The Religious A priori
Arguments for the Existnece of God
Mystical Experience page 3
D.Not the result of Pathology or technique
1).Effects indicate that Mystical expereince cannot be reduced to Mental Illness.
Mental illness is usually either treatable or progressive (gets worse), but it is not positive over a long term. Mentally ill people do not gian long lasting postive effects from thier illness that gives them a heightend sense of well being and lasts for long term. Mental illness does not improve the sense of self-actualization or make one a "whole" person. Religious experience does this and mystical expereince or "peak experience" so so all the more. Evidence to document this point is found above under argument III, but more studies can also be sited.[see above, Larson, The Faith Factor, Study search]
2) No relationship Mysticism and Mental Illness.
[Noble, Kathleen D. (1987). ``Psychological Health and the Experience of Transcendence.'' The Counseling Psychologist, 15 (4), 601-614.]
Transpersonal Childhood Experiences of Higher States of Consciousness: Literature Review and Theoretical Integration (unpublished paper 1992)
"Scientific interest in the mystical experience was broadened with the research on psychoactive drugs. The popular belief was that such drugs mimicked either mystical states and/or schizophrenic ones (reviewed in Lukoff, Zanger & Lu, 1990). Although there is likely some physiological similarity as well as phenomenological recent work has shown clear differences. For instance, Oxman, Rosenberg, Schnurr, Tucker and Gala (1988) analyzed 66 autobiographical accounts of schizophrenia, hallucinogenic drug experiences, and mystical ecstasy as well as 28 control accounts of important personal experiences. They concluded that the: "subjective experiences of schizophrenia, hallucinogenic drug-induced states, and mystical ecstasy are more different from one another than alike" (p. 401).
"Relatedly, Caird (1987) found no relationship between reported mystical experience and neuroticism, psychoticism and lying while Spanos and Moretti (1988) found no relationship between a measure of mystical experience and psychopathology."
a. Trend toward positive view among psychologists.
MYSTICAL OR UNITIVE EXPERIENCE
"Offsetting the clinical literature that views mystical experiences as pathological, many theorists (Bucke, 1961; Hood, 1974, 1976; James, 1961; Jung, 1973; Laski, 1968; Maslow, 1962, 1971; Stace, 1960; Underhill, 1955) have viewed mystical experiences as a sign of health and a powerful agent of transformation."
b. Most clinicians and clinical studies see postive.
"Results of a recent survey (Allman, et al,. 1992) suggest that most clinicians do not view mystical experiences as pathological. Also, studies by several researchers have found that people reporting mystical experiences scored lower on psychopathology scales and higher on measures of psychological well-being than controls (Caird, 1987; Hood, 1976, 1977, 1979; Spanos and Moretti, 1988)".
c. Incidence rate suggests no pathology.
"Numerous studies assessing the incidence of mystical experience (Back and Bourque, 1970; Greeley, 1974, 1987; Hay and Morisy, 1978; Hood, 1974, 1975, 1977; Thomas and Cooper, 1980) all support the conclusion that 30-40% of the population do have such experiences, suggesting that they are normal rather than pathological phenomena. In addition, a recent survey (Allman et al., 1992) has demonstrated that the number of patients who bring mystical experiences into treatment is not insignificant. Psychologists in full-time practice were asked to estimate the percentage of their clients over the past 12 months who had reported a mystical experience. The 285 respondents indicated that of the 20,670 clients seen during the past year, the incidence of mystical experience was 4.5%. This clearly challenges the GAP report on Mysticism, which claims that "mystical experiences are rarely observed in psychotherapeutic practice" (Group for Advancement of Psychiatry, 1976, p. 799).
2) Not the restult of deprivation or fantasy; mystics tend to be successful people.
Council on Spiritual Practices
State of Unitive Consciousness
"Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being. "
3) Mystisicm offers therapeutic insights.
"...Within the Western model we recognize and define psychosis as a suboptimal state of consciousness that views reality in a distorted way and does not recognize that distortion. It is therefore important to note that from the mystical perspective our usual state fits all the criteria of psychosis, being suboptimal, having a distorted view of reality, yet not recognizing that distortion. Indeed from the ultimate mystical perspective, psychosis can be defined as being trapped in, or attached to, any one state of consciousness, each of which by itself is necessarily limited and only relatively real.'' [-- page 665 ) [Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.
Lukoff, David & Francis G. Lu (1988). ``Transpersonal psychology research review: Topic: Mystical experiences.'' Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 20 (2), 161-184. Charles T. Tart, Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm, p. 19.
4) Cannot be reduced to Drug inducement.
Most Skeptics are not going to argue that all mystics take drugs. But many will argue that since drugs can induce mytical expereince this proves it is merely a chemical reaction in the brain, wheather naturally occurring or induced by some foreign agent. However, this is a mistake. Mystical experience cannot be induced by taking drugs. This is a popular fallacy and many studies disprove it.
The Religious Experience: A Social-Psychological Perspective.
Batson, C. Daniel, and Ventis, W. Larry. (1982).
New York: Oxford University Press.
"If this analysis is correct, two implications follow. First, drugs can facilitate but cannot produce creative religious experience. They can facilitate it if they are used in the context of an ongoing intrapsychic process that includes not only self-surrender (incubation) and new vision (illumination) but also a preceding struggle with one or more existential questions (preparation) and a subsequent new life (verification). If the individual is not already wrestling with existential concerns, psychedelics are not likely to evoke a creative transformation. This point is underscored by the findings of Masters and Houston, of the Spring Grove project, and of Pahnke; in each study religious insight seemed limited to those actively addressing existential questions (preparation). At the same time, if the experience is to be more than psychic "fireworks," there must be positive consequences for one's everyday life (verification)." (page 115)
Ecstasy in Secular and Religious Experiences.
Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher.
"I conclude, then, that though mescalin may occasionally give momentary ecstatic feelings, as it may have done to Mr. Mayhew, it does not typically do so and that mescalin experiences do not feel like ecstatic experiences. This is not affected by the fact that some people may believe that what they have experienced under mescalin is religious experience; but I should have thought that for anyone seeking the Beatific Vision (which was, before Mr. Huxley, granted only to Moses and St. Paul) there were surer and pleasanter ways of attaining it than by taking mescalin. "(pages 271-271)
Laski complies quite a lengthy list of differences between mescaline use and spiritual ecstacies, to summarize:
"Ecstatics always unanimous about high value of their experince, mescaline users are not. (pages 263-264) Mescaline experience is always extrovertive, extacy of the highest type introvertive Escstatic experience always goes either from escstacy to extacy or despair to ecstacy, never the reverse. The Mystical experience may be momentary or last a half hour, but it is never hours, and it is always transformative, leaving a long term sense of the highest value, the Mescline user may feel very casual approach, last for hours. Also mystic in introvertive state cannot function, Mescaline user do any ordingary things (pages 264-265) Feelings about time are vastly differnce. Mescaline user has casual attitude, but the mystic systeses eternity. (page 265) Major differences in triggers are recorded, the escatic usually taking the trigger form that which is found to be beutiful or valuable, the Mescaline user form whatever ordinary object seems inhanced. (pages 267-268) Differences toward a sense of a transformed world, (page 269) pleasure and pain (page 269-270)
The Evidential Force of Religious Experience.
Davis, Caroline Franks. (1989).
Oxford: Clarendon Press.
"There is a great deal of evidence that drugs cannot produce religious experiences on their own, in the way that, say, a blow to the head produces an experience of 'stars'. At the most, it appears they can act as a catalyst, and so it is open to the theist to argue that it was other, nonpathological factors which were crucial to the religious content of the experience. John Bowker informs us, for instance, that drugs do not introduce anything new into the mind or behavior or affect stored information in a discriminatory and meaningful manner, but can only initiate or inhibit brain activity. ..."
"The discussion in the previous section showed that, in some respects, typical drug-induced experiences are like psychotic experiences in the way they differ from typical mystical experiences. It is, moreover, clear from the literature that drug-induced mystical experiences are almost always extrovertive rather than the introvertive type extolled by most mystical traditions, and there is rarely a sense of personal presence or of union with another being. The use of drugs to induce religious experiences cannot be recommended, partly because of the dangers of drug use, and partly because experiences produced in such a way tend to be regarded as something separated from normal life and so may not become properly integrated into the subject's religious, psychological, and cognitive development."[Ibid.(pages 218-221)]
Davis also adds that subjects given drugs do not have mystical experiences in sensory deprivation, another indication that the convetional triggers have to be in place, that the drugs merely facilitate but cannot cause the experiences; the setting has to be appropriate.
Gagenback also Docujments Lukoff , Alexander, and other sutdies which find important differences in Drug induced states and pure consciousness, such that pure consciousness is not reduceable to mere drug induced states.
5) Not the Result of Technique alone
This is an important point, because some have argued that Such expreinces are just the result of years of training, practice of Transcendental Meditation, psychological states and imagination due to self-hypnosis and the like.However, as many as 43% of mystical experincers are children. IT is highly unlikely that many children would have spent years praciticing transcendental meditation, have eleaborately developed ideologies of the world, or been exposed to any hypnotic techniques. Although of course mystical experience is also developed over long term though such techniques as Transcendental Meidtation.
Experiences in childhood are obtained from adult recollections and children's reports or studies on children doing a technique proposed to get near or attain PC. Both Millar (1990) and Hunt, Gervais, Shearing-Johns & Travis (1991) asked their adult subjects about mystical experience incidence in childhood (Hunt et al. defined it as, "During waking you may experience a sense of oneness and unity in all things, along with experiences of awe, bliss, and/or wonder. Sometimes this involves a sensation of melting or fusing with one's surroundings, feelings of being overwhelmed by a sense of love or compassion. Some of these experiences can be very hard to put into words." while Millar defined it as, "This is often a profound and deeply moving sense of communication, unity and oneness; a transcendental experience of higher consciousness or love, too beautiful to fully express in words. It can also be an experience of the void."). A large percent (45%) of Millar's sample of self identified psychics reported mystical experiences in childhood. In Hunt et al. meditators reported significantly more mystical experiences in childhood than the nonmeditators.
Finally, Robinson (1977) found that 15% of his adult respondents spoke of childhood mystical experiences. As this from a 40 year old female:
When I was eleven years old I spent part of a summer holiday in the Wye Valley. Waking up very early one bright morning, before any of the household was about, I left my bed and went to kneel on the window seat, to look out over the curve which the river took just below the house. The trees between the house and river ... The scene was very beautiful, and quite suddenly I felt myself on the verge of a great revelation. It was as if I had stumbled unwittingly on a place where I was not expected, and was about to be initiated into some wonderful mystery, something of indescribable significance. Then, just as suddenly, the feeling faded. But for the brief seconds while it lasted I had known that in some strange way I, the essential "me", was a part of the trees, of the sunshine, and the river, that we all belonged to some great unity. I was left filled with exhilaration and exultation of spirit. This is one of the most memorable experiences of my life, of a quite different quality and greater intensity than the sudden lift of the spirit one may often feel when confronted with beauty in Nature (p. 37).
E. Logic of the co-determinate
Peak expereince is validated through a varitiey of data. It is proven to be a true consciousness change. Moreover, it has powerful and postive affects which last a life time. Since it is an expereince of "someting" (transcendence at leat if not of "God") we must concude that there is a real external cause at work producing the expereince. Religous expereince is expereince of something, something we usually call "God," thus it is logical to conclude that there really is a God to be experienced. At this stage we cannot argue that this is the God of the Bible, but that will be established on other pages. Religious experience is not merely a change in feeling or a veg indefinable sense of niceness set off by beutiful clouds or something of that nature, if that were the case it could not be life changing. That is is subjective is obvious, but that is merely subjective is belied by the fact that is and has been shared my millions of people (in fact on some level by the vast majority of people) thoughout human history.
This notion applys to the feeling of utter dependence, but it can work also with mystical expericne. In this argument I'll focuss just on mystical experience. The argument says:
*There are real affects from Mytical experince.
*These affects cannot be reduced to naturalistic cause and affect, bogus mental states or epiphenomena.
* Since the affects of Mystical consciousness are independent of other explaintions we should assume that they are genuine.
*Since mystical experince is usually experince of something, the Holy, the sacred some sort of greater trasncendent reality we should assume that the object is real since the affects or real, or that the affects are the result of some real higher reailty.
* The true measure of the reality of the co-dterminate is the transfomrative power of the affects.
This last point of course will be hoty disputed, but the reasoning is well documented and based upon the previous two arguments. Since we have seen that religious expeince is highly effocacious in terms of its transformative effects, that it is nomrative and that it representes a dimension to human being that empirical reductionism reifies and misses, we should assume that the extrent to which religious experince is transformational is a measure of its efficacy. To put it simply, it works, it changes lives, why shouldn't we assume that it is the affect of something real?
Next: page 4, answering atheist objedtions (neuroscience)