There is a side-conversation in the comments section of another post discussing religious experiences and their veracity in affirming the existence of a supernatural or religious ’cause’ of such experiences. This side-conversation reminded me of the discussion of cross-checking procedures beteen Alston and Fales, and so I would like to open up a seperate post for discussion on this topic. Below is an exposition of the largest problem I see with the cross-checking procedure theory.
What I propose is that any attempt to utilize intrapersonal religious experiences in order to justify or prove a specific religious position interpersonally must necessarily fail by virtue of a fundamental disconnect. What’s more, the poverty of cross-checking when applied to transcendent religious experiences is not surprising given the very content of such experiences. By attempting to use the personal to prove the general, the intrapersonal to prove the interpersonal, the profundity of the religious experience is lost and becomes fodder for philosophical skeptics. First I shall begin by discussing the type of transcendent religious experience to which I am referring and by citing specific examples. After that I shall introduce the current discussion surrounding the veracity of religious experiences that has carried on between authors such as Alston and Fales, paying specific attention to the concept of cross-checking. From there I shall argue how, based on the intrapersonal nature of these transcendent religious experiences, cross-checking must be re-evaluated as a verification tool. (more…)