I have been making the circuit presenting a paper which in part defends an argument for atheism from “irreligious experience.” It is similar to work done by Draper in 1991 and Gellman in 1992. I’m sure others have versions of the idea.
This past week, I had a religious experience. I’m not sure what to make of it, and I’ll be thinking about it for some time. It was very vivid and strangely specific. In thinking about it this far, I think there may be an interesting research project worth pursuing (it will be a very long time before I can pursue it, so I put it out here in the hopes that someone else will).
In my Intro class in Philosophy of Religion, I present the arguments for and against theism as honestly as I can. Both Naturalism and Theism face some serious philosophical problems. What I always conclude with is that for my own part, I find it easier swallow the theist’s anomalies than the naturalists anomalies. That is, I have a easier time incorporating the evils of the world into the theistic narrative than the goodness of the world into the naturalist’s narrative. (Not I say “goodness/badness of the world” not “good/evil” itself.)
Well, I’ve had irreligious experiences two. I had written and thought as if they just cancel each other out. But what I found in my own case was that the religious experience had to the irreligious experience the same relation as in the anomaly case I described. That is, it seemed somehow to overshadow it or something in a way I can’t quite describe. It had a quality which made it somehow “firmer” or something, more “solid.” (Lewis’s analogy about heavenly being in _The Great Divorce_ comes to mind.)
Somewhere Lewis mentions something about the way he know waking day is real and dreams are not by the way in which one can “include” the other better than the other way around. Then I remembered a paper Sosa gave on the character of dreams. This is quite inchoate and I can’t possibly go back to the Sosa paper now, but it strikes me that it is worth thinking about how different kinds of asymmetries in experiences can be established and whether this can be put to use in thinking about religious experience.