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. Julia

    If I start hearing voices god or otherwise and or visions I'm seeking professional help and I suggest that others do the same. Seeing things that aren't there and hearing voices is not normal I don't care what this lady says. I think somebody slipped a little something in her tea if she thinks this is common.

    October 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      Exactly, and now you know how group hallucinations happen. You put a bunch of people together who see and hear stuff and anything is possible.

      October 7, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
  2. David

    "Hearing a voice when alone, or seeing something no one else can see, is pretty common." Is it? The author cites the following as evidence: "At least one in 10 people will say they’ve had such an experience if you ask them bluntly." Here, the author begs the question; she assumes that the reports are true! Worse, the author presents a false dichotomy in that she compares "hearing God" with schizophrenia, as if only the latter is delusional. Surely as an academic she would know that not all delusions are extreme.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  3. Laura

    I spoke with God last Friday. The strangest thing is, I was a complete and utter Atheist until that point. He spoke to me through one of my oldest best friends (who by the way is also completely non-religious; it was although God took over his body and voice to speak with me) and delivered so many messages over a period of about 2 hours that my mind feels like it will explode. The messages were varied and mixed and not always straightforward, but a mixture of riddles and visions which made so much sense once they were delivered to me. Since, my mind has quite literally expanded. I have more clarity, intelligence and feel continuously elated. To suddenly know God, experience proof of his awesome existence and know he is watching over me is truly awesome. I feel so blessed and privileged to have been one of the chosen few to have such an experience, and despite wanting to shout it from the roof tops, I know I can't for fear my fiends, family and society will judge me as crazy. But I know what happened. I know the truth and what can I say but WOW! God is true and has touched me in an irreversible way that has changed my life for the better, forever. Despite all this, you will still not find me in church or studying the bible. God told me it was not the way he intended his children to live. He told me he needed me to live a good honest live, be true to my morals and demonstrate to other how to live a good life and live to the full. No need for church. No need for prayer. Believe me or not, it is completely true, and I hope my story touches someone else who is keeping a story like this under wraps for the sake of society.

    October 4, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      SO YOU are so special that god allows 25 thousand people to dye everyday of starvation alone, while bothering with your little existence enough to go thru this insane episode is RIDICULOUS.

      Please go get help.

      October 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
      • Alan

        You're like someone who tells a child there is no Santa Claus, except in this case, you are really clueless as to whether this person had a valid experience that changed their life for the better.

        October 4, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          Clueless? Hum, that's interesting. EVERY single study done for this type of story, PROVES that's it's ONLY the persons mind playing tricks on them.

          You want to believe in Santa Clause, go right ahead.

          I'll be right here with my feet on the ground, fully aware of what's real and not.

          For me to believe this story, I would have to believe EVERY alien kidnapping story on the web.

          PURE FANTASY or worst, LIES.

          Probably needing attention.

          October 4, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
        • Laura

          What makes me giggle most about your rude and blunt comments is that I too shared your school of thought. I too was in your sceptical, single minded boat. I'm not sure you truly grasp what I'm trying to share here: I was NEVER a believer, never intended to be. Never a God follower; I'd never set so much as set foot in a religious building unless it was for touristic means. I've never prayed and most of all, I sure as heck never asked this to happen to me. It goes against everything I ever thought and could imagine was possible. But believe me. I received infallible proof that day that God is very real. I'm not here to ask you to repent your sins or rubbish like that, and I can assure you I am very much sane. I am here to voice my honest, true experience. Share it with people who do care. Who may want to understand. You however need to make some real friends, find true love, find meaning to your sad, empty little life, as your easy ability to shun those you've never met or heard the whole story from suggests to me you feel hard done by and that's why you're such a nasty individual. I wish you well. Good luck, you'll need it!

          October 4, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          It doesn't matter what you thought or even think now. What matter is REALITY and it surely isn't God talking to you.

          I'm married and have plenty of friends, perhaps it is YOU that were all these things and broke down into this garbage to make friends.

          Great now you have a bunch of friends that hallucinate on a constant basis.

          Why don't you go see a doctor and see what she says about your incident.

          Like I said, I would have to believe ever crock pot in Hollywood to believe you.

          The fact remains, there is NO WAY that this god leaves people to die everywhere and somehow thinks you are so special as to play this card.

          The issue is that YOU WANT TO BELIEVE this garbage.

          So go right ahead and believe this garbage, just don't tell ME that I'm wrong, cause I'm NOT.

          October 4, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
        • Laura

          True pity to those who will never understand. I was once just like you. I don't need any help, in fact, life is far far better now. And finally, to those like you who insist on belittling others and continuously telling them to get help, maybe you are the one who needs help and this is your way of crying out. I continue to laugh at the irony of this conversation, due to always having been the one to agree with you until a week ago. I am leaving it now, as your insulting and narrow-mindedness is creating such a poor energy that people don't need to hear your words any more. (Wait a minute, are you now going to say that energy doesn't exist because we have no proof in what created it and are unable to destroy it?!) Have a wonderful life, and please, cheer up a little. Think more positively. Your anger doesn't serve you for any good purpose.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:08 am |
  4. Derrick

    dorianmattar, you say "The fact is that it was written by MAN. God was mad in the image of man, and not the other way around.
    To believe otherwise, is to be blind to the facts and mistaken."

    What is the source of your "facts"? Sounds more like it is your opinion than it is a fact.

    I used to believe more in science than in the Bible but now I realize that science has more holes in it than the Bible does!
    The Big Bank – what went bang? where did it go bang? Maybe it was God creating our universe!
    Evolution vs Creation – billions of years vs 6 days – who is to say what a day is to an Almighty God! It has to be put in terms humans of thousands of years ago could comprehend.
    God is everywhere all the time – quantum mechanics could explain this as well as the fact that just maybe God and Heaven exists in the other dimensions necessary for quantum mechanics and string theory to work.

    I now choose to believe in God, he answers more questions than science ever has!!!

    October 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Alan

      Derrick, you said it very well. There are more holes in science than in a block of Swiss cheese.

      October 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
      • Dorian

        Really? LMAO

        Let's see, with science we have:

        Electricity, before science DARKNESS
        MASS Transportation, before science WALK!
        Medicine, before science DEATH by the simples bacterial infections!
        Computers, before science PAPER
        Global Position Systems, before science ?
        the list goes on and on and on!

        If we took everything that has come about from science, the world would come to a complete stop in one single day and millions would die within months.

        If you took religion out of the world today, the world would be a better place!

        There are still things to be learned, but at least we don't put a childish answer to everything we don't know. We simply acknowledge it and keep searching.

        Placing a three letter name in front of everything we don't know and say that we do know, because a three letter word did it, is completely laughable.

        So grow up.

        and if you people believe science is nothing, why don't you put that to the test.

        Don't take your children to hospitals!

        and STOP using the computer!

        Otherwise, you are nothing but talk and behaving like hypocrites.

        October 1, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
        • Alan

          Regrettably you are suggested we throw out the baby with its filthy bathwater by eliminating a belief in God just because religion is a scam. Nothing that you said has any bearing in my life and yet, surprise, I believe in God. You will find that many scientists including renowned physicists at least hold open the probability, and they are agnostic.

          God logically can expect no more that agnostic people given our state of scientific and technological advancement. Religions often cite "doubting Thomas" as demanding proof God existed by touching Jesus Christ after he rose from the dead. Even though you don't believe this happened, you'll have to admit that today, if Jesus Christ appeared to you and said "touch me if you don't believe I exist" - and you touched the apparition - your state of intelligent evolution (for lack of a better way of describing it) would leave you unsatisfied you touched God. You would think something like, "I have good news and bad news, where should I start first? Let me give you the bad news first. I still don't believe in God. The good news is, you just convinced me of the existence of extra-terrestrial life in the universe. Who are you? And why are you masquerading as a god?"

          Of course, given that God does exists, he wouldn't bother to appear to you for this general reason. There is no point in trying to convince you or anyone. That is why the most you can do, if you're rational, is what physicists do. Assign a probability to the highest form of extra-terrestrial intelligence in this universe, be an agnostic, and let this God SHOW YOU it exists. Don't be a fool and assign a zero probability to God. No physicist takes that sort of irrational approach to the concept this universe is a simulation on the highest order of magnitude.

          October 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
        • Dorian

          Only 15% of the top scientist believe in a God.

          I didn't state a 0% percent, I stated less than 1%.

          If god did appear, and claimed to be god, he would have to show evidence to that claim. But you are right, one of Clarke's laws is that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" and therefore we could not be certain that he would be god unless he can prove that he was able to do the following:

          1. Think before he was
          2. Exist outside of space and time
          3. and explain WHY THE HELL HE LET US SUFFER

          You see, the part that is inconsistent in your argument, is that you have no evidence that this god not only exists, but that he is actually a loving being.

          Which leads me to the question of WHY DO YOU FOLLOW a being known ONLY by a book called the bible in which he drowns EVERY animal and CHILD on the planet for no reason.

          He finds it appealing to appear in the middle of a desert to uneducated people after allowing humans to suffer for over 100 THOUSAND years just to be tortured by humans as to allow HIMSELF to forgive his own creation.

          All he had to do is say "I forgive" and that would have been it. But instead he chooses a bloody ritual.

          But to top it all off, you choose to follow a god that was forced to your ancestors at the edge of a sword. Your ancestors where either KILLED or tortured so that their children would not doubt.

          and here YOU are kneeling to this barbaric ritual.

          The only thing interesting in your post was the simulation part and that is simply because we are finding that for the string theory to work, there needs to be self-correcting code in the underlying mathematics.


          October 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • Alan

          "Only 15% of the top scientist believe in a God."

          You conveniently ignored my comment that suggested scientists are not necessarily theists, they are AGNOSTICS. What percentage of them hold out the possibility God *might* exist? You suggested in another comment the probability is likely less than 1%, because you know that if you state 0%, you will lose everyone (most scientists included). If physics proves right about the nature of reality itself (and the concept the universe is a simulation), you're short-changing yourself by not believing in a loving high intelligence. The mind is a quantum computer (using a crude metaphor) and may control reality in spacetime, so our realities may one day diverge on the point of God's existence. You may simply will yourself out of existence by rejecting any probability that is greater than 0%.

          The movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" is a silly but fascinating physics metaphor turned into a movie. The illustration is no less "pedantic" than describing Schrödinger's cat to a layman who knows nothing about physics.

          October 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • Dorian

        I will add, that science doesn't lie. It clearly states the percentage of probability of any of it's claims.

        Not even gravity is 100%.

        The big bang, is 99%, which is as good as it gets.

        Higgs Bosom is 98.75%.

        Evolution is 99%

        Electricity is 99%

        and it goes on.

        When you go to a doctor, the doctor tells you, you have this much chance of survival and that's what you get.

        He doesn't promise you things that he can't deliver.

        In contrast the church promises EVERYTHING and delivers NOTHING but an empty pocket.

        Churches and all these fake preachers are filthy rich with YOUR money.

        Millions are taken for a ride, loosing everything they have to these preachers who promise to cure them of everything under the sun, and then they die.

        You want religion, go ahead, make my day.

        October 1, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
        • Alan

          You misunderstand. I don't go to church for the reasons you stated. One doesn't have to believe in false religion to believe in a higher intelligence that ancient man started referring to as God. True believers can worship without a physical temple, and true believers know worship is not like praying to some Hawaiian Tiki god, but rather, drawing close to a creator of all in existence. The beauty of the cosmos is not a mistake.

          Separate from greedy self-serving religion, which is obfuscating any valid discussion on the scientifically high probability of an intelligence we humans could rightfully call "extra-terrestrial," I would guess physicists would add God to your list of probability figures as follows:

          God is 99%

          October 3, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
        • Dorian

          The beauty of the cosmos is only skin deep. The cosmos is a DEADLY place full radiation, meteor, asteroids, gamma rays, etc, etc. Although life may be spread throughout the cosmos just by the shear amount of planets, all in all, the universe is NOT tuned for life.

          Where did you get that number? The probability of a god is actually less than 1%.

          This is due to the fact that we understand the universe to be an unavoidable natural phenomena because the total energy of the universe is ZERO and this causes quantum particles to be active in a COMPLETELY EMPTY space.

          Everything single galaxy, star (sun) and planet, in the universe have been formed by gravity over billions of years, NO god needed.

          This creator is without evidence or explanation.

          To reach for a creator is to end up in an endless loop of unanswerable questions, because ultimately, you would have to ask the question:

          Where did god come from.

          Otherwise, might as well never bring up the question of how we got here in the first place. Because at that point, all we have to do is say a god did it, without actually explaining how.

          and if you can't explain how, then any answer will do, from Peter Pan to Santa Clause, they all could have done it.

          October 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
        • Alan

          They all *could* have done it, but the question is, who *did* it? I'll give you credit for giving me an "I hate it when I'm right" moment, upon dragging Santa Claus into the equation. Atheists will never argue "let's suppose God existed" and use backward chaining reasoning to see if there's any plausible explanation, simply because it's like assuming Santa Claus exists and trying to build a plausible reason for how that could be possible. The same is true for any argument about extra-terrestrial life in the cosmos in any form (even so-called "ghosts" and other phenomenon). I've been told, "I won't go there simply because it's like your telling me, 'Let's suppose a billion angels could dance on the head of a pin, just hypothetically speaking.' I refuse to humor you on that supposition, because it's pointless." I'm sure many people told Isaac Newton and other great visionaries the same thing. Once something preposterous is proven? Well, that's different, now we can talk. So, I should come back and talk AFTER we prove God exists, just like many would talk after proving the Earth wasn't flat, or proving the earth wasn't the center of everything. God is just a metaphor, a word, that describes a form of highly advanced extra-terrestrial life. It's just that anything people cannot understand in their puny, primitive brains, is not open to rational consideration UNLESS they are willing to concede that some things are unknowable..

          October 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  5. Tiffany Martin

    First of all, God can not be heard audible. Although, sometimes people get so wrapped up in theirselves and God and they think they can hear him aloud, when in all reality they can't. God is not here on earth, he will be back soon. But for now all that we can hear is Jesus in our hearts and in our minds, if we believe. We have to know he is coming back. God can't be heard alour because he is in the air in Heaven and even if he did talk we couldn't hear him, unless we heard him in our hearts and minds.

    September 27, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • Dorian

      Sorry man, you just don't make any sense.

      You are simply pushing yourself to believe in this because you want to.

      Not because it's either right or real.

      You contradict yourself by stating that "God can't be heard because he is in the air in heaven", yet you follow with "unless we hear him in our hearts"

      Since your heart is not designed to listen, it obviously can't hear.

      So how does your heart hear him if his in the air and so far away?

      September 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
      • Alan

        My guess is Tiffany means that God communicates with humans through their intuition and perhaps telepathically. Of course the heart is a metaphor.

        September 27, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
        • Dorian

          Well she does mention "hearts and MINDS", so I'm not sure she's speaking metaphorically, specially when the subject matter is hearing voices.

          I think she's a bit confused and I think her confusion has confused me...lol

          But hey, God will "be back soon", right after these messages.

          September 27, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Laura

      Sorry , I disagree. I truly had a long and very real conversation with God. Jesus was alive and now is long gone and dead. He cannot talk. He was the son of God, talking as a person with messages from God. God told me this himself. God was the one speaking, again through a human but most certainly not with a human voice. This is a fact. Where, may I ask, did you get your absurd idea that God cannot talk from? He talked to Moses didn't he and he talked with me?! I apologise to be the one to correct you here.

      October 4, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        Laura, I hate to be the one to break the news to you but it is far more likely that you have had a break from reality than it is that you were taking with any god. You do know that there is no evidence for any god, don't you? That there is no evidence for the supernatural claims of any religion? I strongly urge you to seek the help of a mental health professional.

        October 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
      • dorianmattar

        This is a common theme amongst humans.

        I don't know how many times this needs to be repeated, humans hallucinate based on many factors, including but not limited to STRESS, Loneliness, and mental health issues.

        There is NO SINGLE piece of evidence about the existence of Moses.

        Just like there is no evidence for any of the miracles, talking snakes, or a man living inside a fish.

        These are ALL allegories and have NOTHING to do with real events.

        What's incredible to me is how you people believe in talking snakes.

        Please go see a professional.

        October 4, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  6. Glenn

    First I would like to say "mental illness is very common amongst humans. It happens in ever culture.

    Secondly, the fact that people in the bible who reportedly had encounters with god were all Christians points to a common perception with others have validated by sure numbers. The Romans also believed in their gods and an after life but in a Christian world no one really cares.

    Having endured decades of mental illness after being raised in a Christian environment, I believe the early Christians also suffered from mental illness. The society at the time was predominantly pagan.

    I believe religion and culture is a perception of the world founded in genetics. I consider myself a descendant of the Roman people and feel I would have been much better off being raised according to pagan traditions. Just because I am capable of imagining a pagan world and find the culture emotionally innate to me does not imply I believe in the old religion. Unlike Christians, I have no blind faith and tend to believe the science on an intellectual level.

    Next time there is a mass shooting, one should ask ........why are these people turning out like this in a Christian world?
    Does Christian tradition truly work for all?
    I will say it once more....religion is a perception of the world founded in genetics. Specific psychological types have a common perception. Ask a Muslim, Buddhist or any other member of any other society.

    September 21, 2013 at 12:35 am |
    • dorianmattar

      Do you mean Flawed Genetics?

      I believe it's a combination of bad genes as in low IQ and/or low self esteem. Very few of us, if put thru enough, can come thru.

      So depending on the tolerance levels, IQ and self esteem, and the available support system, people will either make it thru and become secular or fall into religion. At which point they get assimilated into the traditional culture. That's why they start them young, when they can't think for themselves. They make them feel like sinner and lower their self esteem until they fall prey.

      It's child abuse, plain and simple.

      The problem is not enough support system for the masses. The USA is broke and the lower the standard of living, the more religion you will see and the worst things will get.

      It's a viscous cycle.

      This cycle is what has trapped the middle east for hundreds of years after one dictator exchanged science for religion.

      Let's hope the USA makes it thru.

      September 21, 2013 at 3:04 am |
      • Glenn

        Flawed genetics when someone fails to the perceive the world as you do? The assumption being we all have the potential to be the same. Humanity is as diverse as the animal world in the forest. We will never all be the same. Christians will always be here and their religion too.

        September 21, 2013 at 3:47 am |
        • Dorian

          Well, no, we can't hope that we can all think the same.

          But there is no doubt that anyone that believes in a resurrecting god man in the middle of a desert is wrong in believing such foolishness.

          Secondly, there is NOT as many different humans as there are animals in the forest. There is only ONE human species and small variations of that per adaptation, but all of the same species. They can all breed amongst each other. You can go to the most remote corner of the earth and you could still mate with an aborigine.

          There are millions upon millions of completely different species on the planet.

          No comparison.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • Glenn

          When I was comparing humanity to the animal world, I was referring to the diversity in behaviour and the associated perceptions (assuming animal behaviour is driven by perception of their environment). Humanity is the only species with a large enough brain to have distinct perceptions despite being of the same species.

          September 27, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • Deb

      Glen, you talk like you think you are some kind of an authority, like you think you know what you are talking about. lol
      You don't.

      September 23, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
      • Glenn

        My opinions are based on my own personal experiences. It is you who knows nothing of the true causes of mental illness. Like most people, you probably play amateur psychologist on the assumption that if it can be imagined by you it must be true. Pray for your neighbours mental health. One day your life might depend on it as there will continue to be more mass shootings especially in America where the church still works hard trying to enforce old ideals and where gun laws are lax do a cultural preference.

        September 27, 2013 at 1:20 am |
        • Dorian

          You are right, except that praying won't do them any good.

          How many of these do we have to read about?


          September 27, 2013 at 1:47 am |
        • Glenn

          I am only offering an alternative to religious beliefs. A belief in God seems to be a part of ever society. I don't fight it, only offer alternative solutions. Far too many will never stop believing in their God. Never stop reading their holy books because it offers emotional and psychological benefits as it was written by people like themselves. If it is innate and not learned behaviour there is little one can do.

          September 27, 2013 at 1:58 am |
  7. the dude

    short answer-

    there is no god.

    if you hear voices... you ARE CRAZY!!!!

    September 20, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • dorianmattar


      Here is a large study that concludes that religiosity and spirituality leads to depression.

      So now you know why people are hearing voices.

      People, please go get help!

      September 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  8. Lora

    I found this very reassuring. My husband and I don't always understand the way God works. All we know is if you search for him, you will find him. Being filled with Holy spirit is very important. With out believing in Jesus, well read the scriptures yourself. I just know I became one of those people I used to think were crazy. Although, I wouldn't go back to the way I lived my life before. Christ Jesus is so real. I hope more people can have a relationship with him. They will never be the same...

    September 19, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • dorianmattar

      I just wonder what you would be if you where born in Iraq.

      You surely wouldn't believe in baby jesus and would surely be saying the exact thing about Allah.

      Which PROVES that this is only in your mind.

      What is your evidence that Jesus is real? Have you seen him? NO, Have you touched him? NO

      You have forced your mind into believing that your inner voice is that of this jesus.

      But you have NO evidence to support your talk.

      So please stop telling people that things are certain when you have no evidence to support your blabber.

      September 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Mister Jones

      People like you scare me.

      September 30, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
      • Dorian

        People like her or like me? Can't tell from the post.

        September 30, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
        • Alan

          Perhaps both extremes are considered scary to those who like to take a more rational agnostic view?

          October 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
        • Dorian

          Yes anything in extreme is an issue.

          Even water.

          October 1, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  9. Turet1959


    September 19, 2013 at 7:15 am |
  10. krussell2010

    so no different than today

    September 18, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      You haven't answered. Is Freewill you final answer?

      September 18, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      What is no different that today?

      September 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  11. krussell2010

    no sorry god is god, and as much as the world as changed, sunday is the day of rest , man makes us work this day, not right............ but there you go, every religion as a different Sabbath day, what makes mine more special than yours

    September 18, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      Nothing makes your sunday a day of rest except that book telling you do so.

      What exactly would you have doctors do after your child has had an accident and needs urgent care?

      Seriously, are you thinking before you speak?

      September 18, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      What god is god? Allah or The God of Abraham (your god)?

      How do you know your god is the right god?

      September 18, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
      • Alan

        They're all the same. There is only one God and people around the world relate to God differently, giving that God different names.

        September 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          That's your interpretation, but it's NOT Muslim's interpretation. Therefore you are not correct.

          If you talk to another Christian they will tell you that there is only one way to heaven, CHRIST.

          Anything else will land you in the lake of fire.

          Again, this is the problem that you are facing, it's only your opinion and everyone has a different opinion.

          September 19, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  12. krussell2010

    u have no bible, so tell me who you are

    September 18, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      I am a rationalist, a thinker that reasons and doesn't let anyone tell him what is supposed to be the truth without EVIDENCE.

      Now tell me who you would be if you where born in Iraq.

      Would you be worshiping Jesus? Or Mohamed? Let me answer that for you, you would be a MUSLIM and you would think that Christians were crazy.

      If you where a Muslim, you would think that those who believe in Jesus are going to burn in hell.

      So if the muslims are right, you burn in hell, and if you are right, they burn in hell.

      Now if you know algebra, you'd know that when you want to find the answer, you simplify.

      If you have two sides with the same letter or number, you divide them by each other.

      Here you would take muslims and christians and divide them by each other and you get, ZERO.

      Because they are both the same thing.

      They both tell you that their god is the right god and that if you don't follow you will burn.

      Therefore there is no such god.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
  13. krussell2010

    u as a person question

    September 18, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      I as a person question everything.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  14. krussell2010

    my god is a jealous god, he will never allow me to prey to anyone but him

    September 18, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      Exactly, and jealousy is a DEFECT and your god is supposed to be PERFECT.

      Add it up.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  15. krussell2010

    he gave us free will

    September 18, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      Is that your final answer?

      September 18, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  16. krussell2010

    I am not of yr faith, do u not believe that god wants every one to hear his word, in my faith god welcomes everyone, and wants us to learn about him

    September 18, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  17. krussell2010

    I know one thing about your bible it is in Hebrew, so I can never read or study it

    September 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      As previously stated I don't believe in any god. Therefore I don't have a bible at all, in any language.

      September 18, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
      • Alan

        I find it odd that you do not look beyond this terrestrial cesspool where we live, and try to peer into the mind of God through the Bible and other holy books. Do you perhaps fear what you do not understand? It's not about knowing the specific nature of God, rather, the Bible is a book of ancient history and metaphors that allows you to peer into the mind of God. That is, if you give it a chance and really read it carefully.

        September 19, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          Why do you find it odd?

          What have you witnessed or have evidenced for, that there is ANYTHING after this cesspool as you call it?

          See nothing makes sense unless you get a grip on reality and reality is science.

          Science is based on evidence and that evidence explains everything down to a MICRO second before the BigBang.

          That same science shows us that we have evolved from lower intelligence. Once you grasp that, you will then understand that what you are calling a cesspool is nothing more than humans SURVIVING as best as they can with what they have.

          What you call peering into the mind of god thru this ancient books is simply peering into the minds of primitive humans that lived in darkness, both literally and mentally.

          They didn't have a clue as to what reality is.

          The bible is a joke, it is scientifically bankrupt from the very first verse and ends in absolute fiction.

          The Quran and the bible are both useless books by todays standards.

          You are not peering into the mind of a god at all, you are being deceived into believing such a thing.

          and you are falling for it because you want to believe it, because it makes you feel good.

          and any time you WANT to believe in something, that's when you need to be careful, otherwise you get fooled as you are now.

          September 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  18. krussell2010

    if there was no evil, us as mankind would not need religion, we have religion, cause we try to say to god we are not tempted by evil, and the more that evil tempt us, we prey, i have decided to try and understand to two main peoples whys good and bad, god and the devil, god loves mankind, but he loves the devil more, blood is blood,

    September 18, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  19. krussell2010

    sorry I did not realize I was on a Jewish site, I have been told, within your faith you believe in god but not the devil, I will try to explain god needed a play mate, to make up the opposite as we know, example, day un night, right and left, up and down, good and evil

    September 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  20. krussell2010

    did god banish the devil from heaven, when god asked him to love humanity, the world that god had created as much as he loved us, the devil did not want to do that and said they are your creation and I will never love them, god was angry about this, the devil said to god I love you and I worship you but I will never love the life you have created on earth, before he was banished he promised to god he would put temptation in the way of man (humanity) to prove nothing on earth would love him the way he did....maybe god loves the devil, as he brings death to us all on earth, he lets the devil tempt us and as god, the devil will never die, god as decided to let him life forever, and I think with the way we are, the devil is making a point to god, we are destroying the world he gave us and we kill one another, never mind everything else, god tried to make it easy, and said just follow the ten commandment, most people can not follow those rules

    September 18, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      This is nothing more than an attempt by your mind to make sense of the natural world which apparently it can't comprehend.

      Your story of god and the devil is a fable from a book made real in your mind.

      The 10 Commandments are part of 613 other rules from the old testament, most of them are gibberish and the rest had been in effect since Egypt. Do you really think that we need someone to tell us "do not kill"? What civilization can survive that kills each other without ANY reprimand? NONE. That's why we have laws and these laws are man made for the benefit of man as a whole.

      The bible was written by man, but to control.

      September 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
      • krussell2010

        thank you for your view, I realize we are from different faiths, I do not know why I put my thought on a jewish site, maybe that was gods will, I am very sorry, one thing I have been taught, only god can judge, and me I must respect u for the way u are, I do stand beside the 10 commandments, not 613 or 7,

        September 18, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
      • krussell2010

        we as people are killing the earth he gave to us, how ungrateful are we, we war about religion, but lets go back to the beginning, god made earth, he then put man on the earth, man was lonely, so from his rib god made woman etc

        September 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          God gave us a planet full of volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and everything else.

          Why do you not include that in your analysis? Like I said, you can't pick and choose, you need to include everything.

          But let's look at your bible story, which by the way, is completely fallacious and I can enlighten you if you'd like.

          Your god is omnipotent, which means that he knows everything and can do anything.

          Since he knows everything, wouldn't he know in advance that creating the angel Lucifer would be a disaster?

          So if he knew that Lucifer would turn into Satan, why make him?

          If he knew that Adam and Eve would disobey him, why bother?

          What about Noah's Arc? Why kill everyone if he knew that after killing them, man would do the same thing again which would then make him send himself as his son to die for this new humans? Did he want to be crucified? If so, wouldn't that make him a masochist?

          Why do any of the above if he already knows the outcome?

          It doesn't make sense!

          The entire premise of the bible creation story is FLAWED in it's entirety. It's a fairy tale for children.

          You just need to add the facts.

          September 18, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
      • krussell2010

        if I can not rely on the bible, what should I rely on, as god come to earth and told man any bible is correct, in my view, I think gave word to more that one, and would like us to make effort to learn or try to understand each

        September 18, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          How about your mind? How about studying and learning how to live?

          How can you count on a book that is 4000 years old?

          What you are doing is learning how to be like people were 4000 years ago.

          These people where ignorant in EVERY single subject known to modern man.

          They believed that the earth was immovable. They believed in things that we can only laugh at today.

          Why would you do that to yourself?

          If you follow the bible, you would have to kill fortunetellers, children that disobey their parents and everyone that works on the sabbath. Seriously, is that what you want to do?

          Our laws are modern laws, created by the evolution of the human mind. Not by some sheep herders in the desert.

          September 18, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
      • krussell2010

        if I could read and understand your bible, maybe I could understand u dissing what I believe, but I know god is the only one that can judge, u do a great in trying, so

        September 18, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
        • Alan

          The Bible, the Quran, all ancient holy books used by Earth's religions are inspired from the same intelligence we call God. Therefore, focus on truly understanding your own holy book used by your religion, whatever that is. You will thereby understand the Bible, the Quran, and the truth expressed in all ancient holy books.

          September 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          What truth might that be? The truth as sheep herders saw it 4000 years ago?

          There is no truth in "holly" books. They are ALL man made and those "Man" where completely ignorant of EVERYTHING.

          They where shooting in the dark.

          Had no idea of bacteria, quantum mechanics or even what the sun was.

          COMPLETELY IGNORANT, yet you call it the truth? Seriously.

          It's truth to you, but not to anyone that reasons without preconceived notions of gods.

          September 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
      • Alan

        > The entire premise of the bible creation story is FLAWED

        You misunderstand. There are two issues. One, the human translation is flawed, written by primitives compared to where humans stand today in greater depth of intelligence and consciousness. Two, the parables of Adam and Eve are for less evolved humans, they're like children's bedtime stories with object lessons. The main thrust of the Bible - and all holy books on Earth and undoubtedly throughout intelligent civilizations throughout the cosmos - is its illumination that reveals a realm beyond this life. Our present state of existence amounts to an organic vessel or husk of a shell that holds consciousness. We are endlessly thriving intelligent life forms, forever evolving, growing, and changing as God makes us closer to his likeness. What part of this do you not understand?

        September 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          How about the part that Genesis and all the miracles are a joke?

          What about the part that the most important book in the cosmos, as you put it, was left to the interpretation of "primitives" as you stated?

          Why would this god that wants us to evolve into his likeness, kill every animal and child on the planet by the way of drowning?

          Why would he put humans thru earthquakes, volcanos, viruses, etc?

          You are thinking further than most here, but you are still creating an illusion to fit your needs.

          Reality is a completely different animal.

          September 19, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Alan

      > maybe god loves the devil

      In my studies of the Bible, I'm convinced God not only loves the "devil," but wants to save him, just as he wants for everyone who ever lived.

      September 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
      • dorianmattar

        What makes you think that this god wants to save everyone?

        The bible states that billions will not enter heaven.

        The ENTIRE premise of the bible is to follow or burn.

        What type of love is that?

        It's nothing but an ultimatum.

        Ultimatums are made by DICTATORS.

        September 19, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
        • Alan

          > What makes you think that this god wants to save everyone?

          If you consider the book you don't believe was inspired by God, it states:

          “…This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2: 3, 4

          Believe it or not, but don't misrepresent what it says to justify your anger with God. Otherwise, you're doing exactly what you say that I'm doing.

          September 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          Yes sure, those are the contradictions in the bible, here is a complete opposite of that.

          Luke 13:23-24 and 28, “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able ... There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.”

          GNASHING OF TEETH! WOW what a great God!

          We can go on forever trying to come to terms and that's the point, the bible is a ridiculous jumble of passages and contradictions.

          The fact is that it was written by MAN. God was mad in the image of man, and not the other way around.

          To believe otherwise, is to be blind to the facts and mistaken.

          September 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
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About this blog

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