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Sun Dec 30, 2012, 06:19 PM

My Take: If you hear God speak audibly, you (usually) arenít crazy

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/12/29/my-take-if-you-hear-god-speak-audibly-you-usually-arent-crazy/


A woman prays in church. Many Christians say they can audibly hear the voice of God.

December 29th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Editor's Note: Tanya Marie (ďT.M.Ē) 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)óIn 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 Godís 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. Thereís 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 itís 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 theyíve 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.

more at link

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 06:45 PM

1. My take - a great deal of evil has been done in the name of god.

And I suspect some of the people who perpetrated that evil had some pretty lively conversations with god.

Not that there is anything wrong with that....

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Response to geckosfeet (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 06:47 PM

2. There is this rather fine line between those that have different kinds of

experiences because of their religious beliefs and those that grab onto religion because they are having unexplainable experiences (like hearing voices).

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Response to cbayer (Reply #2)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 07:07 PM

4. A not so fine, very blurred line of conevenience imo.

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Response to geckosfeet (Reply #4)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 07:21 PM

5. Not sure what you mean by convenience.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 09:50 PM

9. Are you sure what anyone means by anything?

Seriously, did you just invent the idea of this being a "fine line", or would you like to give us some justification for that claim? Are you going to be rational and discuss it, or just run away and hide, as usual?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 10:09 PM

10. It's not that hard. Using religion, god, or the voices as an excuse for their behavior.

As in "god said it was ok for me to be an a$$zero".

God as a convenient excuse for bad behavior.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 06:58 PM

3. Some people who hear voices

are mentally ill. Some people simply experience auditory hallucinations for one reason or another (including hypnopompic and hypnogogic hallucinations) without being mentally ill (though how they're able to assign a specific identity to the hallucinated voice is another matter). But when someone keeps hearing the same voice talking to them all the time, over and over and over, that goes beyond a simple hallucination. If someone said that Napoleon or George Washington or Humphrey Bogart was talking to them every day, they'd be regarded as having something wrong with them, but if someone says that they hear "god" talking to them every day, somehow that's completely different.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 08:57 PM

8. I am reminded of one of Sam Harris' best quotes.

"George Bush says he speaks to god every day, and Christians love him for it. If George Bush said he spoke to god through his hair dryer, they would think he was mad. I fail to see how the addition of a hair dryer makes it any more absurd." - Sam Harris

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 07:25 PM

6. Occasionally, when I am alone

I will hear what sounds like someone talking, or to my great discomfort, someone calling my name.

I have never mistaken a weird auditory hallucination to be any type of God. Rather, wouldn't it make more sense to think it is the same type of function as when your eyes are tired and things get unfocused/shadowy or when you are looking at something bright and then see an imprint of it. Or like when you burp hot dogs months from the last one you ate?

What makes it sound unsound is when it's attributed to "God". Mostly because I'm not quite so sure what "God" they are hearing

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Response to Tien1985 (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 07:30 PM

7. There is a kind of hallucination associated with falling asleep or becoming awake.

They are generally not seen as pathological. While some may attribute these to an outside influence (god?), others see them as purely neurological (similar to your eyes being tired, as you point out).

I'm not sure it matters, unless it drives you to do bad things.

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Response to Tien1985 (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 08:26 AM

14. Yeah, it's quite normal

 

the problem is how to interprete, and interpretation happens within the context of one's general world view. The content can be either just random noise or important messages relevant to your life situation. In latter case it's perhaps most useful just to listen and discuss and deal with the issue, instead of looking for scientific or other explanation for the source of relevant information.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 12:10 AM

11. THE ONE WHO RULES THE WORLD IS SATAN

 

Those who do evil or are bad are not listening to GOD. The devil can be anywhere and is in the religions or churches which HATE, TERRORIZE, and EVIL. God is the one who loves and shares. There are to many people out there who do not like to love others or share and they are trapped to by evil one because they have very little brains.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 01:03 AM

12. If you talk to God you are religious, If God talks to you then you are Schizophrenic.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #12)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 12:49 PM

15. Not really. The diagnosis of schizophrenia requires much more than hearing voices.

But you knew that.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 05:13 AM

13. Mental illness isn't binary,

it's a scale. "Hearing a voice" also isn't really binary. There's a big difference between thinking you heard someone whisper your name and thinking you're receiving orders from the supreme creator of the universe. The vast majority of "hearing a voice" responses were probably the former.

Unusual perceptual experiences on the cusp of sleep are super common...I'd guess higher than 40%. So are weird experiences while waking up. That has absolutely nothing to do with voices being a mark of mental illness one way or the other. No more than dreams do.

As long as they're harmless and happy I don't care if they're schizophrenic or not.

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Response to JoeyT (Reply #13)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 12:49 PM

16. Completely agree. You put it very, very well.

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