Religious Experience as an Observational Epistemic Practice

Sophia 51 (1):1-16 (2012)
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William Alston proposed an understanding of religious experience modeled after the triadic structure of sense perception. However, a perceptual model falters because of the unobservability of God as the object of religious experience. To reshape Alston’s model of religious experience as an observational practice we utilize Dudley Shapere’s distinction between the philosophical use of ‘observe’ in terms of sensory perception and scientists’ epistemic use of ‘observe’ as being evidential by providing information or justification leading to knowledge. This distinction helps us to understand how religious experience of an unobservable God can be an epistemic practice that satisfies our epistemic obligations and justifies religious belief



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Bruce Reichenbach
Augsburg College

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