Argument from Personal Experience

Have you “felt” God?  Have you “experienced” God?  Have you “seen” God?  Have you had a personal experience that caused you to believe in God?  If your answer is “yes,” this blog is for you.

What was the experience?  Was it shared by others?  Can it be explained by natural phenomena?

The reason I ask is because some people out there believe in God for one of these reasons.  This concerns me.  I don’t believe that the existence of God can be proven by a personal experience, because, well, it’s personal.

If the existence of God is to be unquestionably proven, it must be proven irrefutable to everyone, not just a single person.  If you “felt” God, saw him in a piece of toast, or were otherwise “moved” by God, how does that support the existence of God to anyone but you?  As an analogy, let’s say that I tell you that I feel the ghost of Elvis living inside my body.  Does my personal experience make it true to everyone?  Would you automatically believe in ghosts from that day forward, without question?  My guess would be no.

Let’s also consider the thousands of sightings of UFOs, Big Foot, Chupacabra, and the Loch Ness monster.  Society in general considers these sightings to be unsubstantiated, and there are reasons for that.  First, these are extraordinary claims.  They don’t fall within the norms of society.  No one expects to see a giant Plesiosaurus creature emerge from a lake.  It’s not considered a reasonable belief.  Second, first-hand accounts of supposed “evidence” have been debunked repeatedly.  Third, and most importantly, there is no evidence to support these beliefs.  How could a hundred-foot tall creature living in a lake be overlooked?  But remember, people claim they’ve seen it.  That doesn’t make it true.

If you want to prove that any claim is true, whether it be the Loch Ness monster, Big Foot, Chupacabra, ghosts, vampires, or God, there must be irrefutable evidence, such that any reasonable person would conclude that the claim is true, absent any predispositions.  And that evidence should be replicable, under similar circumstances, by any competent individual testing the evidence.  And because personal experiences cannot be replicated and tested by other individuals, the claim can never be validated.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Argument from Personal Experience

  1. I had once the following personal experience: a nice girl asked me to marry her. Then I woke up, it was just a dream. But at that moment my experience seemed to me quite real, which proves that however genuine a personal experience may seem to you it does not mean it is reliable or even true.

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