A religious experience is when someone feels they have had a direct or personal experience of God.
It is argued that if someone feels they have experienced God, this will be the most convincing proof of God’s existence because they have personally experienced or felt God for themselves. It is not simply an argument based on logic or reason.
A religious experience could be a dream or vision where God speaks to a person, or it could be a miraculous healing. This first-hand experience is utterly convincing to that person.
In observing this argument, it gains even greater credibility when the life of the person who experiences God is dramatically changed. For example, perhaps the person who has experienced God was previously very unpleasant, but the experience of God changes them completely.
It could be argued that religious experience is all in the mind. We do not fully understand the complexities of the human mind and perhaps it can play tricks on us, making us think we have experienced God.
Religious experiences that occur during an illness - for example, someone being ‘healed’ - could be explained if the person is receiving medication that creates hallucinations.
It could be argued that religious experiences are simply coincidences, or that a person is looking for a religious experience and therefore creates one in their mind.
For example, someone looking to make a major decision sees a series of adverts that help them make that decision - they could argue that God placed those adverts for them. But could this simply be the person creating a religious experience or reading too much into things?
Strengths of the argument