Knowing God Through Experience

A very good overview of some of the issues in religious experience


  1. This was so interesting! But how can Patricia Churchland at 2:23 think that nobody who has a religious experience(or ‘sort of just a story’) is sane, or can recognise it as imaginary? Surely her argument would only work if a person was taking hallucinogenic drugs or had something like schizophrenia.You could be the dreamiest idealist, but you would still always recognise that the things that you imagine are just that, imaginary(even if you wished they weren’t!).

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it Anna! You make an excellent point, which many neuroscientists such as Daniel Dennett would do well to bear in mind, that we surely have some authority over the authenticity of our own experiences. Swinburne makes this very point with his principle of credulity, which says that if it seems to me that I have had an experience of something, in the absence of special considerations like being drunk or insane, then it is probable that my experience is true. But Patricia Churchland and many others are reductive materialists , and they have no room in that worldview for anything beyond biological and chemical processes.

  2. It is a shame that they are blinded to the truth of anything which cannot be proven by science, because science will never discover the truth behind everything! But surely if God created us, then he also created all of those biological and chemical processes too, so even if they CAN be explained by scientists, he still gave those the ability to occur and to be experienced by humans without them being intoxicated/on drugs/mentally ill (I suppose like how we can say how the Big Bang Theory(, or is it now the Big Bounce theory?) caused the Universe to come into existence, but that it was God who created the Big Bang/Bounce in the first place.) But then I’m guessing that reductive materialists won’t believe in God either?

  3. An analogy for this kind of reductive scientific view is the story of the man searching for his car keys at night time in the light cast by a street lamp. He tells someone who joins him that he actually lost his keys across the street, but there’s no light over there! Because science has very good accurate tools to shine a spotlight on certain areas of existence, many assume that the only things that can be found are within that spotlight!

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