When I’m in an especially mischievous mood, I sometimes ask whoever I’m with, “Can god be experienced?” I was in just such a mood the other day, and the person I was with answered that god is not “an objective experience”. That caused me to wonder what he meant by “an objective experience”? After all, I thought all experience was by definition, subjective.
As it turned out, he meant little more by “an objective experience” than “any experience most people understand in the same way”. Thus, god is not an objective experience since most people do not understand god in the same way.
So, I pointed out to him that humans are notoriously poor witnesses. If a dozen people witness a car accident, you are quite likely to get a dozen accounts of what happened. There may be some agreement between a dozen witnesses to the same thing, but there is almost certain to be less than complete agreement.
I then asked him whether it’s reasonable to expect people who claim to have experienced god to be in complete agreement. Shouldn’t we rather expect there to be some variation between witnesses? But his response to that question didn’t really address it.
Lastly, I wondered what he made of the fact that mystics the world over tend to be in appreciably greater agreement about the experience of god than do non-mystics the world over? As it turned out, he was unaware of the more or less extensive agreement between mystics regarding the nature of god.
I left it at that. My main reason for asking whether god can be experienced isn’t really mischievousness — although I’m certain that plays a role — but rather to get me thinking. That is, I find the answers people give to that question tend to get me thinking, even when I disagree with those answers.