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. julie

    I find it horrifying that people think that the voice we here is god. It's called a conscience and has nothing to do with a diety.


    January 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Larry

      I doubt you have one so its probably a demon

      January 10, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Gramar police

      "hear" not "here"

      January 12, 2013 at 5:10 am |
  2. J. Barrett Lee

    Reblogged this on The Theological Wanderings of a Street Pastor and commented:
    I read another article on this person several months ago. Her book, 'When God Talks Back', is one I want to read. I wish they'd release it on Audible...

    January 10, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  3. lamb of dog

    You are absolutely crazy if you hear voices in your head. But if it's gods voice you are just part of a larger group of crazy people so it's okay.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  4. Tony237

    There are a lot of ironies in the "hearing God" debate that are sometimes missed. 1. You are only allowed to "hear God" if God has a personal message for you, NOT if God wants you to give a message to someone else. If you try to give a message from God to someone else, you will be deemed crazy, because Christians don't believe God uses you as a motivational speaker, instead he only talks to you directly. 2. People know God only says nice things to you, God never tells you to do something other people consider "not nice". God telling you to kill your son on an altar is "Old God" before he went to anger management classes and changed his ways. So if you do something "bad" that you say God told you to do, people will say you are crazy, because Christians KNOW God only tells you nice things. 3. God only talks to people who already believe he talks to them. If you are not a Christian and you tell someone you heard God talking, they will think you must have tinitus, because Christians know God would not talk to a non-believer before talking to a believer. 4. Forget about talking to a non-Christian(someone who doesn't believe in Jesus) about God. Those 5 billion people are all going to Hell-in-a-handbasket anyway, so why would they even believe in God.

    January 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  5. 1miken1

    when someone says God spoke to them in an audible voice, they are making it up. They are hearing themselves. God's complete message to us is in writing.

    January 10, 2013 at 12:37 am |
    • Athy

      So how did god write his message to us?

      January 10, 2013 at 12:54 am |
    • sam stone

      there are lots of writings out there 1miken1, can you be more specific?

      January 10, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • Joshua

      To Sam Stone: I would suggest The Holy Bible, the International Version, the best-selling book of all times. Its writings go back over 3000 years and has survived thousands of attempts of eliminating it. Today, hundreds of millions of people are finding hope and comfort studying these scriptures.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • lamb of dog

      How about the book of Mormon. It's a more modern fairytal.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  6. adam

    I am amazed (though maybe I shouldn't be) at how many commenters here miss the point of the article. She is not claiming that any of these people are hearing the voice of God. Nor is she claiming they are not. She does not let us know her opinion on this matter. She is simply pointing out that her research as a psychological anthropologist indicates that mental illness is not the cause of this phenomenon in the case of most people who believe they have heard the voice of God. Whether or not the experience is actually what they think it is is outside the scope of this article.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • meifumado

      And if you ask me she is wrong, People who hear voices are having some type mental instability or hallucinations which can be caused by many different things ( sleep deprivation, stress,drugs, alcohol,starvation and of course people who are delusional and have what is called wish thinking )

      January 9, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Southern Humanist

      Oh I get it, It's just that I question any study where the evidence (in this case voices which exist solely in someone's imagination) is unfalsifiable. The whole thing relies on "proof" that is impossible to verify.

      January 9, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Joshua


      January 10, 2013 at 11:37 am |
  7. christy

    I audibly heard God/angel/someone once. I was 19 at the time and very troubled. I decided to open up my bible for some reason. I heard someone say quite simply, "you must stay on God's path". That was it. I'm not schizophrenic and have never heard anything before or since.

    Now I have no excuse to live without God. Maybe others do, but I sure as heck don't.

    January 8, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • devil's advocate

      How do you know you're not schizophrenic? Or experience a schizophrenic episode?

      January 9, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • jwt

      Hearing voises does not by itself make you schizophenic. There is more to schizophrenia to that. Somethign that the author also did not acknowledge

      January 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  8. Universe

    God in Quran says, (holy Islamic scripture)

    If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of God. They follow only conjecture; they only guess. [Quran 6:116]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    ‘They said, "You have to be Jewish or Christian, to be guided." Say, "We follow the religion of Abraham – monotheism – he never was an idol worshiper." [2:135]

    “Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]

    The Messiah, son of Mary is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate! [5:75]

    It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is. [19:35]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    O people, here is a parable that you must ponder carefully: the idols you set up beside God can never create a fly, even if they banded together to do so. Furthermore, if the fly steals anything from them, they cannot recover it; weak is the pursuer and the pursued. [22:73]

    They do not value God as He should be valued. God is the Most Powerful, the Almighty.[22:74]

    “There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Omniscient.” [2:256]

    “God: there is no other god besides Him, the Living, the Eternal. Never a moment of unawareness or slumber overtakes Him. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. Who could intercede with Him, except in accordance with His will? He knows their past, and their future. No one attains any knowledge, except as He wills. His dominion encompasses the heavens and the earth, and ruling them never burdens Him. He is the Most High, the Great.” [2:255]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.

    January 8, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • meifumado

      How about you quote some of the Sura of the sword?
      Or how about the passage which states that a women's word is worth half of a mans word.
      Please keep your chauvinistic fairy tales to yourself

      January 9, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • jknbt2

      do muslims hear a personal voice they take to be Allah? if so, how do they handle a personal word like that from Allah?

      January 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  9. Southern Humanist

    If you are hearing voices when no one else is around, please seek medical help

    January 8, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • Bob

      I did just that and the dr accepted the Lord and became a Christian.

      January 9, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Southern Humanist

      are you suggesting that mental illness is contagious?

      January 9, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Joshua

      It is sad to note the disrespect by the above writer to anyone who disagrees with his views.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Southern Humanist

      quite the contrary Joshua, I'm sincerely worried about the mental health of the person who is hearing voices. I fail to see how concern for another can be construed as disrespectful.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  10. Bob

    I wanted to say this to some struggling Christians, do you know why its so important to hear the Lord? Because of the guidance help and support he gives us all the time. One of the easiest ways to become discouraged is to say I. I this or I have to do that, or I have to change this or that, we were never meant to change ourselves without help. This is why in some there is not much change when they become Christians because they cannot remove the I and constantly let that I get in the way of us. Some bury the thing that the Lord puts on their heart rather than deal with it but it only is like a infected wound showing up later in worse ways. The Lord puts conviction in peoples heart so they know that they have to change. But most would try to tackle that on their own. Well if you could have done it, you more than likely would have already done it, so ok, what do we do? We pray and agree with God that this thing needs to change, ask Him to help in this change. If at first there is no change keep seeking Him about it and of course try on your own but allow Him to take the very desires for that thing out of your heart or reveal to you why that is there. Its not always obvious why we have certain things in our lives that we do. We sometimes need a healing in a area or remove a influence that has been there or maybe something the way our family has always done a thing is not exactly the way the Lord would want things to be done. With obedience to His change and words He gives us more and more, one step at a time. Its really a exciting adventure to be released from the hindrances in our lives that stop us from living fully. My sheep know my voice

    January 8, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • meifumado

      For most religious people i would have to say its wish thinking that makes them hear voices
      This is a form of mental instability

      January 9, 2013 at 11:20 am |
  11. Fritz Hohenheim

    hear god? Yes, you ARE crazy!

    January 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • god is everywhere

      i hear God when i am by the ocean. and when it thunders. and when there is wind and rain. i see God when i see lightning or a rainbow and when i look at the sun, the moon, and the stars. am i crazy?

      January 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Give Me A Break

      Yes, you are.

      January 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • meifumado

      @ god is everywhere

      This is called wish thinking
      you wish to see or hear god so you do

      Again this is a form of mental instability and means your delusional

      January 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  12. Wrathbrow

    It is estimated that 1 in 25 people will at some point 'hear voices', and it is often associated with intense emotional feelings. It does not mean there is (or is not) a god, otherwise it would mean that for those people who hear voices from imaginary animals and other sources would also make them real.

    January 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • meifumado

      I wonder if these people who hear voices also had imaginary friends as children

      January 9, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  13. jknbt2

    How can you people be so sure that the new tes tament was written so late? Are you sure just because some liberal the ologian in a musty library somewhere said so decades ago?

    January 8, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • sam stone


      insightful there, sparky

      January 8, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      There are people that study these existing texts, like forensics to determine age and origin. Why would you believe that god dictated the bible with no evidence?

      January 8, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • jknbt2

      All of the new testament except for Revelation, 2 Peter, & Jude were written before the fall of Jerusalem in 72 a.d. Why? Because there is no mention of that catastrophic event in any of the new testament books. When you read Revelation, 2 Peter, and Jude, it is obvious from the tone that something just awful has happened or is currently happening.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • jknbt2

      Also, where is 2 Acts? A liberal theologian actually tried to tell me that there must be a third volume somewhere (Gospel of Luke, 1 Acts, & 2 Acts) of Luke’s writings since the historical account of Paul going to Rome ends in Acts with Paul approaching Rome. Come on, get real, there was no third volume that Luke wrote. If so, why is it never mentioned or referred to by anyone? How did the other gospels and the pseudo-gospels survive and not a third volume of Luke's writings?

      January 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • jknbt2

      If Luke's gospel was the last synoptic gospel written, and Paul did not go to prison in Rome until the time of Nero Cesar, then the gospels (except perhaps for John) were written before the fall of Jerusalem. Every time that there are new archeological findings, the dating of the writing of the new testament gets pushed back. You people are using dating systems that have been disproven hundreds of times since they were first suggested in the 19th century by so-called modernists and historical criticism theologians.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • jknbt2

      And you people who say that there is not any doc.umentary evidence for the exi.ste.nce of a his.torical Jesus are simply not being hon.est inte.llectually. There is more doc.umentary evidence for the his.torical Jesus that is available out there than there is doc.umentary evidence for the exi.stence of the his.torical Julius Cesar. And nobody ever challenges the his.torical accounts of Julius Cesar as a real person alive in Roman times.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • jknbt2

      @in Santa we trust...... There is no "for.ensic investigation" made by liberal theologians. You make it sound like there is a pre.cise science of for.ensics looking at the scriptures like the for.ensics in a crime lab. So how does it work for them? They start with a shopping list of spe.culative presup.positions, and keep working at it until their findings "prove" their thesis. The starting point presup.position for a late dating of the writing of the new testament starts with the rather big.ot.ed belief (or lack thereof, more correctly) that miracles never happen, period. Therefore they have to come up with some other mech.anism besides delib.erate fra.ud for all the miracle stories. So they pos.tulated a long period of or.al trad.ition that accounts for intro.duction of so many miracle stories into the accounts. Ask a liberal theologian to provide doc.umentary evidence a long or.al period or late writing of a n.t. book, and they can not do it. There is no evidence like what you require. So play fair, okay?

      January 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  14. jknbt2

    will someone please post the dreaded "forbidden words" list again? thanks

    January 8, 2013 at 7:19 am |
    • sam stone

      CNN's or Carlin's?

      January 8, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • LinCA


      You said, "will someone please post the dreaded "forbidden words" list again? thanks"

      CNN uses WordPress blogs for their opinion pieces, and they use automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. If your post doesn't show up, it most likely had a forbidden word in it.

      On the Belief Blog, repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
            arse             as in Arsenal
            cock           as in cockatiel
            coon           as in cocoon
            cum             as in circumstance
            homo         as in homosexual
            rape         as in grape
            sex           as in homosexual
            spic         as in despicable
            tit               as in constitution or title
            vag           as in vague
            wonderful us

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      January 8, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  15. tim byrnes

    I've read numerous posts here from believers stating the opinion that of course you won't hear God speak if you don't believe in Him (I paraphrase). Now, wouldn't that assertion mean that the belief makes the God real and not the other way around?

    January 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      THAT must be the reason 2357 has to proselytize! Thanks for explaining it so clearly.

      January 7, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Nah, they just mean that god only talks to you if you believe. In that view he's real either way.

      January 7, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Chad

      – you will definitely hear the God of Israel talk to you, believing in Him or not. When Christians say that they are talking about during this period where you are alive on this planet.
      – God simply is not going to coerce anyone who decides not to believe that He is real. He promises in the bible that He will be found if we seek after Him.

      It all boils down to this: do you want God to coerce you? God wants a voluntary relationship, not people who were forced..

      January 7, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • frank

      Chad – "- you will definitely hear the God of Israel talk to you, believing in Him or not. "

      What a load of bullsh it.

      January 7, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • Chad

      how do you know? What investigation have you done that has led you to that conclusion?

      January 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • sam stone

      "God wants a voluntary relationship, not people who were forced.."

      .....like a petulant fvcking child, he will torture you forever is you don't give it to him.

      sounds like a real peach you got there, chad

      January 8, 2013 at 2:51 am |
    • the AnViL

      hindu people hear their gods talk to them.

      it's all in your imagination – literally.

      if you hear voices in your head – they're not gods – they're you.

      it's just you.

      if you're muslim you may believe it is the voice of allah – if you're xian you may believe it is the voice of elohim – if you're hindu you may believe it is the voice of ganesh – if you're the son of sam you may believe it is your dog......

      but it's really just you.


      January 8, 2013 at 3:03 am |
    • jill

      and when i read the words jesus had spoken 2,000 years before, it was like that.
      burning red hot coals of his voice
      and he was speaking to me right then and there
      they were alive
      he was alive
      and i couldn't believe it.
      i had no idea.

      this shouldn't make it either based on past blocking

      February 27, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  16. 2357

    God did show up, and people killed him. And they've been trying to curse him out of existence for 2000 years, to no effect whatsoever. The more you hate, the more he proliferates!

    January 7, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "2357", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded and delusional. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      January 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • sam stone

      gods die when people do not believe. the christian god will suffer the same fate

      January 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      2357, then why do you need to be a cheerleader? Can't your team win unless you scream yourself silly with plati tudes that impress only those as stupid as you?

      January 7, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • 2357

      Here is a universal constant: The more explicitly you violate the name of Jesus, the more profoundly he invades your consciousness. Try it out. I did.

      January 7, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "The more explicitly you violate the name of Jesus, the more profoundly he invades your consciousness."
      Jesus H. Fucking Christ, what baloney. It's his followers that invade.

      January 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • 2357

      When God speaks, universe bursts into existence. All of nature shouts the glory of God into eternity. Only the most wicked of demons mumble their dissent in futility. And only the most foolish of men go around repeating their words.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, the irony.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      23skidmark says: "Try it out, I did."

      Fair warning to all of you.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Someone wake me when 2357 has something useful or insightful to say? Although I realize I may be sleeping until I die.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      By "useful" do you mean "useful" as cows!t is useful? You know, as fertilizer?

      January 7, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Useful" like cows!t is "useful"?

      January 7, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • 2357

      L in CA
      Talk is cheap. Put your money where your mouth is and go do something about Jesus Christ your Lord and Judge.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      No, I mean something that could at least pass soundness in logic, if not validity.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, 23 skidmark, talk is cheap. That's why it's all you ever do. I'll bet you've never done anything that you didn't brag about to make yourself look like a saint.

      Too bad you don't fool anyone with your pious act.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • 2357

      Make it really count, atheists. Remember what counts is what is material in your book. Words are just fluffy puffs of air.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Try Phazyme, Skidmark.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Put your money where your mouth is and go do something about Jesus Christ your Lord and Judge."
      Since stupidity isn't illegal, and I can't legally hunt believers, I'm doing what I can. Education is my best hope, but there are far more dimwitted believers than I have time to educate. Most, like you, seem entirely unwilling to entertain even the possibility that their imaginary friend is just that, imaginary.

      All I really can hope is that the next generation will have a few more that realize the god they've been told about is no different than the Tooth Fairy.

      Baby steps.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Straw Man anyone?

      January 7, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Phew. Did Skidmark fart again? Good grief.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • 2357

      My my, it's the same old bunch. Where's goth girl, I mean Athy?
      Still blogging for yoga coupons I see.

      If I thought I were some saint, wouldn't I be rooting for ND? Roll tide, roll.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, goody. I hit a nerve.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ick! Too bad it's the nerve that controls Skid's sphincter.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Geez, dude, wipe your ass once in a while.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oops. Sorry, that isn't your ass, is it? My bad.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • 2357

      Tom tom, you forgot your meds today. Do not go off it, please.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, I believe you are the one who quit taking the drugs you need to control your bowels, Skidmark.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Skid, you're a walking warning sign about the dangers of zealous belief in a god of your own making. Who would want to be a Christian if you're the exemplar? What a ripe piece of pus you must be in real life.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • 2357

      I'm not a very moral or kind person. I've probably done more evil in life than the typical blogging atheist. But I've lived enough to realize that denying God only makes my evil permanent and terminal. God grants continuity, even perpetuity.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If your god grants you eternal life after you continue to sh!t all over everyone on earth, I have no respect for him at all. He's got crummy taste in people if he likes you.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And Skidmark? I'd rather spend an eternity in hell than a minute with a miserable ass like you.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "I'm not a very moral or kind person. I've probably done more evil in life than the typical blogging atheist. But I've lived enough to realize that denying God only makes my evil permanent and terminal. God grants continuity, even perpetuity."
      To keep people without a moral compass, like yourself, from being an even bigger burden on society, religion may be beneficial.

      Please don't lose your faith. The people around you depend on it for their safety.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Doesn't it just slay you, Lin, that ass wipes like Skidmark rail on and on about how completely "immoral" atheists and agnostics are and then go on to blather about their horrible, unforgivable sins? I can't even think of anything "evil" that I've ever done to anyone or anything. But the Skidmark, an avowed Christian, is evil incarnate, to hear him burp about it.

      So yet another lie of the religious zealots is exposed by their own hands.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Skidmarks says: "I'm not a very moral or kind person. I've probably done more evil in life than the typical blogging atheist."

      Gee, shocker.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • 2357

      Love is greater than bitterness.
      Love is stronger than death.
      Love can cleanse the vilest of sins.
      Love conquers all. Jesus Christ is proof.
      Yeshua the Christ, uber alles.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I don't commit "vile sins" in the first place. You might try that, Skidmark.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And really, Skid, YOU? Discussing "love"?

      What a friggin' laugh.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • 2357

      A sin unconfessed is a sin more vile.
      Tom tom, you stand proud, but for how long?

      January 7, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • == o ==

      "A sin unconfessed is a sin more vile."

      Oh look, it's the disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer wannabe.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • LinCA

      Whenever I read shit like that I imagine a believer, brought up in a strict christian home. Someone who got dissatisfied with the church his parents dragged him to for years. Getting angry at his religion and blaming his god. Finds that it is easier to steal a bike and ask for forgiveness, than to pray for one. Quits going to church and proclaims to be an atheist (probably spelled "athiest"). After a few years of being an "immoral atheist", finds "true faith" again, probably influenced by a slick preacher.

      The result is a believer who thinks that all atheists are what he believes atheists are. Angry at his god, and thieves and liars, not realizing that he never was an atheist. He believes that atheists can be saved, after all he was, too. All they have to do is stop being angry at his god.

      A believer like that thinks he knows how an atheist thinks, because he thinks he once was one, failing to realize (or acknowledge) that to be angry at something, you first have to believe it exists. That to be angry at any god, you have to be a believer.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Athy

      Well said, LinCA.

      January 7, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      2357: talk is cheap? is that why the pious continue to blah, blah, fvcking blah here?

      continue to bloviate on, 2357....or actually show some initiative and go meet jeebus.....do you have tall buildings where you live, or are you too much a babbling coward?

      January 8, 2013 at 2:54 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Skidmark, I don't "stand proud," you moron. I simply live my life as best I can, do what I can to help where I can, and try to do no harm. As to "how long," you dimwit, who knows? And who cares? I'll die when I die and that will be that. What I did will be remembered for a little while and then like everyone else, I and my accomplishments will be forgotten.

      If anyone is "proud," it's morons like you who think you're so special that we all need to listen to your blather.

      January 8, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • meifumado

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

      January 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  17. Ken Margo

    People in a desperate bid to have their prayers come true, will believe whatever they can. I have no problem with this. It's when they base laws on this nonsense is when I have problem with it.

    January 7, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  18. Jake

    So god only speaks to people in their heads. Yep, that's a mental problem. If it happens often, they can diagnose it.

    January 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Andre, If you heard that someone had a seminar in central China 20 years ago showing how you could levitate objects with the power of Chi would you believe it? This happened while I was in China and a stadium full of people believed it...must be true, right?

      January 7, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
  19. Johnny 5

    Why doesn't God just show up in person and have a seminar of sorts? That would certainly hold some credibility.

    January 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Andre

      He already did.

      January 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm |

      Andre, have any evidence for this? Something credible perhaps? A photograph? Video?

      January 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • JPopNC

      To The Brown Note: Evidence? How about Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? These are historical references and there is evidence that even secular historians admit that prove Jesus was an actual person.

      January 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Bob

      Such "evidence" from 2000 years ago (and apparently written many years after the supposed events) if you could even call it that, is not credible. Reasonable doubt is more than justified.

      Why is it that your sky fairy can't get with the past decade and produce his own website (no, religious shill sites don't count), or even push some tweets out? Even the pope, that criminal hider of criminal priests, can do the latter.

      The reason is that your god doesn't exist.

      January 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm |



      Sorry, but fables written decades after an alleged event does not count as evidence. Try again.

      January 7, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • NClaw441

      If God were to appear (again, we Christians believe that He did appear in human form) do you think everyone would believe it was Him? I have my doubts. In this technological day there is probably no proof sufficient for many.

      I guess God could have set things up so that there was no issue as to His existence and power. He could have made us all automatons who blindly worshipped. That doesn't sound like true admiration of God, or very rewarding for a supreme being.

      I tend to think of God as a sort of parent figure, something I can identify with. My wife and I had children because we wanted persons who were a part of us to love and to be loved by. We could have had our kids call us "Mommy dearest" and "Wonderful Father" and beat them when they failed to do so, but that wouldn't be very rewarding. Our most rewarding moments as parents come when we get acts of love that are totally unsolicited, even if by worldly standards they may fall short. That's what all those drawings, ashtrays made from clay (and we don't smoke) and home-made cards are– unsolicited acts of love.

      Isn't that the kind of thing God wants from us? Anyway, that's what my faith suggests.

      January 7, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Deez

      JPopNC, the proof is "someone said so in a book from 2000 years ago"? Proof that a person named Jesus existed? So what? There are many Jesus's the in phone book today. That doesn't imply nor prove anything. There was also people like David Koresh who were believed by some as the final prophet. Cain, Perry and Bachmann were all told by God to run for POTUS. And they all failed miserably, making a laughing stock out of religion. Umm, so proof you say?

      January 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Andre, If you heard that someone had a seminar in central China 20 years ago showing how you could levitate objects with the power of Chi would you believe it? This happened while I was in China and a stadium full of people believed it...must be true, right?

      January 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • theemptyone1

      Andre, years later, some people claimed this, but it is pure conjecture; what people said about someone who neither wrote his thoughts down or even dictated to someone who wrote them down for them. Elvis didn't say he would, but he's been coming back for decades now.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  20. Banjo Ferret

    Unless that voice is prefaced with "hello my child, this is Tim the Destroyer of Worlds", then it's all in your head. Ferretianism is the one true religion. Repent!

    January 7, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • 1miken1


      January 10, 2013 at 12:42 am |
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About this blog

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