When arguments for or against the existence of a God are put forward, some dismiss them as irrelevant. What matters, they say, "Is not proof or disproof but the daily experience of living with God". This they say, "Is the reality and beside it all arguments are irrelevant and the truth really resides in the experience of the individual". This is the retreat of religion into the "Citadel of Self". One of the obvious features of the past few centuries has been the shrinking of the area, subject to a religious explanation. At one time, a religious view of the physical world was universally accepted. When that position was lost; religion took refuge in the view that the human species was a special creation of a god, and consequently, involved a special relationship. Now that has been shown to be nonsense. Religion immures itself, in what is said to exist deep in the nature of the individual.
This is a view difficult to refute, since it removes the controversy beyond normal human knowledge and reasoning. In this connection, it is of interest to consider, a commentary from another religion say, Buddhism, which has no belief in a God, as "Nyanaponika Thera" puts it.
"But for the earnest believer, the God idea is more than a device for explaining external facts like the origin of the World etc. It is for him, or supposed to be, an inner experience that can bestow a strong feeling of certainty, not only as to God’s existence somewhere out there, but as to God’s consoling presence and closeness to the devotee. However, this feeling of certainty requires a close scrutiny. Such scrutiny will reveal that in most cases, the God experience is only the devotee’s projection of his ideal (a more or less noble one) and of his fervent wish, and a deeply felt need to believe. To these projections is given a strong emotional emphasis and they receive life through man’s powerful capacity of imagination, in the sense of image forming, visualization, myth creation, etc. These projections are largely conditioned by the influences of childhood impressions, education, tradition, social environment, etc; and are identified with the images and concepts of whatever religion the devotee follows. In the case of very many of the most sincere believers, a searching self-analysis would show that their God experience, have no more specific content than this".
Those who claim experience of God would reject the above rational explanation. More to the point perhaps would be to ask them, "How they know that their sort of comfort or joy (or whatever emotions are aroused in them) is God"? They cannot know this; as intensity of conviction is not knowledge.
Nor can the proponent of personal experience, explain that experience. That it seems real is not necessarily significant. The experience of a mental patient, who thinks he is Napoleon, seems (to him) equally real.
If the source of experience is inexplicable, then no name should be given to it, and no dogmatic assertions made about it. To go further and make the simplistic allegation that the experience is in fact of a God, merely indicates an attempt at a naively egotistic self-justification.
"Masters of The Citadel Of Self" is Hollywood, as one of my Children has just pointed out to me! "The Pirates Of The Caribbean" in ‘Davy Jone’s Locker’. Davy Jone’s wonderful playing of the Organ, with his long, long, tentacles! How about having faith in Hollywood, History, Evolution, Science, and Cosmology: surely, enough for anyone to get by on!