Friday, September 17, 2021

On religious experience

 I think you have to divide positions on this issue into three parts. 

1) There is no spiritual reality--everything is material. People who have religious experiences percieve nothing real.

2) There is a spiritual reality, but it is not personal. 

3) There is a spiritual reality and it is personal. 

It seems a lot easier to use religious experience to show that 1 is false than to show that 3 is true, since many who have religious experiences (which have a lot of commonality with theistic experiences), perceive a  nonpersonal spiritual reality. 


bmiller said...

Every person thinks they have a personal reality at least. No matter how crazy the world has made them.

Starhopper said...

When people point to brain activity as "evidence" that religious experience is totally explainable by physical processes, and thus doesn't really exist, I counter with "Does the fact that sight is explainable by physical processes within the eye and brain mean there is no such thing as light?"

One Brow said...


"the fact that sight is explainable by physical processes within the eye and brain" means that sight is not evidence that light exists. People see things in the dark, have hallucinations, etc.

I can point to light making a device spin or warming a surface. That's evidence light exists.

Starhopper said...

One Brow, you read my comment backwards. I did not write that sight is evidence for the existence of light. What I wrote (or at least meant) was that the physical processes within the eye and brain are NOT evidence for the non-existence of light.

In like manner, if it is true that religious experiences are explainable by brain activity, that is by no means evidence that such experiences are not valid, or that the supernatural does not exist.

One Brow said...


I read your comment exactly the way you explained. I was adding to it, saying physical process in the brain are not evidence for nor against external phenomenon.