Implicit Religion, Vol 11, No 1 (2008)

Introducing Irreligious Experiences

Stephen Bullivant
Issued Date: 27 Aug 2008


Reports of an emphatic awareness of the absence of God, or of unexplainable feelings of elation or despair at the thought of God’s non-existence, are well-documented from both believers and nonbelievers alike. Such irreligious experiences are, however, widely unknown, even among those engaged in the academic study of their “religious” counterparts. The purpose of this short article is to shed some light on an unjustly neglected phenomenon in the social sciences and religious studies. Although other reports are cited, the focus here is on fifteen contemporary case-studies (given in full as an appendix to the article). These are divided into two main genres, with common features identified.
Brief parallels are drawn to similar experiences in the Christian mystical tradition, before some remarks concerning the future study of irreligious experiences conclude the piece.

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DOI: 10.1558/imre.v11i1.7


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