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When You Have Evidence For God


directionless
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A common theme I come across in books and forums is that people quit believing in God because they felt there was nobody there responding to them.

 

That's how it was for me the first time I deconverted, but then after 20 years as a disappointed atheist I started feeling like God was doing things to show he was listening. For example, one time I was walking in the rain and asked God to strike me with lightning. Then a few minutes later lightning hit so close to me that it felt like somebody grabbed me by the scalp and then whacked me on the head. That made me start laughing while everybody around me was running for cover, because it seemed like God was showing he heard me and cared. I can list 10 or 20 things like that where God or other spiritual beings seemed to be interacting with me.

 

So my problem is not lack of evidence but the absurdity of Christian theology. I've thought of several solutions to this problem:

- find a version of Christianity that makes sense and is consistent with my experiences

- assume there is some spiritual reality that manifests to Christians in Christian terms but isn't actually Christianity

- assume that I have some type of rare hallucinations that come and go in a flash separated by months or years while leaving me with none of the normal symptoms.

 

Just wondering if anybody can relate to that.

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I have had experiences while a believer that seemed to be evidence of the reality of the Christian god. Three times I heard a clear spoken voice giving me direction, once with info I couldn't have known. I felt other manifestations of power coursing through me. I've wondered after deconverting what those things actually were. I know that they were not the god of the Bible, because he simply is not. So were they me, were they another non-corporeal personality, the collective life force, other? No idea. I've since experienced things like visions that could make me move toward spirit-guides, but then again I wonder about the reality of any such things. Since they all seem to take place when I'm looking for direction, and in a somewhat meditative (or intense emotional) state, I'm leery of giving credence to visions and voices. I know from dreams I've had that my mind is uber creative, and seems to teach me things in parable form that I've been mulling over.

 

I know that the bible god is not real, and other such gods are not real, and none of them seem to intervene when we could really use help. But there are aspects of this interactive guidance that are very intriguing and I hope to explore it.

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Try standing in the middle of a large clearing on a sunny day and asking god to strike you with lightning. Might not yield such quick results.

 

Better yet, please ask god to grow back my dear friend's leg. That would be something.

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I'd ask about all the prayers of all the parents of the nearly 800,000 children under five who die of diarrhoeal illnesses per year. It's so easy to "see" miracles when your assessment of the universe is exceptionally provincial. Not so much when you look beyond specific, anecdotal situations and circumstances.

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I have had experiences while a believer that seemed to be evidence of the reality of the Christian god. Three times I heard a clear spoken voice giving me direction, once with info I couldn't have known. I felt other manifestations of power coursing through me. I've wondered after deconverting what those things actually were. I know that they were not the god of the Bible, because he simply is not. So were they me, were they another non-corporeal personality, the collective life force, other? No idea. I've since experienced things like visions that could make me move toward spirit-guides, but then again I wonder about the reality of any such things. Since they all seem to take place when I'm looking for direction, and in a somewhat meditative (or intense emotional) state, I'm leery of giving credence to visions and voices. I know from dreams I've had that my mind is uber creative, and seems to teach me things in parable form that I've been mulling over.

 

I know that the bible god is not real, and other such gods are not real, and none of them seem to intervene when we could really use help. But there are aspects of this interactive guidance that are very intriguing and I hope to explore it.

Thanks, I'm glad to know you experienced things like that too.

 

If these experiences are coming from God then why do only a few people report them? I'm not virtuous or pious or more in need of God's encouragement than anybody else, so why would God encourage me sometimes and not more deserving people?

 

If these experiences are hallucinations then why do some people like you get useful guidance from the hallucinations? Also if I was having psychosis why didn't I have the other symptoms? My therapist admitted that my symptoms didn't match anything but nevertheless she was certain it was psychosis because she was an atheist - therefore it could not have been real.

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Hello, directionless. Perhaps it's good to ask yourself some questions. Why did you believe in biblegod in the first place, and why did you stop believing? I mean, what specific aspects made you believe and then not believe? I don't know your particular religious background context, so I don't know your concept of biblegod. But since you deconverted, did you take a broader and deeper -- i.e., more objective -- look at biblegod and his nature? What makes you feel tempted to believe in biblegod, and what do you think is telling you that you should believe in biblegod? And even if biblegod were real, does that necessarily make him worth believing in (i.e., being devoted and obedient to)? So, first figure out what made you believe and then unbelieve, and then you might discover what inside you (some felt unmet needs, indoctrination and psychological conditioning from family and culture, etc.) is tempting you to believe again. The most important thing is that you know yourself, your true self that is deeper than the concept of biblegod and religion. I think you will get some helpful replies on this forum. Be encouraged.

I was raised as an Episcopalian with some influence from my mother who was raised in the Christian denomination. When I got to college I began to doubt and thought I needed to experience the Holy Spirit. But that never happened so I gave up on Christianity for 20 years or so. Sometimes I would have weird experiences but they were 5 or 10 years apart, so I could ignore them. Then in 2009 I had a breakdown and the weird experiences were so frequent and intense that I decided Christianity must be true somehow. So I tried my best to be a Orthodox Christian until after 2 years the cognitive dissonance was too much for me and I gave up again.

 

But I look back at these things and I know they happened. I know I wasn't imagining them all. I've talked to people who really had psychosis and it isn't the same. There was a week or two where my thoughts were suspicious and irrational, but it dissipated very fast. Then it was just a hallucination here and a hallucination there separated by weeks.

 

Somewhere I read that shamanism and psychosis are the same experience. The shaman swims and the person with psychosis begins to drown. Luckily I only dipped in my toes. That was enough for me. smile.png

 

On the questions about biblegod, I don't know what I think. I've been indoctrinated with Christianity, so it is hard to seek God without visualizing biblegod. Also it seems like God didn't mind that I was seeking him through Christianity.

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I can see this is a tough audience. smile.png

 

Try standing in the middle of a large clearing on a sunny day and asking god to strike you with lightning. Might not yield such quick results.

 

Better yet, please ask god to grow back my dear friend's leg. That would be something.

Sorry about your friend's leg.

 

I'd ask about all the prayers of all the parents of the nearly 800,000 children under five who die of diarrhoeal illnesses per year. It's so easy to "see" miracles when your assessment of the universe is exceptionally provincial. Not so much when you look beyond specific, anecdotal situations and circumstances.

That's a good point. Even beyond why doesn't God solve all the problems in the world, I would ask why God would interact only rarely. The fact that I have experienced a few things that most people never experiences seems to point toward psychosis in me. But I don't think I have psychosis - at least not enough to explain away these experiences.

 

What you have evidence for is the claim that coincidences do happen.

If it was just one experience or if all my experiences were of this character then I would agree. But I've had a variety of experiences. I've seen people in church that apparently nobody else saw (apparently they were angels or demons or something). I saw a cross disappear when I threw a trantrum against God and then it rematerialized and fell at my feet after I apologized to God. I've seen poltergeist activity. I've heard people's thoughts sometimes. It's a big variety.

 

So it goes beyond coincidence. When a cat meows and the owner puts food in the cat bowl is that coincidence? The only skeptical explanation I can see is hallucinations and delusions. But I have a hard time accepting that explanation. Maybe it's true though. O.k. probably there is something weird in my brain or psychology causing these problem. I go back and forth on it. smile.png

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^ So even if some of my experiences are psychological, does that mean all of them are psychological? Also what about other people who have these sorts of experiences and no signs of psychological issues?

 

I'm not saying this is evidence that biblegod is literally true, but isn't it evidence for God who wants to relate to individuals? Or what is it?

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I can see this is a tough audience. smile.png

 

 

Try standing in the middle of a large clearing on a sunny day and asking god to strike you with lightning. Might not yield such quick results.

 

Better yet, please ask god to grow back my dear friend's leg. That would be something.

Sorry about your friend's leg.

 

I'd ask about all the prayers of all the parents of the nearly 800,000 children under five who die of diarrhoeal illnesses per year. It's so easy to "see" miracles when your assessment of the universe is exceptionally provincial. Not so much when you look beyond specific, anecdotal situations and circumstances.

That's a good point. Even beyond why doesn't God solve all the problems in the world, I would ask why God would interact only rarely. The fact that I have experienced a few things that most people never experiences seems to point toward psychosis in me. But I don't think I have psychosis - at least not enough to explain away these experiences.

 

What you have evidence for is the claim that coincidences do happen.

If it was just one experience or if all my experiences were of this character then I would agree. But I've had a variety of experiences. I've seen people in church that apparently nobody else saw (apparently they were angels or demons or something). I saw a cross disappear when I threw a trantrum against God and then it rematerialized and fell at my feet after I apologized to God. I've seen poltergeist activity. I've heard people's thoughts sometimes. It's a big variety.

 

So it goes beyond coincidence. When a cat meows and the owner puts food in the cat bowl is that coincidence? The only skeptical explanation I can see is hallucinations and delusions. But I have a hard time accepting that explanation. Maybe it's true though. O.k. probably there is something weird in my brain or psychology causing these problem. I go back and forth on it. smile.png

When in doubt, it is much more likely that the known irrational tendencies of the human brain are at fault as opposed to the unknown rational tendencies of a paranormal "brain."

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Still doesn't strike me as any evidence of any "god" plus if it were the buybull god, it would've just let the lightning strike you. After all it's quite clear in the buybull itself the buybull "god" is a sadistic, blood thirsty, terroristic, dictator that makes pol pot look like Steve erkel.

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When in doubt, it is much more likely that the known irrational tendencies of the human brain are at fault as opposed to the unknown rational tendencies of a paranormal "brain."

I agree with you in the theory, but it's hard in practice. I'm not sure what is more disturbing - to believe these things happened or to believe I sometimes can't distinguish reality from imagination. Mostly I try to keep the memories abstract and impersonal and hopefully not think about them at all.

 

Ironically, whenever I am tempted to find a way to be a Christian, I usually look for encouragement on a Christian forum. Surprisingly, Christians are just as skeptical about these things as atheists. I don't know how they claim to be Christians when they don't believe any of these things are possible. So the Christians also tell me my evidence for God is not valid. smile.png

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Still doesn't strike me as any evidence of any "god" plus if it were the buybull god, it would've just let the lightning strike you. After all it's quite clear in the buybull itself the buybull "god" is a sadistic, blood thirsty, terroristic, dictator that makes pol pot look like Steve erkel.

smile.png Yeah, I guess it depends what part of the Bible you read, but it does seem to be true in general.

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So you have spiritual encounters.  You feel there is something supernatural interacting with you on a personal level.  How do you know this being is the Christian God?  Isn't limiting your search within the Christian sphere a bit myopic?  Why not Islam?  Or Hinduism?  Or none of the above and simply vague deism?  You yourself acknowledge Christian doctrines are absurd.

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Sounds like god missed. You asked him to strike you with lightning and he didn't. He could have done so and kept you from getting hurt. Close doesn't count in my book. I don't mean to be rude or disrespectful. But my point is, it was raining and lightning strikes happen during storms. You just happened to be praying for lightening when lightnig struck. As the Professor said, coincidences do happen. Many events that seem too much to be coincidence can be shown via statistics to be far more likely than people think. I second Marry, if god really wants to show you he's listening, you should ask him for something a lot less likely, like a lightning strike on a sunny day in a clearing far from any power lines. If god grants your request repeatedly, then you may have evidence of answered prayer. My question to you is, how many times have you prayed for things that didn't happen? You see, when we want to believe, we focus on things that support our beliefs and ignore the things that don't. This is called confirmation bias, and anyone here who has read my posts before knows that it's a big pet peeve of mine. Confirmation bias is dangerous because it is impossible to distinguish it from coincidence so long as you ingore the information you don't like.

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So you have spiritual encounters.  You feel there is something supernatural interacting with you on a personal level.  How do you know this being is the Christian God?  Isn't limiting your search within the Christian sphere a bit myopic?  Why not Islam?  Or Hinduism?  Or none of the above and simply vague deism?  You yourself acknowledge Christian doctrines are absurd.

That's a good question. For one thing there is no "the Christian God" each denomination has a different interpretation of God. There is the the Orthodox God and the Catholic God and the Baptist God the Episcopal God and so forth. Furthermore modern Christianity appears to be radically different from the earliest Christianity, and every denomination's theology is hard for me to believe.

 

But on the positive side, most of my spiritual experiences (if that's what they were) involved Christianity in some way. Maybe that is because I was raised as a Christian and Christianity is the religion I think about most. Maybe these spiritual things communicate through the vocabulary that is already available in our subconscious and for me that is crosses, bibles, Jesus, Satan, etc?

 

Of course psychological problems like psychosis would also "communicate" using the vocabulary that aleady exists in your brain (i.e. Christianity).

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Sounds like god missed. You asked him to strike you with lightning and he didn't. He could have done so and kept you from getting hurt. Close doesn't count in my book. I don't mean to be rude or disrespectful. But my point is, it was raining and lightning strikes happen during storms. You just happened to be praying for lightening when lightnig struck. As the Professor said, coincidences do happen. Many events that seem too much to be coincidence can be shown via statistics to be far more likely than people think. I second Marry, if god really wants to show you he's listening, you should ask him for something a lot less likely, like a lightning strike on a sunny day in a clearing far from any power lines. If god grants your request repeatedly, then you may have evidence of answered prayer. My question to you is, how many times have you prayed for things that didn't happen? You see, when we want to believe, we focus on things that support our beliefs and ignore the things that don't. This is called confirmation bias, and anyone here who has read my posts before knows that it's a big pet peeve of mine. Confirmation bias is dangerous because it is impossible to distinguish it from coincidence so long as you ingore the information you don't like.

That is a good point about confirmation bias. In my case a more likely rational explanation is hallucination. I actually have vividly real memories of sequences of events that may not have actually happened. For example at one point I saw a insect transform into a silhouette of a scorpion where the interior of the silhouette was like a void. O.k. so obviously that was a vision or hallucination. But the problem is that I remember a sequence of events prior to that hallucination that another person who was present and reacting to these weird events does not recall. So I wonder if the hallucination began several minutes before it became obvious as a hallucination.

 

But confirmation bias is a factor too - especially when I start remembering these experiences or hallucinations and begin to worry about the nature of reality. That puts me in a less rational state of mind where confirmation bias is more likely to slip into my reasoning.

 

Arguing against hallucination is the fact that I don't have the typical symptoms of any ordinary form of psychosis. I've looked through the text book descriptions and talked to people on psychology forums.

 

I try not to worry about figuring out these things, but it keeps bugging me.

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Good observation directionless. The truth is, our senses are inaccurate sometimes. Our brains will fill gaps in our senses with subjective interpretations of what we think should be there. That's why part of the scientific method is repetition of tests by third parties in which they get the same results you did. This prevents false conclusions by flawed senses because it shows that there is something objectively happening outside the interpretation of one person. Personal experiences, however subjectively compelling, cannot be considered evidence if they can't be replicated and verified. People ask me sometimes if I've every had an experience I cannot explain. Sure I have! But all that means is I cannot explain it. To say, "I can't explain it. Therefore it's God" is false because the truth is if you can't explain it, then you can't explain it. Ignorance is no evidence of anything.

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Directionless,

 

Aside from already having knowledge of the christian god, what would make you think it was the christian god as opposed to any other god?

 

Why couldn't it be Zeus or Hermes or me or Neverlandrut who caused the lightning strike?

 

This is usually the first question I ask when someone says they've experienced something supernatural.  Usually, they are biased based on their experiences with one god.

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Directionless,

 

Aside from already having knowledge of the christian god, what would make you think it was the christian god as opposed to any other god?

 

Why couldn't it be Zeus or Hermes or me or Neverlandrut who caused the lightning strike?

 

This is usually the first question I ask when someone says they've experienced something supernatural.  Usually, they are biased based on their experiences with one god.

That's a good question too. I believe in the God and Jesus that I have always known in my imagination since childhood instead of the people in the Bible or in a book of theology. So when I'm walking along asking God to strike me with lightning and lightning strikes then I assume it was a response from the person I was talking to. Sometimes I've wondered if my own subconscious super powers caused the lightning to strike, but that idea doesn't excite me like the idea that God wanted to give me some encouragement. Of course the idea of a coincidence is even less inspiring. smile.png

 

I suspect I'm missing the point of your question. Sometimes I've wondered if my attachment to my childhood religious notions keeps me blind to alternatives. To be honest I feel much more comfortable as an atheist than I would as a Buddhist, Hindu, or neo-Pagan, because it seems less of a betrayal.

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directionless, I have to be blunt here.  Based on your posts and your beliefs and experiences, you really sound strongly delusional, maybe even slightly psychotic

And I say that with the utmost compassion, as I myself have a serious mental illness, and I have been hospitalized with psychosis before.  Delusional beliefs, hallucinations, etc. are all signs of psychosis.  It might be wise to seek out a therapist, or even a psychiatrist.

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directionless, I have to be blunt here.  Based on your posts and your beliefs and experiences, you really sound strongly delusional, maybe even slightly psychotic

And I say that with the utmost compassion, as I myself have a serious mental illness, and I have been hospitalized with psychosis before.  Delusional beliefs, hallucinations, etc. are all signs of psychosis.  It might be wise to seek out a therapist, or even a psychiatrist.

Thanks, pawn. It's very murky for me. I definitely have been psychotic at times. But sometimes I wonder if the psychosis was a response to real spiritual experiences - i.e. my experiences were a mixture of real and imaginary.

 

I don't know what to do about it. Currently I'm o.k. 99% of the time. Once in a while I become suspicious and paranoid but that never lasts more than a day or two. I haven't had any hallucinations for a couple of years. I'm a very passive and peaceful person. Even when I was totally out of my mind with delusions I was very focused on not reacting in a way that might hurt somebody. So I don't think that is a risk.

 

BTW for me, psychosis and religion have become inseperable. This is the point I have been trying to explain. I don't really give a damn about Christianity, I'm trying to figure out what was psychosis and what wasn't psychosis and Christianity happens to be part of the story.

 

It's hard to explain. I try not to think about it, because it's impossible to know for sure and it gives me anxiety and depression.

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