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My Take: If you hear God speak audibly, you (usually) aren’t crazy
A woman prays in church. Many Christians say they can audibly hear the voice of God.
December 29th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: If you hear God speak audibly, you (usually) aren’t crazy

Editor's Note: Tanya Marie (“T.M.”) Luhrmann is a psychological anthropologist and the Watkins University professor in the department of anthropology at Stanford University in Stanford, California. She is the author of "When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God."

By T.M. Luhrmann, Special to CNN

(CNN)—In the Bible, God spoke directly to Abraham. He spoke directly to Moses. He spoke directly to Job. But to your neighbor down the street?

Most people reading the ancient scriptures understand these accounts of hearing God’s voice as miracles that really did happen but no longer take place today, or maybe as folkloric flourishes to ancient stories. Even Christians who believe that miracles can be an everyday affair can hesitate when someone tells them they heard God speak audibly. There’s an old joke: When you talk to God, we call it prayer, but when God talks to you, we call it schizophrenia.

Except that usually it’s not.

Hearing a voice when alone, or seeing something no one else can see, is pretty common. At least one in 10 people will say they’ve had such an experience if you ask them bluntly. About four in 10 say they have unusual perceptual experiences between sleep and awareness if you interview them about their sleeping habits.

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And if you ask them in a way that allows them to admit they made a mistake, the rate climbs even higher. By contrast, schizophrenia, the most debilitating of all mental disorders, is pretty rare. Only about one in 100 people can be diagnosed with the disorder.

Moreover, the patterns are quite distinct. People with schizophrenia who hear voices hear them frequently. They often hear them throughout the day, sometimes like a rain of sound, or a relentless hammer. They hear not only sentences, but paragraphs: words upon words upon words. What the voices say is horrid—insults, sneers and contemptuous jibes. “Dirty. You’re dirty.” “Stupid slut.” “You should’ve gone under the bus, not into it.”

That was not what Abraham, Moses and Job experienced, even when God was at his most fierce.

For the last 10 years, I have been doing anthropological and psychological research among experientially oriented evangelicals, the sort of people who seek a personal relationship with God and who expect that God will talk back. For most of them, most of the time, God talks back in a quiet voice they hear inside their minds, or through images that come to mind during prayer. But many of them also reported sensory experiences of God. They say God touched their shoulder, or that he spoke up from the back seat and said, in a way they heard with their ears, that he loved them. Indeed, in 1999, Gallup reported that 23% of all Americans had heard a voice or seen a vision in response to prayer.

These experiences were brief: at the most, a few words or short sentences. They were rare. Those who reported them reported no more than a few of them, if that. These experiences were not distressing, although they were often disconcerting and always startling. On the contrary, these experiences often made people feel more intimate with God, and more deeply loved.

In fact, my research has found that these unusual sensory experiences are more common among those who pray in a way that uses the imagination—for example, when prayer involves talking to God in your mind. The unusual sensory experiences were not, in general, associated with mental illness (we checked).

They were more common among those who felt comfortable getting caught up in their imaginations. They were also more common among those who prayed for longer periods. Prayer involves paying attention to words and images in the mind, and giving them significance. There is something about the skilled practice of paying attention to the mind in this way that shifts—just a little bit—the way we judge what is real.

Yet even many of these Christians, who wanted so badly to have a back-and-forth relationship with God, were a little hesitant to talk about hearing God speak with their ears. For all the biblical examples of hearing God speak audibly, they doubt. Augustine reports that when he was in extremis, sobbing at the foot of that fig tree, he heard a voice say, “Take it and read.” He picked up the scripture and converted. When the Christians I know heard God speak audibly, it often flitted across their minds that they were crazy.

In his new book, "Hallucinations," the noted neurologist Oliver Sacks tells his own story about a hallucinatory experience that changed his life. He took a hearty dose of methamphetamines as a young doctor, and settled down with a 19th century book on migraines. He loved the book, with its detailed observation and its humanity. He wanted more. As he was casting around in his mind for someone who could write more that he could read, a loud internal voice told him “You silly bugger” that it was he. So he began to write. He never took drugs again.

Now, Sacks does not recommend that anyone take drugs like that. He thinks that what he did was dangerous and he thinks he was lucky to have survived.

What interests me, however, is that he allowed himself to trust the voice because the voice was good. There’s a distinction between voices associated with psychiatric illness (often bad) and those (often good) that are found in the so-called normal population. There’s another distinction between those who choose to listen to a voice, if the advice it gives is good, and those who do not. When people like Sacks hear a voice that gives them good advice, the experience can transform them.

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This is important, because often, when voices are discussed in the media or around the kitchen table, the voices are treated unequivocally as symptoms of madness. And of course, voice-hearing is associated with psychiatric illness.

But not all the time. In fact, not most of the time.

About a third of the people I interviewed carefully at the church where I did research reported an unusual sensory experience they associated with God. While they found these experiences startling, they also found them deeply reassuring.

Science cannot tell us whether God generated the voice that Abraham or Augustine heard. But it can tell us that many of these events are normal, part of the fabric of human perception. History tells us that those experiences enable people to choose paths they should choose, but for various reasons they hesitate to choose.

When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sat at his kitchen table, in the winter of 1956, terrified by the fear of what might happen to him and his family during the Montgomery bus boycott, he said he heard the voice of Jesus promising, “I will be with you.” He went forward.

Voices may form part of human suffering. They also may inspire human greatness.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of TM Luhrmann.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • God

soundoff (7,767 Responses)
  1. Lori

    I am definitely not making up my position on God, I do truly believe there is more than one path to God. I have organized many interfaith prayer services after tragedies, I absolutely believe that there is more than one path to God. I believe whatever path you take to God is a personal journey between a person's soul and God.

    sybaris
    You're just making that up........moving the goal posts to validate your position.

    December 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |

    December 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • sam

      That's great! Congrats! Have a nice day...somewhere else.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Lori et al,

      For one to envision or daydream is a direct connection to one's psyche, the soul of impartation. Anyone can envision but alas, few dare to so do. As a child dares to daydream, they are instructed by teachers to abstain and get with the 'programing'! Just another brick in the programs of inst itutionalized forebodings cluttering away any and all children’s minds ever tightening the mind’s eye of its psychic connections of soulful impartations.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Considering the definitions of god are almost as varied as the believers in god your point is worthless.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • The Truth

      Praying after a tragedy for comfort or healing is like praying that your car will start in the morning when you are late for work. It turns over a couple times so you start to pray "Come on, come on, Jesus please help me!" all while still turning the key in the ignition, why? If an all powerful being could hear you calling and was willing and able to help, would that deity really need you to keep turning the key in order to spark your engine? Would a doctor really be needed to keep trying every known medical treatment if you have a line to the creator when you or a loved one is sick? Lori claims to have been healed but by just saying so is also saying "God hates all those other people he let bleed to death, they must not have as much faith as I do!" which is the part that gets me a little hot under the collar. What a haughty egotistical slimy thing to say to others who lost loved ones and children, even those of the utmost "faith" in your brand of deity. It's sickening to see such arrogant hubris from any human. The fact that Lori was saved while others with far more to offer humanity were somehow discarded is the ultimate in understanding that there is no God.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Lori et al,

      Though life has many paths to venture upon, there are few gates upon which to enter into after one's spiritual soul takes flight from the body. God and all God's sons and daughters know well our life's histories and only after a soul takes flight from one's dead body, will one be seated upon the throne of judgment but which of God's sons and daughters will be upon one's side? According to Christendom Christ Jesus stands as one's public defender even though many of God's sons and daughters do bear witness to your life's deeds. God needs not show mercy upon the merciless nor will God show mercy upon the foolish who dare blasphemes of life's goodly and godly. Although Christ Jesus did buy all our souls, our next life does come with a price which we shall all pay!

      December 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Lori" and "lionlylamb", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore all of your assertions to date are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC TOTAL FAILURE".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      December 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      The Truth,

      Yours is a common misconception espoused by nonbelievers. You think a believer who has been blessed by God somehow feels superior to others, this is just not the case. Those who have been blessed by God do not feel they are deserving, they feel humbled and thankful. “Why me God”, goes both ways. All believers are on the potter’s wheel.

      December 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • The Truth

      ". You think a believer who has been blessed by God somehow feels superior to others"

      No I do not. I do not think they "feel" superior, I said their statements claim they are superior.

      " they feel humbled and thankful" riiiiiight, it's humble to say "Oh thank you creator of the entire universe that has existed for eternity but knows me and loves me and has saved me from this horrible tragedy that many others are suffering but not being helped, but me, yes me, I must be worthy or how else could I have made it?" That is the exact opposite to humility.

      December 31, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      The Truth,

      No one is deserving or righteous. The only difference is that God looks on believers and sees the righteousness of Christ. Believers know they are unworthy, that is why they praise and worship him.

      December 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • dale

      robert brown,

      amen

      December 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • The Truth

      " “Why me God” is the ultimate in ignorant moronic idiotic haughty and egotistical statements one can make. In just three words it says "I believe in an all powerful, all knowing, eternal deity that should answer me when I make an inquiry and it's that deity that determines all outcomes good or ill in my life"...

      December 31, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • dale

      'truth'

      going after peoples statements takes no merit away from the Bible. (if that was said, and that's also you assuming you know what she meant) To discredit the Bible, you must point out the wrongs. the Bible is already proven, which means i have no duties to prove it. only you have to back up your claims of its' 'error'

      December 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • The Truth

      "No one is deserving or righteous. The only difference is that God looks on believers and sees the righteousness of Christ. Believers know they are unworthy, that is why they praise and worship him." So you and those like you say. I do not believe you and those like you for after two thousand years of Christianity there has not been a single shred of evidence presented as to it's voracity other than "Well were here aren't we?" It goes beyond insanity to the realm of outright deceit of a few over the many and you are just one of millions of bamboozled fools that are being laughed at by your own peers who keep raking in your show of "faith" each Sunday when they pass you the plate.

      December 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • The Truth

      "To discredit the Bible, you must point out the wrongs. the Bible is already proven, which means i have no duties to prove it. only you have to back up your claims of its' 'error'"

      Bible in a nutshell: Child raised by Egyptian princess returns from banishment to lead his people out of enslavement and writes the tale of not only that adventure but of the actual beginning of creation naming the first two humans who were perfect but then were tricked into eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad but got kicked out of the garden before they could eat of the tree of life, and then Moses gives a lineage linking himself and his brethren from Adam to their long dead ancestors who survived a global flood that wiped out all of humanity except those animals that could fit on a wooden boat and then Moses explains why there are so many languages, because God did not want them staying in one place and building a tower so he confused their language, then the Creator of the universe became friends with a nomad named Abraham, also in the lineage Moses is writing down 500 years after the fact, who God makes a covenant with, to redeem mankind that had sinned by sending his own perfect son to be the ransom sacrifice which was symbolized by the offering of his own miracle child Isaac but whom God spared so that he could become a mighty nation, countless like grains of sand on a beach.

      And so Moses continues the tale of Abraham's son having sons of his own, Jacob & Esau, of whom Jacob bought his older brothers birthright with a bowl of stew and then changes his name to Israel and goes on to have sons of his own, 12 apparently, 11 of which were none to happy about the 12th, Joseph, who was his father favorite but then sold into slavery which brings them up to Moses own day and their captivity in Egypt. Moses grew up a prince of Egypt, well versed in their mythologies and creation myths.

      After convincing his ex-brother to let his people go through some miraculous means, none of which are recorded in Egyptian history, he leads them into the desert for 40 years after supposedly being redire.cted from their promised land while Moses writes the nations pre-history and lineage back to Adam. Then the war with the Palestinians began, and is still being waged, over their "promised land" which they didn't happen to own when it was "promised" to them.

      Then fast forward to the time of the judges that gives way to the first king Saul which leads to David and Go.li.ath and Jonathan and eventually Bathsheba and then later Solomon and then into captivity by the Babylonians and some adven.tures with Daniel and then home again, then taken over by the Romans and this is where it gets a little fuzzy because the Hebrew bible ends but then the Christian books continue and were decided upon by a council over 300 years after Christ lived and chose them from hundreds of letters and docu.ments from early Christians but not a single contemporary writer was included.

      But as they would have you believe, the son of God was implanted in a vir.gin and then grew up a perfect human which is apparently the only fitting sacrifice to give for another perfect human life, and he had to grow up as a human completely sinless then got baptized at 30 by his cousin John and had his prehuman existence revealed to him, then wandered the wilderness and was tempted by Satan, rejected him and then started preaching a very different message than the Israelites were expecting, one might even call it eastern philosophy compared to the fire and brimstone God that they had worshiped. Then he got some priests and rich men angry speaking truth to power, they had they Roman masters put him on trial for blasphemy and hung him up to die and then pierced his side. Three days later he pops out of the tomb and appears to some women on the road then to his followers then to as many as 500 before floating off in the sky but then comes back in visions to Saul who become Paul and writes letters to the Christian congregations that later become most of the Greek scriptures and it's all followed up by the book of Revelation given to John that describes all sorts of wild beasts, Har.lots of Babylon, Dragons and a great battle that every Christians for the last 2000 years feels they will be on the right side of all ending with lions lying down with the lambs and children playing with vipers for the tent of God is with mankind.

      The time frame described by the lineage from Adam to Abraham are quite clearly proven false by the fact that cave art and evidence of early humans far predates any possible time frame described in the bible along with the global flood account described which geologists have shown could not be possible let alone plausible.

      December 31, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • The Truth

      The burden of proof lies with the one making the claim. You claim God exists and the bible is real. Prove it.

      Considering many many many have tried but were unable to do more than hope for God relying on "faith" to cover the gaps in their failed logic, I must assume you will fare no better. I have read the bible many times, along with many other docu.ments claiming divine origin, all have been found wanting thus I reject them as the refuse they really are.

      December 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      The Truth,

      “" “Why me God” is the ultimate in ignorant moronic idiotic haughty and egotistical statements one can make. In just three words it says "I believe in an all powerful, all knowing, eternal deity that should answer me when I make an inquiry and it's that deity that determines all outcomes good or ill in my life"...”

      I do believe in an all powerful, all knowing, eternal deity, but I disagree with the rest of your post. God is not required to answer little ole me, and while he does have the power to protect me from things I consider ill he may use whatever he feels necessary to shape me the way he wants me.

      December 31, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      The Truth,

      “"No one is deserving or righteous. The only difference is that God looks on believers and sees the righteousness of Christ. Believers know they are unworthy, that is why they praise and worship him." So you and those like you say. I do not believe you and those like you for after two thousand years of Christianity there has not been a single shred of evidence presented as to it's voracity other than "Well were here aren't we?" It goes beyond insanity to the realm of outright deceit of a few over the many and you are just one of millions of bamboozled fools that are being laughed at by your own peers who keep raking in your show of "faith" each Sunday when they pass you the plate.”

      You want evidence and what we all get is his call to come to him. If he hasn’t already he will offer you the same free gift he offers all. It will be up to you whether you accept it or not. He could, but he probably won’t force you, it is your choice.

      Your criticism of the collection plate is unfortunately true in some cases, there are those who use religion to get rich, they have their reward.

      December 31, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      The Truth,

      “The time frame described by the lineage from Adam to Abraham are quite clearly proven false by the fact that cave art and evidence of early humans far predates any possible time frame described in the bible along with the global flood account described which geologists have shown could not be possible let alone plausible.”

      There are many bible scholars who say there are gaps in the genealogies from Adam to Abraham, because of the way the children of Israel considered a son as a descendant of their father, grandfather, or great great... every how many greats you want, for example, Jesus the son of David. So, we really don’t know how many years there are in the first twelve chapters of the bible.

      Also, did you ever wonder why so many cultures have a flood story?

      December 31, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Local floods are common enough that they're a part of most mythologies. A global flood never occurred, unless we're talking pre-life molten earth.

      December 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • The Truth

      "There are many bible scholars who say there are gaps in the genealogies from Adam to Abraham" I've read the scriptures, I have listened to the apologists and used to be one of them. I recognize that it was not faith that allowed me to overlook the bibles faults, but that I was being stubborn and was intentionally staying ignorant of the facts for a very long time before I decided to start being honest with myself. I suggest you do the same.

      December 31, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      The Truth,

      A lot of nonbelievers (former believers) post on here and I have had the privilege to exchange thoughts with several of them. No one can know the heart of another and it is really between each person and God. I appreciate your suggestion and as most people who have lived long enough I have had my soul searching times, it seems we may have just come to different conclusions. Peace.

      December 31, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • The Truth

      My reason for posting my bible cliff notes was to show that even Genesis, written by Moses thousands of years after the supposed incidents, cannot be used to verify itself. Because a thing says it's divinely inspired doesn't automatically make it so. You might even be one that agrees with me when it comes to the book of Mormon (or not) and other supposedly divinely inspired writings. But I can accept that we can agree to disagree on matters of personal belief and faith, I just completely disagree when faith and fact are so easily interchanged by careless believers.

      December 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  2. GulpOff

    Every 1OOth American is a Schizophrenic, according to "T.M" !

    December 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  3. Patsy Cline

    Crazy, I'm crazy for feeling so lonely
    I'm crazy, crazy for feeling so blue
    I knew you'd love me as long as you wanted
    And then someday you'd leave me for somebody new
    Worry, why do I let myself worry?
    Wond'ring what in the world did I do?
    Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you
    I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying
    And I'm crazy for loving you
    Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you
    I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying
    And I'm crazy for loving you...

    December 31, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  4. Lori

    I believe that people who have God, no matter what religion experience God in their own way. I believe there is many paths to God, and it is not my place to say how God finds his way into their hearts.

    December 31, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • sybaris

      You're just making that up........moving the goal posts to validate your position.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Is God so petty that He would condemn a person who dismisses the supernatural (like miracles, resurrections, talking snakes etc) but who otherwise lives a life of humility, charity, and compassion?
      If there are many paths to "God", How can the Tanakh, Talmud, Midrash, Quran, Sunnah, Nahjul Balagha, Avesta, Vedas, Upanisahds, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas, Tantras, Sutras, Vachanas, Adi Granth, Purvas, Samayasara, Niyamasara, Pravacanasara, and Pancastikaya; Anupreksa; Samadhishataka of Pujyapada; Tattvarthasutra of Umasvati, Tattvarthasutra, Pali Tripitaka, Jataka,, Visuddimagga, Tripitaka, Lotus Sutra, Garland Sutra, Analects; the Great Learning; the Doctrine of the Mean; the Mencius, Tao Te Ching, Chuang-tzu, Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, K-oki, Ofudesaki, Mikagura-uta, Michi-no-Shiori, Johrei, Goseigen, Netarean Shower of Holy Doctrines, Chun Boo Kyung, Kitab-i-Iqan, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Book of Mormon, Dianetics, or Revelation X be dismissed as Holy Books since they all claim to be The Truth?

      December 31, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • truth be told

      The opinion of this doc guy and a dollar might get you something from a McDonalds dollar menu.

      December 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • == o ==

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "david defrank" degenerates to:
      "Salero21" degenerates to:
      "felix navidad" degenerates to:
      "Lori" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "!"
      and many other names, but of course we all know this resident idiot as
      the disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      December 31, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Truth be a troll
      I offerred no opinion in this post, merely questions.
      Neither of which you answered, I note.

      December 31, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Similarly, there are many paths to Gotham City. But even when you are lost, know that the Batman is with you.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      that a vary deist way of looking at it, i believe their are many gods/goddesses and many paths so were vary similar

      January 1, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  5. Lori

    Sorry Hawaii guest but the reply button does not exist as an option for me for the smaller threads on my comp –only the report abuse button not sure why but it is what it is!

    December 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • I wonder

      Lori,

      Look at your original post - right here at December 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply

      THAT's the "Reply" button that you use... there is not a "Reply" button after each reply...

      December 31, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Lori

      Then your out of luck, because most people do not want a conversation and have to hunt your next reply down, not to mention your past posts don't foster the thought that real discussion would be possible.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Honey Hush

      You ignorant troll, you started with a paranoid rant about how uncouth atheists are. Check out Salero21, a true christian pig, Now that you have dropped to thar level with your promise of eternal damnnation, you are truly dumber than a bag of hammers, don't bother trying to reply you are not even capable of that simple act. @#$%&&%$$@#

      December 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  6. sybaris

    "You cannot discount others experiences because you have not had it yourselves."

    By your logic you must also believe in the gods of other religions

    December 31, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Tuckerfan

      St, Paul in Athens admired the altar of the unknown God, and congratulated the scholars and declared that all men are made to seek God, and in seeking find him and seek to please him. (see Acts) – so no we do not believe that there are other Gods, but we do (or should) believe that other men have, in seeking, found the same God we learned of through revelation.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      The bible mentions 64 other gods, of whom the ancient Hebrews did believe in. This much the bible is clear on. Even Moses' people still brought their Baal worship and customs with them. What modern worshipers fail to realize is (that the Greek's recorded) that these people did not believe the Elohim were real sky gods. At the time, they were venerating old war heroes and the royal families that employed them and provided for them.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  7. Lori

    ABC pulls '666' from schedule CNN Entertainmen

    December 31, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • sybaris

      Tales of the Gold Monkey was pulled as well, so?

      December 31, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  8. Lori

    I notice one thing is clear from watching the thread of people on now–the athiests are rife here, because God threatens there world order they attack. You cannot discount others experiences because you have not had it yourselves. You are angry, belittling and small minded when you do this.

    If you cannot be open minded, you should not be on a blog discussing, you should just do the very thing you claim the Christians do–you attempt to indoctrinate. Some of the greatest Scientist of all times have believed in God, Edison, Einstein, Galileo– it really is small to just attack and attack that which you disagree with, name calling and such!

    December 31, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Maybe you should learn how to click on the reply button. It's difficult to converse with someone who can't even figure out how to stay in a conversation.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • sybaris

      "You cannot discount others experiences because you have not had it yourselves."

      By your logic you must also believe in the gods of other religions because you cannot discount the experiences of those followers.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Lori, when you can write like a big girl and figure out the "they're/their/there" conundrum, do send out a notice.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • The Truth

      It's hard to be open minded with a person who has less than half a brain. You probabaly should not have left it open and unattended near that Church where all those religious rat's have apparently been able to chew through most of the logic and basic reasoning skill centers...

      December 31, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • sam

      Pray tell, what exactly are you trying to accomplish with all this, Lori?

      December 31, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Justinian

      Doesn't seem you're being too open-minded.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Tuckerfan

      Our atheist brothers and sister perceive that the fact that you and I have faith, and live that faith is a threat to them. For some it is purely philosophical. Others wish to promote a permissive agenda where the moral judgements of religious persons are banned from the marketplace of ideas, they believe a utopia will be ushered in if only we would stop objecting to drugs, unchaste living and equality for gays, We religious oppose abortion, drugs, free love and a host of other things because we believe they are morally corrosive. The atheist becomes angry and frustrated because there is no rational argument, no matter how cogent that will trump a commandment of God to a believer. I oppose abortion and the death penalty for the same reason, my Lord has instructed that killing people is bad.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • sam

      Tucker, I'm sorry you need a lord and a book to tell you what's right and wrong.

      December 31, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • sam stone

      tucker: marriage equality is about equal rights. if you do you not support equal rights, you are a bigot. wrap it up all nice and pretty in a bible if it makes you feel good, but it is still bigotry

      December 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  9. lionlylamb

    ..The dogged bitterness on those shoulders who ridicule God and our godly-reasoned are mere reflective aids to those who do cherish God-granted afterlives. Our life here is but a moment in time while our next life lasts for eons of cherished moments in our coming hereafter of our soon to be afterlife measuring. Even the ridiculers of godliness ideas and ideals godly will find their places upon and within the afterlife of our deaths. God dare cannot forget even the lowliest of creatures within mankind's commonwealths! For it is how one leads upon one's creeds that God and God's kinds will adjudicate life in its passing away days. Believing in God is not needed to obtain and afterlife for Christ Jesus bought for us all our afterlives!

    December 31, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @lionly

      Wow, ok. So the more hateful your rant, the clearer the language. That's very telling of you troll.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      hawaiiguest,

      I for one being an affirmed believer in God and God's kingdom domains knows well our godly truths. We all are the buildings conceptualized by God's servants in our motherly wombs. Our seeds being from our fathers domains is given to all our mothers inside domains where we are conceived thru Godly conceptualizations from inception onwards toward being birthed to become a building for many godly beings to take residence deeply inside our body as a building even so much a temple of Godliness.

      Mathew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God!"

      John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world!"

      Luke 17:21, "The kingdom of God is inside you!"

      1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"

      December 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      You truly are unable to say anything relevant to any conversation. Congrats, you have reaffirmed your uselessness.

      December 31, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      He bought all your after lives?
      According to the book of Revelation, he only bought the right for 144,000 jews to enter Heaven. The other 99 billion humans whoever lived aren't invited.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  10. Salero21

    Are atheists fuzzyheaded fools or what? I mean; a monkey if he could, would understand that there is a God who is also the Creator of all.

    December 31, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      And your evidence is......where exactly?

      December 31, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Personally I give monkeys credit for having more common sense than that.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • The Truth

      Right, it's such a simple concept. Just like belief in Gandalf. Of course when it actually comes down to the nitty gritty of providing ANY evidence as to their power, the Gandalf advocate, much like the Christian, must rely wholely on that invisible, unsubstantial and by definition immaterial thing called faith. "Just believe me" they say "Can't you see how Gandalf used his wizard powers to strike down that Balrog or none of us would be here today!!!" is shouted with power and authority. "If it were not for the rings of power the forests would have all faded!!" they claim. And what is it in our power to refute such challenges to our logic? Apparently we have none, at least according to those like Salero & Lori. We should just take them on faith, they really "know" what they are talking about... They are "experts" on faith, which must be something like being an expert Goblin slayer or an expert on Unicorns.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • sam

      Same nonsense, over and over.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Salero21", but all of your assertions to date are unfounded or falsehoods. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL CHRONIC FAILURE".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      December 31, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  11. Salero21

    Could it be possible that the GRAMMAR GESTAPO OF THE INTERNET is atheist?

    After all it has been observed that they are indeed like the atheists, totally and sickly obsessed with minuscule details and KNIT-PICKING. Or could it be that atheists are the GRAMMAR GESTAPO OF THE INTERNET? In both cases I also wish them a very happy new year 2013 and that they may have a happy hunting of all sorts of knits.

    December 31, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • sam

      Go away already, you're not even fun to poke at.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I guess you really are unable to say anything of worth.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's NITPICKING, you fvcktard.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • lol??

      Gnosepicking, you gnostic baboons.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'll leave that to you, lol, ya little gnat.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  12. GulpOff

    Jesus Shwepped.

    December 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  13. Salero21

    The atheists might well also be some sort of Idolater, that's been put to extreme humiliation and shame by his "god", by failing to show-up under distress. Maybe it was Satan Claus, maybe it was one of the many "virgins" of the Roman-Catholic religion. Maybe it was one of the thousands of other gods who are nothing more than idols manufactured by brutish monkeys… oops… I meant to say brutish Idolaters.

    Whatever it is or was the Idol/god that the now fuzzyheaded atheists trusted but failed to show-up. It is nobody's fault but the atheists own.

    OMG, OMG is the GRAMMAR GESTAPO of the Internet, going to get me this time again? Or will they also fail their atheist's bosses yet again?

    In any case, I wish them all who read this a very happy New Year 2013, and may God bless all of those who believe in Jesus; may God grant them atheists to develop, evolve and rise above the level of apes. For in their hypocritical unbelief, they have indeed descended below the level of Apes.

    December 31, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Salero21", but "God", "Satan Clause" and the supernatural "Jesus" are all elements of mythology, therefore all of your assertions to date are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC EPIC FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      December 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Thoth

      Maybe it's my monkey-brained mentality but I simply don't understand what your first paragraph is trying to convey.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • hmm, soooooo

      suggestion: Put down the bottle of Jack – brew a pot of coffee, hangovers suck....

      December 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • == o ==

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "david defrank" degenerates to:
      "Salero21" degenerates to:
      "felix navidad" degenerates to:
      "Lori" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "!"
      and many other names, but of course we all know this resident idiot as
      the disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      December 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • sam

      Yawn.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Projection?

      “The atheists might well also be some sort of Idolater, that's been put to extreme humiliation and shame by his "god", by failing to show-up under distress”

      Considering the Christians god’s perfect record on not showing up to intervene with distress (like the slaughter of the 20 children), I think you’re just projecting you own shame about your god

      December 31, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  14. lionlylamb

    The scars and scratch marks and blood running down one's legs are from atheists trying to pull down religious folks spirituality in order for their kinds to grow in numbers untold. Relax for atheists are never ever going to control much of worthiness. They are the dregs of life's scorning and are truly unworthy of anyone of religious persuasions to give upon any atheist any religious impartations! They are deadened to scriptures due their scriptural understandings wreaking of hatred and convoluted despair.

    December 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I find it interesting that the most straightforward things you have posted to date is a hateful rant. Congrats, we know where your priorities lie.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • psych ward staff

      Oh gosh, get me some more buckets. He hasn't kept anything down all day. He just threw up some more word salad. Clean up on page 62 – pronto!

      December 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • JJ

      Did a loud booming voice from a burning bush dictate that drivel to you?

      December 31, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  15. Lori

    Toba blew 70,000 years ago–science, now again Indonesia is the site of major tectonic unrest and the site of the world's worst ever recorded tsunami

    December 31, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • JJ

      Listen, you really need to seek help. Are you on medication of any kind? Your ramblings are a sign of a sick mind. Your obsession with lakes of burning sulphur where those who don't believe as you do will suffer for eternity is not normal except for the most extreme Christians. Do you have a family member you trust who you can speak with? How old are you? Do you know how to click on the "Reply" link when answering back?

      December 31, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Butthead

      Huh huh huh,, uh so what, Lori . ...hu huhh huh

      December 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Reply

      In blue reply...reply...reply...are you really that.........fill in the blank.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  16. Salero21

    Now, some atheists believe in evolution, others believe in some big bang theory, others believe that it was some sort of ameba or primitive cell as the most ancient ancestor to mankind. Theories abound among fuzzyheaded atheists about the origins and reason for the Universe' existence. They sway from one to another like a hungry pack of wolves or a brood of vultures among rotten bodies. Why is that? Well, because atheists are like the proverbial monkeys in the barrel. A gorilla if he could, will probably understand before the atheists do; that there is a God and a Mediator between that one and only God and us mankind and that HE is Jesus!

    December 31, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Salero21", but "God", the supernatural "Jesus" and "HE" are all elements of mythology, therefore all of your assertions are still unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "EPIC FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      December 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Thoth

      The theories you mention work in conjunction with one another. For example every non-believer I know agrees with BOTH the BB and modern theory of evolution. And yes, a gorilla probably would find god before an atheist because his IQ would be closer to a believer than an atheist's. ;-)

      December 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Akira

      Sal, were you attacked by a monkey when you were a small child?

      December 31, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  17. Lori

    Maximus–Hawaiiguest and w murderface–If you could be logical and open minded than a conversation would be great–no name calling–no degrading believers just an honest conversation. I have been healed, I almost died and if it were not for God I would have.

    Today the truth is Revelations is occurring, you can argue rant and rave about it, but the truth is Syria which is where Megiddo-Armegeddon is a rife with trouble

    – Apollyon and Abaddon is Iran and we can see they wish to kill the world– especially Israel– The sea did give up its dead by the hundreds of thousands in the two tsunami's Babylon did fall–Babylon is Iraq

    and Yellowstone is a Supervolcano- a lake of burning sulfur like Revelations has spoken of–in fact according to SCIENCE four supervolcanic areas are now awake, the last one to blow was Toba in Indonesia where the tsunami of 2004 was, it caused a bottleneck–(science)death on the planet. Yellowstone--science or any other supervolcano would turn the sun black as sackcloth–Bible - and the moon blood red– facts!

    December 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • The Truth

      "If you could be logical and open minded than a conversation would be great–no name calling–no degrading believers just an honest conversation. I have been healed, I almost died and if it were not for God I would have."

      You start with "If you could be logical" then finish with "I have been healed" by God which has absolutely no logical basis. Why do some resort to calling those like you names? Because sound reasoning and basic math seem to elude you. I know in your head 2+2 = apple but when you decide to reveal to others your math skills they can but laugh in your face.

      December 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Lori", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore it could have nothing to do with real events. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      December 31, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Lori

      Maybe you should first learn what the fucking reply button is for first. Then maybe you could actually step away from the circular reasoning, assertions, and useless statements into actual conversation.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Hawaii always turns vulgar rather than engage. It keeps his responses consistent

      December 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Bill

      Considering the entirety of your posts comes to "god done it because I said so", you have no room to talk. You have nothing, and have never had anything useful to say, so I'm not sure why you bother.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Nothing like a little Christian schadenfreude to make my day complete.
      But I'll tell you what Lori – the day that an armour clad swarm of locusts with the face of a man, the hair of a woman, the mouth of a lion and the tail of a scorpion appears on the horizon, as prophesied in Revelation, I'll drop to my knees and pray aloud.
      I would also convert if I were confronted with Revelation's 7 headed dragon that spews torrents of water and eats pregnant women.

      But let me guess – "revbelation is not meant to be taken literally".

      December 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  18. hmm, soooooo

    Take a good look at God – creates reality, could add ANY parameter He wishes, but THIS is the reality he has chosen... Humanity can only function with what we are created with...meaning all attributes, good and bad ...His doing.

    How does God perform in the Bible? Old Testament: demands fear and respect constantly...Murders, or orders murders on, his creations that he loves....Fears Idols and other Gods.... hmmm interesting....

    New Testament: Boiled down.... Obey my agents...

    Religious people really should try to grasp what a truly all powerful being would actually be like – particularly one that create something like this- just for us... such a being is to be feared all right – and as fickle as he is in his holy book... Imagine being one of his 'chosen'....with Him Forever.....heh, one thing you can count on, it may not be fun, but it sure wont be boring.....

    No worries though.... Bible reads like a religion tring to keep people in the seats on sunday, the money rolling in, and a constant supply of minions to do the clergys' bidding...

    December 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • sybaris

      "Religious people really should try to grasp what a truly all powerful being would actually be like.."

      Exactly. That is why the god of the bible has such human traits........it was created by humans

      December 31, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  19. Grundig Glasswerks

    Raven gets a shasta blasta from his homies for every post he does.

    December 31, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  20. Andrew

    The problem I have with this blog post is twofold:

    1. She goes way out of her way to claim that evangelicals who say they hear "audible" (that would be real) voices of gods are "mostly" not crazy. Okay fine, but she doesn't admit that they *are* SERIOUSLY DELUDED, a form of serious mental defect nonetheless.

    2. She gives an example of how this serious delusion can inspire good (Martin Luther King hearing "voices" at his kitchen table), but she fails to give an example of the flip side of the coin, evil and death caused by this delusion going untreated, such as David Koresh.

    This is a sad attempt to put a positive spin on a serious societal problem – evangelicals and other religious fundamentalists taking their religion far too seriously and immersing themselves in delusion rather than seeking help for it.

    December 31, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I have yet to meet a person who isn't seriously deluded in one way or another. And as very well known research indicates, the only people who aren't deluded about their own abilities and qualities are the clinically depressed...so delusion should probably not be so readily accepted as defect.

      December 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Andrew

      I am not suffering from any serious delusions. If I heard voices that seemed to be from a god, as these evangelicals have, I would have booked an appointment with my doctor that very day. You are downplaying the serious delusions that are at the source of this article. These people claim/think they are hearing REAL, AUDIBLE VOICES from an invisible god.

      December 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • lol??

      So what kind of treatment did David Koresh receive?

      December 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • lol??

      And what kind of treatment did the treaters receive?

      December 31, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Andrew, I don't know you, so I won't presume to guess at what delusions you might have, but if you had them you wouldn't know. Most Americans, even atheists, for instance, believe in a non-deterministic concept of free weill...a massive delusion on par with believing you sense a non-existent god. Assuming you already believe in a god, attributing the sounds you hear are that god is not illogical. And no, I don't believe in god nor do I hear voices, but in most cases I don't consider those who do either crazy or defected. I can generally recognize schizophrenia when I see it...sadly in a few of the commenters here.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Thoth

      @LOL – David received much needed lead therapy....

      December 31, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Saraswati,

      I agree many if not most or all people are deluded. My issue with what you wrote is that delusion IS a defect we should try and avoid if not eliminate. Just because most of us are does not mean we shouldn't worry about it.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • lol??

      Well Saraswati, refer your expert opinion to Lady Gaga who is planning to offer free mental health counseling before each of her Born This Way tour stops.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • lol??

      Cheesie sayz, "...........does not mean we shouldn't worry......." Is that "WEGOD" alwayz stuck in ye ol' noodle?

      December 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      See what I mean Saraswati...

      December 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • lol??

      Past the handholding stage and got your first kiss, cheesie?

      December 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      It is easy to tell it is the end of the month and some people are waiting to refill their meds on the 1st.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Andrew

      @Saraswati You are still trying way too hard to pretend to miss the point Saraswati. You are trying to pretend that someone thinking to themselves, "I could have played professional baseball with just a bit more luck" is a delusion on the same scale as evangelicals hearing voices, "real audible voices", from god. They are not the same thing. One is a harmless every day "delusion" and the other is a serious state of mental defect that causes real harm to people, their children, and others around them. Stop playing games with a serious American mental health issue.

      December 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Andrew, There are two things here. 1) hearing voices and 2) attributing those voices to god. I think it confuses things to talk of "hearing the voice of god".

      With regard to #1, the research appears to indicate this is not, in most cases, indicative of mental illness or any dangerous defect. What I think you are objecting to (unless you reject the research) is #2. But if people already believe in a god who speaks to people, it is, in fact, wholy rational to assign those voices to god. So really you're just objecting to the concept of god, or at least of a god that talks to people.

      This gets into a whole other territory, but is not specific to the discussion at hand. Is believing in god, without what you or I count as evidence, a defect? It would depend on what your end is. I'm a utilitarian, so my end is (basically) the greatest happiness of the greatest number of sentient beings. Does belief in a god help with this? I think the jury is still out – there is research pointing both ways, but of course the evidence is all very contextual. I am willing to take a leap and say that belief in a religion that significantly contrasts with the science of the day is a problem, and that's why I think we need to address specific religious elements in a very precise way.

      December 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Cheese,

      I think we may be in disagreement as to the meaning of "defect". For me that would be something which decreases the happiness of individuals in society. I think the evidence is to the contrary...in many cases delusion increases happiness. And no, I did not always want to believe this.

      December 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • mama k

      But Sara, could not the individual comfort of delusion really be offset by the overall detrimental effect of many individuals possessing the same "defect"?

      December 31, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Mama, It could be and I certainly don't claim to know the answer for every delusion. We know that having no delusions at all is associated with sever depression, and that extreme delusions cause dangerous activities, but for everything else we're kind of flying by the seat of our pants. I think those who know more history, psychology, anthropology and political science are most likely to make the best predictions from general experience, but we're nowhere near having this down to a rigorous science. Another case where we have to admit we just don't know.

      December 31, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • mama k

      Yes, that makes sense, Sara. It is certainly interesting the different things that people want to hold onto for comfort. And I realize how general I was with my initial reply. I supposed I was kind of thinking of it as people creating their own comfort close to home without realizing that they may be setting themselves up for greater conflict when they are outside of their comfort zone.

      December 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Andrew

      @Saraswati. You are still trying way too hard to downplay the evidence presented in the blog post that significant number of evangelicals hear real "audible" voices which they are sure are gods speaking directly to them. The poster claims these people, "mostly", are not crazy, and she is probably right. But your claim that these voices are a non-issue, and we all share similar mental health problems, is a giant load of bull. I don't hear voices – and if I ever did I would make an appointment with a doctor right away. I would hope you would too. And I really hope my pilot would too, and my doctor, and my bus driver and the engineers building the bridges I use. It is important that these people function on a plane of reality where facts and science matter.

      And it is not a coincidence that in addition to having both my feet planted firmly on the ground regarding hearing voices, I also support stem cell research, support the full equality of women, accept evolution as well-established science, support reasonable and prudent gun control and have many other beliefs that are both based on facts and improve the quality of peoples' lives.

      Staying on the plane of reality is an inherently good thing for a person to do. It is important. Immersing oneself in mythology, religious delusion, to any degree other than superficially is an inherently harmful thing to do. Stop downplaying a serious mental health issue – religious delusion so severe that people think they hear real, audible voices.

      December 31, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Andrew, You're stil failing to clearly distinguish between the event of hearing voices and and believing that a god exists who could talk to people. These are the only premises here...the belief that you call a delusion (that the voices are god) is just a natural conclusion. Since, despite your personal beliefs, the scientiific evidence upholds the idea that hearing voices is not a particularly troubling phenomenon, the only real issue here is the belief in god. With or without voices this is going to guide people's lives, often in contrast to what you or I might like. Again, with or without voices, the tactic you would take to handling the religious is the same: address whatever religious issues you think are problematic. If you have a problem with this scenario, it is with the religion...the voices component is hardly relevant. I also don't hear voices, but in the mentally healthy I don't have a problem with this, and don't think the religious folks who hear the occassional voice are anymore dangerous than those who don't. I think you many be imagining that these folks are having far more complex hallucinations than they are.

      January 1, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • Andrew

      @Saraswati

      1. First of all, I notice you continue to leave out the word "audible" when referring to the voices these evangelicals think they are hearing. The original author is careful to make the distinction between one's inner voice (thinking), and these voices, which these people really believe are audible, actual sounds, REAL voices. The author has obviously asked these people to clarify what they mean when they say they hear "voices" and she is referring to the cases where the evangelical has said something to the effect, "no no, I mean a real audible voice." Your continued omission of the word "audible" is a distortion of the facts at the heart of what we are discussing.

      2. Second of all, you make this claim: "the scientiific evidence upholds the idea that hearing voices is not a particularly troubling phenomenon." I would challenge you to present this scientific evidence you claim exists. Hearing voices, that you genuinely think are real, audible voices, but which cannot be measured, recorded or duplicated in a controlled environment, is not a minor thing. It is a serious state of delusion. It may not cross the line to the insane in many cases, but it is not a minor thing. What do you think these people are doing with the information in the "audible voice?" Just ignoring it? Not likely. In fact, they think it is coming from a god, so they are probably taking the information far more seriously than any communication from a spouse or doctor or police officer or reliable news source (also known as "real voices"). These people are almost assuredly doing such harmful things as the following in response to these voices:
      - Insulating themselves against facts, data and reality to shore up their delusion – falling farther down the rabbit hole in otherwords.
      - Teaching their kids falsehoods. Perhaps even taking them out of school so they don't learn facts. These kids are then going to be far less productive in adulthood than say kids raised in South Korea.
      - Cutting themselves off from family, friends and neighbours who stay on the plane of reality.
      - Making delusional medical decisions, even for their children. (The American Academy of Pediatrics has even identified this as a serious issue, and is calling for changes to the laws: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/99/2/279.full)
      - Giving their money to televangelists and other frauds who tell them the voices are real.
      - Voting Republican no matter what.

      And the harm goes on and on and on. Stop trying to pretend that hearing "audible voices" which are not really there is not a serious mental health issue.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Andrew, I left out the word "audible" because 1) that's the topic of the article and we all read it and 2) I think it's pretty self-explanatory when you're using the word "hearing". You seem to think I don't understand the case presented. I fully understand the issue and support everything I have said with the understanding that these are "audible" sounds. What I think is that you don't understand the research and haven't bothered to go and look for it.
      The fact that you or I don't hear "audible" voices (see how stupid writing that looks?) doesn't make those who do crazy any more than the fact I don't have tinnitus makes those who do crazy, or the fact that some who don’t lucid dream makes the rest of us liars. A student at my undergrad college had never had a dream (at least that he remembered). He thought all those going to sleep at night and seeing pictures and stories were crazy. Did it make them crazy? No...he was just narrow minded and unwilling to accept that people have experiences different from his own. Some people attribute meaning to dreams...that is a different matter with I have also addressed. But you're extremist claim, against all science, that anyone hearing "audible voices" has a "serious mental health issue" is just that – extremist, and blatantly ignorant of the science.

      January 2, 2013 at 9:01 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.