The puzzle of religious experience

When we use reason to think about religious experience, we are led a certain way. But when we use common ordinary sense or intuition to think about religious experience, we are led down quite a different path. I wonder what others think about this; should we use reason, or should we use intuition when thinking about human experience? 

In this post, I would like to explore what I call the puzzle of religious experience. It is a simple puzzle, yet it confounds me. Using reason, it is evident that there cannot be a God (in the Christian sense). If there were a God, he would not allow for the kind of pain and suffering there exists in the world to exist. For God is love. (This is the problem of evil in crude terms) But whenever one experiences suffering, there is a tendency to greater religious faith. Intuitively, one will turn to religion/god in difficult times. Religion becomes a psychological crutch on which we lean for consolation. 

Now it might be argued that it is not incompatible for there to be suffering and for there to be God. God allows for suffering to occur so that we can grow as individuals, or even as a test of our faith. If this were true, then the meaning of love changes to include the profound truth that we must allow those we love to experience pain and suffering, and to be harmed. 

I find this difficult to swallow. A god who truly loves cannot also be one who allows us to be harmed and hurt, through no fault of our own. So I think the puzzle still stands as an interesting response to the question, should suffering result in greater religious faith? The response is that it depends, on whether one chooses to reason about it, or whether one reacts intuitively.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: