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

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

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

By T.M. Luhrmann, Special to CNN

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

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

Except that usually it’s not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • God

soundoff (7,767 Responses)
  1. DE

    Ramses II talked to Ptah, Akenaten talked to the Aten; history is full of people talking to their "god" none of which were real, and neither are today's "gods" real. Usually when a leader was talking to his "god" it was to get the OK to commit an atrocity, of which over the centuries christians have perpetrated several times, in the name of their "god" and Jesus.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • David Alan Carmichael

      There are many hostile comments from those who have first-hand experience of not-hearing God.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Chad

      @David Alan Carmichael "There are many hostile comments from those who have first-hand experience of not-hearing God."

      =>good observation! Why are they so hostile, and why are they so positive that the God of Israel doesnt exist?

      December 30, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  2. If you truely hear voices....

    ...its time for a M.R.I..... you may have a tumor or MS...

    God does not exsist..period. Most Christians (as in 95%) have no clue that their 'kind and loving' god was actually the war god of a collection of desert tribes and went by the name Yahweh before his promotion to The One God- his priests were the victors in a power struggle.

    From there it was up to what the Catholics as to which ancient scrolls were used as a base for each book their Bible...and it was a capital offense to translate out of Latin – to make it easier to change as needed to fit current church policy..the rest is History, as they say.

    Religion, Gods, Spirits ect were a first attempt to explain the forces around us..a bad one at that. Today, the rich and the clergy are trying like the devil to keep the con alive as religion has been the main reason the poor masses dont rise up and slaughter the power elite.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      If you truely hear voices....,
      You are blessed. I have never heard God speak audibly, but he has communicated with me and a multi.tude of believers. He will communicate with you too. If he hasn’t already, someday, God will present his free gift to you. It will be up to you whether or not you accept it. Choose wisely.

      The evidence of the gospels as historical text. The revelation of the mind and character of God preserved by scribes in over 8,000 manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate; 5,000 Greek manuscripts; 13,000 manuscripts of the New Testament;The Septuagint (Greek translation of Hebrew Old Testament, 285 BC); Codex Sinaiticus (early copy of the Bible, 350AD); Codex Vaticanus (early copy of the Bible, 325 AD). The Bible is unique in its; 1. Infallibility; 2. Continuity (written over a 1,600 year span); 3. Tradition (written in 250 languages); 4. Circulation (over 2 billion copies produced); 5. Survival (preserved, copied and recopied over a span of 1,600 years); 6.Teachings (accurate historical accounts); 7. Impact Upon Surrounding Literature; 8. Prophetic Utterances Fulfilled; 9. Self-Proving in Nature; 10. Defines Divine and Human Nature the Best. See Harvard’s Simon Greenleaf’s; Testimony of the Evangelists. The Bible is inspired (Gr. Theopneustos, meaning “God breathed”) by Jehovah God, self-sustained and self-proved by the evidence of these 7 “C’s”. All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God…that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:16. No prophesy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophesy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Pet. 1:20-21. “ELS” (see pg 24) (equidistant-letter-sequencing) in the Torah (The Hebrew O.T.) demonstrates God’s signature throughout His Word by means of a hidden code, revealed by use of a computer. The Old and New Testaments do not contradict any present day scientific knowledge about the universe, proving that scripture did not come from men. When written, men falsely believed that the earth was flat and the sun revolved around the earth. Even the Roman Catholic Pope placed Galileo under house arrest because he said the earth revolved around the sun, contrary to Catholic beliefs. If scriptures were not the uninspired writings of God, the texts would be strewn with astronomic inaccuracies. – Nyce

      December 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Chad

      @If you truely hear voices...., what investigation have you done that lead you to determine the God of Israel was not real?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Bonnie

      I ask you to please provide proof that the Catholic, Apostate "church" put the Holy (incorruptible) Bible together.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • If you truely hear voices....

      @ Robert

      Pulling your proof from the same pile of scrolls as the bible is based on is ...circular logic. the greeks wrote about Zeus as well..the Mayans, Chinese, Egyptians ect.. all did the same.

      @ Chad

      What makes Yahweh any more real than Thor or Ra? He appears out of nowhere after Several cultures have been up and running for thousands of years....borrows from the creation stories of the surrounding civilizations – send his son to perform a bit of magic here and there and disappears again.... not to be seen again...ever...

      @ Bonnie

      Google is your friend here.... you will not that the Bible was in the sole care of Catholics for hundreds of years....differing versions eventually spun off....not that it really matters, religions create the books they need... Qua an, Torah, Book of Mormon ect.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Chad

      @If you truely hear voices.... "What makes Yahweh any more real than Thor or Ra?"
      @Chad "your answer is "There are a lot of gods, who knows if any of them are real?
      not much of an answer.. you havent done any investigation at all into the Christian claims?
      Your logic is:
      – there are no gods
      – Christianity believes in a God
      – therefor Christianity is false

      is that about it?

      December 30, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • If you truely hear voices....

      Yes Chad

      That is my stance...and yes ive l been forced to look at Christianity closer than I wanted....and the closer i looked the more obvious to me that is was a scam. none of it is true.... and i DEEPLY resent its intrusion into our politics and Government.

      December 30, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  3. 2357

    If you hear the story of Jesus and discover God's love, congratulations you are Christian.
    If you hear Jesus telling you stories, go straight to the nuthouse, and do not go near a gun shop.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  4. Blah

    There is no Jesus, there is only Zuul

    December 30, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Accounts of 22 famous contemporary historians with references to the person of Jesus Christ;
      Cornelius Tacitus (Roman A.D. 60) Thallus (Roman A.D. 52) Mara Bar Seraphian (Hebrew A.D. 73) Lucian of Samosata (Greek A.D. 125) Flavius Josephus (Hebrew A.D. 37) Suetonius (Roman A.D. 120) Plinius Secundus (Roman A.D. 112) Tertullian (Roman A.D. 175) Pontius Pilate (Roman A.D. 33) Justin Martyr (Roman A.D. 150); Jesus is also mentioned in the Jewish Talmud (work finished cir 500 AD) which incorporates the Mishna completed in cir 200 AD.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • But Then

      Robert Brown,

      Those historians only reported on what the Christians of the day claimed about their super-hero. None witnessed nor recorded anything live from him.

      Some of those historians mention Hercules too. Does that mean he was/is real?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      But Then, we have the gospels to tell us what he said and did. We also have the holy spirit to bear witness with our spirit that his word is true. Peace.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  5. Paul

    This comment/chat is almost as long and as BIG as my bick... I mean EGO! 😛

    December 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      The bic is nearer to where the soul resides.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  6. Mark Yelka

    Just because the author of this article says that people who hear god aren't necessarily crazy doesn't mean that's true. Or, perhaps he thinks crazy and delusional are separate things. Frankly, anyone who thinks they have a "personal" relationship with god is delusional. There is no person there. It's all in the person's mind. And, the human mind is ever so good at imagining things.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Mike S

      It's people's narcissism. The creator of all things speaks to ME, I am SPECIAL.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • dreamer96

      Yeah like Noah was running around sing I am special....
      so many that claimed to hear the lord died a slow and painful death...
      Like Joan of Arc....Did she run around singing Oh I'm Special after they tortured her???

      December 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Mark Yelka,

      Christianity is not a religion, it is a personal relationship with Jesus.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Stop listening to Papa Bear. Christianity is a religion. Christianity (from the Ancient Greek: Χριστιανός Christianos and the Latin suffix -itas) is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of christ. (From Wiki)

      December 30, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Sane Person,
      Men have made a religion out of Christianity. The form and rituals are meaningless if you don’t have Jesus.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Mark Yelka

      And without a god, it is just plain meaningless. And, sad, too. Imagine believing in Santa all your life and trying to be nice all year because you want presents. Living the delusion has an effect on social management, but I really think that people could rise above the need for a beneficent or an unkind god and just be nice to leave a personal legacy behind and to know that they lived a life to the full, knowing that this one life we have is precious and should not be wasted.

      December 30, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  7. The One True God

    It's not always crazy; sometimes it's just delusional.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  8. Eddo

    Hearing voices is not crazy. Thinking that you know it's God talking to you is crazy.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Your ego has all the characteristics of Satan and has access to you 24/7. If your ego cqan convence you that it is you or that it is God you will self destruct. Assuming your ego is God might make you harm others. I am not special, my master can make another of me from a stone.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      Your master?

      Are you a slave, John?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • tony

      Actually, John, many of us are beginning to suspect that your Satan is actually pulling your strings, whether you realize it or not. Maybe you could get test exorcised . . .soon

      December 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • dreamer96

      Satan may have access to you 24/7 ..but so does God..and the Holly Spirit so they say.....I remember when they dug up the basement looking for that missing boy's body in a New York neighborhood, and the activity in the neighborhood finally worked on the real killer a store clerk that had been questioned many years ago when the little boy disappeared...It finally broke him and he confessed to the killing in the store basement....Sad case ...but some would say he had a battle in his soul over the truth...and the truth won...

      December 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  9. lionlylamb

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

    There is a time to daydream and a time for learning. Daydreams that teach can only be manifested upon those whose souled impartations are relevant of tutorial euphemisms. A child whose daydreams are not of life living commonalities are censored and made de-amplified and turned to being nonexistent except for the daydreamer’s soulful impartations. God knows all souled impartations within one's psychic endorsements.

    Visual enlightenment via daydreaming is all from our earliest years before we knew any words. It is our being assimilated by wordage uses that our minds become wordage proprieties and we all become less acclimated to our psychic daydreaming days to the points we no longer are pruned with visual daydreams. Still, we all do daydream no matter one's ages yet most are held to dreaming of one's wants in the material realms. The spiritualized daydreams of anyone are nowadays of wilted spiritualisms never becoming a fruitful rationalism due relevancies of spiritless materialized matters.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • onemorehere

      agree this being the reason why Jesus is the guiding light to God's wisdom, and faith the path to come to the father our lord=God, there is only one God an infinite way to come to him...Jesus is one other religions have other names to ispire people to find the only God in nature, but most get decieved and never espend the time need to find the creator 'God' or Wisdom

      though It seems that i am calling God Wisdom each is a separte thing...but both are intertwine as one

      December 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      onemorehere,

      God's Holy Spirit is the allness of absolute nothingness and yet God's physical essence is seeded deeply inside all cellular cosmologies wherever such living realms of cellular cosmologies are made manifested upon any planetary plains within the celestial shorelines of all the celestially made cosmologies seeded in outer space, the Holy Spirit of God being absolute nothingness.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  10. Theamology

    We don't really need for God to speak. We have never need a holy book. We can all see the decisions of God, the decisions that God makes every day and they describe a God who is very beautiful and who loves us all dearly. Even this morning she decided to create thousands of newborn children and then to entrust them to humanity. She has done this for the past tens of thousands of years.. The God we can all see, by simply observing the decisions of God, is not the malevolent creator of hell that is described in the Bible or the Quran.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Christian7

      Why are you calling the Father "she"?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Hell was created for the fallen angels and no man was ever intended by God to go there. Adam chose Eve over God and joined her in self awareness; losing his birthright of life. Christ has redeemed that birthright and by our own free will we might choose life.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • tony

      Hell, evil and the devil are purely marketing creations of religious leaders, who want to to control their followers more readily and more strongly.

      Go get your wife's Burka ready John Tarver.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Theamology

      God does not object if you want to think of him as father, however his character is not the character of the God described in the old testament. We can see this by closing the book and observing the decisions that God makes. God does not create places like hell, places of eternal torment. God has never had that character. Our ancestors were all wrong about that. You can see this clearly if you think of her as female and observe the decisions that she makes; this technique dissolves the psychological impact of the false ideas of God that we all inherited. God does not object if we wish to think of her as female, we can all see she is very beautiful and loving in her nature. I cherish God and I like to think of her as female and after all, she will be whatever she wishes to be, whenever she wishes to be.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      In the old testament God's female character is the Holy Spirit, but in Christianity that relationship is juxtaposed.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Becool

      By mentioning the Quran, FYI it's just a bad copy of judaism so it's not the Bible and something! By the way I don't believe in any, if I don't believe in the original how anyone can believe in a bad copy?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  11. lol??

    atheists feel left out, so they make up their own blessings......"Jhn 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed."

    December 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • tony

      Atheists pity those who think they can replace the hard work of learning with the laziness and ease of imagining a cargo cult.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • lol??

      don't ferget the blood sweat and tears of those on easter island, either. you will be judged more harshly.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  12. Converted

    I will take being called crazy... it confirms my faith even more. At one point during our Saviors ministry, his friends tried to get him to stop because they thought he was out of his mind.

    Thank you my friends for helping the Christians in their heavenly quest and bringing to light a teaching of Jesus:
    Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    I believe in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      Why?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Bishop Hairy Palms

      Have you ever considered the possibility that people say you are crazy because you are.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Converted

      Because the Spirit converted me.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      Me? I don't know of anyone calling me crazy. I just asked a one word question.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      Can the spirit convert me?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Converted

      I asked that of myself Bishop... but the bible confirmed what happened was as it is.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Converted

      Yes Quantum, it can and probably will. I was agnostic before and never really seen myself getting converted. No man could have done it.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      The bible says that I've committed an unforgivable sin though. Can I still get into heaven?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Converted

      What would that unforgivable sin be?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      Past blasphemy against/conscious denial of the holy spirit.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Converted

      When Jesus said that the pharisees where saying the miracles he performed where of the devil. Have you seen miracles and called them evil?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • dreamer96

      From what I have read ...Just by asking for forgiveness in a true genuine heart is good enough for Jesus..
      Jesus can see the true self, so a liar can not fool Jesus.....

      December 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Converted

      I really do like the name QuantumImmortality... It has been brought into my studies lately and goes along very well with the creation... God said let there be...

      December 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Converted

      Amen Dreamer

      December 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • But Then

      Converted:
      " but the bible confirmed what happened was as it is."

      There is no proof that the fantasies and superst-itions from the Middle East in the Bible are true. Next...?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      Mark 3:29
      but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation

      December 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Converted

      @ But Then: blah blah blah

      @Quantum: You have talked badly about something you know nothing about... the pharisees claimed to know... that is where blasphemy happens. I hope one day Jesus finds you... I am pretty sure you won't blasphemy any more but will try to help others understand also.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      I don't know.. I've read the whole bible front to back twice and have taken collegiate courses in both Christianity and other world religions and I don't find any redeemable qualities to your religion. I hope that you, and more importantly the world will wake up..

      December 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • But Then

      Converted:
      "@ But Then: blah blah blah"

      Really? That's your response in support of and evidence for the veracity of the Bible's tales?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Converted

      I will leave it at that as it does take the spirit... I wasn't even able to get through the old testament before. One step in my conversion was studying near death experiences and the similarities of them. We really are spirits that have a temporary body.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Converted

      @ But Then: Sorry thought you was just trollin'. There is more and more archaeological evidence of the old testament. This stuff happened thousands of years ago on a relatively small scale... the remnants aren't that easy to find. However, we do have the bible and civilizations that account for it.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      The most powerful and absolutely amazing experience of my life was an "out of body" one. It felt more real and significant than anything that ever happened to be before or since, including the birth of my daughter. During that time, I was convinced that if my body died, my "spirit" would be fine.

      Objectively though we must accept that there was no evidence in my, or anyone's personal experiences.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Converted

      That's awesome Quantum... after my experience, I have felt the desire to understand it more. We have scientists that study the physical world... I am looking to prophets to understand the spiritual. I don't separate the two. I think they mesh very well. I get a little frustrated with organized religion but I find it necessary.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      Why is that?

      December 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Converted

      I assume the question is in reference to that I think it is necessary... because they preach about God and the spirit... people have somewhere to go when they have questions. There is a lot to be said for fellowship.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • But Then

      Converted,

      There is archeological evidence of ancient Egypt and its cities and rulers too. Does that mean that Ra and Amon and Aten, etc. are real?

      There is archeological evidence of ancient Greece, and Mt. Olympus. Does that mean the the Greek pantheon of gods really lived there?

      There is lots and lots of historical fiction written about this place or that... this person or that... with tidbits of fact mixed with abundant lati-tude in creative details.

      Harry Potter takes place in real England and mentions lots of real places, you know.

      There is not a bit of verified evidence for the other-worldly, fantasy stories from the Bible.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      Maybe it's just me. I have a hard time trusting organizations that claim to have "divine answers" to questions that we don't have the means of answering. And the continuous and systematic harboring and aiding of pedophiles doesn't help either I suppose.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      I believe in the tooth Fairy, Batman and Godzilla, the one true god.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Converted

      @ Quantum: I hear you, there is much that bothers me when it comes to that. Man will be man... The spirit is willing but the body is weak.

      @ Jimmy Joe Jim Bob: troll on brother...

      @ But Then: Those were much larger civilizations and thus have left a larger footprint and history of their society and interpretations of God. The God of Abraham was among the Jewish people only until after Christ. I find it interesting that in all of the great societies of the past, there are references to God. Even the Native Americans had their Gods and spirits. I believe in God! The spirit has shown me to follow Jesus Christ. I'm good with that.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Troll? No, imbecile.

      My point has been demonstrated perfectly by your response.

      December 30, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  13. Bishop Hairy Palms

    If you believe in a "God" who takes the time to talk to you, yet couldn't be bothered to lift a finger to stop 20 innocent children from being executed in their kindergarden class, you have a very serious mental illness called religion.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Anton Dubinski

      Well said.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • dreamer96

      Well since a religious person believes those children are waiting in Heaven for their Parents...Why do you blame God for not stopping their murderer....Jesus did not stop being crucified....He allowed the Roman System to kill him...So in a way Jesus committed a form of suicide...since he could have turned the cross into water and walked away...

      Some believe Judas turned in Jesus ..just to force Jesus to perform a miracle and save himself.....and Judas killed himself when he saw Jesus was going to die...

      December 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Christian7

      How do you know what would have happened if those 20 children lived? How do you know a world war would not have happened otherwise killing millions of people?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      I'm struggling to see your response as anything less than exemplary of mental illness.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Christian7

      QuantumImmortality, IF I traveled back in time and killed Hitler at age 6, how would that affect History potentially, and what would you think if you saw me kill 6 year old Hitler?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      What's your point? That our subjective interpretations aren't always reliable?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Carl Sandburg

      So you're saying God has fingers?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Christian7

      QuantumImmortality, My point is that God see things from a different perspective. Faith that He is good and knows what He is doing allows you to consider things from His perspective. Things He is doing will make no sense from your perspective. IF you saw me kill a 6 year old Hitler, you would probably ask why would God allow this to happen? Maybe you would say, if this happened maybe there is no God because He would not allow a 6 year old boy that is innocent to be killed in cold blood? But killing that "innocent boy" might have stopped a world war.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      It's either a very incapable or a very malevolent god that would play out life as such a game.

      I'm sorry for what religion has done to your mind, but I like to think that people can change. Best of luck moving forward.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  14. John P. Tarver

    I have proposed the test for complying with John 3:16, in that many claim there are many different Jesus prototypes. For in fact the test for life is being aware of which Jesus is the real Jesus. If that is what Christian judgement comes down to I suggest looking for the Jesus that looks like Bob Marley.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • tony

      Funny how so many others have died, saying they would return and let us know that they are enjoying life eternal. But none have . . .

      December 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  15. Lou

    FAITH

    is believing in something that you know for a fact is not real.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      And what about the delusion of LOVE lou?

      December 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      There is little as saddening as when people make a virtue out of something like faith.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Lou,
      Hebrews 11:1
      Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Christian7

      Faith is not believing in something without cause; it is believing with good cause. When you board a plane you do not doubt that their is a pilot; you have faith that the pilot can fly the plane. You have some reason for having this faith. The planes fly all the time and mostly land safely. Your faith in the pilot is probably proportional to the number of safe landings. That is what is meant by faith in God. You should not have faith without good reason.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • QuantumImmortality

      A definition of faith in a dictionary reads something like, "Faith (Noun) : Belief in something with no proof."

      This is the one atheists often refer to. It's important to be on the same page when it comes to language.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  16. onemorehere

    God's words are not a voice but an understanding, not a sound but inlightment of the minds of men-i've never heard a voice in my hears but i am sure i had being spoken to, not with words of sound, but with clarity of the mind, certainty of reason...I cannot even say it was during dreams though for sure i am sure i was sleeping...I will call it undestanding of natures=God's will= Wisdom to find God you find wisdom, God helps you find wisdom...none who truelly knows him can ever depart from him- for his knowledge is lternal life...but by Mercy God allows one to come to him...to find wisdom is to find God- to optain wisdom one must first believe in God...

    December 30, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Agree

      December 30, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  17. achepotle

    I hear God every day..he says shix like "Kill the Amalakites" and "Look, that woman is wearing mixed fibers..smote her." I mostly ignore him...he seems like an a$$h0le.

    December 30, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  18. Carl

    So, you're not crazy unless you do something that the majority of people judge as crazy, like shoot a doctor, or lead a group of people into committing suicide? So, it's a "No True Scotsman" level of deniability where, if the voices you "hear" don't lead you towards doing anything embarrassing to Christianity then it's really God talking, but if they lead you to doing anything that I disagree with, then it's not God, but the devil, I suppose?

    Does that extend to liberal Christians who feel that God is saying to them that gays are not acting sinful, and that they deserve the right to marry within the church? A lot of other Christians would not agree that this voice is actually God talking, any more than the first group things that God is telling conservatives to fight gay marriage. If God is real, and actually does talk to people while others are merely being delusional, we really have no way of telling which group is which, do we?

    December 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  19. John P. Tarver

    I usually find the answer to my prayers in the unfolding of time and do not rely on a voice.

    December 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Lisa

      So, you want something and, either you get it right away, later on, or never, right? How is this any more effective than wishing upon a star?

      December 30, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      I believe the spell of creation has more power than a star and my prayers are affective.

      December 30, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      "I believe the spell of creation has more power than a star and my prayers are affective."

      I do believe we've found ourselves an imbecile.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  20. Tom Cameron

    I'll go ahead and leave this here for those of you that are interested in facts, and not total BS. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareidolia

    If you regularly hear voices in your head, I'd encourage you to seek professional help. If you believe those voices are providing instruction, you need immediate help. If you simply THINK you heard something or saw something, it's Pareidolia and it's completely natural and explainable. That's why, when you ask someone "Have you ever seen something that wasn't actually there", everyone will say yes.

    December 30, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Using wiki to refute a psycologist makes you seem small and childish tom.

      December 30, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • AnnieCee

      Wikipedia isn't always the best source: especially on controversial subjects. I do appreciate WIkipedia: it's an awesome resource. But some subjects turn into a tug of war that's never resolved. I wouldn't use them for the "final word" on subjects like this.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Andrew

      Oh John, the link he provided was for reference, for the definition of pareidolia. Why would you misrepresent it so badly? Oh I see, so you could get a quick and cheap insult in. You've demonstrated your lack of grace and character way too easily.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Andrew

      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pareidolia

      December 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • lol??

      XD always fails for me. I think of Scion. It's the green in me.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • lol??

      Maybe cash for clunkers will return....Maybe cash for clunkers will return.....Maybe cash for clunkers will return.....Maybe cash for clunkers will return.

      December 30, 2012 at 6:33 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.