Theism Experiences

Religious Experience

Craig’s Holy Spirit Epistemology (1998) by Michael Martin

“In Reasonable Faith, William Lane Craig makes a sharp distinction between knowing that God exists and being able to show this. He maintains that one knows that Christianity is true ‘by the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit.’ … I will argue that Craig fails to make clear what an experience of the Holy Spirit is and does not justify his thesis that this experience is universal, veridical, and unmistakable. I will further maintain that, even if one grants his position, his claim that nonbelievers are without excuse for nonbelieving must be rejected unless one assumes that all beliefs are actions, and that he gives no reason to accept this assumption.”

Do Mystics See God? (2000) by Evan Fales

“Theistic philosophers have perennially cited mystical experiences–experiences of God–as evidence for God’s existence and for other truths about God. In recent years, the attractiveness of this line of thought has been reflected in its use by a significant number of philosophers. But both philosophers and mystics agree that not all mystical experiences can be relied upon; many are the stuff of delusion. So they have somehow to be checked out, their bona-fides revealed.”

Mystical Experiences (1995) by Paul O’Brien

O’Brien suggests that there are two crucial differences between mystical experiences and sensory experiences. First, that sensory experiences are sustained while mystical experiences are brief. And second, that “sensory experiences can be shared by anyone with the physical capacity to sense them, while mystical experiences seem almost strictly personal.” Part 15 of O’Brien’s Gentle Godlessness: A Compassionate Introduction to Atheism.

The Personal Savior (1993) by Robert M. Price

Price explores what Evangelicals mean when they claim to have a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Though they will often insist on a literal application of the term “personal relationship,” a Born Again Christian’s claim that “I speak to him in prayer; he speaks to me through the words of the Bible,” is ultimately metaphorical. From Price’s Beyond Born Again: Toward Evangelical Maturity.

Stace and the Question of Objectivity in Mysticism (1996) by Mark Vuletic

Vuletic argues against W.T. Stace that a third category of experience intermediate between objective and subjective is not needed for the characterization of mystical experiences.

Swinburne’s Argument from Religious Experience (1994) by Richard Gale

“Of all [Richard Swinburne’s] many important contributions to philosophy, the one for which he is most likely to achieve lasting fame is his empirical argument for the existence of God in The Existence of God, a book that will become a classic in my opinion. As a result of this work, a return visit from Hume’s Philo is needed, but he had better come loaded for bear, because the weapons that he used so effectively to stop poor Cleanthes in his tracks will be of no avail.”

 Why Alston’s Mystical Doxastic Practice Is Subjective (1994) by Richard Gale

“Within each of the great religions there is a well established doxastic practice (DP) of taking experiential inputs consisting of apparent direct perceptions of God (M-experiences) as giving prima facie justification, subject to defeat by overriders supplied by that religion, for belief outputs that God exists and is as he presents himself. (This DP is abbreviated as “MP.”) William Alston’s primary aim in his excellent book, Perceiving God, is to establish that we have epistemic justification for believing that MPs are reliable in that for the most part their belief outputs are true and moreover true of an objective or experience-independent reality, unlike the belief outputs of the DPs based on sensations and feelings, along with the introspective DP whose intentional accusatives, although existing independently of being introspected, fail to be objective because they are themselves conscious states.”

 

The Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali and The Cloud of Unknowing: A Preliminary Step in Assessing the Ontological Accuracy of the Mystical Experience (1996) by Mark Vuletic

Comparison of two mystical works from very different traditions, and assessment of whether the similarities and discrepancies are best explained by naturalism or mysticism.

 

Reviews/Critiques

Peering at Faces in the Clouds (1996) by Sally Morem

A review of Stewart Elliott Guthrie’s Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion.