The view that religious experience has more to do with wish-fulfilment than the intervention of God

Freud believed that during our lives we continuously search for protection and reassurance. A Father Figure usually provides us with this when we are young. As we grow up we then search for protection in something else. Freud saw this as why people turn to God, as we fear the things, which we don’t understand. Freud thought God seemed to provide answers for some people, and ultimately is able to save us from death if we follow Christianity by sending us to heaven or hell.

He also said that religious people are neurotics as they repeat rituals, which he believed to be obsessive over and over again, such as going to Church every Sunday. But religious people are not necessarily neurotic; they may even be more stable minded as it gives them something to believe in. Fred Coplestone defined religious experience as; something which “cannot be explained adequately and without residue… simply subjectively. ” By this, he meant that an experience could be classified as religious if you are unable to explain it entirely in psychological terms without anything being left over.

For most Christians, these experiences give them evidence for a theistic God, although in the bible, it says that God will reward people who are believers but who haven’t actually witnessed a miracle more as they didn’t need evidence to believe. Some Christians may not believe in some religious experiences for example, stigmata as they may believe that it is unnecessary, and that it doesn’t prove anything about god, but to be Christian, it is important to believe in the resurrection story so they would have to believe that God could perform miracles.

Christians who have had religious experiences are often very certain that God caused it, but others would argue that as he is eternal; therefore outside time and outside space how could he, as if he experiences all plains of time at once, then how would he know what we are experiencing at a particular time, and if he was outside space, then he can’t have any matter, so how would he get into our world. But Christians would argue that he is god, so he can do anything in the universe, which he made.

Other Christians would argue that God gives them messages through their sub-conscious as a source of communication when they try to work out what the most moral thing in the situation would be. But it could be argued that people don’t always know what the right thing to do is, or they don’t do it, and why doesn’t God stop them doing things which are wrong. Some Christians would say that it is the ultimate price which we pay for freewill.

Arguably, Christians may wish there to be more to the world to make it fair, where the good are rewarded and the evil; punished. But the universe may not be fair at all. But, these experiences often make a big difference in people’s lives, so maybe as it does this it has to be God. But God may not cause these experiences: they may be purely natural. Thomas Hobbes said that when someone says that God has spoken to him in a dream, this “is no more than to say he dreamed that God spake to him” (Leviathan, pt. III ch. 32).

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