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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 (7,765 Responses)
  1. skyduv

    Does the source really matter? If a person receives a message, acts on it and has a positive outcome, who am I to question?

    January 6, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Ken

      One person's "positive outcome", however, can be another person's negative one, and both will call the other crazy for thinking that God would tell them anything that disagrees with what they think he told them. That's what leads many of us to conclude that it's all self-delusion.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  2. JesusWasSuperClean

    God could send the same message to everyone in the world at the exact same time. But he doesn't because only a total show off would do that. And the Lord is NOT a show off. He created this universe to test us to see if we would believe.

    January 6, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Toltec1

      You believe what you believe, and I do the same. I believe God created us in order to share IT'S Love with IT'S created beings.

      January 6, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • sam stone

      toltec: only some of them, right?

      January 7, 2013 at 7:07 am |
  3. Jonathan Hutchins

    My problem isn't with all these people talking to God so much as it is with the inconsistency of what he seems to tell them. The Mormons where communicating directly with God for more than a century before he bothered to mention that it wasn't only white people that were supposed to be included in his plan. I am not picking on Mormons here. This nonsense prevails in all religion.

    January 6, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • Kim Fisher

      This is from a women that has held on to FAITH, HOPE, PEACE, and the greatest is LOVE, to which are powerful words that were created in the bible with the scriptures of what Jesus was preaching in his many journey's. For GOD created all way before Jesus, and all seemed to have a problem with control, hate, filth, evil. To clean things up, GOD created JESUS, to show all that there is a better way to live, that would be Love One Another. Look around, does one not think that we need JESUS to return and clean up the WORLD that GOD created for all. For in the world we are in now, everyone is to busy to see that GOD's CREATIONS are being destroyed daily, everyone is to busy on cell phones, computers to even see their children grow day by day. To busy to take time out and look through their eyes to see what they look at daily. To hear their voices, the only time people really have time for JESUS, OR FAMILY, is when a emergency arrives, you will hear them pray out loud Dear JESUS can you help me now, for I have tried everything else. How hipa critical can one be, for GOD created JESUS to help in bad times, to give us peace, to be able to handle the situation, but he is also their for SINS to which some do not relize they do, like cuse, filthy home, yelling at the children, fighting with one another, making promises that you do not keep, not loving one another, hitting your children, not keeping the sabbath day free from work, sports, not attending church, or Sunday school, gossip, these are just a few to show you what JESUS can handle when you pray to him to help, but do people, the way the world looks to day, NO, we have thieves every where, killers, violence that does not stop, this is just a small part of why I can say NO!, so when you all want to make you false statements, make sure you have facts, for GOD can take out the town you live in, and you right with it. A-Men for JESUS AND GOD

      January 6, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • John

      Easiest reply is they don't follow the bible stupid they follow their own Bible you are a ass hole because you cant even find the truth

      January 6, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • End Religion

      @kim: let's play a game for a moment, shall we? Let's assume god appeared to you one day and told you he was upset because the bible is complete fiction, that all he wants is for all humans to love each other. Are you ready to play?

      January 6, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • rabidatheist

      @ Kim Fisher, why are you speaking to men in here? Your god demands you as a woman are to remain silent, and pose these questions to your husband to answer, it's disrespectful for you to be speaking to us.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • sam stone

      kim: why should anyone have to clean up what god made?

      January 7, 2013 at 7:13 am |
  4. eastcoastjac

    I'll bet my favourite hat that if an atheist of sound mind were to hear an audible voice when no person was present, they would fight to the death to prove they are not crazy, delusional or otherwise mentally impaired ... no matter what their friends said!
    Most likely though, they would just keep it to themselves. No sense in admitting to be a loony, is there?

    January 6, 2013 at 5:15 am |
    • sam stone

      "No sense in admitting to be a loony, is there?"

      That's what churches are for

      January 6, 2013 at 6:45 am |
    • rwb49

      It amazes me that many humanbeings on earth in different groups, including athiest, extreme religious groups, + those in our government, have decided/concluded that they have a right to invade & degrade another humanbeing for what they believe in...Each humanbeing's beliefs are a human right, & no other being on earth should redicule or mock them for what or not they personally believe in. Humanbeing's problems in our society now are, trying to mind everyone elses business & trying to convince them what they need to believe in, & if they don't go along with someone else's personal beliefs, they must be labeled as abnormal or nuts, as what it seems many in society would call us because we happen to disagree with their own so called personal spriritual or non-spiritual beliefs of life??? I say there would be less problems in our world if "everyone would mind their own business" & not worry about what other humanbeing's beliefs are. When other humanbeings on earth "degrades & mocks" other humanbeiing's beliefs, they themselves have a lack of "personal self esteem" & " self-respect"...Never will there ever be another humanbeing born on earth that can take or force another being to believe in something another being happens to believe in? No one can take another's human heart, soul, or beliefs, & try to change them? What's the problem with everyone just >>> "MINDING THEIR OWN BUSINESS"? Live & let live.

      January 6, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • End Religion

      @rwb49: "What's the problem with everyone just >>> "MINDING THEIR OWN BUSINESS"?"

      You said it, rwb, now please join me in fighting against the religious who are not minding their own business but who instead:
      - erect religious plaques/statues in public places or demand public funds for the maintenance of a cross in the Mojave National Preserve in California or of a monument of the Ten Commandments at the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery
      - fight to have prayer in school, a public and non-denominational place of education
      - fight to have known falsehoods presented in our schools as "scientific alternatives" for the rise of mankind; this is known as Creationism
      - officially require those who don't believe in the christian god to say "one nation under god" during the Pledge Allegiance to our Country
      - promote religion-based denial of equality and rights for women, gays and formerly blacks

      January 6, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  5. Rural Free Delivery

    I have a question for all those who are posting that the voice in a person's head is just imagination: how do you know?? None of you can read minds, so how can you know what a person is hearing? Personally, I've never "heard" a voice in my head, but if I did, you can't "hear" it, so how valid is your supposition of what I'm "hearing"??.

    You can repeat forever that the people claiming to hear God's voice in their heads are only hearing their own thoughts, but that doesn't make it so. It's just your opinion, and you can't prove otherwise any more than the people who claim it's God's voice can prove that it is.

    So why get so upset, argumentative, and frustrated over this issue? It can be argued by both sides constantly, but neither side can prove their theory. And that's all these opinions are: theory, not proven fact.

    January 6, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • Anon

      You're confusing theory with hypothesis.
      Then again that's what you sleazy apologists always do to spread religious idiocy to the feeble minded.

      January 6, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • Lisa

      People imagine lots of different things that are proven to not actually be there. There are loads of optical illusions, mental delusions and magic tricks that speak to the ease to which the human mind can be fooled. However, there is not a single validated instance of an invisible person speaking to someone else so, going on Occam's razor that the simplest answer is usually the right one, my money is on it just being a delusion. I'm also guessing that you wouldn't be defending somebody claiming to hear voices from orbiting aliens, or fairies, even if they said the exact same things, or am I wrong?

      January 6, 2013 at 12:41 am |
    • Rural Free Delivery

      @Anon: Hypothesis or theory...neither are fact. What makes you assume I'm a religious apologist? Or even religious at all? I'm just looking at the lack of logic in arguing over something that can't be proven. Either way, it can't be anything bu personal opinion.

      @Lisa: Again, whether there are aliens or faeries or God's voice in someone's head, you can't prove any of it exists, but you also can't prove it doesn't. The arguments are fruitless and will have no resolution.

      January 6, 2013 at 12:49 am |
    • End Religion

      @RFD: you've been watching too many movies that make a hero out of the lone non-crazy voice hearing protagonist. We can play "what if" very easily, all we need is tested and peer-reviewed proof and we will believe the voice hearing hero.

      The only voice-in-head is thought, and perhaps there's a possibility of proximity radio signal interference. However, since there is no god, there is no god voice.

      http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/3638/is-it-possible-to-pick-up-radio-signals-from-dental-fillings

      January 6, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • Anon

      A theory is something that explains a fact using evidence not by wishing thinking or hunches.
      If new evidence arises then the theory is modified even further.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • Anon

      The reason I'm assuming you're another religious apologist is because they're known for deliberately confusing theory with hypothesis to further the religious idiocy.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:05 am |
    • Rural Free Delivery

      My only apology is that I apparently used the wrong word. It wasn't deliberate; it's just very late, and my brain is tired...no voices, no attempt at confusing anyone, just asking what to me was an obvious question...why bother with an argument that no one can win?

      January 6, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • Anon

      Because there could be a day that a person with powerful political influence that "hears" (insert made up deity here) and decides to press the big red nuclear button to screw us all.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:15 am |
    • Lisa

      Rural Free Delivery
      But we have proven that schizophrenia and other mental disorders can delude people into thinking that they hear outside voices coming from invisible people, whereas no actual evidence of real invisible people has ever surfaced. That's a pretty compelling argument for it all being in the person's head. I might be wrong, but I'm laying my money on it being something alone these lines based on science and medicine. I could be wrong about fairies too, but I base my belief that they aren't actually real on the same criteria. Most of us don't take the possibility of vampire attack seriously enough to wear garlic around our necks in public, yet we cannot "prove" that they don't exist either. See how it works?

      January 6, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Rural Free,

      We can not know for sure that David Berkowitz's (the Son of Sam Killer) neighbors dog was not actually talking to him either. However that does not mean both possibilites are equally likely.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:59 am |
    • rabidatheist

      @ Blessed are the Cheesemakers, actually we do know that the dog did not speak to David Bertkowicz. He admitted he mde the story up, and was killing women because he found his birth mother, and she closed the door in his face when he showed up at her house.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  6. Anon

    Christians are schizophrenic narcissistic egomaniacs, no exceptions.

    January 6, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • I wonder

      .

      I know a Labrador Retriever that was resuscitated and brought back from the dead... I sure wish he could talk about his neurological experience.

      January 6, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • I wonder

      dang, wrong 'reply' spot...

      January 6, 2013 at 12:40 am |
  7. .

    A moving and touching video on near death experiences
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpQml-bKOXM&w=640&h=390]

    January 5, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Butthead

      huh huh huh.. .. uh huh huhhuh. Near death. Everyday people see and hear things too when their senses go a little haywire. Doesn't mean anything. Like dreaming, our heads can do a bunch of stuff on its own. huh huh huh. . . ...

      January 5, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • Lisa

      Why are people amazed when their dying brain cooks up weird dreamlike images?

      January 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • .

      Butthead your name fits and lisa the consistency of the stories the ability to have recognition of people, places what was said in the room their body was in while dead goes well beyond any explanation.

      January 6, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Lisa

      .
      You find it amazing that they could overhear what's being said in the same room as they're in? They weren't actually dead, right? If they were dead they'd still be dead. They were close to being completely dead, but that a far cry from being a rotting corpse coming back to life.

      January 6, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • the AnViL

      important to note: people from other cultures/religions have very different nde's

      because it's all in your brain.

      zing!

      January 6, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • End Religion

      @ThingThatShantBeNamed: "...consistency of the stories..."

      Like the consistency of drawings of aliens by "abductees?"

      January 6, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • Ken

      End Religion
      Go back 150 years, before science fiction writing, and everyone was being abducted by fairies. It's all about what happens to be popular at the time.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:13 am |
    • End Religion

      @Ken: I probably wasn't clear that I was being sarcastic. I am in agreement with you.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:50 am |
  8. mason

    most theists in their invisible friend delusion have created self/group induced mental illness. A man who hears a voice saying kill and burn your son as a sacrifice is mentally ill. (Abraham)

    January 5, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
  9. 2357

    It is also a strange thing to speak to oneself, or write one's thoughts on paper. If the statements go anything deeper than a simple reminder, they may just be symptoms of insanity.

    January 5, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That breeze you feel ruffling the few strands of hair you have left is the point flying waaay over your head.

      January 5, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Lisa

      That's thinking to oneself and, if you're arguing that the "voice of God" that people hear is actually their own thoughts, then I'm inclined to agree with you. Your own thoughts in the "voice" of the ultimate authority figure could be very motivating, and reassuring, I'd imagine.

      January 6, 2013 at 12:19 am |
  10. .

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EACV0QuG0-c&w=640&h=390]

    January 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Funny how Jews never see Jesus when they have a NDE.

      January 5, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Butthead

      uhh huh huhhuh .. If you feed your kid enough chicken nuggets, sure they'll see all kinds of things when you've almost killed them . .. huh huhh huhh

      January 5, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Lisa

      Tell me, when you heard that the boy's father, Todd Burpo, is a Christian pastor did it make you the least bit sus_picious?

      January 6, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • End Religion

      We understand NDE well. It is sometimes the fight or flight release of adrenaline or the body's release of dopamine during trauma that cause hallucinations perceived by @3% of the general population. Half of the people experiencing it aren't actually near death. One can experience the same effects with various drugs.
      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=peace-of-mind-near-death

      January 6, 2013 at 1:16 am |
  11. .

    This is the God I know that she paints

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzKz3RuZXU0&w=640&h=390]

    January 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Butthead

      uh huh huh huh..this looks like it's going to be a John Waters film. huh huh huh..i better get high before watching this one. huh huh

      January 5, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • Ken

      The Venus de Milo is perhaps one of the most famous statues of all the world, and recognized for it's quality as art. Ask yourself, which gods inspired it, the Great Sphinx, and many other great works of art?

      Also, there is much speculation in the art community that the girl is a fraud. One big red flag is that there is no video of her actually painting the figures, only dabbing in the backgrounds. Another is that there appears to be no artistic growth from age 8, when she supposedly began, up to her present age. Then there's the point that the girl's mother just happens to also be a painter, and that her work looks an awful lot like her daughter's.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • End Religion

      @Ken, you mean to say that not only isn't this girl painting heaven but her mom may be making the girl commit fraud? That would be so unusual for a religious person to be dishonest and to abuse children, wouldn't it? I just can't believe that could happen. Not even a priest would carelessly abuse a child.... wait a minute...

      January 6, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • Ken

      End Religion
      Have you seen the child artist Marla Olmstead on 60 Minutes? Same controversy: child of artist unable to be filmed painting difficult parts, showing no signs of giftedness that other child artists do, but whose paints sell for way above market value owing entirely to their being the product of a child. Everyone knows that the actual art of a piece isn't what sets it's value. It's the artist's "story" that makes the squibbles of an elephant holding a brush worth thousands, and this artist certainly has a story, doesn't she?

      January 6, 2013 at 1:34 am |
    • End Religion

      I haven't seen it but I'm rarely surprised at the depths some humans go for money/fame. Also, I attended an art college and have several artist friends, one of which in particular is very talented and still focused on painting though he is penniless and over the hill: a true artist. He just doesn't have "the story" to make his art appealing to those who pay ridiculous sums for it. He and his friends (like me) are always tempted to find some angle because we know how easy it is to sucker people who buy art, but we just don't have the "heart" to follow through with the dishonesty.

      But there is an endless supply of humans who will follow through with the game. It's known as "good business" and "religion" and "marketing" to package and sell lies to sheep on the open market.

      January 6, 2013 at 2:34 am |
  12. American Humanist

    Isn't it remarkable that the only people who [think they] are "hearing god's voice" are people who are believers?
    Are they "crazy"?? No, most are not. But, they are without doubt completely mistaken. It is their imagination and wishful thinking that is conjuring up these inaudible "voices".

    I was a devout Christian for several decades. I "heard" the "voice" too. And I still do.. But, now I recognize it for what it is: My mind.

    January 5, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It seems very reasonable to me that the believers would think the voices are from god. If you take a communicative god as a premise, it's a logical conclusion. Even now there are different psychological theories about how such experiences are stimulated in the brain, and I would expect scientists holding a particular theory to believe the voices they themselves hear ( if they hear them) to be what fits with their personal theory.

      Same with dreams. Those of us who think they are random firings believe our own to be random, those who think they help us work through problems, believe they are psychologically meaningful, and those who think dreams predict the future, believe that of theirown. This is very similar, only a smaller percent of the population experiences these audio sensations.

      January 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • End Religion

      @sara: the point isn't that a person who believes in leprechauns is unreasonable to think she also hears them speaking to her and guiding her decisions. The point is that it *isn't* leprechauns speaking and we've publicly coddled the leprechaun fantasy long enough. We've been too accepting for too long.

      The leprechaun lovers in the world no longer practice with family, friends and community in a local church, they have formed conglomerates and massive places of worship and are attempting to change laws to force invisible "leprechaun values" onto us which exclude other people based on the fantasy. They seem to have a heavy infiltration into our military, and therefore pose a threat to the country and entire world should they decide leprechaun doomsday has arrived. America is wonderful for its "live and let live" attempts, unfortunately religion is only content when everyone has been sucked into its myth and forced to live its random and imaginary lifestyle.

      So on one hand, yes, it is easy and relatively harmless to assume the voices they hear are just a pleasant side effect of their peaceful delusion, but on the other the delusion doesn't stay peaceful or tolerant for long. I, and many others, have had enough. The pendulum is swinging back, and I will not coddle these cavemen any longer. Feel free to appease them all you want.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:42 am |
  13. None can deny that Jesus is the most powerful influence in all of history.

    Anyone who sees created things and deny the fact that there is a Creator is clearly a blinded fool born to perish. I wont waste my time on proving something that is so obvious. A blind man will never see unless he is given sight and that's one simple truth. I will leave all you non-believers with a few simple verses.
    Job 27:8-"For what hope do the godless have when God cuts them off and takes away their life?
    1 Corinthians 1:18-"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
    1 Corinthians 2:14-"But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.
    John 14:17-"the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you
    John 8:47-"Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don't listen because you don't belong to God"
    John 6:47-"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life"
    John 3:36-"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
    John 3:18-"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."
    John 5:24-"I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life."
    Matthew 25:46-"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
    Romans 6:23-"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

    Life is nothing but a CHOICE. No one is forcing anyone to do anything, you all have a CHOICE. Just know and understand that some decisions will have permanent consequences. Life by right and by eternal law belongs to the Giver of life. He can take it and give it to whom ever He pleases. Life is a choice. Finally before you judge my Lord and God, the Creator of all things; take into considerations His words. Ezekiel 18:21-23-"But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done. I don't want wicked people to die." declares the Almighty LORD. "I want them to turn from their evil ways and live."
    I pray that your eyes and ears are open to the Word of God and you choose life and not death. Peace and grace from my Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

    w w w the eternal wisdom . com

    January 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • Athy

      It's all bullshit biblebabble.

      January 5, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • American Humanist

      "None can deny"?? Really??!!

      I'd say the "most pewrful influence in all of history" is Delusional Thinking!

      January 5, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      But not necessarily a positive influence.

      January 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Of course it can be denied, and is denied by millions. Just because you believe something, it does mean it's true.

      January 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • Max

      Cut and paste that's been posted to every story. Ignore.

      January 5, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Well, christianity certainly has been one of the most destructive forces in history. However, as the majority of humanity is NOT christian (only about a third of the world's population can be categorized as such), I suspect his influence is not so great as you like to believe.

      January 5, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • Bet

      You're absolutely right, christianity has been the most powerful force in holding back scientific, medical, social and economic progress in the last 2000 years, and it continues to do so at every turn.

      January 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Anon

      The Jesus myth has really screwed up humanity big time.
      The sooner people realize it's all a complete farce the better.

      January 6, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • John

      Did you know Hitler was a atheist and we wonder why there here.

      January 6, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • End Religion

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler

      Hitler was raised Catholic. In his book Mein Kampf and in public speeches he made statements affirming a belief in Christianity. He called the purge of Jews "positive Christianity." While there is debate over his actual private feelings about the faith, he was a publicly practicing Christian. There exists no known evidence that Hitler was an atheist or agnostic. Again: evidence he was Christian; no evidence he was otherwise.

      Hitler said: "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

      January 6, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  14. Ralph Monkman

    Crazy is as crazy does

    January 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  15. Suuuuuuuurrrre......

    When you hear "voices", and there's no one around – it's a pretty good indicator that you've lost your f*****g mind.

    January 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Saraswati

      A student at my undergrad college thought anyone who heard and saw things in their sleep was crazy...as far as he remembered he never had.

      January 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  16. Teran

    Im not crazy and I know that I have heard Gods voice. Do I care about what you think? No. If you were to meet me in person and got to know me, you would find that I'm pretty sane. I'm in school and I work in a restaurant and I have an amazing relationship with my girlfriend. I live a pretty normal life and I bet you that if you were to ask anyone that knows me they would say I'm not crazy. Just because someone says they have heard God say " I love you, or I am with you." does not make them a wack job. Granted, there have been people who believe that God has told them to kill this group or that person and that they did it in Gods name. But is everyone like that? No, don't base your opinion on what some people have done and paste it on everyone who says they have heard His voice.

    January 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • the AnViL

      yeah ok.. except... it's not god you're hearing... it's you.

      srsly, bro... it's you.

      srsly.

      January 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      The voice(s) in my head tell me that the voice(s) in your head are wrong. Hey, don't hate, appreciate! Where's my saber and gun. camel and tank?

      January 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • OpposingView

      I believe you and I have no doubt that you heard a voice. A lot of people have. But the real questions is, How does you know it was God? And what proof do you have it was God? I say that because Lucifer loves to pretend he is God. He loves to appears before people dressed up like an angel or he talks to them in some voice all because he knows people are ignorant and will automatically "assume" it is God, when all the time it is only the devil trying to deceive you. You should be very careful about things you hear. Make sure what you believe is back up by scripture. Just because you have heard some voice talking to you, that doesn't mean it's the voice of God...

      January 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Yes, but the voice in my head that says the voice in your head is wrong also has a book that, when I interpret it just right, says that your book is wrong and your voice in your head is wrong. yay!!

      January 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • the AnViL

      if you hear voices in your head it's not gods OR devils. it's just you.

      srsly.

      January 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I don't think your crazy, even though I don't think you're hearing God. But hey, I could be wrong.

      January 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • .

      OpposingView
      What do you really want? you indeed may be satan because you don't speak faith and wisdom you speak as your name implies opposing view. If you had ever heard Gods voice you would know it, it is unmistakable as all the examples in the Bible when ever they heard the Lords voice they knew who it was. My sheep know my voice, so I think we may have a wolf in sheep's clothing.

      January 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Ken

      Teran
      My brother is a practicing lawyer and he still got scammed out of $10, 000 by a psychic medium. Intelligence has nothing to do with being fooled. Even scientists have been fooled by hoaxes, so I'm sure that you're convinced by your experience, but not everyone is because we know how easily the human mind "sees" what it wants to see.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:40 am |
    • Anon

      Hey Teran tell your imaginary god to go f-ck itself.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:45 am |
  17. Ryan

    Ya I dunno, if you are hearing voices that dont exist something is wrong. You might not be crazy, but something is definately wrong.

    January 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  18. sweenbass

    I worship no one & nothing.

    In every one of the books that are regarded as holy (bible, koran, gita etc..),

    Are there interesting stories? Some are. Some are not.

    Are there philosophies there that one can reflect on & apply to your life in order to live better & help your fellow human beings? YES & those can be found in all of those books.

    But on the questions of spirituality, (a deity, creation, afterlife, soul, and the like), all of those books can do nothing but speculate

    Some choose to hang their spiritual hat on speculation. I do not

    Is there a spiritual component to the universe? I don't know.

    I have not read anything in any of those books that convinces me that any of those speculations about the spiritual are anything more than that.

    That is why I am an agnostic.

    January 5, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Anon

      Just say you're an atheist agnostic. Atheist for all the deities made up on this planet and agnostic about a higher power in the universe but indifferent about it.

      January 6, 2013 at 12:37 am |
  19. Gerry from Bayonne

    People feel, see, hear, etc., all kinds of things that others do not, or are simply unaware of. That doesn't mean they are crazy!

    January 5, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      No. They're only crazy once they attribute that event to a supernatural explanation.

      January 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  20. Steve

    Sorry, if you hear voices, especially those of a "gods" then you are in fact crazy and should seek help. What an irresponsible article.

    January 5, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Gerry from Bayonne

      How do you know if someone is crazy?

      January 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Keith

      I completely agree....this article is simply irresponsible and potentially harmful in an age where mental health needs to be addressed head on. If someone is hearing voices or believes they are speaking to God, they should be treated for a mental disease and helped, rather than encouraged to potentially act out and transmit their sickness to others. I mean, come on. This is the 21st century. If we still believe people speak with God, or talk with burining bushes, or believe God convinced them to start a new faith, we clearly have much progress yet to go as a species. I am not speaking ill about religion at all- people are free to worship any God they choose. But denying that those who claim to speak to God have a mental condition or should be helped, is downright irresponsible. Addressing Mental Health will be a huge topic in the 21st century. Let's not placate the issue by encouraging such behavior.

      January 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Debbie West

      Stepping back from any possible 'supernatural' cause for hearing a 'guiding' or 'positive' voice in one's head, people experience this all the time: but usually the voice is heard (or attributed) as one's own voice. Our subconscious mind communicates with us in various ways, guiding us when we are uncertain or have a hard time accepting how we really feel about something. There is nothing insane about listening to one's inner voice. This could very well be the explanation for such 'voices' that these people have reported. Neither you nor the author of this article can explain the psychological processes involved in these experiences. So how can you label these people as "crazy" (a derogatory term for someone with mental health issues, by the way). OR maybe, it could be the voice of a spiritual being. But since there is no way for you or anyone else to know, prove or disprove the existence of of a guiding force of the universe, or a god, or whatever one attributes to these experiences, then disproving with such conviction on your part is just plain your opinion. And equally as irresponsible. Contempt prior to investigation: ignorance.

      January 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • the AnViL

      IF you're hearing voices in your head, how often you hear the voices, the volume of the voices, the tone, inflection, and literal content of the messages the voices impart... the commands it gives you, the things the voices say – are all evaluated to determine if you're "crazy".

      you may or may not be "crazy" if you're hearing voices.

      barring the reception of radio waves by braces on your teeth or steel plates in your head or jaw – IF you're hearing voices in your head – it's you. the voices aren't coming from gods or devils or angels or demons or your dog spot.. or any dogs or kittens... it's just you. it's just your imagination... it's just your own brain – your own mind – that's all.

      it's you.

      ~

      January 5, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
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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.