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Imaginary Friends Related To Religious Perception?


DarthOkkata
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Well, I've not been by in a bit. I'm in the middle of my 'summer reading list', as I've dubbed it. As mentioned in an earlier post.

 

This brought up an interesting subject, and this seemed the best place to put it.

 

I am at the end of 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins. In the last chapter, there's mention of the 'invisible friend'.

 

It's really a question in two parts.

 

Did you have an 'invisible friend' when you were younger?

 

If so, how 'real' was the invisible friend? To what extent could you see, hear, or possibly even touch, who or whatever it was? [i've even heard of such 'friends' as having their own language, that only the child understands.]

 

The answer I'm looking for [if you were so inclined] is more what you perceived as a child, than what you now believe to be true. Did you think your friend was real? How real was your friend to you? Something you thought you could reach out and touch, even interact with on a physical level? Or was it something you knew you couldn't really see, or interact with?

 

The second part of the question is related to the 'religious experience', but fundamentally the same question.

 

Did you actually hear, see, or even feel Jesus/The Holy Spirit?

 

If so, to what extent? Was it like standing with speaking to a 'real' person? Once again, current beliefs aside, how 'real' was it? Something you thought you could touch, communicate, and interact with? Or more an ideal, or an intangible, or as some put it, a feeling?

 

I wasn't 'blessed' with an imaginary friend. I had an active imagination, don't get me wrong, but as with Dawkins, it was more 'second order' pretending. [i'm Superman, or a Doctor, or a Scientist, etc...]

 

I'm also not one of those who speaks in tongues, hears god's voice, or goes into fits as I'm filled with it.

 

I'd like to try and get an idea, just for the sake of curiosity, if there's any relationship between the 'reality' of imaginary friends in youth, and the 'reality' of god's power later in life?

 

Thoughts? Answers? Comments? Etc...

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Did you have an 'invisible friend' when you were younger?

 

Yes around age 6-7.

 

If so, how 'real' was the invisible friend? To what extent could you see, hear, or possibly even touch, who or whatever it was? [i've even heard of such 'friends' as having their own language, that only the child understands.]

 

I had a vague sense of what she looked like but I could not really see her features, a shadowy outline. Our communications were non-verbal.

 

The answer I'm looking for [if you were so inclined] is more what you perceived as a child, than what you now believe to be true. Did you think your friend was real?

 

Yes

 

How real was your friend to you? Something you thought you could reach out and touch, even interact with on a physical level? Or was it something you knew you couldn't really see, or interact with?

 

Very real. I could interact with her verbally although I couldn't reach out and touch. It was more of a conversational type of interaction.

 

The second part of the question is related to the 'religious experience', but fundamentally the same question.

 

Did you actually hear, see, or even feel Jesus/The Holy Spirit?

 

Yes and no. I felt there was perhaps something "out there" and would have non-verbal conversations with the unknown that I thought was perhaps God. But it was mainly you shouldn't do this or that because it is wrong. I realize now that it was my subconscience talking to me.

 

If so, to what extent? Was it like standing with speaking to a 'real' person? Once again, current beliefs aside, how 'real' was it? Something you thought you could touch, communicate, and interact with? Or more an ideal, or an intangible, or as some put it, a feeling?

 

See above answer...more an ideal or intangible feeling.

 

 

I wondered about the corrulation between my belief in an imaginary friend and my inability to believe in an imaginary being; however, I came to the conclusion that one really didn't have much to do with the other except for my feeling that something was out there, that I attribute to my talking to my subconscience and my wonder about how we came to be. My travels to not believing in God came years later and started with my sitting in history class when I was about 12-13 and hearing autrocity after autrocity that occured throughout history all in the name of religion/God and wondering where in the heck was that all loving God. To top it off this ass needed to be worshipped and have his ego stroked. He wasn't someone that I wanted to look up to and I decided that I would no longer waste my efforts to worship and glorify an asshole. I'd much prefer to try to live my life doing the opposite, being considerate and caring of everyone. It wasn't because I didn't have religion in my life at that time either. I was at church every Wednesday for class and service and every Sunday for service. My parents didn't go to church so I would beg rides from my best friends parents or walk a mile to get there. That's how devoted I was.

 

Please note this was me at 12-13, it is no longer how I believe or think, I went from disliking God to disliking religions toward not believing in the Bible, to not believing in Jesus to my questioning how we came to be. A lot has happened during the last 30 years.

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Never had an imaginary friend.

 

Casual belief in God/JC, only because that's what I was taught by extended family growing up. Attended Sunday School a few times and one Bible Camp as a child, "saved" twice as a child because I was told I had to be and didn't feel any Holy Spirit enter me the first time, went to church a few times with friends, "saved" a third time because I still didn't have any supernatural experiences after the 2nd time. Never felt anything "real." Finally read the Bible to try and understand what both my grandmothers had so much faith in, that's how I confirmed the story was myth.

 

I remember back in kindergarten when we learned about the dinosaurs, I wondered if God was testing us with those fossils to make it look like they around long before humans, because the conflicting stories didn't add up.

 

Thanks for asking this question, DarthOkkata. I'm also interested in seeing more replies to see how the two might relate.

 

Unknowing1, it's been said about ghosts (which I've never seen convincing evidence of) that children are more open to seeing them and adults "lose" this ability. Could it be that your knowledge and ability to reason overcame the "ability" to "experience" (imagine) things that weren't there?

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Unknowing1, it's been said about ghosts (which I've never seen convincing evidence of) that children are more open to seeing them and adults "lose" this ability. Could it be that your knowledge and ability to reason overcame the "ability" to "experience" (imagine) things that weren't there?

 

Anything is possible. I always attributed it to our moving a lot when I was a child and how hard it was for me to make friends due to my being really shy. She showed up shortly after we moved to another city. She left about 5 months later which was a couple of months into the new school year and I had started making friends in the neighborhood and at my new school.

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I never had an imaginary friend but I did believe very strongly in the existence of the Xian god(s).

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Unknowing1, it's been said about ghosts (which I've never seen convincing evidence of) that children are more open to seeing them and adults "lose" this ability. Could it be that your knowledge and ability to reason overcame the "ability" to "experience" (imagine) things that weren't there?

 

Anything is possible. I always attributed it to our moving a lot when I was a child and how hard it was for me to make friends due to my being really shy. She showed up shortly after we moved to another city. She left about 5 months later which was a couple of months into the new school year and I had started making friends in the neighborhood and at my new school.

 

That may have been the reason. [i was a brat, so I know what moving around is like for a kid.] I'm not really asking what brought the 'friend' into being though. I'll clarify, I hope.

 

I'm looking to find out if the same thing that 'drove' your imaginary friend when you were little, may have 'grown' into Jesus, or whoever else you might worship.

 

I'm curious to see if the people who had very real imaginary friends, who could speak to them, even play with them on an almost physical level have stronger 'reactions' to the Holy Spirit, or whatever.

 

As in, they are more prone to hearing him talk back, see him in things, 'feel' his presence, that sort of thing.

 

I'm not looking to find out whether or not you believed in your imaginary friend [Adult version or childhood type]. I want to know if children with a more active imagination of that kind, are more inclined to have visions, hear god speaking to them, speaking in tongues, etc.

 

I know there are a lot of people who fake it. Some people really do feel it on a physical level. Some people really do have visions, and hear 'god's' voice.

 

I'd think there are also levels in between, if such a thing is true. I think it's rather likely.

 

I'm not one of those people. I was pretty much a born skeptic. My parents made me read too much for their own good.

 

I'd like to see what might come of asking for information from those who have.

 

If you didn't have an imaginary friend, and still had strong 'holy spirit' vibes, I'd like to hear that too. The same for the those who had strong imaginary friends, and little reaction to 'being filled'.

 

Uh, huh huh huh huh.

Heh heh heh heh m heh.

 

It might be worth mentioning if you viewed religion skeptically at a young age if the latter is the case.

 

Should be interesting.

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I never had an imaginary friend as a child. I did try pretty hard as a child and young adult, though mostly unsuccessfully, to feel the presence of God and believe in god's reality. It was easy to see God's intervention in coincidence. As I got older, I was able to conjure up a feeling that I identified as a feeling of God's presence. Finally I became convinced that it's all happening in my own psyche.

 

To this day I have a vivid imagination and can come up with "real" conversations between imaginary characters. Starting around age 13 I would entertain myself in an otherwise totally dreary world with imagining the life of imaginary people. I knew they were imaginary and at times I worried that I might get the two worlds mixed up. This fear was exacerbated by having a grandmother heading into Alzheimers.

 

Now that I my needs for intellectual stimulation are being met I no longer need these imaginary inner characters to entertain me. However, at no time did I confuse the god feeling with these imaginary characters. Each had its own compartment in my brain.

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I did not have an imaginary friend in the traditional sense. I did however have an imaginary friend who only manifested himself in my dreams. I had several dreams involving him, and they built upon one another. I think I must have been in fifth/sixth/seventh grade around that time.

 

I have never had a religious experience where I "felt" God.

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I'm curious to see if the people who had very real imaginary friends, who could speak to them, even play with them on an almost physical level have stronger 'reactions' to the Holy Spirit, or whatever.

 

As in, they are more prone to hearing him talk back, see him in things, 'feel' his presence, that sort of thing.

 

I'm not looking to find out whether or not you believed in your imaginary friend [Adult version or childhood type]. I want to know if children with a more active imagination of that kind, are more inclined to have visions, hear god speaking to them, speaking in tongues, etc.

 

 

Gonna try to answer and hope this is what you are looking for.

 

During that time I believed in Sue I wasn't very religious. My parents would take me to church occasionally but we weren't into it all the time.

 

About 2 years after believing in Sue I moved (again). I became friends with a girl in the neighborhood who attended a Catholic Church (I was born Catholic). They took me to church and I really enjoyed it. It was the social aspect more so than the belief in God that originally got me hooked. I started going to church and catechism class. Several years passed and I continued to be the good little Catholic going to church every Sunday, praying and trying to find that personal connection. While I did believe God existed I never found that personal connection with Him that I had with Sue try as I might.

 

As I've gotten older and pondering more of the whys my thought is that maybe I believed in God only because I was told that he existed. Sue I was told didn't exist. What a conflict that put me. My imaginary friend whom I loved and felt a connection with wasn't real, but another being that I couldn't see, hear or feel or have a connection with was real. Remember I was 7 years old at this time.

 

I've been struggling with my belief in God since my realization in History class when I was about 12. I stopped going to church and stopped praying on a regular basis. I didn't do much more than that because to do anything else would have killed my mom. As far as everyone knew I was the good little catholic girl that just didn't go to church anymore. Finally when mom died I tried to connect with God by changing denominations. Attended a methodist church for over a year. The minister knew I didn't believe in the Bible but she didn't know that I had issues with Jesus, nor really did I. I came to that realization when I was standing before the congregation to be initated into the church membership and had to profess my belief in Jesus. I was like what I am doing I don't really believe. I haven't been back to church since.

 

I really believe that I lost my belief in God when everyone was telling me that Sue didn't exist but because of this being a Christian nation and the pressure that is put on people to believe just didn't realize it or didn't want too or didn't have the courage to admit it until a year or so ago.

 

I think for me I have less of a reaction to God because I had an imaginary friend at a young age and then was told she didn't exist but like you I am curious of what type of connection with God others with imaginary friends have or had.

 

Edit: I'm also curious if after people lost their belief in their imaginary friend, if it had an affect on their belief in God, did they lose that connection with Him or struggle to find that connection.

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Had a casual belief in imaginary friends for a while. Grew out of it eventually, just as I grew out of Christianity.

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As I've gotten older and pondering more of the whys my thought is that maybe I believed in God only because I was told that he existed. Sue I was told didn't exist. What a conflict that put me. My imaginary friend whom I loved and felt a connection with wasn't real, but another being that I couldn't see, hear or feel or have a connection with was real. Remember I was 7 years old at this time.

 

Thanks for sharing this. I don't know the answer to your question but it sure makes sense.

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No imaginary friend here, although I did have a stuffed animal I was convinced was actually a living creature. Me and the stuffed cat would psychically communicate.

Big Holy Spirit vibes christian later. Me and God communicated telepathically a bunch. God also gave me "signs" in life.

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No imaginary friend here, although I did have a stuffed animal I was convinced was actually a living creature. Me and the stuffed cat would psychically communicate.

Big Holy Spirit vibes christian later. Me and God communicated telepathically a bunch. God also gave me "signs" in life.

 

An imaginary friend is an imaginary friend. Even if it took the form of a favorite toy. Having something physical to associate it with may help a lot of children. [i think it's probably the most common type.] Still doesn't include me as far as I remember.

 

Thinking about it, I felt I should comment, to broaden the net a bit so to speak. Any 'imaginary friend' will do. Even if it was a broom, or a bed sheet, or whatever. Just about anything not living, that you may have exchanged ideas with at some point in your youth on a regular basis.

 

From what I've heard, some encounters end abruptly, with whatever it is saying goodbye and everything. With others, it becomes something that fades with time.

 

I'm thinking maybe it comes back as Jesus, and the experience he can sometimes be. I've never had one, and I've been skeptical from the start. I started to realize at a young age, that what I was being told I should do, and what I was hearing from the big book it supposedly all came from, wasn't really the same thing.

 

I am not the type to assume I'm normal and representative of any sort of average. [imaginary friend v. non imaginary friend] Maybe I really am weird. Still, it did strike me as an interesting idea when I read it.

 

The input so far seems to point to Strong imaginary friend = Strong reaction to Holy Spirit, in whatever localized form it takes. [it's different depending on what part of the US you're in, and what particular religion you're part of. Sometimes only in the particulars of how it's done though.] Most of you probably already knew that, though I can't speak for other countries on the matter.

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Unknowing1, it's been said about ghosts (which I've never seen convincing evidence of) that children are more open to seeing them and adults "lose" this ability. Could it be that your knowledge and ability to reason overcame the "ability" to "experience" (imagine) things that weren't there?

 

Anything is possible. I always attributed it to our moving a lot when I was a child and how hard it was for me to make friends due to my being really shy. She showed up shortly after we moved to another city. She left about 5 months later which was a couple of months into the new school year and I had started making friends in the neighborhood and at my new school.

 

Sorry it took me a few days to come back, Unknowing1. I've heard that explanation a few times as well, and it seems like a reasonable one to me.

 

I'm not really asking what brought the 'friend' into being though. I'll clarify, I hope.

 

I'm looking to find out if the same thing that 'drove' your imaginary friend when you were little, may have 'grown' into Jesus, or whoever else you might worship.

 

My apologies for the detour, DarthOkkata. I was thinking the "experience" of an imaginary childhood friend might show a predisposition to imagine other beings well into adulthood, and thought that might be what you were thinking too.

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Unknowing1, it's been said about ghosts (which I've never seen convincing evidence of) that children are more open to seeing them and adults "lose" this ability. Could it be that your knowledge and ability to reason overcame the "ability" to "experience" (imagine) things that weren't there?

 

Anything is possible. I always attributed it to our moving a lot when I was a child and how hard it was for me to make friends due to my being really shy. She showed up shortly after we moved to another city. She left about 5 months later which was a couple of months into the new school year and I had started making friends in the neighborhood and at my new school.

 

Sorry it took me a few days to come back, Unknowing1. I've heard that explanation a few times as well, and it seems like a reasonable one to me.

 

I'm not really asking what brought the 'friend' into being though. I'll clarify, I hope.

 

I'm looking to find out if the same thing that 'drove' your imaginary friend when you were little, may have 'grown' into Jesus, or whoever else you might worship.

 

My apologies for the detour, DarthOkkata. I was thinking the "experience" of an imaginary childhood friend might show a predisposition to imagine other beings well into adulthood, and thought that might be what you were thinking too.

 

Well, yes, that's the idea. It's the same question with the addition of asking whether the 'level' of the childhood experience might have something to do with the 'level' of the Holy Spirit effect.

 

Stronger more life-like imaginary friend = Stronger more life-like Jesus.

 

That's what seems to be the case so far anyway.

 

I'll admit I'm far from qualified to get into the psychological or neurological nuances of the matter. I could be mistaken, as this is pretty much just an attempt to get a general view of what might come of a real study on the subject.

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Posing the question here can help us see any correlation that may exist. However, as you seem to realize, it can't give us the core cause of said correlation. Perhaps we should expand on the question and also ask how vivid one's imagination is in general. I seem to recall a theory stating that a vivid imagination can contribute to a person's religiosity. This makes perfect sense to me, because what else but a vivid imagination can cause someone to "experience" something that isn't there?

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Posing the question here can help us see any correlation that may exist. However, as you seem to realize, it can't give us the core cause of said correlation. Perhaps we should expand on the question and also ask how vivid one's imagination is in general. I seem to recall a theory stating that a vivid imagination can contribute to a person's religiosity. This makes perfect sense to me, because what else but a vivid imagination can cause someone to "experience" something that isn't there?

 

That seems obvious. The question here is a bit different, but fundamentally the same.

 

I had, and still have, a vivid imagination. I was not fooled into the Jesus cult, and I've been skeptical most of my life. Even as a young boy, I remember having a hard time swallowing quite a bit of it.

 

The question I'm asking here is whether or not having an imaginary friend can make Jesus more 'real'.

 

Does having a more realistic imaginary friend create a kind of 'conditioning' that allows the cult to fool the adult into 'feeling' god more?

 

I realize this won't add up to a huge body of firm evidence, as it is an internet forum. I'm not looking to write a paper on it, or try and claim it as proof of any kind. Just curious to see what evidence I can gather, and where it points.

 

Seems to be that it is the case thus far.

 

Asking about vivid imaginations would be an interesting question as well. This is a bit more specific, as I'm thinking that an innocent childhood friend, could grow into a [more] dangerous emotional crutch later in life named Jesus. The individual in question may have [unknowingly] grown used to talking to themselves, and thinking it was someone else's voice.

 

It's a lot like the D&D scare in the 70's and 80's now that I think about it. Someone having trouble telling reality and fantasy apart, but with accepted religious beliefs creating a more stable, and even encouraged platform for the unhealthy dementia to grow on.

 

That's the way I would see it anyway. I see imagining something [a child pretending intentionally], and interacting with something not real, [a child having what seems like a real conversation/interaction/friendship with something not real.] as similar, but different ideas.

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I was always a very imaginative little kid. Furthermore, I was a bit of a loner. I had 10 imaginary friends, and I would, literally, talk to them in the open. I had imaginary friends from the ages of 5-11. When I wasn't with my flesh and bone friends I was with my imaginary ones. I played games with them and had long conversations. They were truly real to me. But, oneday, I grew up and realized that people would think I was nuts if I continued...

 

However, when I got Jesus I believed in that moreso than any of my friends. Afterall, I had adults validating my belief in the fantasy. That imaginary friend eventually sent me into therapy.

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