:   religious experience, analogy, sense perception, personal encounter, basic beliefs, aesthetic experience, moral experience

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