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

1682 found
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  1. added 2018-12-17
    "Can Faith Be Empirical?".Mark J. Boone - forthcoming - Science and Christian Belief.
    It is sometimes said that religious belief and empiricism are different or even incompatible ways of believing. However, William James and notable twentieth-century philosophers representing Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity have argued that there is a high degree of compatibility between religious faith and empiricism. Their analyses suggest that there are three characteristics of empiricism—that an empiricist bases his beliefs on past experience, that he seeks to test his beliefs in future experience, and that he holds his beliefs with (...)
  2. added 2018-11-26
    Concrete Infinity: Imagination and the Question of Reality.René Rosfort - 2017 - In K. Brian Söderquist, René Rosfort & Arne Grøn (eds.), Kierkegaard's Existential Approach. De Gruyter. pp. 193-214.
    This essay examines the ambiguous role of imagination in Kierkegaard's work, arguing that the concept of imagination is fundamental to his existential transformation of the question of reality.
  3. added 2018-11-17
    Mormonismo em Belém do Pará (Brasil) – dimensão transterritorial da identidade dos Santos.Wallace Pantoja - manuscript
    The relations between territory, religion and geopolitics seem to assume a central role in the contemporary world. I try to contribute to debate here, from a survey in Belém of Pará on the territory and the identity of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons. Instrumentalized by semi-structured interviews, field observation, research of official documents of religion trought an existential phenomenological interpretation, I conclude that: there is a geopolitical war in evidence nowadays; territorial Mormons follow a metropolitan (...)
  4. added 2018-11-06
    New Models of Religious Understanding. [REVIEW]Guy Bennett-Hunter - forthcoming - The Philosophical Quarterly.
  5. added 2018-11-06
    Is the Sacred Older Than the Gods?Guy Bennett-Hunter - forthcoming - Journal of Scottish Thought 10.
  6. added 2018-10-09
    Pascal on Divine Hiddenness.V. Martin Nemoianu - 2015 - International Philosophical Quarterly 55 (3):325-343.
    This essay aims to reconstruct and defend Pascal’s account of divine hiddenness. In the first section I explain Pascal’s view that divine hiddenness is primarily a function of human volitional aversion and only secondarily a result of God’s intentional action. In the following section I evaluate the primary sense of hiddenness by considering Pascal’s response to the objection that divine goodness requires and divine power makes possible God’s provision of evidence sufficient to overcome human volitional indisposition. While Pascal does think (...)
  7. added 2018-09-23
    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 (...)
  8. added 2018-09-22
    Religious Experience and Special Divine Action.Amber Griffioen - 2017 - The Special Divine Action Project.
    This micro-summary and extended overview for the Special Divine Action Project discusses the connection between divine action and religious experience.
  9. added 2018-09-22
    Religious Experience Without Belief? Toward an Imaginative Account of Religious Engagement.Amber Griffioen - 2016 - In Thomas Hardtke, Ulrich Schmiedel & Tobias Tan (eds.), Religious Experience Revisited: Expressing the Inexpressible? Leiden, Netherlands: pp. 73-88.
    It is commonly supposed that a certain kind of belief is necessary for religious experience. Yet it is not clear that this must be so. In this article, I defend the possibility that a subject could have a genuine emotional religious experience without thereby necessarily believing that the purported object of her experience corresponds to reality and/or is the cause of her experience. Imaginative engagement, I argue, may evoke emotional religious experiences that may be said to be both genuine and (...)
  10. added 2018-09-21
    When Mountains Cease to Be Mountains: An Interreligious Meditation on the Sanctification of Desire.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    What is the relationship of human desire to divine love? Spiritual traditions teach us that human desire achieves its true aim only through elevation into the life of divine love. In this essay, I provide a reading of three sayings from three spiritual traditions - Buddhist, Taoist, and Christian - in order to explore the meaning of this. By weaving these sayings together, I believe, we can use them to illuminate one another as well as recognize a basic commonality among (...)
  11. added 2018-09-20
    Jung, Yoga and Affective Neuroscience: Towards a Contemporary Science of the Sacred.Leanne Whitney - 2018 - Cosmos and History 14 (1):306-320.
    Materialist and fundamentalist reductive ideologies obscure our capacity to directly experience the numinous. Thus, importantly, given the weight of the observable and measurable in orthodox science, and oftentimes a dismissal of both the soul and the subjective, a viable means of reconciling science and religious experience has continued to elude us. As a counter-measure to this obscuration, Jungian-oriented depth psychology has developed as an empirical science of the unconscious, researching both subject and object and offering theories and practices that foster (...)
  12. added 2018-09-14
    Teilhard de Chardin. Les terres inconnues de la vie spirituelle.Philippe Gagnon - 2002 - Saint-Laurent: Éditions Fides.
    This book proposes to set out conquering the unknown lands of the spiritual life by revisiting some of the great insights of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955). We are lead to consider these problems by taking distance from the pitfalls usually associated with the interpretation of the engaging work of the French paleontologist and priest. In the panoply of Christian spiritualities, that of Teilhard occupies a place of its own. In it, the greatest prayer becomes abandonment in the palms of (...)
  13. added 2018-09-14
    L'expérience de Dieu avec Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.Philippe Gagnon - 2001 - Saint-Laurent: Éditions Fides.
    Teilhard de Chardin is a fascinating character! Born in 1881 and deceased in 1955, he remains strikingly contemporary. In response to a world shattered by the atrocities of World War I, he progressively elaborates the vision of a world entirely unified through a Center beyond itself. This perception is inserted at the heart of an intellectual endeavor wherein faith and scientific pursuit call onto each other, intertwined in a dialogue of a rare fruitfulness. Books such as The Phenomenon of Man, (...)
  14. added 2018-09-10
    Hendrik M. Vroom A Spectrum of Worldviews: An Introduction to Philosophy of Religion in a Pluralistic World, Tr. Morris and Alice Greidanus, Currents of Encounter 29. . Pp. Xi+331. € 70.00/US$91.00 , € 30.00/US$39.00 . ISBN 10 9042020482 , 13 9789042020467. [REVIEW]Mikel Burley - 2007 - Religious Studies 43 (1):111.
  15. added 2018-09-06
    Wisdom in Aristotle and Aquinas: From Metaphysics to Mysticism.Edmond Eh - 2017 - Existenz 12 (2):19-24.
    This essay contains an attempt to trace the evolution of the concept of wisdom as found in the thought of Aristotle and Aquinas in terms of how the philosophical concept of wisdom as an intellectual virtue is understood and used to express the theological concept of wisdom as a gift of the Holy Spirit. The main aim is to understand how Aquinas derived the concept of wisdom from Aristotle's metaphysics and developed it in his mysticism. This research is based on (...)
  16. added 2018-09-06
    Mysticism and Ontology: A Heideggerian Critique of Caputo.Robert S. Gall - 1986 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 24 (4):463-478.
    The paper is critical of John Caputo's misunderstanding Martin Heidegger's criticism of metaphysics and ontotheology that leads to Caputo's understanding mysticism as a non-metaphysical, non-ontotheological thinking.
  17. added 2018-09-01
    Theorizing About a Mystical Approach.Ulrich De Balbian - 2018 - Oxford: Create Space.
    The theme of the work concerns the so-called ‘unity experience’ of these mystics. The unity or oneness or the realization of ‘being oned’ with, can be referred to the beatific vision. In the case of Christian mystics it is unity experience of The Gottheit (or Godhead) of Meister Eckhart, in Sufism it is being united with The Beloved, in Buddhism it could be said to realize The Buddha mind or Cosmic Buddha’s consciousness and in Vedanta, the realization of The One (...)
  18. added 2018-08-29
    Bridging Science and Religion: "The More" and "the Less" in William James and Owen Flanagan.Ann Taves - 2009 - Zygon 44 (1):9-17.
    There is a kinship between Owen Flanagan's The Really Hard Problem and William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience that not only can help us to understand Flanagan's book but also can help scholars, particularly scholars of religion, to be attentive to an important development in the realm of the "spiritual but not religious." Specifically, Flanagan's book continues a tradition in philosophy, exemplified by James, that addresses questions of religious or spiritual meaning in terms accessible to a broad audience outside (...)
  19. added 2018-07-23
    Divergent Models of Religiosity and Armed Struggle.Harvey Whitehouse & Brian McQuinn - 2013 - The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence:597-619.
    This chapter investigates one of the most powerful mechanisms by which groups may be formed, inspired, and coordinated—ritual—which may be defined as normative behavior with an irretrievably opaque causal structure. The divergent modes of religiosity (DMR) theory is applied to armed groups engaged in civil conflicts, some of which explicitly incorporate “religious” traditions while others vehemently repudiate supernatural beliefs of any kind. It is argued that the DMR theory can be extended to explain recurrent features of ritual traditions which lack (...)
  20. added 2018-06-26
    Models of God.Ted Peters - 2007 - Philosophia 35 (3-4):273-288.
    This essay compares and contrasts nine different conceptual models of God: atheism, agnosticism, deism, theism, pantheism, polytheism, henotheism, panentheism, and eschatological panentheism. This essay justifies employment of the model method in theology based on commitments within philosophical hermeneutics, philosophy of science, and the theological understanding of divine transcendence. The result is an array of conceptual models of the divine which have reference, but which make indirect rather than literal claims. Of the analyzed models, this essay defends “eschatological panentheism” as the (...)
  21. added 2018-06-26
    The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion.William J. Wainwright - 2007 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 61 (2):119-122.
  22. added 2018-06-26
    Jonathan Edwards and the Hiddenness of God.William J. Wainwright - 2002 - In Daniel Howard-Snyder & Paul K. Moser (eds.), Divine Hiddenness: New Essays. Cambridge University Press. pp. 98--119.
  23. added 2018-06-26
    Religious Experience and Religious Pluralism.William J. Wainwright - 2000 - In Philip L. Quinn & Kevin Meeker (eds.), The Philosophical Challenge of Religious Diversity. Oxford University Press.
  24. added 2018-06-26
    Reason and the Heart: A Prolegomenon to a Critique of Passional Reason.William J. Wainwright - 1995 - Cornell University Press.
  25. added 2018-06-26
    Philosophy and Miracle.William J. Wainwright - 1989 - Faith and Philosophy 6 (1):110-113.
  26. added 2018-06-26
    Mysticism: A Study of Its Nature, Cognitive Value and Moral Implications.William J. Wainwright - 1984 - Philosophy East and West 34 (3):337-339.
  27. added 2018-06-21
    Why Religions Matter.John Bowker - 2015 - Cambridge University Press.
    What are religions? Why is it important to understand them? One answer is that religions and religious believers are extremely bad news: they are deeply involved in conflicts around the globe; they harm people of whom they disapprove; and they often seem irrational. Another answer claims that they are in fact extremely good news: religious beliefs and practices are universal and so fundamental in human nature that they have led us to great discoveries in our explorations of the cosmos and (...)
  28. added 2018-06-21
    God: A Very Short Introduction.John Bowker - 2014 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Who or what is God? How do different religions interpret God's existence? How can we know God? Many people believe in God; not just throughout history but also in the present day. But who or what is it they believe in? Many different and sometimes conflicting answers have been suggested to this question. This Very Short Introduction explores some of the answers provided by philosophers, poets, and theologians, and considers why some people believe in God and others do not. John (...)
  29. added 2018-06-20
    Review of The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy’s New Challenge to Belief in God, by John Schellenberg. [REVIEW]Erik Baldwin - 2016 - Philosophia Christi 18 (1):241-245.
  30. added 2018-06-20
    Narrative Theology and the Hermeneutical Virtues: Humility, Patience, Prudence.Jacob L. Goodson - 2015 - Lexington Books.
    In Narrative Theology and the Hermeneutical Virtues, Goodson offers a philosophical analysis of the arguments and tendencies of the narrative theologies of Hans Frei and Stanley Hauerwas. Goodson concludes that the movement of narrative theology needs the language and logic of the virtues in order for it to survive within the modern academy.
  31. added 2018-06-20
    Models of God and Alternative Ultimate Realities.Jeanine Diller & Asa Kasher (eds.) - 2013 - Springer.
    James E. Taylor As the title of this book makes clear, the essays contained in it are unified by their focus on models of God and alternative ultimate realities. But what is ultimate reality, what does 'God' mean, and what would count as a model ...
  32. added 2018-06-20
    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, (...)
  33. added 2018-06-20
    Teaching James's “The Will to Believe”.Guy Axtell - 2001 - Teaching Philosophy 24 (4):325-345.
    Many readers have viewed William James's "The Will to Believe" as his most distinctive and resonating lecture. Yet for all the scholarly attention it has received, the complexities of the "pragmatic defence," and the issues it raises concerning evidential and pragmatic reasoning are still often misunderstood. In this paper I explicate a neglected "core" argument tied closely to James's thesis statement, and provide charts and other tools useful in presenting James' lecture in the philosophy classroom. This argument, based on the (...)
  34. added 2018-06-20
    Religion and Practical Reason New Essays in the Comparative Philosophy of Religions.Frank Reynolds & David Tracy - 1994
  35. added 2018-06-20
    Plurality and Ambiguity: Hermeneutics, Religion, Hope.David Tracy - 1988 - Ethics 98 (4):864-865.
  36. added 2018-06-20
    Analogy, Metaphor and God-Language.David Tracy - 1985 - Modern Schoolman 62 (4):249-264.
  37. added 2018-06-20
    Narrative Theology An Overview.Gabriel Fackre - 1983 - Interpretation 37 (4):340-352.
    In the plot, coherence, movement, and climax that characterize a story, narrative theology sees a way to overcome the problems theology creates for itself through its subservience to discursive reason.
  38. added 2018-06-20
    Theological Pluralism and Analogy.David Tracy - 1979 - Thought: Fordham University Quarterly 54 (1):24-36.
  39. added 2018-06-15
    How Could Prayer Make a Difference? Discussion of Scott A. Davison, Petitionary Prayer: A Philosophical Investigation.Caleb Murray Cohoe - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10 (2):171-185.
    I critically respond to Scott A. Davison, Petitionary Prayer: A Philosophical Investigation. I attack his Contrastive Reasons Account of what it takes for a request to be answered and provide an alternative account on which a request is answered as long as it has deliberative weight for the person asked. I also raise issues with Davison’s dismissive treatment of direct divine communication. I then emphasize the importance of value theory for addressing the puzzles of petitionary prayer. Whether a defense of (...)
  40. added 2018-06-14
    Incarnate Arguments and Natural Signs. [REVIEW]Leigh Vicens - 2016 - Syndicate Theology 3.
  41. added 2018-06-05
    Belief, Credence, and Faith.Elizabeth Jackson - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-13.
    In this article, I argue that faith’s going beyond the evidence need not compromise faith’s epistemic rationality. First, I explain how some of the recent literature on belief and credence points to a distinction between what I call B-evidence and C-evidence. Then, I apply this distinction to rational faith. I argue that if faith is more sensitive to B-evidence than to C-evidence, faith can go beyond the evidence and still be epistemically rational.
  42. added 2018-06-05
    Seeking the Supernatural: The Interactive Religious Experience Model.Neil Van Leeuwen & Michiel van Elk - 2018 - Religion, Brain and Behavior 8.
    [OPEN ACCESS TARGET ARTICLE WITH COMMENTARIES AND RESPONSE] We develop a new model of how human agency-detection capacities and other socio-cognitive biases are involved in forming religious beliefs. Crucially, we distinguish general religious beliefs (such as *God exists*) from personal religious beliefs that directly refer to the agent holding the belief or to her peripersonal time and space (such as *God appeared to _me_ last night*). On our model, people acquire general religious beliefs mostly from their surrounding culture; however, people (...)
  43. added 2018-05-16
    On Progressive Revelation: Some Thoughts.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In this very brief piece I suggest the possibility of regarding the Bible as both revealed and fallible, by outlining a theory of revelation that sees it as conditioned by the limitations of those who receive it.
  44. added 2018-05-14
    NON-PHILOSOPHY OF THE ONE Turning Away From Philosophy of Being.Ulrich de Balbian - forthcoming - Oxford: Academic Publishers.
    A study of the methods, approaches, prayers, etc to realize the 'unity experience' with THE ONE REAL SELF (Vedanta, Hinduism, ) God (Judaism), Gottheit (Christianity), Buddha mind (Buddhism), The Beloved (Sufism, Islam) of a number of mystics from several religious traditions. I wrote about this in a number of books and articles, for example about methods, techniques, practices and methodology here: as well as exploring and illustrating the subject-matter of philosophizing here: Explorations, questions and searches not put down on paper (...)
  45. added 2018-05-14
    Product Details THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY: The Problem of Conceptualizing the Concepts of Space-Time Transcendency.Ulrich de Balbian - 2014 - Kindle.
    In this book we approach the development of the main doctrine of Trinitarianism. It is important to remind as we do so that that doctrine must be studied by both the criteria of Christian theology and history, and that as we study the development of doctrine, we need to establish a connection between what is confessed, or dogmas, and what is believed and taught, and go back diachronically from what is confessed to what was taught and to what was believed.
  46. added 2018-05-11
    God and the Between. By William Desmond: Book Reviews. [REVIEW]Jeffrey C. Witt - 2009 - Heythrop Journal 50 (3):564-564.
  47. added 2018-05-11
    Experience Without Qualities. By Elizabeth Goodstein: Book Reviews. [REVIEW]Owen Anderson - 2009 - Heythrop Journal 50 (3):547-548.
  48. added 2018-05-11
    Mystical Encounters with the Natural World: Experiences and Explanations. By Paul Marshall: Book Reviews. [REVIEW]Edward Howells - 2009 - Heythrop Journal 50 (3):520-521.
  49. added 2018-05-05
    Menschliche Psyche und Gottesverhältnis: Kierkegaard versus Freud.Jörg Disse - 2003 - Theologie Und Philosophie 78 (4).
    Compares Freud's conception of religion being negative for the health of our psyche to Kierkegaard's theory of stages culminating in the necessity of a relationship to God for self-realization.
  50. added 2018-05-01
    Widzenie pustki a doświadczenie mistyczne – przypadek madhjamaki.Krzysztof Jakubczak - 2017 - Argument: Biannual Philosophical Journal 7 (1):71-96.
    Seeing of emptiness and mystical experience — the case of Madhyamaka: The problem of Buddhist religiosity is one of the most classic problems of Buddhist studies. A particular version of this issue is the search for mystical experience in Buddhism. This is due to the conviction that mystical experience is the essence of religious experience itself. The discovery of such an alleged experience fuels comparative speculations between Buddhism and the philosophical and religious traditions of the Mediterranean area. Madhyamaka is the (...)
1 — 50 / 1682