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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. Observer

    Here's a thought.

    1.) Go out into the woods with nothing, (you don't have to go far). But nothing no cell phone, ipad, ipod, computer or gadgets. No vehicle. Nothing. Once you are completely away from everything man has created and completely away from mankind.

    Take a deep breath.

    Clear your head.

    Ponder the idea that everything you know and everything you think you know may be only one possible explaination that came out of someone else's head instead of your own.

    Then...see what comes to you.

    Then walk back.

    January 31, 2013 at 4:04 am |
    • sam stone

      while you are out there, eat a handful of magic mushrooms. that should help

      January 31, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Bob

      I like the thought it was really good and correct

      January 31, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  2. somdeluxe

    I've always found this particular question fascinating, in a religious context as well as psychics.
    Any answer i have read has been ambiguous at best. At it's core, there are two issues, for me.
    If you are hearing voices as a result of anomalous neurological/psychological causes, then it's obviously a self fabricated delusion. This is easy enough to explain and comprehend.
    The problem is when people in otherwise good mental and physical health claim to hear god, or the departed etc etc. I always ask, by what biological mechanism are you able to receive these voices, and have your brain interpret them as recognisable language? If it is not via sound, then how?
    Unless you disregard all logic, and objective inquiry, this should be a problem for you.
    Really really believing something is not an argument, or a valid position when you are explicitly making claims about human biology. I have all the respect in the world for faith, and belief, in the context of philosophy and theology. But when you cross into the domain of corporeal reality, science, and reason. You have to have some substance to your claims.

    January 30, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Devoted Christian

      Nah. We'll just throw some Bible verses at you and condemn you to hell if you're too smart to be convinced.

      January 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Bob

      Why don't you tell me then by what biological mechanism are you able to love?

      January 30, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Observer

      Good question, some delux. there are many causes of auditory hallucination that are not religious but also do not indicate insanity either. Some nonreligious explainations include stroke, fever, neurochemical imbalances that resolve themself.

      http://all-pathophysiology.blogspot.com/2011/04/pathophysiology-of-hallucination.html
      http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/symptoms/auditory_hallucinations/causes.htm

      Look under pathophysiology of hallucinations if you'd like a non religous explaination. I also have a high regard for faith and persons of faith but I keep faith and science seperate.

      January 31, 2013 at 3:34 am |
    • sam stone

      bob: love is not a biological mechanism, it is an emotional one

      January 31, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Bob

      If we cant prove love then it must not exist right? At least according to somdeluxe

      January 31, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Thoth

      "love" is nothing more than a human attempt to define an emotion.

      January 31, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • sam stone

      the fact that we cannot prove it does not mean it does not exist.

      January 31, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • sam stone

      bob: since you are (purportedly) so interested in logical arguments, why have you not responded to my question (posted on another story) as to how you feel that people can hate (or fear or love) a being in which they do not believe? do you not have an answer, or does the logical answer conflict with your belief system?

      January 31, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • sam stone

      And I suspect you will not answer it this time either.

      Sort of ironic, from a person so steeped in logical arguments

      January 31, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • sam stone

      What's the matter, Bob, are you really that much of a coward?

      January 31, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • sam stone

      Apparently so.

      But I bet you can beg with the best of them

      January 31, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • OTOH

      sam stone,

      In all fairness, @Bob could be out for the day or something. Do keep after him, though.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      OTOH: Bob never answers such questions. He is a coward.

      January 31, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Bob

      page 84

      January 31, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • rabidatheist

      Love is a measurable chemical reaction in the brain.

      January 31, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
  3. boocat

    This author assumes that the Bible is factual....that's her first big mistake.....

    January 30, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • meifumado

      Indeed.

      January 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • Thanatophobic

      Dude I've been nearly suffocating in my own cesspool of thanatophobia and nihilism for over a decade. But I've been suffering in silence I wouldn't wish it on anybody.

      January 30, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  4. Bob

    Hearing the voice of God is vital for Christians. Now its not a strange or crazy thing and most don't even realize that God has been speaking to them all along. When we are not saved God still talks to us and guides us sometimes in thoughts we take as our own or sometimes in situations we know something happened to change that situation. Once we are saved we begin if we press in the voice of God and at that point we realize He was there all along. God created nature and He created us so this is a very natural thing. Science cannot be a qualifier because science is not greater than God plain and simple. Some would like you to believe that it is but science cannot create a world or life. We need science but in its proper place. So without the voice of God in our lives we are left with words and while God does look after His word to perform it, we as humans tend to go off track and need the occasional pep talk or guidance to keep us going on the right track. Man alone can dream up all sorts of things and follow all kinds of paths sometimes to his own destruction. So hearing and seeking God is vital to live a good life. Seek and you shall find knock and I will answer and I will sit down and have supper with you.

    January 30, 2013 at 7:00 am |
    • Science

      @Bob

      Check your god(S) at the cave enterance before entering.. No god(s) required for studying humans..

      updated 1 hour 55 minutes ago
      Jan. 29 2013

      Scientists have unearthed and dated some of the oldest stone hand axes on Earth. The ancient tools, unearthed in Ethiopia in the last two decades, date to 1.75 million years ago.

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/50620121/ns/technology_and_science-science/

      Ancient DNA reveals humans living 40,000 years ago in Beijing area related to present-day Asians, Native Americans January 21, 2013

      Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-ancient-dna-reveals-humans-years.html#jCp

      January 30, 2013 at 7:23 am |
    • sam stone

      Blob: Free people do not need to be "saved"

      January 30, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • sam stone

      "Man alone can dream up all sorts of things"

      Like god

      January 30, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • meifumado

      Hearing voices in your head is delusional wishful thinking nothing more.
      If you hear voices in your head please seek professional help ( the non religious kind ).

      January 30, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  5. A thought on reason

    Reason has its place, but reason itself is devoid of opinion. It is the absence of reason that makes our humanity.

    January 30, 2013 at 6:56 am |
    • Sue

      No, actually, reason is one component of our humanity. Nice try at bullshit, though.

      January 30, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  6. Cooldude69

    Thanks for the serious entertainment tonight, you guys. I especially enjoyed the "Buckley's Angel" comments. It's sad really, the time we devote to these pointless arguments. Here we all sit, scrambling to define something so far beyond ourselves, pondering things that do not really matter like God and/or Gods while society begins again to decay. Perhaps if we thought outside of ourselves, we might find that we can explore the depths of the oceans, our minds, and the furthest points in the universe. And then, we might find that our petty human selves don't matter so much. And that might be okay.

    January 30, 2013 at 2:58 am |
    • SouthernGirl208

      w/e ur clearly an athiest and u jst wer'ent raised a christain so u dont understand how God works. my partents tought me how to worship God and as a christain i know that God talks to me and i matter so maybe if you found Jesus u would get it but u dont clearly.

      January 30, 2013 at 3:03 am |
    • sam stone

      southerngrl: you understand how god works? based on what?

      January 30, 2013 at 5:59 am |
    • Buckley's angel

      Awee you like my posts 69

      Except on Saturday night.

      Peace.

      January 30, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • Buckley's angel

      There was more to that post, that was much funnier but alas it was edited out by CNN. The point I was trying to make is this stuff is a riot...if you want it to be. Entertainment at it's finest and always free.

      January 30, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • meifumado

      @SouthernGirl208

      Indoctrinating children into religion is a form of child abuse.

      January 30, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  7. angel

    Jesus says,you must be Born Again of Spirit and turn the will of your flesh,your sinful nature,over to the will of God to enter God's Kingdom,and Jesus left the Holy Spirit with us. Jesus says God is a Spirit and must be worshiped in spirit and truth. Isaiah 2: 4,says,which Jesus fulfills in fulfilling all the prophets,including Isaiah,God ends all wars of the sword,of guns and bombs,beating swords to plowshares,and man learns war no more. So wars are not of the Holy Spirit,are not of a Holy God,God doesn't end what is Holy and what is of the Holy Spirit. Revelation 1:16,2:16,19:15,and 19:21,says Jesus comes against the final and worst war with the sword of his mouth,with the word of God,sword of the Spirit,not with the swords of guns and bombs,which kill the innocent,including children and fetuses,even by mistake, God doesn't make mistakes.So our fight is the good fight,a Spiritual fight,not of the flesh,mans sinful nature,but of the Spirit,of God's Holy Spirit,of being anti war by God's word,even the Word Himself Jesus Christ. So wars are of the antichrist spirit which is of the devil,of the flesh and the devil.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • hodsky23

      It amazes me how brain washed you Christians are. Can you not see that Christianity was just created as a way to control people's personal lives (mainly people you don't like). Do this or you'll go to hell, think this way or you'll go to hell, do what I say or you'll go to hell. Your doing harm to people by making them feel bad for how they live especially children.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      angel: what makes you think that man has a "sinful nature"?

      January 30, 2013 at 6:01 am |
    • sam stone

      god doesn't make mistakes? he made man flawed. was that a mistake or was it intentional? if it was intentional, what was the point of it?

      January 30, 2013 at 6:04 am |
    • meifumado

      You may as well quote the National Enquirer or any other crazy tabloid.

      January 30, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  8. kdayal88

    OBAMA IS THE ANTICHRIST
    I R SCHIZO I R SCHIZO IR SCHIZO

    January 28, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
  9. Bob

    Myrko The Buddha
    Another spam posting like usual

    January 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  10. Science

    The talking snake or evolution ?

    January 28, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Metaphor

      Math or poetry.

      January 29, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Kevin

      fact vs. fiction

      January 29, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      Ginger of MaryAnn?

      January 30, 2013 at 6:05 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Both. Together. Same time.

      January 30, 2013 at 6:14 am |
    • Science

      Thanks for response Peace

      Check your god(S) at the cave enterance before entering.. No god(s) required for studying humans..

      updated 1 hour 55 minutes ago
      Jan. 29 2013

      Scientists have unearthed and dated some of the oldest stone hand axes on Earth. The ancient tools, unearthed in Ethiopia in the last two decades, date to 1.75 million years ago.

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/50620121/ns/technology_and_science-science/

      Ancient DNA reveals humans living 40,000 years ago in Beijing area related to present-day Asians, Native Americans January 21, 2013

      Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-ancient-dna-reveals-humans-years.html#jCp

      January 30, 2013 at 7:04 am |
  11. Myrko

    The Buddha

    1. “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

    You become what you think about or in other words: what you focus on grows in your life and from what you take your focus away from diminishes.

    It means that the mind is directing our life in the way we manifest the life around us by the thoughts and directions we take with our mind. Since everything we created around us is first created in the mind, it is the tool or the interface between our self and the material world.

    Another quote of Buddha with a similar message here is “He is able who thinks he is able”. This also shows the creative power of the mind and if we are able to consciously use it in that way – avoiding negative thoughts and utilizing empowering thoughts – we use it in a supportive manner.

    2. “All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?”

    This is the core of personal development. It points towards the need to train and develop the mind and to free it from limits and negativity.

    The other quote “The mind is the source of happiness and unhappiness.” makes the same point with the special notion of happiness. The mind used correctly – i.e. constructive, empowering, solution- and action-oriented, positive, truth-seeking – can create happiness. But used poorly – i.e. blaming, egocentric, negative, blinded by ambition or separation – it will create unhappiness for us. Training the mind is the key here.

    The quote may also point to a transformation by awakening directly, where the mind becomes the servant of the self and not the creator of a self-image (the concept of the ego) as a replacement for the true self.

    3. “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

    This points to the abundant nature of reality. The abundance mentality says there is enough for everyone, we only have to realize and live by it. It is the opposite of a scarcity mentality, where you have the belief that you always have to fight for your part in a limited world.

    4. “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

    The essence of living in the present moment, the Now, is focusing the mind here and take attention away from thinking about past or future. The present moment is all there ever is to experience life directly. Past and future are only concepts of our mind and therefore are good for learning from the past or conceptual planning when it is useful, but after this there is no need for them. Especially not to dwell in them and get stuck there in the mind by constant thinking loops.

    5. “However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you If you do not act on upon them?”

    Action is what counts. It means to be action-oriented and to actually do what we think, to prove what we believe by applying it in reality. Only if we “walk our talk” we are authentic and truthful to ourselves.

    To apply yourself and your ideas in reality is like a proof-test for what we think is right and will work. If there is no action and therefore no testing in reality, the words or ideas themselves are of no real sustainable value.

    Another quote for this message is “A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.”

    6. “Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”

    This is the essence of Carpe Diem – to seize the day fully means living wisely. It means to live to the highest truth we know and to rise to our highest values and capabilities.

    Living wisely also means not to believe every thought that comes, but to live more from the space between thoughts, from our essence.
    7. “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

    The so-called Inside-Out approach means to look within oneself to find the inspiration and power to act from this place. It means not to look to the outside world for liberation or happiness, but to take the responsibility for oneself and become that what we are seeking.

    His second quote here “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” talks directly about this responsibility, response-ability we have inside.

    8. “In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”

    Any perspective we have on anything is only a relative truth. There are always both (or more) sides of any story. An objective perspective or an absolute truth is very hard or maybe impossible to see. But to be aware of this and to be interested to see another perspective from another person can be very mind-opening and valuable.

    9. “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”

    This quote is perhaps the most difficult one to really understand. In the first place, it is not about the beautiful nature of the flower or beauty itself. What Buddha is talking about – in my humble opinion – is to see and get in touch with the life in a flower directly, without any interference by our mind by mental concepts and thoughts of the flower.

    10. “The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.”

    If we are not authentic and truthful to ourselves, we build a wall around us that eventually we have to tear down again. It is then literally a resistance to the reality and our own nature where we can hide some time, but life has a way to show us our own faults in the end.

    To be true to the best one knows means to come from our own best knowledge and not buy into something outside ourselves blindly, always asking: is this really true to what I know?

    In resonance with this quote also is the final one by The Buddha:

    “There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”

    January 28, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • meifumado

      9. “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”

      Sounds like he is talking about the beauty of Evolution.

      I don't mind Buddhists.

      January 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Observer

      1. “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

      I think today I'll become purple.

      January 31, 2013 at 3:36 am |
    • Observer

      8. “In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”

      Everything outside of nature is manufactured by man. Some of it is fact, lke the existence of a computer..but most of it is nonsense.

      January 31, 2013 at 3:42 am |
    • anony

      Thanks for sharing

      January 31, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  12. Universe

    Quran says, (holy Islamic scripture)

    “They say (subconsciously), "We live only this life; we will not be resurrected." [6:29]
    “If you could only see them when they stand before their Lord! He would say, "Is this not the truth?" They would say, "Yes, by our Lord." He would say, "You have incurred the retribution by your disbelief." [6:30]
    “Losers indeed are those who disbelieve in meeting God, until the Hour comes to them suddenly, then say, "We deeply regret wasting our lives in this world." They will carry loads of their sins on their backs; what a miserable load! [6:31]
    “The life of this world is no more than illusion and vanity, while the abode of the Hereafter is far better for the righteous. Do you not understand?! [6:32]

    “Recall that your Lord said to the angels, "I am placing a representative (a temporary god) on Earth." They said, "Will You place therein one who will spread evil therein and shed blood, while we sing Your praises, glorify You, and uphold Your absolute authority?" He said, "I know what you do not know." [2:30]

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

    “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]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • meifumado

      Please quote the Surah of the sword so people know what your evil religion is really about, And how about you quote the surah stating that a womens word is is worth only half a mans word.

      Take your illiterate pedophile prophet and go away

      January 28, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Universe

      Meifumando,
      Here are the fundamentals, you can find explanations once you read with open mind please

      “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]

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

      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]

      “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]

      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]

      “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 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • meifumado

      You just ramble on about nothing, Would you please answer some questions about your holy book?
      Also I asked you to quote the passage that states a woman is worth half of a man, Why did you not?
      And how about some Surah of the sword?

      I have no misconceptions, You do.

      January 29, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  13. Bob

    As a Christian do you hear the voice of God and the answer is yes. Now there are many ways God speaks to His children but if you are saved then you have heard His voice. Unless you have heard His voice and accepted Jesus as Lord you could not have been called. He calls us first and we respond to that call. He does not call everyone and not all hear or respond to the call but as a Christian you heard and responded with your salvation being the result. This is one of the most awesome testimonies to God truly being alive and well. Now what do you do well press in and hear Him more and pray and know that He is with you every minute of every day and knows your thoughts better than you know yourself.
    Heb 9:15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • sam stone

      So, if you hear an internal voice, it is by definition god?

      January 28, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • Bob

      Sam the Bible says my sheep know my voice and you learn to distinguish which one is talking to you. You might, not believing ,call it conscience and also your own voice that speaks to you not really so different. While Christians have those we also have the voice of God to listen to. You learn His voice once you listen and learn to distinguish it Some have heard the voice of God as thousands of trumpets blaring all at the same time.

      January 28, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • sam stone

      Or, it might just be conscience

      January 28, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • meifumado

      If you hear voices in your head you are not totally sane.

      January 29, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  14. roman2819

    As I interact with Christian friends, I realize that many of us lose the conviction to pray as time goes by. Also, we face difficulties in seeking God's will. As such, I have written and published a book, "Understanding Prayer, Faith and God's Will".
    It presents biblical truths not realized bef...ore – truths that we can see and apply in our human journey. By clarifying wrong notions about prayer and God’s will. it will change the way you see – and seek – God’s will. When faith is strengthened by knowledge and understanding, we will go on to pray and serve God with conviction. Learn more about the book at: http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781620241431
    There are 12 chapters in this book:
    1. Inner Doubts
    2. What does the Bible mean?
    3. Prayer: What did Jesus Intend to tell us?
    4. "Why doesn't God answer more prayers?"
    5. To Pray Again
    6. Does Sin impede prayer?
    7. Faith in God
    8. How does God call people?
    9. Understanding God's Will
    10 Being in God's will
    11 Journey of the Bible
    12 Reading the Scripture Fruitfully

    January 28, 2013 at 5:23 am |
    • meifumado

      What a waste of time.

      January 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  15. Nguyen1

    I have heard Jesus talk before, and God has sent an angel to give me a message twice (That is what angel means in Greek- messenger.). Some people do not ever get to hear these things, and some do. Do not think that just because you've not heard these things that God doesn't love you, or something. He does love you. He just gives everyone different gifts and experiences. You may not realize the gifts you have yet. I didn't deserve to hear God, but I did. Jesus had the most kind, loving voice I've ever heard- something I did not see coming, since we tend to see God as far off, distant, and angry most of the time.

    Many of my Christian friends tend to think I am insane for having heard this, but the Bible says that God never changes... So if God talked to people audibly years ago, He still does today...

    And as for that part of the article where people heard things in and out of sleep, the Bible also mentions this being when our ears are most open to God- this is mentioned in the book of Job, in the Old Testament. Sometimes God will speak to us through dreams and visions as well, which I have also experienced.

    I would appreciate if those who have negative things to say against my opinion would refrain from saying them- if you must, please be courteous. I haven't dissed you at all!

    January 27, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • jerry

      i know how you feel when you say ... your friends think your crazy...... its something i have had to deal with many times... and when you said .... you did not feel worthy... this also tells me that what happened with you is true.. because i feel the same way.... humbled ..... always feel that way in my heart... im sure you feel the same way.....god bless you my brother

      January 28, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I call bullshit! The probability of there being any gods is virtually zero given that no one has provided any factual, verifiable, objective or independent evidence despite centuries of claims. The probability of a god speaking to a human is even less. You are mentally ill, a liar or both.

      January 28, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • fred

      HotAirAce
      I can personally attest that I have experienced the presence of God in my life. I can personally attest that just as Jesus said the presence of God is manifest through the Holy Spirit. I can personally attest that an instant change occurred and totally transformed my mind, soul and outward behavior towards others.
      I can personally attest to the same experience with well over 100 people in the past 3 years alone. There is empirical evidence with similar observations that happen millions of times per year.

      Perhaps you have seen the bumper sticker..........IT HAPPENS

      January 29, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • HotAirAce

      A definition of empirical evidence: "Empirical evidence is information that is acquired by observation or experimentation. This data is recorded and analyzed by scientists and is a central process as part of the scientific method." Again, I call bullshit and challenge you to produce the evidence, or be branded mentally ill, a liar or both.

      January 29, 2013 at 12:47 am |
    • sam stone

      "I would appreciate if those who have negative things to say against my opinion would refrain from saying them"

      If you don't want your opinion criticized, do not post them on a public forum

      January 29, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • BU2B

      Fred, I can personally attest that I have experienced the presence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in my life. I can personally attest that just as the prophet Bobby Henderson said the presence of His Noodly Appendage can touch any of us.

      January 29, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      @ Fred You wouldn't know empirical evidence if it slapped you in the face.

      January 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Dave8582

      @Nguyen1

      I don't want to diss you. But, try to understand how hard it is to not. You offer words, but nothing that even approaches "proof". If I claim I have fairies living in my left shoe, would you believe me on my word alone? Wouldn't you demand that I take off my shoe and show you the little guys?

      "Extraordinary claims, requires extraordinary evidence" – Sagan

      Cheers!

      January 30, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • DaveW

      I am sorry Nguyen1, I am not posting this to insult you, but I'm ignoring your request to not post.

      You are crazy. You have been brainwashed. By stating you hear god, do you realize you convince nobody, but yourself?

      I hear my own voice talking to my all the time. Working out.."come on, we can do two more minutes", waking up "oh I am so tired, I wish I could sleep until 6" etc. It is normal. I even hear voices that are not mine, when thinking about problems I need to work out, I can "hear" peoples' response to the rhetoric I might try on them.

      This is my mind talking to ...... me! it is normal. What is not normal is to ascribe it to a non existent fairy made up by bronze age ignoramuses (how do you pluralize that????).

      Gain some self respect. Your mind is helping you figure things out. YOU are capable of giving yourself direction, convincing you to do what is right, keeping you from following your baser instincts. You sell yourself short by saying a fairy is reaponsible for this positive thinking.

      It is YOU.

      January 31, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  16. Former closet occultist

    Favorite quote from my teen years...

    "Chris isn't schizophrenic...he just didn't know when to shut up".

    :-X

    January 27, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  17. Colin in Florida

    " If you hear God speak audibly, you (usually) aren’t crazy"

    Actually, hearing a non-existing being talk (please show proof, don't just slam), you are crazy by definition.

    January 27, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • JJColorado

      Is there scientific proof that God does not exist?

      January 27, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Is there proof that there isn't a teapot orbiting Uranus?

      January 27, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • JJColorado

      I haven't checked Uranus. My point is that some people believe in God (or a god, many gods, etc.) and yet there is no way to prove he (she, it, they) exist. People who believe in God do so with a certain amount of faith in their beliefs and own up to it. On the other hand, atheist do NOT believe in God and have absolutely NO WAY to scientifically prove that he does not, in fact exist. But while the believer will admit to his/her faith, many atheist will not, even though their philosophies are also unprovable. I hope you see my point. Atheist and believers are not all that different in that sense, they both experience/know some things and take other things beyond their knowledge on faith.

      January 27, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • JJColorado

      Also, if a person is secure in their beliefs, they need not get so upset at other beliefs. If people are so sure that believers are wrong and that there is in fact NO God, then why do you care, really?

      January 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Atheists have no connecting faith. Certainly, we all use faith, and at times it is appropriate, but there is no faith shared by all atheists on any one topic or "philosophy" as you imply. Certainly some people have only the faith that the scientific "laws" exist and mostly behave in a predictable way. I don' t see what's really that "faithful" about that sort of reasoning, but we can call it that if it helps the faithful feel more inclined to consider an alternate viewpoint.

      January 27, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      JJ. Because believers want to change the laws to conform to their religion, post religious quotes on public buildings, deny science education in favor of primitive superstitions, ring those bells to call the faithful, etc.

      January 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      JJ, Do you believe in Zeus? I presume not. Can you prove he doesn't exist? So why not believe in him? Primitive peoples introduced the idea of a god (or gods) to explain what they didn't understand; science explains most of those things. We no longer need to substitute "god did it" for "we don't know".

      January 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • JJColorado

      @Mobey, I appreciate your comment. And it's true there are many philosophies amongst atheist but the same could be said for the christian, that's why there are many denominations and strange behaviors that have nothing to do with the actual teachings of Jesus. I think you see my point though, that we are all the same in that we all assume certain things to be true that are beyond our understanding. The one viewpoint/philosophy that I find most common amongst atheist is a burning need to feel intellectually superior than people who believe in God. But if we are honest there are many educated, brilliant, open minded Believers in God as well as atheist and many ignorant, brain-washed, follow-the-crowd types on both sides as well.
      @Santatruster: My friend, the laws of this country are largely based on religious principles whether you realize it or not, this is fact. It gives us freedom and seeks to punish wrong doing.

      January 27, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • JJColorado

      Hopefully we all continue to seek truth above our own selfish ambitions....

      January 27, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Atheists aren't willing to accept easy answers, and they can get frustrated when others are so willing to accept any answer that has a massive amount of supernatural weight. Atheists care about what science does and does not say, because that is where the theorizing about god most likely occurs, and again, it can be frustrating when the person claiming to have divine right don't understand very, very basic facts about cosmology and evolution. They want to use the example of the big bang for their points, but have no clue about the behavior of matter and energy throughout the epochs. I don't see how any of this involves faith, though.

      January 27, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I've never said that there is no god. I simply have seen no evidence there is one. If you have some, do present it, JJ.

      January 27, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And I'm not upset that people do believe in god. I simply refuse sit by silently and allow them to have their god run my life.

      January 27, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Dave8582

      @JJColorado

      You asked: "Is there scientific proof that God does not exist?"

      Science often looks for things they would expect to see, if some hypothesis is true.

      If an all loving god exists, why is there so much suffering?

      I call this evidence.

      Cheers!

      January 30, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • DaveW

      oh my JJ, keep digging that hole.

      you seek truth above your seflishiness? Religious delusion is the height of selfishness. You willingly ignore the natural world around you, and join a cult that has harmed innocent, uninterested humans for millenia, simply for your OWN salvation. SELFISH.

      Why do people so strong in their beliefs not accept other beliefs quietly? My my we are a hypocrite today. this is exactly what the religious do..force their beliefs on us, not let us live our humanistically moral lives, even while we watch them do just the opposite.

      And, please, stop asking us to disprove your crazy ideas. Just like the teapot, I can make any crazy assertion, and you can't disprove it, doesn't make my assertion correct. The burdon of proof is on you people who work tirelessly to oppress the rest of us.

      See: birth control, marriage equality, slavery, the pledge of allegience, "christian nation" (how do deists found a christian nation???, the inquisition, women's rights, science (flat world, for some, fossils, evolution) oh yeah, what about the nonstop effort to brainwash OUR children. Isn't abusing your own good enough.
      And speak of abuse, the raping of so many catholic youth while the parents (knowingly for many???..again, selfish..so selfish your salvation more important than your kid not getting an std from the evil priest) looked the other way.

      It is nothing more than shameful..to use a believer's words, sinfuly, to continue to support these beliefs that have been used like a cudgel against the enlightened forever.

      I would not give up my reason, my enlightenment, for less persecution nor for a place in your heaven. I think more highly of myself than that, and now you know my opinion of the enablers. Blood on their (your) hands, literally.

      January 31, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  18. Really!

    "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."

    Should tell you how good this "research" was performed.

    January 27, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  19. Chris

    Recent developments in nuerobiology have substantiated the idea of "brain plasticity" where more powerful thoughts and beliefs actually strengthen the neural circuits that make these connections; hence why most people who hear the voice of God are generally more dilligent in prayer and intensity of belief. It's the same idea for why political arguments so quickly expand into emotional episodes.

    January 27, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Really!

      Exactly my point when I posted this:

      "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."

      Should tell you how good this "research" was performed.

      January 27, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  20. Roger

    If you atheists are all that you say you are then why are you not out on your own boards? Creating new boards pursuing people to follow you rather than pulling down Christians that do more for the world than all of you. Or is it that you would rather than build up, your choice is to tear down. Why is it that no one is flocking to all you offer rather than coming here to start trouble?

    January 27, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Jen

      Much as you probably find it hard to believe, there are religious persons commiting attrocities. I know the average person isn't aware of it but it happens. Hence the angry people.

      January 27, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why don't you go to a board that doesn't permit dissension, Roger? Nobody's forcing you to remain here if it bothers you so much that others don't agree with you.

      January 27, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • Religion is not healthy for children nor any living thing

      Atheists have no particular reason to "witness" and "spread our disbelief" to all others! Atheists don't gather to discuss what we simply do not believe as there is no purpose in that. We might as well be discussing the NON-EXISTENCE of Unicorns and Fairies! For what purpose?

      January 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • boocat

      Hey Roger – "judge not lest ye be judged." Guess you missed that page in your bible....

      January 30, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • DaveW

      Correction: "do more to harm the world than all of you (atheists)"

      Fixed it.

      Oh, and, this is not your board, It explores faith, it doesn't promote it.

      January 31, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • anony

      Roger, the article starting this topic is our board. If you don´t like getting your nose mashed in for your deluded beliefs, go find your own board. Personally, I enjoy reading stupid people spouting-off and then getting their stupidity handed back to them in delightful ways.

      January 31, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.