‘If there is a God, any Experience which seems to be of God, will be Genuine’1: MICHAEL P. LEVINE

Religious Studies 26 (2):207-217 (1990)

Michael P. Levine
University of Western Australia
In The Existence of God Richard Swinburne argues that ‘if there is a God, any experience which seems to be of God, will be genuine – will be of God.’ On the face of it this claim of the essential veridicality of any religious experience, given the existence of God, is incredible. Consider what is being claimed by looking at a particularly dramatic example – but one that is well within the purview of Swinburne's claim. The ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ who murdered at least thirteen women, claimed to hear voices telling him to kill. He took these voices to be divine. While it is easy enough to suspect the killer's sanity, it is not so easy to doubt his sincerity. Yet since Swinburne claims that God probably exists, he is committed to the view that the Ripper had a series of genuine religious experiences – so much for the arduous preparations sometime taken as necessary for a ‘vision’ of God
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DOI 10.1017/S0034412500020369
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