If You Hear God You (Usually) Aren’t Crazy

But then again you could be… Tanya Marie (“T.M.”) Luhrmann, a professor in the department of anthropology at Stanford University and author of “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God,” explains at 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.

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…

[continues at CNN]

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  • Andrew

    It might not be God, and you might not be hallucinating. It could be http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/05/army-removes-pa/

  • kowalityjesus

    I’ve seen shooting stars…twice…in undeniably explicit response to my prayers, just to objectify/externalize the phenomenon.

    I’m glad that you’ve posted this article. I sense a glaring paradigmatic gap between phrases in the lexicon such as “a little voice/bird told me” and the evident belief that anyone who hears voices is schizo.

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