In other words there’s a difference between being convinced by something, so convinced that you are literally unable not to believe it, and being rationally convinced by it. Which is, indeed, interesting. It seems like a real problem, in a way – at least potentially. But maybe it is only potentially, not actually? If so, that too would be interesting. In other words – if there are few or no cases of (say) committedly rational people, with strong habits of questioning evidence, second-guessing their own inferences, and the like, who have (say) an unexpected religious experience – an experience like the experience Russell Stannard has when praying – and find themselves unable not to believe that the experience is veridical – then it seems fair to say that Russell Stannard’s experience doesn’t show much.

In other words it depends where you start from. If for example you start from a habit of believing god exists, or from a desire to believe that god exists, and have internal experience that seems to confirm that god exists, that’s different from starting from a habit of not believing god exists and no desire to believe that god exists. If the only (or perhaps the vast majority of) people who have such experiences and find them compelling and convincing, are in the first category – then I don’t think their experience tells us that it’s rational to take the experience at face value. Understandable, yes; reasonable, maybe; rational, no.

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