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Peter Addy Dr Tim Mawson Philosophy of Religion 29 May 2002 Religious Experience Many different types of people report many different types of religious experiences If there is some truth in these experiences then it is perfectly rational for people who have no direct experience to believe the reports of those who have Many people have never personally experienced Australia but it is rational for such people to believe the reports of those who have experienced Australia There is truth behind such reports If on the other hand there is no truth behind the reports then it is irrational for others to believe them The question then becomes How can the truth of religious experiences be ascertained William James explains that what he calls immediate luminousness is the only criteria by which one can establish the truth of a religious experience Basically the results that a religious experience has upon an individual are the only way by which we can determine the truthfulness of the encounter For example the Roman Christian persecutor Saul had a well-known religious experience on his way to Damascus that caused him to change not only his name but also his religious and entire life Judging by the fruits of the encounter as James says we must do exclusively it would seem that Pauls religious experience was true and genuine and so it would be completely rational for one to believe the reports about it If Saul had been struck by his religious experience but had not changed his ways at all and had continued to persecute Christians for the rest of his life the truth and validity of the religious encounter could be brought under question What would be the sense of someone without the benefit of such an experience to believe in it if the person to whom the experience was directed did not believe in it himself It should be noted that not all religious experiences have positive
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