Religious Experience

Edited by Guy Axtell (Radford University)
Assistant editor: Katelyn Dobbins (Radford University)
About this topic

     Religious experience is a very broad topic, understood in different ways by different persons and faith traditions. Each academic field that bears on religion and spirituality approaches it with distinct methods. Recognition of the diversity in reported religious experiences, values, and beliefs also informs work on religious freedom, tolerance, and the public role of religion in a pluralistic society.  

     The broadly epistemic issues include: the need to interpret one’s religious experiences; the cognitive value of religious experience; the proper role of evidence in the formation of religious belief; the epistemology of miracle claims; differences between “experience” as personal and primary, and "testimonial" belief in faith traditions centered on a special revelation; the nature and limits of religious language; feminist critique of androcentric and anthropocentric conceptions of godhead; positive theology in contrast with apophatic or mystically-oriented faith traditions; and process verses substantive conceptions of ultimate reality.

Key works Pamela Sue Anderson (1997), Richard Braithwaite (1955), John Caputo (2001), Evan Fales (2004), Jerome Gellman (2005), Paul Helm (1999), John Hick (1989), David Hume (1998), Alvin Plantinga (1981), Arvind Sharma (1991), William J. Wainwright (1984), Ludwig Wittgenstein (1966), Nicholas Wolterstorff (1984), Keith E. Yandell (1993), Linda Zagsebski (2004)
Related categories

1680 found
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  1. Zen in Japanese Art-A Way of Spiritual Experience. [REVIEW]B. A. - 1963 - Review of Metaphysics 16 (4):801-801.
  2. The Epistemological Significance of the Inner Witness of the Holy Spirit.William J. Abraham - 1990 - Faith and Philosophy 7 (4):434-450.
    This paper seeks to explore the significance of a specific kind of religious experience for the rationality of religious belief. The context for this is a gap between what is often allowed as rational and what is embraced as certain in the life of faith. The claim to certainty at issue is related to the work and experience of the Holy Spirit; this experience has a structure which is explored phenomenologically. Thereafter various ways of cashing in the epistemic value of (...)
  3. Modeling Religious Experience in Old Norse Conversion Narratives: The Case of Óláfr Tryggvason and Hallfreðr Vandræðaskáld.Christopher Abram - 2015 - Speculum 90 (1):114-157.
  4. The Religious Philosophy of Schleiermacher with a Translation of His Reden Ueber Religion.Paul Herman Ackert - 1957 - Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
  5. Atson's The Interpretation of Religious Experience. [REVIEW]George P. Adams - 1913 - Journal of Philosophy 10 (17):466.
  6. Philosophical Themes in Schleiermacher's Christology.Robert Adams - 2011 - Philosophia 39 (3):449-460.
    Philosophical foundations of Friedrich Schleiermacher’s christology are found in his rejection of the likeness theology found in many medieval theologians and in German rationalist philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries such as Leibniz and Kant. Instead, Schleiermacher offers a theology of divine otherness, as an interpretation of religious consciousness as awareness of oneself as absolutely (i.e., totally and unconditionally) dependent. On this basis all that we can characterize of that on which we are absolutely dependent (God) is its causality. (...)
  7. The Significance of Religious Experience. By Howard Wettstein. Pp. Xii, 228, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, $65.00. [REVIEW]Peter Admirand - 2015 - Heythrop Journal 56 (1):167-168.
  8. Religious Experience as an Experience of Human Finitude.Stefan Afloroaei - 2012 - Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 11 (32):155-170.
    I start from a relatively simple idea: the human being is constantly making a multiple experience of truth (once again, in reference to Gadamer's statement), both scientifical and technical, as well as religious or aesthetic. Still, what is the relationship between those experiences of truth? Can they express somehow, precisely by their multiplicity, a neutral ethos of today's man, or do they manage to take part in a larger and more elevated experience of truth? In the following paper I will (...)
  9. Religious Experience as a Term: A Historical Review.Abdullah Akgul - 2018 - Social Sciences Studies Journal 21 (4):3584-3590.
    Religious experience has been one of the most popular topics of the philosophy of religion in the last century. In the most general sense, it is "the experience of meeting with the holy." This phenomenon is as old as human history. Such an old subject has entered the agenda of philosophy as a term in a particular period. The influence of this period cannot be denied. Religious experience as a term reflects the religious and philosophical mentality of the period in (...)
  10. Religious Messages and Cultural Myths.Shabbir Akhtar - 1986 - Sophia 25 (3):32-40.
  11. The Object of Christian Worship a Study of the Notion of Objectivity in Relation to Religious Experience.Russell Foster Aldwinckle - 1938 - [The Author].
  12. Religion as an Illusion: Prospects for and Problems with a Psychoanalytical Model.Mario Aletti - 2005 - Archive for the Psychology of Religion 27 (1):1-18.
    The hermeneutical model of illusion, just as that of projection, has always been part of the psychoanalytic views of religion. The author presents a brief critical summary on this subject, and underlines that in relational psychoanalysis, the concept of illusion refers not to religion as such, but to the subjective experiences of desire and relatedness, that is, the source of the desire for God in man. Because of personal conflicts and their outcome, besides illusions one encounters also in such experiences, (...)
  13. John Dewey's Uncommon Faith.Thomas M. Alexander - 2013 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 87 (2):347-362.
    Dewey’s A Common Faith has been variously interpreted, both in terms of its relation to Dewey’s corpus and internally in terms of its leading ideas. I argue for its crucial relevance in understanding Dewey and undertake an analysis of the key idea of “religious experience” as an “attitude of existence.” This distinguishes religious experience from other types of qualitative experience and shows the unique place this concept has for Dewey.
  14. Structure and Creativity in Religion: Hermeneutics in Mircea Eliade's Phenomenology and New Directions ; Foreword by Mircea Eliade.Douglas Allen - 1978 - Mouton.
  15. Human Finitude and the Concept of Women's Experience.Tiina Allik - 1993 - Modern Theology 9 (1):67-85.
  16. On the Varieties of Mystical Experience.Philip Almond - 1979 - Sophia 18 (1):1-9.
    After an initial consideration of the three main positions discernible within the current literature on the question of the relationship between mystical experience and its interpretation, attention is focused on a new model of this relationship. by utilizing wittgenstein's notion of "seeing-as" in conjunction with a more complex theory of the nexus between experience and interpretation, it is argued that there are varieties of mystical experience. on the other hand, it is maintained that there is a limiting case of mystical (...)
  17. Rudolf Otto: An Introduction to His Philosophical Theology.Philip C. Almond - 1984 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 23 (1):43-45.
  18. Rudolf Otto & the Kantian Tradition.” 25 (1983), 52-67.Philip C. Almond - 1983 - Neue Zeitschrift für Systematicsche Theologie Und Religionsphilosophie 25 (1-3):52-67.
  19. Does Religious Experience Justify Religious Belief.W. Alston & E. Fales - 2004 - In Michael L. Peterson & Raymond J. VanArragon (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion. Blackwell.
  20. Alston.William Alston - unknown
    [Alethic Realism] 1. The sense of ‘true’ and ‘false’ in which such items as beliefs, statements, and propositions can be evaluated as true or false. 2. It is important to determine the truth-value of such items in this sense.
  21. Two Cheers for Mystery!William Alston - 2005 - In Andrew Dole & Andrew Chignell (eds.), God and the Ethics of Belief: New Essays in Philosophy of Religion. Cambridge University Press.
  22. Mysticism and Perceptual Awareness of God.William P. Alston - 2004 - In William Mann (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Religion. Blackwell.
  23. Religious Experience Justifies Religious Belief.William P. Alston - 2004 - In Michael L. Peterson & Raymond J. VanArragon (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion. Blackwell. pp. 135--45.
  24. The Epistemology of Religious Experience.William P. Alston - 1996 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (1):235-238.
  25. John of the Cross and the Cognitive Value of Mysticism.William P. Alston - 1992 - Review of Metaphysics 45 (3):630-631.
  26. The Autonomy of Religious Experience.William P. Alston - 1991 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 31 (2/3):67 - 87.
  27. Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience.William P. Alston - 1991 - Cornell University Press.
    Introduction i. Character of the Book The central thesis of this book is that experiential awareness of God, or as I shall be saying, the perception of God, ...
  28. Religious Diversity and Perceptual Knowledge of God.William P. Alston - 1988 - Faith and Philosophy 5 (4):433-448.
  29. Religious Experience as a Ground of Religious Belief.William P. Alston - 1986 - In Joseph Runzo & Craig K. Ihara (eds.), Religious Experience and Religious Belief. University Press of America.
  30. Christian Experience and Christian Belief.William P. Alston - 1983 - In Alvin Plantinga & Nicholas Wolterstorff (eds.), Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God. niversity of Notre Dame Press.
  31. Religious Experience and Religious Belief.William P. Alston - 1982 - Noûs 16 (1):3-12.
    Can beliefs to the effect that god is manifesting himself in a certain way to the believer ("m-beliefs") be justified by its seeming to the believer that he experiences god doing that? the issue is discussed in the context of several concepts of justification. on a "normative" concept of justification the answer will depend on what one's intellectual obligations are vis-a-vis practices of belief formation. on a rigorous view of such obligations one is justified in forming a m-belief on the (...)
  32. The Problems of Philosophy. Edited by William P. Alston [and] Richard B. Brandt. --.William P. Alston & Richard B. Brandt - 1974 - Allyn & Bacon.
  33. Perspectives on the Philosophy of William P. Alston.William P. Alston, Carl Ginet, Alvin I. Goldman, John Greco, George I. Mavrodes, Philip L. Quinn, Alessandra Tanesini, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Linda Zagzebski & Laurence BonJour - 2005 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
    One of the most influential analytic philosophers of the late twentieth century, William P. Alston is a leading light in epistemology, philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of language. In this volume, twelve leading philosophers critically discuss the central topics of his work in these areas, including perception, epistemic circularity, justification, the problem of religious diversity, and truth.
  34. Perceiving God-the Epistemology of Religious-Experience-Reply.Wp Alston - 1994 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (4):891-899.
  35. Anthony J. Steinbock: Phenomenology & Mysticism: The Verticality of Religious Experience.Jason W. Alvis - 2017 - Human Studies 40 (4):589-598.
  36. The Psychology of Religious Experience.Edward Scribner Ames - 1910
  37. The Expansion of the Prophetic Experience: 'Abdolkarīm Sorūš's New Approach to Qur'ānic Revelation.Amirpur Katajun - 2011 - .
    Indubitably, Iranian thinker 'Abdolkarīm Sorūš in the course of the Islamic Republic's history has undergone an impressive change from establishment ideologist to its most prominent dissident. From 1980 on, he was a member of the Council of the Cultural Revolution, an organisation that dismissed oppositional, i.e. secular minded professors from their university posts, and he often appeared on TV as the Islamic Republic's apologist denouncing the left wing's ideology. But in the late 1980s, Sorūš published his epistemological theory of the (...)
  38. Black Scholarly Aesthetics and the Religious Critic: Black Experience as Manifolds of Manifestations and Powers of Presentations. Anderson - 2012 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 33 (2):117.
  39. Smith and Dewey on the Religious Dimension of Experience: Dealing with Dewey's Half-God.Douglas R. Anderson - 1993 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 14 (2):161 - 176.
  40. Experience Without Qualities. By Elizabeth Goodstein: Book Reviews. [REVIEW]Owen Anderson - 2009 - Heythrop Journal 50 (3):547-548.
  41. Feminist Challenges to Conceptions of God: Exploring Divine Ideals.Pamela Anderson - 2007 - Philosophia 35 (3-4):361-370.
    This paper presents a feminist intervention into debates concerning the relation between human subjects and a divine ideal. I turn to what Irigarayan feminists challenge as a masculine conception of ‘the God’s eye view’ of reality. This ideal functions not only in philosophy of religion, but in ethics, politics, epistemology and philosophy of science: it is given various names from ‘the competent judge’ to the ‘the ideal observer’ (IO) whose view is either from nowhere or everywhere. The question is whether, (...)
  42. Making a Way Out of No Way: A Womanist Theology.Victor Anderson - 2011 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 32 (3):268-271.
    Monica A. Coleman achieves remarkable rigor in bringing together in one volume her long-standing interests in process philosophy and theology, womanist theology and ethics, African diaspora studies, West African religions, and African American women’s literature. Making a way out of No Way (2008) is a tour de force in contemporary African American constructive theology and especially in womanist discourse on the religious experience(s) of African American women. Coleman insists on understanding black women’s religious experience through the lens of their complex (...)
  43. Religious “Avatars” and Implicit Religion: Recycling Myths and Religious Patterns Within Contemporary US Popular Culture.Fătu-Tutoveanu Andrada & Pintilescu Corneliu - 2012 - Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 11 (33):182-205.
  44. Bridging the Gap Between Social and Existential-Mystical Interpretations of Schleiermacher's ‘Feeling’.Gorazd Andrejč - 2012 - Religious Studies 48 (3):377-401.
    The article engages with two contemporary understandings of Schleiermacher's notion of feeling which are in important aspects in conflict: a social understanding (Kevin W. Hector and Christine Helmer) and an existential-mystical understanding (Thandeka). Using the phenomenological category of ‘existential feelings’ drawn from the work of Matthew Ratcliffe, I argue that they can be brought into a coherent overall account that recognizes different aspects of feeling in Schleiermacher's work. I also suggest that such an interpretation of Schleiermacher's concept of religious feeling (...)
  45. Compositional Science and Religious Philosophy.Leonard Angel - 2005 - Religious Studies 41 (2):125-143.
    Religious thought often assumes that the principle of physical causal completeness (PCC) is false. But those who explicitly deny or doubt PCC, including William Alston, W. D. Hart, Tim Crane, Paul Moser and David Yandell, Charles Taliaferro, Keith Yandell, Dallas Willard, William Vallicella, Frank Dilley, and, recently, David Chalmers, have ignored not only the explicit but also the implicit grounds for acceptance of PCC. I review the explicit grounds, and extend the hitherto implicit grounds, which together constitute a greater challenge (...)
  46. Mystical Naturalism.Leonard Angel - 2002 - Religious Studies 38 (3):317-338.
    This paper suggests that an ontologically reductionist view of nature which also accepts the completeness of causality at the level of physics can support (1) the blissful transfiguration of the moral, (2) mystical release from standard ego-identification, and (3) psycho-physical transformation cultivated through meditative practice. This mystical naturalism provides the basis for a thicker, more vigorous institutional religious life, including religious life centred around meditation practices, personalist meanings, and the theology of incarnation, than current proposals for strongly naturalist religions allow.
  47. Reconstructing the Ineffable: The Grammatical Roles of ‘God’: Leonard Angel.Leonard Angel - 1978 - Religious Studies 14 (4):485-495.
    In ‘Ineffability’ Alston suggests that philosophical mystics take care to delimit the class of predicates which cannot be ascribed to God. It is suggested that some qualification of ‘ineffability’ is necessary lest the mystic be trapped into such simple contradictions as that of ascribing predicates like ‘ineffability’ to God, while denying that any predicates can be ascribed to God. By the end of Alston's dialogue Mysticus, the would-be defender of mysticism, is browbeaten into meekly asking, ‘Yes, I see that [qualifying (...)
  48. Reconstructing the Ineffable: The Grammatical Roles of 'God'.Leonard Angel - 1978 - Religious Studies 14 (4):485 - 495.
  49. The Phenomenology of Eliade and Archaic and “Exotic” Religious Identities.Liviu Antonesei - 2009 - International Journal on Humanistic Ideology 2 (2):101-113.
  50. Mysticism and Ineffability.Peter C. Appleby - 1980 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 11 (3):143 - 166.
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