38 - Epistemic Evaluation of Specific Religious Experiences or Spiritual States

Many people have given reports of having special religious experiences, especially at a particular time and place. Do these experiences have cognitive value? What should be said about the truth and falsity of these claims? And do the contents of those experiences create authority for the person or other people? What reasonable conclusions can be drawn from these reports?

There are many cases of those experiences that were experienced under the influence of biological, psychological, and cultural factors or were of the type of fantasies and illusions. That is, some of those experiences are such that non-religious reasons can be given for receiving such experiences. But can it be considered false or meaningless because some of the reported cases can be influenced by the mentioned factors? It will be shown that the mere possibility of some biological and psychological reasons cannot be a reason to reject them like the approach of naturalists. Rather, for many epistemological reasons, many of them should be considered correct. Then, the reasons for this claim will be presented by looking at some views in contemporary epistemology.

After that, the epistemological authorities obtained from those cases are discussed to show that even if these particular religious experiences are true, it is not possible to draw many epistemological and religious conclusions from them, but some reasonable conclusions are the necessity of such religious experiences and cannot be avoided. Then it will be examined to what extent these epistemological conclusions can be obtained and to what extent religious duties can be concluded from them.

This issue has been raised similarly in the philosophy of religion in topics such as miracles, revelations, or reports of divine grace. Hume's analyses in this field have been the source of philosophical discussion about this. Since religious lives are full of such reports, the philosophical and epistemological examination of such cases will play an important role in explaining religious claims.


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