religious experience

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Any experience carrying as its content the presence of something divine or transcendent. Religious believers may report such experiences as those of being in the presence of God, or Christ, or as being able to comprehend a timeless and eternal divine order to the universe. Much epistemology has been hostile to these claims, arguing that any such content must be read into an experience rather than read off from it, and that such experiences are simply being interpreted according to the subject's wishful thinking. Reports of religious experience would be the subject of sociological or psychological analysis, rather than having any independent cognitive worth. In contemporary philosophy there is something of a fight back on behalf of religious experience, with some philosophers arguing that all experience is theory-laden, in which case the report of a religious content to experience might be as justified as a report of any other kind, in spite of the supernatural nature of the claim being made. Philosophers hostile to this defence point out that the theory which comes with religious experience seems untestable, and since it is highly variable across cultures, devoid of any except doubtful emotional significance.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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