Religious Experience, Argument for the Existence of God
Religious Experience, Argument for the Existence of God
RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE, ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
Arguments from Religious Experience show remarkable diversity, (a ) in the sorts of experience taken as data for the argument, (b ) in the structure of the inference itself, and (c ) in the alleged conclusion, whether to a vague Presence, an Infinite Being, or the God of traditional Christianity.
The following exemplify some versions of the argument:
"At very different times and places great numbers of men have claimed to experience God; it would be unreasonable to suppose that they must all have been deluded."
"The real argument to God is the individual believer's sense of God's presence, the awareness of God's will in tension and conflict with his own will, the peace that follows the acceptance of God's command."
"Experiences of meeting God are self-authenticating: They involve no precarious chain of inference, no sifting of rival hypotheses. They make unbelief logically absurd."
"In itself, religious experience is neither theistic nor pantheistic, Christian nor Buddhist. All these distinctions are interpretations of the experience. By itself, religious experience testifies to something far less definite but still infinitely valuable—the insufficiency of all materialisms and naturalisms."
If we compare any of these arguments with the Ontological, Cosmological, and Teleological arguments, important differences in their logic and history can readily be shown. Arguments from Religious Experience are clearly not a priori, like the Ontological Argument, and whereas the Cosmological and Teleological arguments work from premises that affirm highly general facts about the world (that it exists, that it is purposefully ordered), Arguments from Religious Experience rely on far more particularized and elusive premises than these. Not all men have (or are aware of having) distinctively religious experiences, and to those that do have them religious experiences are apt to be short-lived, fugitive sets of events that are not publicly observable.
Despite this slipperiness, the Argument from Religious Experience has attracted some theologians who have been skeptical about the more rationalistic "proofs." In the course of the eighteenth century these proofs received formidable criticism from Immanuel Kant and David Hume. The Ontological Argument was shown to be radically confused over the logic of "existence," and (in Kant's account) the Cosmological and Teleological arguments themselves presuppose the Ontological. Even more important, Kant and Hume together produced a general weakening of confidence that any survey of the observable cosmos (including "the starry heavens above") could yield premises powerful enough to argue to an infinite, unconditioned, all-good deity. Kant turned to "inner" experience, to our awareness of the moral law, and argued that the moral life is intelligible only if we postulate God and immortality.
Although a number of writers followed Kant in arguing from inner moral experience, many others, while accepting the shift from outer to inner, based their inference on a distinctive class of religious experiences. If we describe this shift, in general terms, as a move from objective to subjective, from surveying the world at large for evidences of God to focusing attention on the personal and existential, it clearly was a shift of the greatest moment and one that still helps to determine our contemporary climate of theological thought. We human beings are not stars or electrons—the argument goes—and we cannot experience or guess the role of star or electron in the divine economy. But we are persons, and we are directly aware (or some of us are) of a meeting of person with Person in religious experience.
Thinking back, however, to the post-Humean, post-Kantian period, the centering upon inner experience can be seen as one aspect of the romantic movement's protest against the Enlightenment, the new concern for subjectivity, the life of the emotions and intuitions of the individual. The most important and most seminal single figure here is Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), with his bold insistence on the primacy of religious feeling—particularly the feeling of utter creaturely dependence—and his distaste for religious doctrines or arguments entertained in a purely intellectual manner, as mere ideas, lacking the life and authority of experience.
Objections to the Argument
Prima facie it seemed a reasonable and empirically sound enterprise to establish arguments for God upon claims to have actually experienced him, to have "seen" him, "met" him, encountered him in a personal relation. But there are in fact several directions from which it can be challenged.
Orthodox and neoorthodox theologians tend to object that the content of religious experience is too indeterminate to yield clear knowledge of the God of Christianity. The case for Christianity must not be allowed to rest on the deceptive and elusive emotions of religious people. It rests on the revealed Word of God, on the Person of Jesus Christ as disclosed in the Scriptures, not as constructed out of the assorted emotions of the devout. The working of the Holy Spirit cannot be correlated with the experiencing of peculiar feelings, even uplifting ones.
A second familiar objection is that although we certainly do have religious experience, we cannot employ it as the premise of an argument to God. The relationship between man and God—an I-Thou (in Martin Buber's phrase), personal relationship—is maintained by faith alone. The conception of superseding faith through a proof of God's existence forgets the irreducibly personal nature of encounter between man and God.
The objector may be making a religious claim, that it is religiously improper to attempt to replace faith by rational argument, or his point may be a logical one, that God—being "pure" person, having nothing bodily or thinglike in his nature—cannot be shown to exist in the way things can be shown to exist.
Suppose, again, we take the Argument from Religious Experience as an explanatory hypothesis; then a skeptical critic may deny that the existence of God is the likeliest, or simplest, or most intelligible, explanation of the experiences. We cannot be intellectually compelled to posit God if more economical and naturalistic explanations can be found—psychoanalytic accounts, it might be, or accounts in terms of individual suggestibility or the influence of religious expectations or tradition.
Last, a critic may concentrate on the conceptual difficulties in the idea of God, for if the argument as a whole is to be sound, its conclusion ("therefore God exists") must be intelligible and free of inner contradictions. This objection may bewilder and disappoint the arguer-from-experience. To him one of the chief apparent advantages in the argument is that its direct appeal to experience bypasses logical or metaphysical complexities. But some element of interpretation, and therefore some application of concepts, must take place when an experience is taken to be an encounter with God. Wherever concepts are handled, they can also be mishandled. Inner contradictions in the claim to experience God could invalidate the interpretation of the experience.
Nature of Religious Experiences
What, more exactly, are religious experiences? Descriptions of religious experiences can be heavily loaded with doctrinal, even sectarian, interpretation or can be almost entirely free of it. Their impact may fix one's attitudes and evaluations for a lifetime or for only a brief period. They may not only be benign and optimistic, as we have so far assumed, but can also—with no less intensity—be pessimistic and grim. They may involve conversions to a religious orthodoxy or conversions away from one. Consider the following experiences, neither of which is more than minimally interpreted, and both of which are certainly in an important sense religious. The first is from Lev Tolstoy's War and Peace, at the point where Prince Andrew has been wounded in the Battle of Austerlitz.
He opened his eyes, hoping to see how the struggle of the Frenchmen with the gunners ended.… But he saw nothing. Above him there was now nothing but the sky—the lofty sky, not clear yet still immeasurably lofty, with grey clouds gliding slowly across it. "How quiet, peaceful and solemn, not at all as I ran," thought Prince Andrew—"not as we ran shouting and fighting.… How was it I did not see that lofty sky before? And how happy I am to have found it at last! Yes! All is vanity, all falsehood except that infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing but that. But even it does not exist, there is nothing but quiet and peace. Thank God!"
The second is from Leonard Woolf's autobiographical work, Sowing (1960). At the age of eight, the author was sitting in a garden enjoying the fresh air after a train journey. He watched two newts basking in the sun.
I forgot everything, including time, as I sat there with those strange, beautiful creatures, surrounded by blue sky, sunshine, and sparkling sea. I do not know how long I had sat there, when, all at once, I felt afraid. I looked up and saw that an enormous black thunder cloud had crept up and now covered more than half of the sky. It was just blotting out the sun, and, as it did so, the newts scuttled back into their hole.… I felt something more powerful than fear, once more that sense of profound, passive, cosmic despair, the melancholy of a human being eager for happiness and beauty, powerless in face of a hostile universe.
Turning to theistic types of experience, we can start from the very basic experience of wonderment, notably wonderment at there being any world at all. This may pass into the sense that the world owes its existence to, and is maintained in existence by, something "beyond," "outside" the world itself, a Being whose nature is utterly remote from the world, yet whose activity and energy are perceptible within the world, as a disturbing, awesome, and thrilling presence. Rudolf Otto's concept of the "numinous" gathers together these ingredients of mystery, dread, and fascination and emphasizes very properly the qualitative distinctiveness and elusiveness of such experience (The Idea of the Holy, passim). No set of categories can neatly contain it: The person who has never known it can barely understand the claims of the person who has.
Religious experiences can be generated by perceptions of individual objects (a grain of sand, a bird), by a train of events, by actions—for instance, the memorable account of Jesus setting his face to go to Jerusalem to his Passion. Even a passage of philosophical reasoning may do this, as when someone contemplates the incompleteness of all explanation, the intellectual opacity of space and time, and feels compelled—with a sense of mystery—to posit a divine completeness and unity.
Closer to the province of morality are experiences of divine discontent, interpreted as intimations of God's existence and call to moral endeavor, the conviction of sin correlative to a sense of God's own holiness, the sense of divine aid in the rectifying of one's moral life, and, in Christian evangelical terms, a sense that one has been redeemed or saved by God's action on man's behalf.
The overall impression is of the immense diversity of religious experiences. They are indeed linked by complex webs of "family resemblances" (to use Ludwig Wittgenstein's phrase)—resemblances of attitude, emotional tone, alleged content—but if we ask what all of them have in common, the answer must be meager in content: perhaps only a sense of momentous disclosure, the sense that the world is being apprehended and responded to according to its true colors. What is actually being observed or contemplated can never (logically) be the whole universe, yet the quality of religious experience is such that it does seem to imply something about the whole.
Epistemological Status of Religious Experiences
Our sampling of religious experiences may help to deliver us from the dangers of oversimplification, but it cannot by itself determine whether arguments to God based upon them are valid. Clearly, not all the experiences we have mentioned could yield data with which a theistic argument could start. Some, such as that of Woolf quoted earlier, are decidedly anti theistic. But there is a further set of differences among them that must be noted at this stage, differences of an epistemological kind.
When someone speaks of his religious experience, he may be using the word experience as it appears in such phrases as "business experience," "driving or teaching, etc., experience." He has found the religious pattern of life viable; he has interpreted a multiplicity of events in its categories, and these categories have proved durable. There is the suggestion that the person with religious experience in this sense has been confirming his faith by living it out over a substantial stretch of his life—furnishing data for a pragmatic proof of God's existence.
In other cases the experiences are of much shorter duration, often judgments or quasi perceptions accompanied by certain religious emotions, alleged cognitive acts or intuitions in which the necessity of God's existence is "seen" and an awesome emotive response is elicited simultaneously. Again, the language used may be nearer to that of perceiving—seeing God (not just seeing that God exists). There is a claim to knowledge of God by "acquaintance," rather than "description."
Some cases resemble the dawning of an aspect or interpretation, as when we recognize a person in a poor light or make out a pattern in what looked like a maze of lines. It can be like a sudden reading of the expression on a face, the face, as it were, of the universe, or like a realization of meaning, as when one sees the point of a poem with which one has long been verbally, but only verbally, familiar. In the light of this disclosure, a new orientation and purposeful organization of life may take place. Energies hitherto dissipated or in mutual conflict are rallied and integrated.
Feelings or emotions may predominate in religious experience, but even so, perception and judgment are almost always involved as well. Feelings are often "feelings that …," surmises, and in that sense feelings involve judgment, have an essential component of belief. Part of what it is to have an emotion is to see and appraise one's situation in a particular way. ("I feel remorse for doing x," for example, presupposes "I did x freely" and "x was morally wrong.") It is only with twinges, frissons, aches, and such like that no appraisal of the situation need (logically) be made; these, in any case, could furnish only very weak premises for a theistic argument. Their occurrence can be due to a great variety of causes immanent in one's own organism and one's environment, and they can hardly, without supplementation, force one to posit a transcendent cause.
Obviously the structure (and maybe the validity) of an Argument to God from Religious Experience will vary enormously according to what epistemological type of experience is taken as the starting point, and in the literature this is often hard to discern.
Verifiability of Religious Experience
If someone claims to have discovered, perceived, become aware of an ordinary sort of object, we usually know what to do about checking his claim. If we are told that there is a frog in the garden pond, we know what it will be like to confirm this or to find it untrue. We know how to investigate whether it was Smith we saw in the dim light, whether we did hit the right answer to a sum or cried "Eureka" too soon. But when someone claims to have direct awareness of God, to encounter, see, or intuit the divine, we are not able to suggest a test performance of an even remotely analogous kind. The more developed and theologically sophisticated the conception of deity is, the more it eludes and resists any such check.
This being so, some critics have pointed out a disturbing resemblance between claims to experience God and a certain other range of statements that are not publicly testable—namely, psychological statements such as "I seem to hear a buzzing noise," or "I seem to see a patch of purple." If statements like these cannot be refuted, it is only because they make no assertions about what exists, beyond the experiences of the speaker at the moment he speaks. But the person who says he has direct and certain experience of God wishes to claim irrefutability and to affirm at the same time something momentous about what exists. Can this be done? Or would it take a far more elaborate and many-stranded apologetic to give effective backing to these claims—especially the claims to objectivity?
One might try to obtain this support by compiling records of numerous experiences of the same general kind and treating them as cumulative evidence for the truth of claims to experience God. Without doubt there is an impressive mass of such records within the Judeo-Christian tradition. Other religious traditions, however, can also produce their own very different records—of the various well-ordered phases in the quest for nirvana or for mystical union with a pantheistic object of worship.
Are these differences, however, real incompatibilities; do they correspond to genuinely different sorts of religious experience? Or are the experiences basically the same, though differently interpreted? On this it is extremely hard to give any confident answer. Part of the difficulty is that most of the developed religions contain several strands in their conceptions of the divine. Christianity, for instance, seeks to unite numinous and mystical views of God: God is "remote" and "other," yet also mystically "near." What can be said again is that any common elements must be very indeterminate in content and able to bear great variety of interpretation—to be taken, among other things, as the disclosure of a state or spiritual goal (nirvāṇa) or of a personal or suprapersonal God. We have seen how an experience may have a minimal—quite undoctrinal—interpretation and yet be religious in a broad sense. But from such an experience alone one can hardly infer anything so definite as the God of theism. Unfortunately, the interpretations that supplement the experience are conceptually intricate and involve all the uncertainty and fallibility of philosophical and theological speculation. In this region we are far removed from the ideals of immediacy, directness, and self-evidence.
Yet a critic who claimed that the Argument from Religious Experience was thereby refuted would be missing the mark. The theist could insist that a much too crude notion of "interpretation" has so far been used, one that suggests, falsely, that there is a merely external and almost arbitrary relation between having and interpreting an experience.
The full impressiveness of the theistic case appears only when we survey the historical development of religious experience in the direction of Christian monotheism. As the idea of deity evolves, from finite and local numen to infinite and omnipresent Lord, from the god of a tribe or nation to the Ruler of all nature, from the deity concealed in holy tent or temple to the one God beyond all phenomena whatever, religious experience is itself simultaneously transformed. It is transformed not haphazardly but so as to produce a crescendo of numinous intensity, a constant refining away of merely superstitious and idolatrous awe at objects unworthy of worship, and the arrival of a distinctive, lofty note of adoration. Experience and interpretation here advance in indissoluble unity. It is argued that this historical development provides material for a more adequate argument to God—one in which the risks of fantasy and subjectivism are much reduced.
Impressive this is, and it may well be the truth of the matter. We must notice, however, that we are now looking at a much more complex piece of argument than the claims of individuals to have direct experience of God. New logical problems appear at several points. Can we be confident, for instance, that an intensification of numinous experience is necessarily a sign that we have a more adequate disclosure of God and not simply that we have constructed a more adequate and awesome idea of God? (This is the question that also calls in doubt any purely pragmatic philosophy of religion.) Again, sometimes an artist, or a school of artists, succeeds in progressively clarifying and intensifying an original vision or the expression of some distinctive emotion. But success in this ("now he has brought the theme to full explicitness," for example) is not necessarily correlated with a progress in discovery about the world. Can we be sure that the development of numinous awareness is different in this vital respect?
The person with theistic religious experience is assured that it is different. But the sense of assurance, the "Aha!" experience, the penny dropping, the light dawning—these are very unreliable guides to truth, validity, or value. Not the most tempestuous sense of poetic inspiration can guarantee that a good poem is being brought to birth, nor can any of these conviction-experiences by itself authenticate its related judgments. It is enough to recall how often incompatible judgments are made with equal assurance on each side. Yet it is not easy to formulate a version of the Argument from Religious Experience that does not rely crucially on a sense of conviction. Even when appeal is made to the pattern of development toward theism, and thus to a far wider range of phenomena than in any argument from the experience of an individual, still the issue of objectivity—that we are coming to know God, not simply an idea of God—seems to hang upon the fallible, illusion-prone assurance of the subjects. On the other hand, to point this out is to draw attention only to the risk, not to the certainty, of being wrong. A religious person may realize, and be prepared to accept, this measure of risk.
Could we escape the uncertainty, by claiming that genuine experience of God is necessarily followed by a godly life, whereas illusory experiences betray themselves by the absence of any practical fruits? Hardly; there might well be a positive correlation between genuine experiences and godliness, but in fact they are not necessarily related. Lapses, moral failures, are always open to human beings, and one cannot rule out by definition the possibility of a man's being both morally remarkable and atheistic.
But, one might argue, is the situation vis-à-vis God any worse in principle than the situation vis-à-vis material objects, such as tables and chairs? Our traffic with these consists in having actual experiences (visual, tactual, etc.) and ordered expectations of future and possible experiences. Where our experience has this sort of structure and can thus be the subject of intelligible discourse, we confer on it the status of objectivity without more ado. But theistic experience certainly occurs, and it too has its structure of expectations.
If we can bring out the difference between these cases (and the peculiar difficulty of the religious case), we shall be showing more clearly than hitherto that the Argument from Religious Experience is most intimately involved in problems of logic and meaning—problems that at first seem alien to its empirical appearance. With a material object (say, a cube) there are quite intricate but intelligible ways in which we come to see it as a single object out-in-the-world. It is given unity most obviously by possession of perceptible limits and boundaries and by the manner in which its several surfaces can be seen and felt to connect with one another. Moreover, we have mastered the laws of perspective and so can anticipate and understand variations in our perceptions of the object, owing to our own variable positions as observers. Such variations do not, therefore, impugn the assertion that the object exists in the world external to us.
With God, who is not a finite material object, there can be no inspecting of boundaries or surfaces. And if part of what we mean by "God" is "an infinitely and eternally loving Being," no conceivable experience or finite set of experiences could by itself entitle us to claim that we had experienced such a being. We might well report experiencing "a sense of immense benevolence toward us," "a sense of complete safety and well-being," but from their intensity alone one could not rigorously conclude, "Therefore I am in touch with an infinitely and eternally loving God." From the intensity of a human love one cannot infer, "This love will endure," and without bringing in a supplementary doctrine of God's attributes (not derived from experience) one could no more legitimately do so in the religious case.
Material objects, of course, are sometimes observed in unfavorable perceptual conditions—at a great distance, half-concealed, and so on. Imagination must "fill in" the perceptual gaps as best it can, until conditions improve. Analogous thought models are indeed employed in theological discourse, but they are peculiarly difficult to assess. The Christian theologian is normally most ready to admit that we can neither perceive nor imagine how the various attributes of God unite in a single being (if he is to be called "a being" at all). A fair measure of agnosticism here is compatible with full Christian belief. But it may not be compatible with a reliance upon an Argument to God from Religious Experience, if this is one's chief apologetic instrument. Unless the principles that confer unity and objectivity are able to be collected from the experiences themselves (which seems not to be possible), we have to look elsewhere for them, and the argument is in this respect shown to be inadequate. But it is not, on that account, proved useless, for if it cannot demonstrate the existence of God unaided, it might still function as a necessary auxiliary of other arguments—for example, the Cosmological Argument.
One might be forced to a deeper agnosticism than that to which we have just alluded—deeper in that it dares to affirm scarcely anything at all about the focus (or focuses) of religious experience, whether personal or impersonal. Yet with a minimal ontological commitment it might still set great value on certain religious experiences and seek after them. The attempt to work out a coherent and systematic theological interpretation would be quite abandoned.
This would save something, but assessing just how much to expect from a religious agnosticism like this would be a difficult task. The bigger the area of agnosticism, the smaller the area of legitimate religious expectations, such as that of ultimately seeing God "face to face" or of being received by him into glory. As we have more than once observed, the relation between experience and what the experience is taken to be is a most intimate one; the experiences of a Christian and those of a religious agnostic could both be valuable but could not be identical.
Is it not more enlightened, however, to deny that these experiences really disclose anything about the world? Psychoanalytic research has, after all, revealed many situations in which interior mental events are projected upon the world and are furnished with all the assurance of objectivity, the full sense of "givenness." One does not have to accept the entire Freudian account of religion to see plausibility in its central claim that early parent-child relations of "creaturely" dependence and reverence, with their tensions between love and fear, can yield the unconscious material from which experiences of God-man relations are fashioned. To accept this claim is not necessarily to reduce all religion to neurosis or worse. For it is absurd to class together the person who attains a stable religious solution to his conflicts and the person who retreats to genuine neurosis, developing, say, obsessions, compulsions, or delusions of persecution. Sigmund Freud certainly went further in his naturalistic explanation of religious experience, being prepared to reduce God to an illusory parent substitute. It may be possible, however, to invert the Freudian account of religious experience and, instead of seeing God as a father substitute, to see human fathers as God substitutes and the human experience of love as training for loving God. The close psychological relation between love of man and love of God would thus have its skeptical sting removed. It may be argued, again, that naturalistic and Christian explanations are compatible: God may elicit from us an effective response to his existence without making use of anything but our natural human equipment of senses, desires, emotions. Even mechanisms of projection can be involved and the projected image of deity be yet a trustworthy symbol of a God who does in fact exist. It is clear from all this that depth psychology does not provide a self-sufficient, decisive refutation of theism.
Nonetheless, depth psychology troubles and disturbs the Arguments from Religious Experience, and so do the very attempts to reconcile it with Christian belief. These virtually admit that the religious experiences might occur much as they actually do occur—without there being a God—in other words, that naturalistic explanations are possible. There seems no way, at the experiential level, of settling the really urgent questions, most of all the following: Do we have in theistic experience mere projection? Or do we have a projection matched by an objectively existing God?
See also Agnosticism; Buber, Martin; Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God; Enlightenment; Hume, David; Kant, Immanuel; Mysticism, Nature and Assessment of; Ontological Argument for the Existence of God; Otto, Rudolf; Popular Arguments for the Existence of God; Religious Experience; Schleiermacher, Friedrich Daniel Ernst; Teleological Argument for the Existence of God.
works on the psychology of religion
The following works have important implications for the Argument from Religious Experience:
Freud, Sigmund. The Future of an Illusion (1927). Translated by W. D. Robson-Scott. London: Hogarth Press, 1928; paperback ed., Garden City, NY, 1957.
Freud, Sigmund. "Obsessive Acts and Religious Practices" (1907). In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, translated by James Strachey, ed., in collaboration with Anna Freud. 24 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1953–1963.
Freud, Sigmund. Totem and Taboo (1913). Translated by A. A. Brill. New York: New Republic, 1927. Also translated by James Strachey. New York: Norton, 1952.
James, William. Varieties of Religious Experience. London: Longman, 1902.
Philp, H. L. Freud and Religious Belief. London: Rockliff, 1956.
Thouless, R. H. An Introduction to the Psychology of Religion. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1923; reprinted, 1936.
relevant theological works
Raven, C. E. Natural Religion and Christian Theology. Vol. II. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1953.
Schleiermacher, Friedrich. Der christliche Glaube. Berlin, 1821–1822. 2nd ed. translated by H. R. Mackintosh and J. S. Stewart as Christian Faith. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1928.
Schleiermacher, Friedrich. Die Religion. Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern. Berlin, 1799. Translated by John Oman as On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers. London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1893; reprinted, Gloucester, MA, 1958; paperback ed., New York: Harper, 1958.
Tennant, F. R. Philosophical Theology. Vol. I. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1928.
The following works explore the relation between religious experience and religious belief or contain relevant ideas and arguments:
Buber, Martin. Ich und Du. Leipzig, 1923. Translated by R. Gregor Smith as I and Thou. Edinburgh, 1937.
Campbell, C. A. On Selfhood and Godhood. London: Allen and Unwin, 1957. On Rudolf Otto see Lecture 16.
Hick, John, ed. Faith and the Philosophers. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1964.
Holland, R. F., and J. M. Cameron. "Religious Discourse and Theological Discourse." Australasian Journal of Philosophy 34 (1956): 147–163, 203–207.
Hook, Sidney, ed. Religious Experience and Truth. New York: New York University Press, 1961.
Lewis, H. D. Our Experience of God. London: Allen and Unwin, 1959.
Lewis, H. D., and C. H. Whiteley. "The Cognitive Factor in Religious Experience." PAS, Supp. 29 (1955): 59–92.
Martin, C. B. Religious Belief. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1959.
Otto, Rudolf. Das Heilige. Breslau: Trewendt and Granier, 1917. Translated by John W. Harvey as The Idea of the Holy, 2nd ed. London, 1950.
Smart, Ninian. Reasons and Faiths. London: Routledge and Paul, 1958.
Smith, N. Kemp. "Is Divine Existence Credible?" Proceedings of the British Academy 17 (1931).
other recommended titles
Alston, William. Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991.
Bagger, Matthew. Religious Experience, Justification, and History. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Clouser, Roy. Knowing with the Heart: Religious Experience and Belief in God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999.
Davis, Caroline. The Evidential Force of Religious Experience. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Ellwood, Robert. Mysticism and Religion. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1980.
Forsthoefel, Thomas. Knowing beyond Knowledge: Epistemologies of Religious Experience in Classical and Modern Advaita. Burlington: Ashgate, 2002.
Gellman, Jerome. Experience of God and the Rationality of Theistic Belief. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997.
Griffith-Dickson, Gwen. Human and Divine: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religious Experience. London: Duckworth, 2000.
Gutting, Gary. Religious Belief and Religious Skepticism. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1982.
Mackie, J. L. The Miracle of Theism. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982.
Miles, Thomas. Religious Experience. London: Macmillan, 1972.
Pine, Nelson. Mystic Union: An Essay in the Phenomenology of Mysticism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992.
Proudfoot, Wayne. Religious Experience. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.
Rowe, William. "Religious Experience and the Principle of Credulity." International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 13 (1982): 85–92.
Smith, John. Experience and God. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.
Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979.
Wainwright, William. Mysticism. Brighton: Harvester Press, 1981.
Yandell, Keith. The Epistemology of Religious Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Ronald W. Hepburn (1967)
Bibliography updated by Christian B. Miller (2005)