Religious Experiences are in the Mind of the Believer Essays

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Religious Experiences are in the Mind of the Believer “A religious experience is a spontaneous or induced mental event over which the recipient has relatively little control. It is often accompanied with the gaining of certain knowledge and the experience is always unique.”[1] Elton Trueblood’s definition of a religious experience is very broad, including any experience of feelings of ‘love, power, glory or strength from God.’ This differs from a simple experience which can be defined as “an event or series of events participated in or lived through, especially one that makes a powerful impression on the mind and sense.”[2] It is obvious that religious experiences…show more content…
When people try to describe an experience of God they tend to make comparisons which raises problems philosophically, and many argue that the analogies have weaknesses. The definitions of mystical experience used by researchers and clinicians vary considerably, ranging from Neumann’s (1964) “upheaval of the total personality” to Greesley’s (1974) “spiritual force that seems to lift you out of yourself” to Scharfstein’s (1973) “everyday mysticism.” William James created four characteristics which he believed will enable people to identify mystical experiences, a term that is used in a vast variety of contexts. These include ineffability, noetic quality, transciency and passivity. From James’ four characteristics, mystical experiences are concerned with noetic quality and transciency. Noetic quality refers to knowledge that is gained through intuition and perception however not in the conventional manner, whilst transciency refers to the duration of the experience; it appears that most religious experiences last between a few minutes and two hours. However the effect and the significance are out of proportion to its physical duration. The fact they can last up to several
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