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The Evidential Force of Religious Experience$
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Caroline Franks Davis

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198250012

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198250012.001.0001

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The Conflicting Claims Challenge

The Conflicting Claims Challenge

(p.166) VII The Conflicting Claims Challenge
The Evidential Force of Religious Experience

Caroline Franks Davis

Oxford University Press

The great diversity of religious experiential claims gives rise to two powerful challenges to religious experience. Firstly, the challenge that since subjects cannot agree on a description of the alleged percept their experiences must be, at worst, illusory, or, at best, serious misperceptions. In any case, they are generally unreliable. Secondly, the challenge that since the different descriptions tend to be correlated with the subjects' different traditions, a reductionist explanation involving prior beliefs is more plausible than any explanation involving an autonomous holy power. This chapter explores some responses to the first challenge, also known as the conflicting claims challenge. Before considering more promising attempts to resolve the prima facie conflict among numinous and mystical experiences, the alleged conflict among the other types of religious experience is discussed.

Keywords:   conflicting claims challenge, religious experience, numinous experiences, mystical experiences

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