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Nielsen, Kai
"There is no religious experience which guarantees that our experience is an experience of God. This can be asserted without for a moment doubting that some people have religious experiences. The psychological reality of such experience is one thing, that these experiences are actually experiences of God is another."

-- Kai Nielsen


Kai Nielsen is adjunct professor of philosophy at Concordia University in Montreal and professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Calgary. Before moving to Canada Nielsen taught for many years at New York University (NYU). He specializes in metaphilosophy, ethics, and social and political philosophy. Nielsen has also written about philosophy of religion, and is a leading advocate of contemporary, atheist philosophy. He is also known for his defense of utilitarianism, writing in response to Bernard Williams's criticism of it.

Nielsen got his B.A. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his Ph.D. at Duke University. He is the author of some 32 books and 415 articles. Member of the Royal Society of Canada and past president of the Canadian Philosophical Association, Nielsen is also one of the founding members of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy.

Quotations

"There is an important and correct way in which understanding religion is incompatible with believing in it."

"In the United States religion is rampant and massively, though, of course, not exclusively, Neanderthal. In a recent survey taken in the United States, 88 percent of the population (if the sample taken was accurate) maintained that they had never had any doubts about the existence of God. Even if this survey is inaccurate and this is true of only 40 percent of the population, it is still an intellectual and moral disgrace -- a disgrace that should be a scandal in the United States."

"In spite of the power of the religious right, it is paranoid to see the United States as dominated by it, thought it is certainly not paranoid to believe that in recent years American society has been to some considerable extent adversely affected by it. Still there are massive and not ineffective counterbalancing forces."

"In cultures such as ours, religion is very often an alien form of life to intellectuals. Living as we do in a post-enlightenment era, it is difficult for us to take religion seriously. The very concept seems fantastic to us ... that people in our age can believe that they have had a personal encounter with God, that they could believe that they have experienced conversion through a "mystical experience of God," so that they are born again in the Holy Spirit, is something that attests to human irrationality and a lack of sense of reality."

 
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The Talk Of Lawrence