St. Teresa Religious Experience Analysis

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Throughout time, religious experiences have been used as the foundation of religious beliefs. However, there has been much debate within the philosophical community as to whether these experiences are authoritative and can be trusted as reliable primary sources. For the purpose of this paper, I will define a religious experience as the sudden sensation of a mystical entity. This type of experience occurs frequently and is easier to defend than the traditional religious experience of seeing the face of God. One primary reason for the reluctance to accept religious experiences as evidence of God’s existence is that they do not seem to tell a coherent story. Rather, there are stark inconsistencies that raise questions as to whether they are a …show more content…
Teresa of Jesus offers a preliminary way to analyze a religious experience’s authenticity: the religious experience must be compatible with the scripture, and the witness must not be changed for the worse because of it (St. Teresa, 1960). If a religious experience does not fulfill both of these qualities, then St. Teresa claims that it is deceptive and should not be accepted. This method of analysis is convenient as it gives clear guidelines to differentiate between the multitudes of religious experiences. However, it is insufficient because it employs circular reasoning; the word of God—the Bible—cannot be used to verify God’s own existence. Moreover, this method only takes the Christian faith into account. Because we do not have physical proof that Christianity is the correct/true religion, we cannot evaluate religious experiences based on the Christian framework. In total, this is not an adequate way to interpret religious experiences and is not accepted due to its narrow, limiting …show more content…
This folktale explains that religious experiences are similar to three blind men briefly encountering an elephant. Each man interprets the experience to the best of their ability; however, they come away from the event telling three different stories because they are not equipped to understand the full message being presented to them. In this scenario it is reasonable that there would be vast differences, as the blind men are much smaller than the elephant and their senses are unable to detect a clear picture. In relation to religious experiences, the theist can argue that the differences present between them are not due to their unreliability as a primary source; rather, they are caused by our human inability to interpret the message correctly. This is beneficial for the theist as they are able to concede that there are noticeable discrepancies among religious encounters while continuing to accept them as direct communications with God. In this way, the theist may appease Martin and others while preserving the significance of religious

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