The Religious A priori
Arguments for the Existnece of God
Link to Christian Experience
page 2: Transformative Power
Page 3: Answering Objections
Page 4: It's only chemicals in your head
More study results (p2 of instinct argument)
This is from the study
The Impact of Mystical Experiences on Christian Maturity
Robert J. Voyle, Psy.D.K
originally published in pdf format: pdf document here
google html version here:
My point in presenting this: many atheists have commented on how the studies I use, such as that of Maslow, apply to mysticism but not to the Christian experience. This study, while not directly trying to prove that mystical experience is also a Christian experince, does actually prove that. Not to say that it is unique to Christians, but it is shared by them.
The Voyle study:
Writing in his Varieties of Religious Experience William
James says, “That prayer or inner communion with the spirit
thereof - be that spirit ‘God’ or ‘law’ - is a process wherein work
is really done, and spiritual energy flows in and produces effects,
psychological or material, within the phenomenal world” (James,
190211990, p.435). The intention behind this project was to
explore some of these “effects” of mystical experiences of which
James wrote and in particular to investigate whether the effects
of the “work done” resulted in greater levels of Christian maturity.
Assessing Christian Maturity
While originally developed to study the relationship between
religiousness and racial prejudice, the Religious Orientation Scale
(ROS) (Allport & Ross, 1967), has been used to study the
relationship between religiousness and a wide range of religious
and psychological variables (Donahue, 1985). Allport’s concept
of intrinsic (I) and extrinsic (E) religious orientation,
as measured by the ROS has often been regarded and
used as a measure of Christian maturity. Despite its
wide utilization, the I/E concept has also received
significant critiques and challenges on both theoretical
and psychometric grounds (Kirkpatrick & Hood, 1990).
Of particular concern is an adequate understanding of
the I and E orientations. In general, intrinsic orientation
was intended to indicate mature religion, a sincere
living of one’s religion as a master motive for life,
whereas extrinsic orientation was an immature
expression of religion, a utilitarian, selfish motivation
for religious involvement.
Hence, according to Allport
and Ross (1967), the intrinsic person “lives” their religion while
the extrinsic person “uses” their religion. Allport also described
the extrinsic motivation as a turning to God without a turning
away from self. The research has tended to show that the extrinsic
orientation is related to that which gives religion a bad name
(Donahue, 1985), - prejudice, dogmatism, fear of death, low self-
esteem, poorer psychological functioning. The intrinsic orientation
is generally unrelated to these variables and appears to measure
the strength of commitment to ones beliefs. However its great
weakness is that it does not account for the content of the beliefs
and the strong commitment to “immature” beliefs can create
The Nature of Mystical Experiences
The contemporary interest in the empirical research of mysticism
can be traced to Stace’s (Stace, 1960) demarcation of the
phenomenological characteristics of mystical experiences (Hood,
1975). In Stace’s conceptualization, mystical experiences had
five characteristics (Hood, 1985, p.176):
1. The mystical experience is noetic. The person having the
experience perceives it as a valid source of knowledge and
not just a subjective experience.
2. The mystical experience is ineffable, it cannot simply be
described in words.
3. The mystical experience is holy. While this is the religious
aspect of the experience it is not necessarily expressed in any
particular theological terms.
4. The mystical experience is profound yet enjoyable and
characterized by positive affect.
5. The mystical experience is paradoxical. It defies logic.
Further analysis of reported mystical experiences suggest that
the one essential feature of mysticism is an experience of unity
(Hood, 1985). The experience of unity involves a process of ego
loss and is generally expressed in one of three ways (Hood, 1
976a). The ego is absorbed into that which transcends it, or an
inward process by which the ego gains pure awareness
of self, or a combination of the two.
This latter is
described by James, “In mystic states we both become
one with the Absolute and we become aware of our
oneness” (James, 190211990, p.378).
Using Stace’s criteria of ego loss, unity, inner
subjectivity, timelessness, noetic quality, ineffability,
positive affect, and the holy, Hood developed an
operational measure of mystical experience called the
Mysticism Scale (M scale) (Hood, 1975). The M scale
is a 32 item paper-and-pencil test that yields two highly
correlated factors associated with mysticism which are
considered to be two aspects of an overall concept of mysticism.
Factor I has items dealing with the minimal phenomenological
Factor II deals with religious interpretation
or attributions regarding the experience.
The relationship between church attendance and mysticism
is complex. James (1902/1990) contended that religious
institutions tend to inhibit people from having mystical
experiences. Personally religious people reported more mystical
experiences than the equally personal and institutionally religious,
and the institutionally religious reported the least (Hood, 1973).
However, frequent church attenders and nonattenders report more
mystical experiences than infrequent attenders (Hood, 1 976b).
Similarly, Poloma and Pendleton’s (1991) study of prayer
experiences showed that rote or mechanical prayers are more likely
to be associated with feelings of sadness, loneliness, tension, and
fear, whereas, meditative prayer is related positively to feelings
of existential well-being and religious satisfaction.
combined with the data on intrinsic religious orientation and
church participation, the results affirm the fact that intense
religious experiences such as religious mysticism occur in the
lives of the religiously devout and are not restricted to the non
church attenders (Hood, 1976b).
From an attributional perspective,
reports of mystical experiences by non religious persons
predominantly focus on the minimal phenomenological criteria
of such experiences whereas the religious person may make such
experiences . religious” by virtue of their interpretation of them
as religious (Hood et al., 1990). Without an attributional system
from which to understand the experience, mystical experiences
have little consequence for the person. Within the attributional
system of a church, people can interpret their mystical experiences
and as interpreted they may become significant life transforming
events (Hood, 1985).