Unit 2: Religious Experience
Understanding of any one topic may be informed by a study of the others, and, where relevant, candidates may draw on material from more than one topic in their answer to any question set.
Where appropriate, answers should show awareness that there are
differing views on the topics and issues studied.
AO1 questions will be set on the content listed below.
AO2 questions will be focused on the issues surrounding the interpretation of the material studied or on the issues arising from that material identified in the boxes below.
The variety of religious experience: credit will be given for reference to any relevant form of religious experience, but candidates are expected to be familiar with the main
characteristics of visions, conversion and mystical experiences
• The argument from religious experience for the existence of God
• The challenges to religious experience from philosophy and
– for philosophy
(i) whether the finite could experience the infinite
(ii) problems of verifying religious experience
– for science
(i) natural explanations for religious experiences (e.g. drugs;
temporal lobe epilepsy)
(ii) simulating religious experiences (e.g. Persinger’s helmet)
• Can religious experience show that God probably exists?
• Is it necessary to have a religious experience in order to be
able to understand what a religious experience is?
• How successful are the challenges to religious experience
from philosophy and science?