:Argument from Religious Experience:Answering Arguments for Atheism part 2

Notice in these arguments every single argument they make is flatly contradicted bya pile of studies, the artheists are totally un aware of this fact.


Opponents of the Religious Experience Argument claim that religious experiences involve imagination rather than perception,


Clearly its more than just imagination, if any is involved, because the effects are real. I devote several chapters in the book to proving this. I discuss study after study.

Wuthnow, Robert (1978). "Peak Experiences: Some Empirical Tests." Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 18 (3), 59-75. Noble, Kathleen D. (1987). ``Psychological Health and the Experience of Transcendence.'' The Counseling Psychologist, 15 (4), 601-614. Lukoff, David & Francis G. Lu (1988). ``Transpersonal psychology research review: Topic: Mystical experiences.'' Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 20 (2), 161-184.

Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.

Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar (1983). ``Psychedelic Drugs in Psychiatry'' in Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, New York: Basic Books.

Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being. (Charles T. Tart, Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm, p. 19.)

Long-Term Effects


*Say their lives are more meaningful, *think about meaning and purpose *Know what purpose of life is Meditate more *Score higher on self-rated personal talents and capabilities *Less likely to value material possessions, high pay, job security, fame, and having lots of friends *Greater value on work for social change, solving social problems, helping needy *Reflective, inner-directed, self-aware, self-confident life style


*Experience more productive of psychological health than illness *Less authoritarian and dogmatic *More assertive, imaginative, self-sufficient *intelligent, relaxed *High ego strength, *relationships, symbolization, values, *integration, allocentrism, *psychological maturity, *self-acceptance, self-worth, *autonomy, authenticity, need for solitude, *increased love and compassion


and point out that there is always the possibility of fabricating artificial experiences of God,


Not really. Statistically it would be impossible to fabricate the score on the M scale. I proved this on CARM by making small study with only seven items while the M scale has 32. The atheists couldn't even get one fake answer right.


or that the experiences may not actually be religious at all but are merely interpreted that way by religious people (this would go some way towards explaining why it seems that we do not all have these religions experiences). There are no independent criteria which can be used to separate genuine experiences from false or flawed experiences, and, with no reliable methods of testing, claims of godly communications cannot be accepted as valid.


Not true on either count. We know the content is religious because it is communicated through religious symbolism and it leads people to belief even as conversion experience. There are several studies that dispeove thye the idea that they are just imposing religion on it.

1. its not always sought or expected and is often conversion experience.

: 2. It often contradicts doctrine held by the mystic.

3. half the experiences are in child hood and other studies show children are not into doctrine. In the book I tell which studies and how they were done. L


Also, adherents of almost all religions (which, remember, are mutually inconsistent and conflicting) claim to have had experiences that validate those religions and, if not all of these appeals are valid - as the competing religions themselves maintain - then none can be. When nations go to war, devout believers on both sides have been known to receive revelations assuring them that god was on their side, suggesting that neither side was reliably informed.


This assertion is totally disproved by the M scale and it's one of the most interesting findings. When Hood took out references to particular religions the answers were the same. In other words the experiences are all the same and the mystics interpret them as confirming their specific group, I quoted some of this in part 1.

Here is a quote from the trace of God talking about the research onj this point:

In a series of empirical measurement based studies employing the Mysticism scale introvertive mysticism emerges both as a distinct factor in exploratory analytic studies[24] and also as a confirming factor analysis in cultures as diverse as the United States and Iran; not only in exploratory factor analytic studies (Hood & Williamson, 2000) but also in confirmatory factor analyses in such diverse cultures as the United States and Iran (Hood, Ghornbani, Watson, Ghramaleki, Bing, Davison, Morris, & Williamson. (2001).

[25] In other words, the form of mysticism that is usually said to be beyond description and beyond images, as opposed to that found in connection with images of the natural world, is seen through reflection of data derived form the M scale and as supporting factors in other relations. Scholars supporting the unity thesis (the mystical sense of undifferentiated unity—everything is “one”) have conducted interviews with mystics in other traditions about the nature of their introvertive mystical experiences. These discussions reveal that differences in expression that might be taken as linguistics culturally constructed are essentially indicative of the same experiences.

The mystics recognize their experiences even in the expression of other traditions and other cultures. These parishioners represent different forms of Zen and Yoga.[26] Scholars conducting literature searches independently of other studies, who sought common experience between different traditions, have found commonalities. Brainaid, found commonality between cultures as diverse as Advanita-Vendanta Hinduism, and Madhmika Buddhism, and Nicene Christianity; Brainaid’s work supports conclusions by Loy with respect to the types of Hinduism and Buddhism.[27]

you can see the foot notes in that quote here.


The assertion by William James that “all normal people” have religious experiences is so vague and unsubstantiated (indeed, impossible to substantiate) as to be all but useless as a basis for further logical analysis. The assertion is self-referential, as anyone claiming not to have had a religious experience (e.g. an atheist) is presumably, by definition, not “normal”. When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion. - Robert M. Pirsig (1974)

I discuss several studies that link the experiences to the common person.

But, leaving aside the problem of defining what a “normal” person is, the reality is that very few people actually claim to have had direct experiences of God, angels, etc.

false. some estimates go as high as a fourth of the population. One in four people. somke as high as 41%.

from Gakenbach:

"Several studies have looked at the incidence of mystical experiences. Greeley (1974) found 35% agreement to his question while Back and Bourque (1970) reported increases in frequency of these sorts of experiences from about 20% in 1962 to about 41% in 1967 to the question "Would you say that you have ever had a 'religious or mystical experience' that is, a moment of sudden religious awakening or insight?" Greeley (1987) reported a similar figure for 1973".


Many of those who do claim religious experiences and visions prepare themselves by food or sleep deprivation, isolation from human contact, the repetition of chants or prayer, and even the use of drugs, exactly the kinds of unusual and extreme physical experiences likely to result in hallucinations.


This is disproved by the studies:

Council on Spiritual Practices State of Unitive Consciousness http://www.csp.org/experience/docs/unitive_consciousness.html "Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being. "

council on spiritual practices are a group of psychologists.


Also, by extension of the logic of the original argument, if someone actively tries to have an experience of a god and fails - and few would deny that this has occurred on numerous occasions - is this not a good reason to believe that the god probably does not exist?

No remember the original argument was a straw man. my arguments don't use those premises. Also this is the fallacy known as black is white slide. all of these assertions are refuted by studies.


Joe Hinman said…
great post Joe, well done

Joe Hinman said…
thanks Meta. I don't know why people say you are stupid.

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