Chapter 37 – The Religious Experience
January 20, 2012 Chapter Synopsis

People experience religion in a wide variety of ways.  Around the globe we find thousands of faiths and billions of people who have had religious experiences.  These can be meaningful and powerful experiences that make people believe in the reality of the unseen.  They are the kind of experience that validates an already existing faith.  Typical of this is an email posed 4/2/97 to the Internet site Recovery from Mormonism, defending Joseph Smith and Mormonism.  It read :

no matter what evidence people drudge up against the prophet Joseph Smith, I know he was a prophet of God. I know this, because Heavenly Father has made it known unto me by the power of the Holy Ghost. I feel no spirit of truth in the words you write, therefore I know they are false. I know that the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true, not because of authoritarian control, or fear, but because I have a relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ, and I know He does not lie.

This email is typical of how people use their feeling to rationalize their beliefs.  Why does the poster believe? — because of “the power of the Holy Ghost”.  No god ever appeared before him and demanded worship.  He simply feels he is right.  The faithful are not coerced into believing.  But yet they willingly do because they are certain it is right to do so—and a large part of this certainty comes from believing that they actually can experience the supernatural.  53% of Americans report having felt “a presence of power” that is different than their ordinary selves.  Hearing about a person having a “religious experience” is so common, that there must be something to it.  There is, but it is not supernatural.  Miracles, healings, speaking in tongues, brushes with death, and all such experiences are easily explained.

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