Scientific Explanations of Mystical Experiences: II. The Challenge to Theism

Religious Studies 32 (3):297 - 313 (1996)
Abstract
In Part I of this paper, I argued that the mystical experiences of Teresa of Avila are well explained by the anthropological theory of I. M. Lewis. In Part II, I discuss how the causal gap between the social circumstances identified by Lewis and individual phenomenology can be filled in. I then show that Lewis's theory, thus supplemented, is a genuine competitor to the theistic understanding of mystical experience, and that it is much more strongly confirmed by the available evidence than the latter view. If that is right, then Alston and Wainwright, among others, are mistaken in claiming that science cannot offer serious competition to theism in this arena.
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