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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. Bob

    I cant begin to thank God for the hope the joy and peace that I have because of Him and my relationship with Him. Even when things weren't so good He is and was so good He was still a joy and hope and the one that was able give me hope in my time of need. Thank God that He speaks to me and guides me and gives me the hope and love that He gives me.

    January 14, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Gir

      There's an asylum in America missing one particularly deranged inmate named Bob right now.

      January 14, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • meifumado

      When one person is delusional its called insanity,
      When many are delusional its called religion.

      January 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      Bob,
      " Thank God that He speaks to me..."

      What does 'He' say to you, Bob?
      Does 'He':
      - tell you anything that you don't already know?
      - tell you anything that you couldn't figure out using your imagination and creativity?
      - tell you anything that you couldn't find out with a bit of research?

      January 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  2. Ron

    I hear Him speak. Praise God. I love to hear Him speak. He speaks to me most often through His Holy Bible which I try to read everyday. He speaks to me by His Holy Spirit Who lives inside me and directs me in the way that I should go. He speaks to me through signs and wonders letting me know that He is with me and cares for me. wow. I have no idea why God would take the time to show you and me/mankind so much favor, but I know He does. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. God bless

    January 13, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      The light came into the world, but the world did not recognize Him nor receive Him. He was the true Light which gives light to every human being coming into the world. But then, as it is today, only those who truly sought Him recognized him.
      Jesus is THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND LIFE!

      January 13, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • Gir

      Normally when people speak like this we commit them to asylums, but because there are enough people in this world willing to suspend reason in this particular fashion, we allow people like these to roam the streets.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • Bob

      Gir answer me this your so stupid do you have someone at home to watch you to make sure you don't hurt yourself?

      January 13, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Trust me, Bob, it's you. I'd say that you're beyond help and that "you can't fix stupid," but actually, you probably could. Get a perscription for Adderal and then sign up at the best university you can locate and then study, study, study. I'd recommend a decade at least. Good luck.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Bob

      Been there done that it was then that I realized the teachers are not God and just people struggling with life and so I went to the creator of all life and really found the answers. But you see you still idolize teachers and haven't come out of the fog, yet call everyone else blind, Ive been where you are but you haven't been where I am so in science even how can the lesser judge the greater?

      January 13, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • Gir

      @ Bob We have all been in a state of total ignorance like the one you are in before. That was at birth. Unlike you, however, nobody here has regressed back to that state like you have.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Couldn't hack it, huh? I might have guessed. One two many F's or were they all failing grades? Maybe try again with the Adderall? It's worth a shot. Good luck in life with that brain of yours betraying you the way it is.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Bob

      I think what I find the most disturbing about this is that the liner thinking that excludes any creativity or originality in the thought process. Got a 9 to 5 job Moby better keep it its about all you'll ever do.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Goshers, Bloob, what is that "liner thinking" you're talking about? That sure is a new one for me. Us hayseeds just aren't up on all the new-fangled terminology. Can you fill me in?

      January 14, 2013 at 12:00 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      And there's Bob's finest on display. Thanks Bob. At first I just thought you were writing incoherently, but now I know it's just the way your thoughts are. You're actually writing them the way they make sense to you! Whoah

      January 14, 2013 at 12:00 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Like clinging to 2,000+ year old bullsh!t myths shows a lot of creativity. . .

      January 14, 2013 at 12:05 am |
    • mama k

      "He speaks to me through signs "

      My goodness I hope this Ron is not waiting for a sign to get out of the passing lane on the highway.

      January 14, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • Damocles

      @mama

      Oh, now that would be a great defense in a car accident.

      My deity didn't show me the sign in time.

      January 14, 2013 at 12:23 am |
  3. In the pew next to yours

    Since the blog is anonymous I wonder just how many people have their own "closet" religions or practices. The stuff that goes on in your own mind that you don't admit and when the survey rolls round you always say our religion is "Presbyterian" or "Catholic" or whatever you answer in public.

    Food for thought.

    January 13, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Gir

      We all have our own personal idiosyncrasies. What makes these particular ones dangerous is the fact that these people who hold such delusions project their idiosyncrasies onto their imaginary deities, and then try to tell the rest of us to live by what they think the deity wants (which is really what THEY want) by standing on some perceived moral ground that association with their personal god supposedly grants them.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • Bob

      Gir
      We all have our own personal idiosyncrasies. What makes these particular ones dangerous is the fact that these people who hold such delusions and idiosyncrasies into their life and then try to tell the rest of us how to live by what they think standing on some perceived moral ground that association with their personal god supposedly grants them. Berating and insulting all in an effort to attain a place in society based on fair treatment for all.

      January 14, 2013 at 12:04 am |
  4. Nietodarwin

    Newinepouring wrote "Higher science has concluded a designer, read up on it." I would agree, science has concluded a designer, ended the fraudulent belief in a designer. You aren't really reading science there whine boy, you're just being fed more religious swill and they are telling you it's science. I'm sorry that your grammar and syntax are so awkward, and your education so lacking. We will both experience the same thing after death.........decomp or cremation. I will have more life after death than you will, but only because I've written more songs, poems, etc. If you want life after death, pick up a brush, a pen, a musical instrument, etc. That's the best you can hope for poor fellow.

    January 13, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • newinepouring

      Fearful people resort to insult. This isn't an English test. No one cares about gram on things like this don't feel so threatened its just a friendly discussion. I stand by / designer comment. Your wrong.

      January 13, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Bob

      Science in evolution cannot even explain why we have men and women so how could it explain anything if this simple basic concept is beyond its grasp. Just like you assume to know the truth, and have faith in science that is why atheism is a religion with science as its Bible, the real difference is you believe man we believe God you might as well ask Penn and Teller the origin of men and women as much as science they both do the same thing present a illusion till the truth is known.

      January 13, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • newinepouring

      Fearful people resort to insult. This isn't an English test. No one cares about gram on things like this don't feel so threatened its just a friendly discussion. I stand by / des**igner comment. Your mistaken.

      January 13, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Gir

      Clearly Bob has no idea how the scientific method works. Please don't ever make the mistake of wandering into a voting booth.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • Bob

      Gir at least I could find the voting booth and know the issues and who to vote for which is much more than I could say about you.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Blob, do you know how utterly stupid you appear?

      January 13, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • Bob

      Hello Tom please don't make any comments till I get down to your level thanks.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bloobby, when are you and Doogie tying the knot? Send me an invite, will you? Thanks in advance!

      January 13, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @Tom,Tom

      You should see some of the stupidity Bob's displaying on other threads!! Holy sh!tcakes!!!

      January 13, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If it's impressing you, Moby, it MUST be special. Which threads?

      January 13, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
    • rabidatheist

      @Bob Are you serious? Of course science can explain why we have the male, and the female.http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080109173726.htm

      January 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  5. Nietodarwin

    All those terrorists also talk to and hear "god" Believing in god or talking to god makes you as insane as they are, just not as homicidal. Penn Gillette says it best;

    “What I have a problem with is not so much religion or god, but faith. When you say you believe something in your heart and therefore you can act on it, you have completely justified the 9/11 bombers. You have justified Charlie Manson. If it's true for you, why isn't it true for them? Why are you different? If you say "I believe there's an all-powerful force of love in the universe that connects us all, and I have no evidence of that but I believe it in my heart," then it's perfectly okay to believe in your heart that Sharon Tate deserves to die. It's perfectly okay to believe in your heart that you need to fly planes into buildings for Allah.”
    _ Penn Jillette

    January 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • newinepouring

      What promises there will be a tomorrow? Yet, you live each day "believing" there is. Faith. You operate the mechanics of faith everyday. Setting your alarm clock, is an act of faith. How do you know there will be a tomorrow? Science cannot promise a tomorrow, so there is a wrench in your "theory of faith". If you believe you will have a tomorrow, it is no different than those who believe there is no tomorrow raising h-ell, and robbing banks. So, there you sit among us. By the way, have you no original thought of your own on these things? I noticed you keep quoting ...

      January 13, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Bob

      I think Penn should not do magic anymore then either because he has the faith in that it is going to make him a living and therefore may be dangerous with the same arguments he made for religion. He actually makes a living lying to people and fooling them so why does his opinion count? That is ignorance not knowing what people believe but being afraid of it anyway. He just like you have no idea what the Bible says but your bias unjustified fear leads you to bigoted uninformed remarks. Once you learn then maybe you and Penn can talk about a subject knowing what they are talking about rather than this blind fear of God the bogy men in minds. Look to what the book of each religion says.

      January 13, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • newinepouring

      What promises there will be a tomorrow? Yet, you live each day "belie-ving" there is. F-aith. You operate the mechanics of fa-ith everyday. Setting your alarm clock, is an act of faith. How do you know there will be a tomorrow? Science cannot promise a tomorrow, so there is a wrench in your "theory of fa-ith". If you b*elieve you will have a tomorrow, it is no different than those who b*elieve there is no tomorrow raising h-ell, and robbing banks. So, there you sit among us. By the way, have you no original thought of your own on these things? I noticed you keep quoting ...

      January 13, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • newinepouring

      What promises there will be a tomorrow? Yet, you live each day "belie-ving" there is. F-aith. You operate the mechanics of fa-ith everyday. Setting your alarm clock, is an act of fa–ith. How do you know there will be a tomorrow? Science cannot promise a tomorrow, so there is a wrench in your "theory of fa-ith". If you b*elieve you will have a tomorrow, it is no different than those who b*elieve there is no tomorrow raising h-ell, and robbing banks. So, there you sit among us. By the way, have you no original thought of your own on these things? I noticed you keep quoting ...

      January 13, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • Gir

      So believing that the sun will rise tomorrow as it has done for BILLIONS of YEARS is equivalent to faith in invisible zombie carpenters? Go look up the principle of uniformitarianism and then come talk to us about faith. Today succeeding yesterday and preceding tomorrow is an established part of the collective conscious experience. Talking snakes and donkeys, immaculate conceptions and the walking dead are not. Trying to equate the two is a sure sign of a severe dearth in reasoning ability.

      And do you dare to insinuate that the validity of an idea should be measured by how much comfort it brings to the individual? REALLY?

      What sort of reasoning are they teaching at these jesus cult meetings anyway? I fear for the future of this nation when a significant portion of the population is prone to such fatuous reasoning. Hopefully, all religionists will die off before they can have any significant effect on this nation's future trajectory. And that's a hope that's backed by solid, replicable statistics, not 2000 year old myth anthologies. See the difference?

      January 13, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      The difference is the evidence provided by measurement. My alarm clock has always gone off; the sun has always come up. The measurement is so precise that............well..........it's almost like..........clockwork.

      "Faith" in something with loads of verifiable measurement (evidence) is a lot different than faith in something that's never been measured by any means at any time by any method we know about. What's worrisome is that I feel the need to explain this obviousness.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • Gir

      @ Moby Schtick And remember: these people VOTE. Let that haunt your dreams tonight.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Bob

      "Faith" in something with loads of verifiable measurement (evidence) is a lot different than faith in something that's never been measured by any means at any time by any method we know about. What's worrisome is that I feel the need to explain this obviousness. So I guess we should not have spent billions of dollars and still have no proof that the Higg Boson is real or not? So that will perfectly fit your definition for faith that science had and so much so committed these billions that could have helped people in real ways. Its never been measured by any means at any time yet like I said science has committed billions. So why dont you explain this? We have faith in God you have faith in Higgs so care to explain?

      January 13, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
    • Bob

      Actually Gir that does haunt me in my dreams that morons like you can vote no life or wisdom cant make it in life but sure they know it all.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Bob, you're an idiot. The current model of physics says that the Higgs is there, and it sure looks like it is pretty much right where we thought, but it de cays extremely quickly. We're looking for the Higgs for the same reason that you get up and investigate a sus p icious sound in your house at night..

      January 13, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • Gir

      @ You are living, breathing proof of the old saying "You can't fix stupid." How are you even able to breathe with a mind as tiny as yours?

      January 13, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • Bob

      So man made models say it should be there but billions later we still dont know or even if we do know what is the significance of this? So by your own definition of faith it would suit you to admit this fits at least you would only be a atheist and not a total azz hole.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • mama k

      Bob: ""Faith" in something with loads of verifiable measurement (evidence) is a lot different than faith in something that's never been measured by any means at any time by any method we know about. "

      You're right, Bob, they are different. The first is being honest that you don't know, but not afraid to put forth educated guesses that you can work towards – to find out if you are right or wrong; and being prepared to handle whatever the outcome is.
      The second, however, is wasted time and delusion. In other words if you're just having faith and just accepting without working towards validating that it represents something real, something measurable, then you're just lazy and deluded.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Bob, when you start talking about anything close to "faith" "physics" or "the Higgs" I'll reply. The way it is now, you're just babbling nonsense. Nothing about faith, physics, or the scientific method.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Bob

      These concepts a bit out of your reach? maybe you should go to school or at least stop people from feeding you ideas so you can think for yourself. Just answer this Higgs no one has ever seen it or proved it but men thinking have modeled it, so you cant touch it cant prove it the math says maybe and all the great minds say yes should be. So is that not faith in something that fits the rules you outlined?

      January 13, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      No, Bob, it isn't, but I don't expect you to understand, so I have no interest in explaining it to you. Again, you'd have to demonstrate that you have the slightest idea what "faith" "physics" and "the scientific method" are for me to not find you so brain-dead boring as to be pitiable. You're so wrong, it's not even one thing---it's about nine or ten things. You don't even know how your question isn't even a sensible phrasing. Research and learn.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Bob

      I would have expected that answer from someone who cant think for themselves you are a product of the system that I would not have expected to turn out any other way. When you get some real experience in life maybe we can talk.

      January 14, 2013 at 12:11 am |
    • mama k

      Bob: "I would have expected that answer from someone who cant think for themselves you are a product of the system that I would not have expected to turn out any other way."

      What the hell are you trying to say?? You sound like 'truth be told' in slow motion. with a cold.

      January 14, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • midwest rail

      So ends another evening of Pigeon Chess Grand Master Bob getting his a$s handed to him. Tonight's beatdown was so overwhelming that Bob resorted to declaring victory and retreating. He now rivals Rich Little in his Nixon impersonation.

      January 14, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • HUH!

      Dumb parrots squawking " I've got intellect, you don't! My brain is bigger than yours!"

      But all you've got jello between your ears! You tell on yourself every time your posts appear!

      January 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  6. newinepouring

    You have eyes as a tool, taps into the seeing realm. Ears, that tap into the hearing realm, with out the ear tool, hearing realm wouldn't exist for you. You have the sense of touch, taste, all tools to solidify multiple dimensions in to the experience we have here called life. Your inner spirit man taps into the spirit world, often moving about in the metaphorical world of dreams. Sin separates us from G=d, renders us spiritually deaf and blind. When awakened to G=d by faith the one once blind begins to see and the one once spiritually deaf begins to hear. For you to tell me there is no G=d is like a blind man telling me there is not blue sky. You are sp-iritually disconnected. That does not mean there is no G=d.

    January 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Bob

      Newinepouring
      So nice to hear the truth from someone else also, well put!!

      January 13, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • Gir

      Utter nonsense. It frightens me to think that people like you are allowed to vote.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • Bob

      So Gir what religion are we at war with in the mideast after you saying that all religions are peaceful except for Christianity?? Is that pigeon chess?

      January 13, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      There is no more evidence for any god than there is for astrology. Do you believe in astrology?

      January 13, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Relligious "believers" talking about "sin", the bible or Koran, or talking to "god, is like a blind man telling people of reason that the sky is not blue and it's made of invisible plastic pudding. You need mental help.

      January 13, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Jill

      newinepouring, you need another double-u but one of u is too much. Don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent. Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators. Ever the bastille notches the orchestra but Wendy is not green and horses will capitulate. Filter out the log from the turnstile and cry prevalently.

      So there brown stare. Feed your inner walnut and resolve. Subject your lemon to the ingenious door in the presence of snow and animals. Aisle 7 is for the monetary cheese whiz. Faced with the kitchen, you may wish to prolong the sailboat in the cliff. Otherwise, rabbits may descend on your left nostril. Think about how you can stripe the sea.

      Regale the storm to those who (6) would thump the parrot with the armband. Corner the market on vestiges of the apparent closure but seek not the evidential circumstance. Therein you can find indignant mountains of pigs and apples. Descend eloquently as you debate the ceiling of your warning fulcrum. Vacate the corncob profusely and and don’t dote on the pancreas.

      Next up, control your wood. Have at the cat with your watch on the fore. Aft! Smarties (12)! Rome wasn’t kevetched in an autumn nightie. (42) See yourself for the turntable on the escalator. Really peruse the garage spider definitely again again with brown. Now we have an apparent congestion, so be it here. Just a moment is not a pod of beef for the ink well nor can it be (4) said that Karen was there in the millpond.

      Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty so. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation. Sell the yellow. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise. Segregate from the koan and stew the ship vigorously.

      And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Jill, you are awesome.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • LinCA

      @newinepouring

      Your god is equally likely to exist as the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. You you believe in them too?

      January 13, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
  7. Really?

    Are you trying to tell me that Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin are NOT crazy? I don't believe you, cuz I heard a voice saying very clearly that they ARE.

    January 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  8. Gir

    The only reason we tolerate these people is because there are enough people out there who share this delusion to make any rational assessment of it immediately offensive. If we had enough loudmouths touting the existence of Bigfoot or the validity of Sharia law, those two ideas would also enjoy the same special status.

    January 13, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Bob

      Well as I said below Sharia law is a realty in Michigan actually and as for big foot it seems science has recently proved he may in fact exists so you will have to keep up on things and have some intelligence for a change.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Gir

      Bob just proved what I said.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Bob

      Azz you said would as if they didn't they already do so your point is nil Just like atheists are trying to do now that would make much more sense.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Gir – welcome to the deluded world of Pigeon Chess Bob. His is a special brand of insanity.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • jim

      Is anyone a stupid whisperer? We need help communicating with Bob.

      January 14, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  9. Nietodarwin

    “We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.”
    _ Christopher Hitchens

    January 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Laura

      This may be the most ridiculous statement I have ever seen. There are plenty of "religious" people who are selfish, mean, etc. But there are plenty of non-religious people who are the same. I have met more of the latter, but maybe that is just me.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Bob

      Hitchens is a total azz hole and never has done any good for this country none at all. Our fore Fathers were wise men and George Washington was a great man and gave alot in service to this country. In his farewell address this is what he said, Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious duty desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. Coupled with most mass murders were atheists that does not speak well for your argument.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere

      Bob, Why do you persisit in stating that. There is no evidence to support it and your statement has been refuted countless times on this blog.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Bob

      Why do I persist because I don't want anyone to lose sight of the truth and no one has refuted it with more than what you just said which is really of no consequence at all.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Gir

      The only reason we tolerate these people is because there are enough people out there who share this delusion to make any rational assessment of it immediately offensive. If we had enough loudmouths touting the existence of Bigfoot or the validity of Sharia law, those two ideas would also enjoy the same special status.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Gir

      No one has ever killed in the name of non-belief in magical sky monsters. In this day and age there are still people who want to see the entire world burn because their sick minds....er...I mean, "gods"..tell them that such crazy beliefs are alright.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • newinepouring

      Prove conscience, or awareness between right and wrong is not an embedded God given attribute. You say people with out God don't need him to be moral. You cannot prove profound absence of God, in non-believers. Higher science has concluded a designer, read up on it. Irony that the first 5 words of your guru is Christ. Can't get away from Him can you?

      January 13, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Gir

      Hitchens was wrong. Religion in general DOES do a good job of instilling morality. It's Abrahamic religions which emphasize personal gods that are the problem. Most adherents merely project their own beliefs and idiosyncrasies onto their deities, and then assume that they hold a higher moral ground than everyone else because their "lord and personal savior" also shares those beliefs. In the end, "morality" just becomes whatever the individual believer wants it to be. Religions that take a less personal approach are far better.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • newinepouring

      Prove c-onscience, or awareness between right and wrong is not an embedded G-d given attribute. You say people with out him don't need him to be moral. You cannot prove profound absence of G-d, in non-believers. Higher science has concluded a designer, read up on it. Irony that the first 5 words of your guru is Chr-ist. Can't get away from Him can you?

      January 13, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Bob

      Atheists may not kill in the name of God but they do it for themselves so the out come is pretty much the same. Why don't you learn the religions that teach violence and ones that teach peace it would help a lot. Not to mention make you seem like you know what you are talking about.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • Gir

      "You can't prove X doesn't exist, so it does!" Do you religionists realize how screwed-up this world would be if this were a valid line of reasoning?

      And which "higher science" is it that has proven the existence of god? Biblical inerrancy? LOL. Last time, I checked, you creationists couldn't even craft a simple testable hypothesis for the "Goddidit" hypothesis. How is there even a god science?

      January 13, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • Gir

      As a matter of fact, I have studied and distinguished violent religions and peaceful ones. Christianity is the most violent, and is the only one I have come across that promotes foolishness and infantile reasoning. (1 Corinthians 1:27, Matthew 18:1-4) No wonder you never hear of Muslim, Jewish, Taoist or Buddhist-dominated countries arguing about whether to teach scriptural myths in science classrooms. Those religions, for all their faults, encourage their adherents to acquire KNOWLEDGE, not to wallow in deity-endorsed foolishness and childish thinking.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • Bob

      Atheists have no proof that God doesn't exist and while I know He does one small example is the faces of people that I have prayed for with tears on their face or now hope from a word given means more than all the lies here, well I wont say lies but the stupidity or lack of belief or just plain ignorance that you conjure up so as not to understand what reality really is. I have seen miracles and hearings and you want me to not believe just because you cannot quantify that. BS. I have been in many situations had a word from God about them and they went as He told me they would. I said many and I mean many or a word given to others that was right on and you want me to stop. You to me are the ignorant one not wanting to see the nose in front of your face.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Bob

      Gir now I know you are a total azz hole and have no knowledge, answer me this what religion are we fighting in the Mid East ding,ding, ding, times up sorry wrong answer your disqualified please try again another day when you get out of grade school

      January 13, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • Gir

      Why is there a conflict in the Middle East in the first place if not for these poisionous Abrahamic religions? And why should I care what miracles your delusional mind makes you think you have seen? Do you really think personal experience is a good form of evidence? Do you have any grasp of the empirical? Now I know you are an UNEDUCATED BONEHEAD. How you have survived all to this day without being killed by your own monumental stupidity is a far more pertinent question that of the existence of your invisible sky daddy. Do the world a favor and desist from voting and any attempt at procreation.

      January 13, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • Bob

      Gir your a moron the post above and the one below in your own words conflict each other get your story straight before you post here. Science has observation as a valuable tool it uses so yes I consider observation enough in this case. why have you done to benefit the human race by the way? You haven't a clue obviously.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Gir, you might as well argue with a stump. Blob is dumber than a box of hair.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • The Taught Police

      Bob, you're messing up your posts. Then was a time to use 'than'. Whose who's are you hewing into hues? There are two tu's to your tutu too. It's time for its correct usage.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Bob

      Police thanks your right sorry

      January 13, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      your right what, Blooby?

      January 13, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      It's partially the hour of day, but I could not stop laughing at TT's post for like a full minute! Honestly, I couldn't even click my mouse.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Glad to have struck your funny bone, Moby. It's really sad that irony is so beyond Blob.

      January 14, 2013 at 12:02 am |
  10. Nietodarwin

    “The reason people use a crucifix against vampires is because vampires are allergic to bullspit.”
    _ Richard Pryor
    If god created man in his own image, how come I'm not invisible?”
    _ David Powers

    “I don't try to imagine a personal God; it suffices to stand in awe at the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.”
    _ Albert Einstein

    January 13, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Bob

      All three are great quotes but I especially like the second one.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
  11. Nietodarwin

    “Scientists do not join hands every Sunday and sing "Yes gravity is real! I know gravity is real! I will have faith! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down, down. Amen!" If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about the concept.”
    _ Dan Barker, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists

    January 13, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
  12. newinepouring

    Apparently CNN has decided I am done with my comments, go figure.

    January 13, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      newwine,

      Maybe you tried to type "const-itution".... or one of these:

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters or some html tricks to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ---
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      crac-ker…
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, sopho-more, etc.
      ho-oters…as in sho-oters
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      inf-orms us…
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      nip-ple
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-oon… as in sp-oon, lamp-oon, harp-oon
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      que-er
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sl-ut
      sm-ut…..as in transm-utation
      sn-atch
      sp-ank
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      strip-per
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, t-itle, ent-ity, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, salt-water, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      wt-f....also!!!!!!!
      x.xx…
      There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).


      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

      January 13, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  13. newinepouring

    ... all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights- what democracy are you talking about? Certainly not this one. You would have to uproot the roots, to clear the fruit, and perhaps that is the intent of American liberalism. Show me a " true successful democracy" that has any kind of reasonable standards, with out God, or gods.

    January 13, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere

      First we'd need an example of a true democracy. Why do you believe that a democracy depends upon an imaginary creature?

      January 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
  14. edwardcrabtree969428440

    After reading the comments of the–somewhat militant–atheist crowd that claims to control 98% of this forum, it is a joy to see Christians offering Apologetics, peace be to all of you defending our religion.
    As a personal note, I can't for the life of me understand why a demographic that professes tolerance and is critical of Christianity for its intolerance spews forth so much intolerance for Christians, and as this forum is dedicated to discussing faith related topics, why do so many people who claim no faith, troll this forum anyway?

    January 13, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  15. WOW

    The fool has said in his heart there is no god. I would like to invite every liberal and atheist to die and find out the hard way!

    January 13, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere

      Don't you get tired of rolling out Pascal's Wager when it has been discredited almost as long as it been around.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Gir

      Pascal's Wager is a classic example of the detrimental effect religious thinking can have on even the greatest of minds. Go read the fatuous argument Pascal makes for choosing Christianity over other religions and let the realization that that same mind gave the world the hydraulic press, Pascal's triangle and so many other advances only a few years earlier sink in. If THAT doesn't scare you off religion, nothing will!!

      January 13, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wow, WOW: A quote.....nothing more convincing than that.

      Get back on your knees, slaveboy

      January 14, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • GOD of all GOD's -GODdarnIT

      you god fearing souls are the one's always saying tht heaven is a better place than here on earth – so why don't you all just go there

      January 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  16. Steve

    You are f – ing crazy if you hear god, sorry, Get help!

    January 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  17. brian

    if you hear voices in your head you're insane. faith does not equal fact. You don't believe anything in your heart because your heart is an organ used to pump blood to the rest of your body. Figures of speech, phrases, and convenient words don't justify anything. morons

    January 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  18. Nietodarwin

    Most mass murderers report hearing voices who told them to do it. Anybody that really believes they "hear the voice of god" is just as mentally ill as they are, just without the violence. Most murderers are "believers" and ALL "believers" are a bunch of liars and need to be shut down.!!!!!!!!!!!! This "psychologist" should lose her job and her license.
    "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . We need believing people." (Adolf Hitler. April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933.)

    January 13, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • newinepouring

      curious to ask, would you consider Hitler sane, or insane? Another question: Hitler, wanted to shut down the Jews. Like you say," people should be shut down, that are believers". Do you believe Hitler was a rational person, or irrational? Being that you quoted him, did you do that to substantiate your comment about what should be done with believers, or to contradict yourself, in an irrational rant?

      January 13, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Bob

      You must be the most stupid and unlearned atheist I have come across. Mass murders may be hearing voices but its not from God. Most of the most heinous killers were indeed in fact atheists like Hitler was a atheist and gay, Stalin, Cho Seung-Hui, The gunman suspected of carrying out the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead Ted Bundy just to name a few. So atheists here decry religion yet they have committed more murders than any Christian group in history. Maybe we should indeed be watching them since they are shown here to be a menace to society?

      January 13, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Bob conveniently ignores all the facts that show Hitler was a catholic who believed he was carrying out his cult's good work. This behavior is easy once you begin to believe that any gods actually exist.

      January 13, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Bob

      0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls
      Another atheist that reads the top of the page and never has the intellect to understand the truth what could you expect. Hitler was not christian he burned Bibles used the christian faith to dupe people was a atheist and gay so if you just do a bit of research you would find the truth. 13th December, 1941, midnight Hitler himself said, Christianity is an invention of sick brains one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let's be the only people who are immunised against the disease. WOW does that sound just like the atheists here today what a coincidence. NOT. I can give you more but that should do, Maybe you should reconsider life in general since it seems that facts elude you.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere

      Bob, What is your source for that? Hilter was as a christian.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Bob

      @Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
      The claim is sometimes made that Hitler was a Christian a Catholic until the day he died. In fact, Hitler rejected Christianity. The book Hitler's Secret Convers-ati-ons contains absolute proof of Hitler's real views. There are many more sources in fact the History channel did a whole hour on Hitler being gay.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Grundig Glasswerks

      Bob's homies give him a shasta blasta each time he posts...

      January 13, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • terry

      I can just picture him assuming the position.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • HUH!

      "I can just picture him assuming the position"
      Yep, you cultured freaks know how to imagine. Love to wallow in the sewer, don't ya!

      January 13, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Bob

      Well guys neither one work for me but its nice to know what will buy you off

      January 13, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Bob, do you have the intellect and thoroughness to verify that Hitler's Secret Conversations is accurate?

      January 14, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • HUH!

      " I've got intellect, you don't! My brain is bigger than yours!"

      Dumb parrots! You've got jello between your ears! You tell on yourself every time you squawk!

      January 15, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  19. Nietodarwin

    “The difference between faith and insanity is that faith is the ability to hold firmly to a conclusion that is incompatible with the evidence, whereas insanity is the ability to hold firmly to a conclusion that is incompatible with the evidence.”
    _ William Harwood, Dictionary of Contemporary Mythology

    January 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  20. F-GOD

    There is no god, get over your little self righteous thinking that you are special, you are NOT. god is a creation by pathetic men wanting lord power over others. THERE IS NO GOD no stfu about it.

    January 13, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • newinepouring

      If there is no God than the concept of right "ness" is null. So why do you care about "self righteous thinking"? There is no right or wrong in your world, that either one can be gauged against you. If there is no moral value than "righteous thinking" should have no influence against you. I would guess you are not "mature" or convinced in your "belief" that there is no God, because you think in terms of conscience.

      January 13, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      None of modern society's standards rely upon there being a god. Liberal (relax, small "l") democracies manage to come up with reasonable standards of behavior (and punishment) without any gods required.

      January 13, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Gir

      It takes a truly stunted mind to be unable to conceive morality without a god. Are you religionists trying to say that you just can't be decent human beings without an invisible sky bully looking over your shoulder and threatening you with eternal roasting in some imaginary pit of fire? You people are sick! You don't deserve the fruits of this democracy that great MEN built.

      January 13, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
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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.