Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
SkepticsApprentice

Bizarre Testimonial From A Former Agnostic

Recommended Posts

So lately I've been doing some reading on mystical experiences and their causes, partly because I find the subject interesting but also because I feel that an individual's 'personal encounter with God' via dream, vision, etc. might be the only argument left in the religious playbook that hasn't been thoroughly debunked or discredited. For the most part, I can easily see where a person's brain chemistry or their environment plays a role in causing the religious experience, but every so often I'll come across stories that don't seem to fit that mold all that well. For instance, while reading up on supposed Christo-centric visions, I came across someone's personal testimony about how he left agnosticism for Christianity. I found the story intriguing, but more than a little troublesome in places:

 

'I became a Christian in 1987-June. Until then I had rejected a relationship with Him for both personal, and what I considered to be intellectual reasons.

[Like most atheist-to-Christian conversion stories, the writer claims he didn't believe in God because he just wanted to sin, and happily dismisses any 'intellectual reasons' that might have convinced him otherwise. This might have been the case for him, I don't know. Perhaps he was never exposed to the reasons for and against faith, and then got suckered in by some shoddy apologetics work. He doesn't mention any examples, but in my experience at least intellectual and personal reasons often overlap. For instance, when reading in the Mosaic Law that a woman is forced to marry her rapist, I am both offended by the decree personally, and also repulsed by the obvious contradiction that an all-knowing, all-loving god could make such a command in good conscience.]

 

I remember that even as a child I found it impossible to accept the idea of God. Before my conversion I thought the following:

bullet There is no God.
bullet Life on earth evolved
bullet Jesus was a myth.
bullet The Bible was so old it could not possibly be accurate. 
bullet

Visions of heaven and hell experienced by some people close to death were biochemical changes in the brain. I had no doubt these stories were useful for controlling people!

 

[The author doesn't mention any specific evidence that changed his mind on any of these topics. I wonder if it isn't too much to suspect that after conversion, he ignored all the Biblical textual criticism, scientific evidence for evolution, and modern understanding of NDEs in favor of faith and pseudoscience.]

 

By the time I was eleven I had no faith at all, but as a teenager I began to think that there might possibly be a God so I was baptized and confirmed without really knowing why. I still could not accept what the Bible teaches. After school I continued going to church more out of habit than anything else. I could not understand what making a "commitment to Christ" was all about. I assumed it meant accepting that Jesus was a man with a beard, wearing a robe, living in Israel and that He claimed to be the Son of God. But I had difficulty believing in God, let alone knowing what He and His Son are really like.

I was not always easy to live with, determined to compensate for my shortcomings. My world was built around me. I was a controller. I said yes to everything my Christian friends said because the quickest way to get someone to shut up is to agree with them! The barriers to any relationship with God were well and truly up! But He broke them down because He loves each of us so much that He tries anything to get through!

 

[He just takes a hell of a long time to get around to it, that's all. This author probably never even considered the millions of people who go through life without so much as a hint that Biblegod is real, even when they ask in his name. I guess God didn't love those people enough to get off his 'Blessed Assurance' and do something about that. So much for trying 'anything' to come through to them, I guess.]

 

 God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him…(Revelation 3:20).

 

[Sorry, but I don't much fancy the idea of Jesus–or any guy for that matter–coming inside of me, no matter how nicely he knocks first. Makes everything white and sticky afterwards, y'know.]

This is how it happened. First I began to feel strange, it was though I was suffocating from the inside, however there was no clinical explanation for it.

 

[Since the author claims to have converted in the late 80s, and this testimony was written in early 2003, it may well be that the author had physical or mental issues that weren't easily diagnosed then. I'd love to know if the symptoms match anything specific that we know about today!]

 

Then one Friday evening I met with three Christian friends to pray. Because Christians prayed I thought I could be a Christian by praying! Rather like being in a garage and pretending to be a car! The young woman in the group began to say things about which only I knew. She said, "Stop your boasting…You’ve nothing to boast about. Salvation comes by faith not works… You did not choose me, I chose you…. The only thing you will ever have to boast about is that it is I and I alone who have saved you." I was terrified. I gasped: "It’s true! There really is a God and He knows exactly what I think!"

 

[So, I wasn't completely sure what supposedly happened here. Did the Wraith of God (Holy Spirit) possess this girl and make her say these things? If so, perhaps all the exorcists owe the demons an apology. But why would the God-possession be necessary in the first place? Couldn't Jesus telepathically speak into this guy's mind during the prayer? I know a lot of Christians who think he does this all the time. Maybe they didn't get the memo...]

 

Then it happened! There was a violent rushing wind from above. It filled the room and penetrated both my eardrums but no damage was done. My whole body was filled with this powerful but gentle wind. The suffocating stopped and I could breathe properly again. There was no wind outside and as the doors and windows were closed there was no draught. It was like a scene out of Pentecost! (Acts 2:2).

 

[Minus the disembodied burning tongues, this does seem similar to the story of the apostles at Pentecost. However, unlike that story, the author seems to have been the only one who experienced the Godly gusts. Also, God knows how to resuscitate folks now. Funny that people still die of normal, non-spiritual suffocation all the time. Maybe God needs to renew his license or something.

In addition, I have to wonder why the author received such special treatment from God when he didn't even ask for it. Christians throughout history have begged and prayed for God to move in their lives like he supposedly did for the author, while nonbelievers have argued that if God were real, he'd show himself for all to see. After all, if he cared so much about each and every person the way the author claims, why wouldn't he?]

After several weeks I came to the conclusion that the Spirit of God had met with me in a very powerful way. Pentecost only happened because Jesus lived, died and rose again. I thought, I prayed, I read into the evidence supporting the Christian faith, even someone stated, "If God needed to be made He wouldn’t be God!"'

 

[Apparently this fellow doesn't know his mythology very well. There are plenty of examples of 'gods,' even extremely powerful ones, being born or straight-up created by other, higher, beings. Is it really that far removed from the realm of possibility that Biblegod himself was created? After all, Genesis has him referring to an 'Us' when deciding to make humanity. Interestingly, the LDS Church actually does believe that Yahweh was a created being–not only that, but he was once a man to boot!]

 

So there you have it. I copied over almost all of this person's testimony (minus some extra scripture verses and the obligatory Christianity sales-pitch prayer. If you want to see all of it, you can do so right here.

 

Now, I realize that this person could definitely be lying about everything in his story, and he wouldn't be the first to do so. After all, it's the Internet, it's anonymous, who's going to find out, right? Perhaps it's the optimistic side of me that would like to believe that the author isn't lying through his teeth, just very confused about what's going on. Has anyone else here had experiences that were the same or similar as the author claims to have had? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The god possession thing is becoming more common. A god/spirit/whatever takes over a person's body and speaks through them. I haven't witnessed it personally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The part that confuses me is the guy saying the woman knew things only he knew but her statements aren't personal, just generic christian beliefs (salvation by faith). I don't see why that was so mind blowing?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems like this person felt a powerful sensation fuelled largely by their own imagination.

I agree with Wertbag about the satements. Were the statements that were spoken omitted, or are we really meant to be impressed by the statements that are quoted here?

I also don't see any references to any named witnesses. Even the author is anonymous, according to that page.

All in all, I've seen miracle stories that impressed me, but this one just didn't do that.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 29.4.2017 at 2:14 PM, Wertbag said:

The part that confuses me is the guy saying the woman knew things only he knew but her statements aren't personal, just generic christian beliefs (salvation by faith). I don't see why that was so mind blowing?

I fell for this when I was younger. An unknown woman would come up to me in church and start prophecying fancy promises because god "saw my pain" and my bad past and wanted to make it all up to me. I thought it was a true miracle.

 

Come to think of it, at that age I hardly knew how to dress myself prettily or shower enough, I hated the way I looked and held my chin down when I walked, etc, so you probably could see from a mile away that I had "pain". Not terribly miraculous after all, I can pick up that much from random people on the bus too. But at the time, for my little heart so eager to get "signs", it was huge.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Rounin said:

It seems like this person felt a powerful sensation fuelled largely by their own imagination.

 

 

Absolutely! That, or he was experiencing the symptoms of some kind of mental illness. 

14 hours ago, Rounin said:

 

I also don't see any references to any named witnesses. Even the author is anonymous, according to that page.

All in all, I've seen miracle stories that impressed me, but this one just didn't do that.

 

I wasn't all that impressed either, partly because the author chose to submit his testimony anonymously. I mean, if I had ever had an experience like that in the past you can bet I would have let people know–not for my own fame, but for the glory of God. If I were in the author's place, I probably also would have left some form of contact information, just in case some poor lost soul got curious and wanted to know more about my encounter with God. As it is, we have no idea who the writer is, no other witnesses to the event (like friends or family members who knew the guy prior to conversion), and no way of following up on any details of his story–therefore no reason to believe it. 

 

1 hour ago, yunea said:

I fell for this when I was younger. An unknown woman would come up to me in church and start prophecying fancy promises because god "saw my pain" and my bad past and wanted to make it all up to me. I thought it was a true miracle.

 

 

As I've grown up in the church I don't recall seeing anything quite like this happen (perhaps because my family never was of a Pentecostal/charismatic persuasion), but I've lost count of the number of times pastors and Bible teachers have used similar methods in their sermons. They'll say things like, "Maybe there are some of you listening today whose marriage is falling apart. Perhaps you're a single mom with three kids and you don't know how to make ends meet. You might be a young man or woman struggling to overcome a porn addiction (or some other sin typically associated with the youth). No matter where you are today, I want you to know that God knows what you're going through and he will be faithful to see you through to the other side..." The church that my family goes to uses this technique fairly often in an effort to 'pitch' a relationship with Jesus. I can imagine how someone who is legitimately struggling might hear something like this and think, That pastor knows about my problems! God must really be speaking to him! Praise Jesus! In reality, preachers have just gotten better with basic pattern recognition; in 2000+ years, at least some would have perfected their craft.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

I know this is off-topic, and I really dont mean to derail the the thread, but if this guy is an imposter (which is entirely likely  IMHO), it got me thinking . . . . I would love to see an atheist pull off the same shit. I would be the first in line to plop some money down to watch an under-cover atheist work his way up to becoming one of the next Christian youtube/mega church sensations. I'd love to see someone like that ride the wave for a few years then -  right at the crest if his popularity (for added drama, surprise reveal during a TV interview) - bring the whole thing down with a blow by blow description of how he manipulated the masses. What a social experiment THAT would be! There has to be someone in this group who is still a secret atheist that is up to the task!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Faithfulless said:

I know this is off-topic, and I really dont mean to derail the the thread, but if this guy is an imposter (which is entirely likely  IMHO), it got me thinking . . . . I would love to see an atheist pull off the same shit. I would be the first in line to plop some money down to watch an under-cover atheist work his way up to becoming one of the next Christian youtube/mega church sensations. I'd love to see someone like that ride the wave for a few years then -  right at the crest if his popularity (for added drama, surprise reveal during a TV interview) - bring the whole thing down with a blow by blow description of how he manipulated the masses. What a social experiment THAT would be! There has to be someone in this group who is still a secret atheist that is up to the task!

 The Amazing Randi did an expose on faith healers, showing how they use the same techniques as magicians and stage entertainers. He even showed Peter Poppof using microphones in his ear to be told things (like addresses) about audience members, claiming it was the Holy Ghost. Peter Popoff cried a bit, repented and now he still has a mega church. People believe what they want to believe and don't let facts get in the way.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Wittyusername said:

People believe what they want to believe and don't let facts get in the way.

 

Pretty much this.

 

And to add, they make up alternative facts when needed to support said belief.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of us as believers experienced stuff that we can't quite explain, but at the time seemed to be supernatural confirmation of our faith. I felt the classic trembling energy zipping through my body up and down like a slinky toy; felt heat pouring down on me like a vent was opened up above me, but there was just blank ceiling; heard a voice at least 3 times speak clearly and give me answers or commands. I am otherwise not mentally disturbed. I still have no perfect explanation for these things, but clearly they were not the god of the bible for the reasons we all know. My brother was a natural atheist/agnostic but my brother and I at the time were full-on believers and he felt excluded. He had previously had dreams that confirmed his atheism (such as a demon dog growling and snapping that he hit with a book and it disappeared, the book was titled "Logic"). Then one night he had a dream where Jesus was on the other side of a river and told him "Don't trust faith, trust love" and that was the tipping point for him. My deconversion didn't seem to impact him much after that, but his increasing fundy behavior apparently alienated his kids.

 

So there are some powerfully emotional things that can take place that seem to confirm the reality of ___, but they have to be balanced with what we know to be fact and to remember that dreams help us sort through stuff that we are pondering and are likely not portals to another world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/29/2017 at 6:14 AM, Wertbag said:

The part that confuses me is the guy saying the woman knew things only he knew but her statements aren't personal, just generic christian beliefs (salvation by faith). I don't see why that was so mind blowing?

 

Yeah, same here. Very generic!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 7:14 AM, Wertbag said:

The part that confuses me is the guy saying the woman knew things only he knew but her statements aren't personal, just generic christian beliefs (salvation by faith). I don't see why that was so mind blowing?

 

That was exactly what I thought as well.

 

22 hours ago, Faithfulless said:

I know this is off-topic, and I really dont mean to derail the the thread, but if this guy is an imposter (which is entirely likely  IMHO), it got me thinking . . . . I would love to see an atheist pull off the same shit. I would be the first in line to plop some money down to watch an under-cover atheist work his way up to becoming one of the next Christian youtube/mega church sensations. I'd love to see someone like that ride the wave for a few years then -  right at the crest if his popularity (for added drama, surprise reveal during a TV interview) - bring the whole thing down with a blow by blow description of how he manipulated the masses. What a social experiment THAT would be! There has to be someone in this group who is still a secret atheist that is up to the task!

 

Well, Faithfulless, you are in luck! The 1972 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature went to documentary about Marjoe, a former traveling evangelist who did pretty much exactly what you described there. (Well, there wasn't any YouTube back then, of course.) Here is a ten minute video of excerpts from the documentary:

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Fuego said:

A lot of us as believers experienced stuff that we can't quite explain, but at the time seemed to be supernatural confirmation of our faith. I felt the classic trembling energy zipping through my body up and down like a slinky toy; felt heat pouring down on me like a vent was opened up above me, but there was just blank ceiling; heard a voice at least 3 times speak clearly and give me answers or commands. I am otherwise not mentally disturbed. I still have no perfect explanation for these things, but clearly they were not the god of the bible for the reasons we all know. My brother was a natural atheist/agnostic but my brother and I at the time were full-on believers and he felt excluded. He had previously had dreams that confirmed his atheism (such as a demon dog growling and snapping that he hit with a book and it disappeared, the book was titled "Logic"). Then one night he had a dream where Jesus was on the other side of a river and told him "Don't trust faith, trust love" and that was the tipping point for him. My deconversion didn't seem to impact him much after that, but his increasing fundy behavior apparently alienated his kids.

 

So there are some powerfully emotional things that can take place that seem to confirm the reality of ___, but they have to be balanced with what we know to be fact and to remember that dreams help us sort through stuff that we are pondering and are likely not portals to another world.

 

Research is starting to be done in the area of body sensations and emotional experiences.

 

One such sensation is ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response ). This can be triggered by any number of things, is different for different people and could match the description you have above. It's usually triggered by certain sounds and feeling.

 

My personal experience also indicates there are certain things that will trigger emotional responses that are disproportionate to the perceived causes: these can be benign as welling up when hearing a song, or as irrational as nearly going into a rage at certain sounds or actions.

 

All of this points to a human experience not one sent from your favourite deity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We can know that these "experiences" aren't real simply because we can induce them with drugs. 

 

Our brains are chemical and electrical devices. Just like any other electrical or chemical device, they can short circuit easily. 

 

I mean, think about it. You can see someone walking in front of you and think they are someone you know because the back of their head looks IDENTICAL to that friend of yours. If our brains, functioning normally, can be so easily deceived by something so mundane, we shouldn't expect it to always function normally and not produce such "experiences".

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.