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Region: England, Wales and Northern Ireland

RE:QUEST

A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith

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Christian Responses to Non-religious Views

Religious Experiences

Non-religious Attitudes to Religious Experiences

Some people, such as atheists and humanists, believe that all forms of religious experiences are not real. They feel that a lot of the things that happen are simply natural events. They are only called 'religious experiences' because believers falsely say God is responsible for them.

Some reasons they give for this disbelief include:

  • There is no scientific evidence that religious experiences happen, nor do they prove God exists. Non-religious people tend to only believe things that can be proved scientifically, and it is impossible to prove religious experiences are real.

  • Psychological - It's all in the mind, with people seeing what they want to see or their mind is playing tricks on them.

  • Hallucinations, through mental health issues.

  • Stimulants, with some possibly under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which may affect the way they interpret the things happening around them.
  • People could be lying, for attention or financial gain.

    Christian Responses

    Christians believe that religious experiences are real and do provide evidence that God exists. They look to the Bible to support their belief, in which many of the leading figures have had religious experiences. Examples from the Bible include the vision Abraham had, plus the Transfiguration, where Jesus' disciples encountered God. God has always used religious experiences to make himself known, and he doesn't change, therefore they are real.

    They argue that Christians wouldn't be under the influence of stimulants, as the vast majority wouldn't take them. They also don't believe people lie about having visions, as there is no real reason for anyone to lie.

    Ultimately, many Christians base their faith on religious experiences so they are incredibly important to them. The fact that so many people claim to have had religious experiences, and the difference they have made to their lives, provides enough evidence that they are real.