What is the nature of spiritual experiences, answers to prayer & revelation from ‘God’?

I think neuro-science will have the answers eventually.

They do seem to have ideas about how are sub-conscious mind works, which may be where we get inspiration from.

The conscious & sub-conscious mind is what our brains do. The mind is a function of the brain.

The sub-conscious mind makes up the vast majority of the function of our brains, with the conscious mind, the self-aware bit of our mind, taking up just a small part of it.

The sub-conscious mind is busily working away in the background & occasionally letting our conscious mind know what’s going on. In effect c.c.ing our conscious mind. Saying, “Oh by the way I’ve decided this, or that!”

Scientists have Apparently discovered that our sub-conscious mind can have made a decision, or come to a conclusion, some time before we actually realise it.

So the question is, “are we inspiring ourselves?” Or, in other words, “is our sub-conscious mind actually our God??”

The other consideration is how we perceive reality. We have to use all sorts of visual, kinaesthetic & auditory assumptions etc about the world around us.

Stage magicians cleverly use these in order to trick our minds. We can inadvertently fool ourselves through these assumptions too.

Also, we see the world around us through the filter of bias. We only notice things which we are already aware of, or are thinking about, a type of confirmational bias.

And, the mind is so powerful we can experience hallucinations in any or all of our senses. Including through self-hypnosis brought on by meditation.

Plus we often ignore what doesn’t fit our desires.

All in all, we are psychologically very complex creatures who can be deceived & deluded by any combination of the above factors depending on our state of emotions & state of consciousness.

I’m not an expert, but absolutely fascinated by how I was deceived for so long.

In the gospel sense, if you sincerely pray to God for an answer, you will always get one!

It will never be wrong!

Either: Yes, No or Wait!

So if I pray for a sick relative to live & they do, then God has listened to my prayer, said Yes, & blessed me.

If they die, then God obviously said No, because there must be a higher purpose for them dying.

In other circumstances I may just not get an answer, because ‘the time of isn’t right’, or ‘I need to learn patience.’

Either way, the believer is satisfied! πŸ˜‰

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26 Responses to What is the nature of spiritual experiences, answers to prayer & revelation from ‘God’?

  1. Thought I’d better continue on your blog, if that’s okay? So what does your research of the human mind make of Scripture, and Jesus?

    • SteveBloor says:

      Hi Christine,

      What psychological aspects are you interested in with regards to scripture and Jesus?

      • I suppose I am wondering how you come to terms with scripture and Who it says Jesus is? Do you think it is all completely fabricated? Why would anybody do that, especially so many different people over such a long period of time?

      • SteveBloor says:

        My own personal deliberations about what the Bible is and who Jesus was involved a long process of looking at the historical evidences for the authenticity of the Bible as scripture.

        Many historians concur that the evidence is overwhelmingl for the New Testament being authored by people whose identity is other than those named in the Gospels, and many decades after Jesus death.

        So, most of the New Testament accounts about Jesus are not accurate.

        I think Jesus was a local Hebrew teacher but whose life and divinity were elevated and exaggerated to fit a messianic narrative to support Paul’s personal mission.

        Bart Ehrman explains the historical issues really well.

        From a psychological perspective I understand how I came to believe and love the Bible, but now I realise that doesn’t necessarily mean I need to accept it as anything other than man-made.

        People can still get great value from scriptures. Every religious person can get great value from their own particular scriptures. Whether Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Zoroastrian.

  2. Regarding your last comment about having been lied to your whole life, I guess that applies to all of us one way or another. I’m always discovering things that I once believed to be true actually aren’t! Doesn’t worry me, life’s a journey of discovery! We have to find out for ourselves in the end. I don’t think God is a lie though.

    • SteveBloor says:

      For me as a fully believing and committed Mormon I accepted the authority of the top leaders in the Church as God’s mouthpieces on earth. They are referred to as prophets, seers and revelators, who have God’s priesthood authority to teach and administer His Gospel and the Ordinances of Salvation. And they are considered the only ones to whom God reveals His will on the earth at this time.

      When they speak they speak for God.

      So having been brought up in the Church since a young child having total faith in the words of these men, it was earth-shattering to discover the narrative they taught was white-washed and altered to suit a particular faithful narrative.

      When you discover that the founding prophet of the Church Joseph Smith was actually been married to 35 women at the same time. That 11 of those women were married to other husbands at the same time as being married to him. And that two of those wives were only 14 years of age, imagine my shock.

      Then as I studied to try to prove the Church was still true I learned of more and more big lies.

      For me and many Mormons the initial discovery of the fraud is overwhelmingly traumatic.

      • Yes, I gathered from reading bits of your blog that you were (and still are it seems) a Mormon. I can’t pretend to know much about Mormonism, except that I did look into it just out of interest, years ago, and discounted it completely, for reasons that you seem to have come up with yourself. I can’t really understand why you are still a Mormon! I am just an ordinary evangelical Christian, not brought up that way, so not brain-washed! but so glad God has revealed Himself to me.

  3. Why are my comments awaiting moderation?! Is there something wrong with them? (I notice you have ‘rules’ !)

  4. SteveBloor says:

    Hi Christine.

    I’m unable to reply right now. I’ll get back to you tomorrow.

  5. I don’t seem to be able to reply in the appropriate place. (Forgive me, I’m not very familiar with blogs!) Obviously I can’t agree with your conclusions about Scripture. You say ‘many historians concur’, but I imagine there are also many who don’t. There is so much wisdom in Scripture, so much of the Holy Spirit, I find it harder NOT to believe it than I do to believe it. And what about the prophecies in the Old Testament regarding Jesus?

  6. I’m guessing you have decided not to continue this conversation! Which I can understand as our beliefs seem to be poles apart! I have read quite a bit more of your blog now, and I get where you’re coming from. Sorry if previous comments seemed a bit naive! However, I am not naive. Before I became a Christian (which was a true conversion I promise you) I was in to all that psychology stuff too. Freud, Jung, the “Collective Unconscious “(quite liked that idea!), all that. But to me, it was not the answer. Jesus is! But I guess I would not be able to convince a man of your intellect, so I will bid you farewell. Always up for a debate though! 😊

  7. Thankyou, but I don’t think I want to go down that road! I think the Bible probably warns me against it! There are a few specific things I am curious about though. For instance how do you explain prophecies that are made hundreds of years before the event? And other spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues. I know a lady who was converted by hearing someone speak in tongues and realising she could understand every word, because the language was Welsh! (Which the speaker had never learned). I personally have recently seen something I dreamed about a couple of years ago come true. I’m well into dreams, I believe God speaks to me through them and it’s fantastic! You mention dreams too, and you say that sometimes they seem more real than reality (or something like that). You also say that death will be just lke going to sleep. But supposing you dream during THAT sleep? Suppose it is a never ending nightmare!
    I guess you will laugh if I say I feel sad for you. Just because your church lied to you, doesn’t mean God is a lie! Are you sure you’re not throwing the baby out with the bath water? You remind me a bit of Dan Brown and his Da Vinci Code, which my previously Christian daughter read and became convinced by it , even though Dan Brown himself doesn’t believe it! I despair! The mind certainly is fickle! But do you not believe in the spirit or soul? So no, I don’t want to be talked out of my Faith and I’m not saying it couldn’t happen! That’s why I want to protect my mind. But I do think you have more to lose than I do if you’re wrong.

  8. Okay, I read that. Not convinced! That could be an allegory for becoming a Christian. “My chains fell off, my heart was free…….” When people are converted to Christianity they realise that the world is not just physical (beautiful as that is, reflecting its Creator!) but spiritual as well. It’s a whole new dimension! When I became a Christian it changed my very ‘being ‘, I am a different person now as all who knew me before have noticed. It is like my whole mind, intellect, and spirit is so much bigger than before. I have ‘extended my borders’.
    How would you explain a Muslim having a vision/ dream of Jesus, who he has never heard of, and becomes a Christian as a result?

    • SteveBloor says:

      Firstly, Christine, I don’t want to convince you to change your mind about anything.

      It’s up to you.

      But remember, the mind is extremely powerful and incredibly malleable. The subconscious mind and memory is susceptible to massive biases for which we are mostly unaware.

      As a believing Mormon my concept of reality was shaped by my belief system and I found it inconceivable that differing viewpoints were valid. As far as I was concerned the truth was confirmed by the Spirit of God in my heart. I believed that only God saw the real reality, and God helped me to see it through His Spirit.

      But I found to my surprise that this concept is not unique to Mormons. Other fervently religious believers also judge truth this way.

      Christine, if you truly are a seeker after truth, then I would strongly advise researching about cognitive biases and how they affect one’s perception of reality.

      One of the first biases to check out is confirmation bias.

      Our beliefs blind us to reality.

      Steven Covey used to say, “Believing is Seeing”, but that’s not entirely true. It’s probably more true to say, what we believe is what we see, and what we see is not always reality or truth.

      What we see with our eyes is only what our attention is drawn to.

      Our attention is focused on those things we believe based on our fears, guilt, phobias, biases, prejudices & assumptions.

      So we only see what we want to see. What our subconscious minds will allow us to see.

      What we think is true is not always of the same value as other truths.

      For instance there are three categories of information; personal opinion, socially accepted truths and scientifically validated objective facts.

      ‘Attention’ is a powerful principle.

      It’s how stage magicians, con-men & religious tricksters are able to fool their victims.

      It’s what makes us blind to those things our subconscious minds want us to avoid because it would be too painful to contemplate, even though in the long-run it would be to our benefit.

      If only more people realised this they’d be less susceptible to the “deceptions of evil & conspiring men!”

      “The eye only sees what the mind is willing to accept.” ~ Robertson Davies

    • SteveBloor says:

      Christine,

      If you haven’t read my blog post “How to Find The Real God” yet, I recommend you read it.

      However, you need to remember, my blog posts are not to be seen as complete treatise on a subject, but merely tasters. Or an invitation to dig deeper, if you’re interested, by doing the research in epistemology yourself.

      https://stevebloor.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/how-to-find-the-real-god/?preview=true

      Best regards, Steve

  9. Haven’t read ‘how to find the real god’ yet. I might do later. I do understand that our minds are easily shaped by whatever they encounter. The writers of Scripture knew this too, and that is why there many warnings about avoiding stuff that will damage your mind and spirit, like the occult for example. And yes, I understand that we can tend to believe what we see. My dad once put it like this when I was little. He took a coloured cellophane sweet wrapper, say a red one, and held it over a blue object, so that it appeared purple. He said although the object seemed blue, when we see it as purple it actually IS purple, because that is all that colour is, what we see. Not sure why I told you that, kind of seems relevant!
    Jesus said “you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free”. And it has for me, but obviously my truth is not the same as your truth!
    Will get back to you if I read your article.

  10. Christine Johnson says:

    Okay, I’ve read it now. Seems the Mormon church has a lot to answer for! I’ve made a couple of brief comments but will need to re-read and digest before I comment further.. Other people have made interesting comments though. Much to my relief I don’t feel threatened by it!

  11. Christine Johnson says:

    Read and digested now! This might be a bit long! But then so is your blog!
    “The more we know about the human mind, the more we know about human beliefs”. That may be so, but it doesn’t mean we know more about God! He transcends the human mind. I disagree with your brother; that ain’t the Truth! Suppose the one you believe is real is Father Christmas?!
    The video is interesting, but a lot of talk about feelings in there, which we should not be guided by as they are not reliable. Feelings change! Emotions are gauges, not guides. They do not authenticate truth. “God keeps His Word even when the world is lying through its teeth” (Romans 3). Yes there are many different faiths and beliefs and yours is one of them! But Scripture is there to help us through the maze. It is quite curious that there are so many different faiths and that people experience them so intensely. It occurs to me that it could be like a placebo effect. If you really believe in something it can affect you even when it’s not really there! ( But I still believe God IS there.)
    People do tend to make up their own idea of God. I have a little debate with an elderly friend who thinks everybody is saved because God loves them all. When I tell her the Bible doesn’t say that, she says “well, my God isn’t like that”! But God is God, He doesn’t change to suit our idea of Him!
    Belief in God is hard-wired into our brains because He designed our brains!
    “Patternicity” is an interesting concept. I’m not sure everyone’s brain works like that. In any case I think God often encourages us to “think outside the box”. “Agenticity” I CAN identify with. David Attenborough drives me mad when he tells us what the animals are thinking! How can he possibly know that?

    • SteveBloor says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog posts Christine.

      As I say, I don’t expect anyone to change their beliefs just because of me sharing ideas.

      But I think it’s great when people have the courage to at least listen and entertain new and possibly conflicting ideas. You have my respect for doing just that.

      I accept the fact that everyone has different experiences in life which give them their own unique perspectives and beliefs. It becomes even more understandable when we realise that everyone processes the same information in their own unique ways as well.

      I find this statement by psychologist Michael Shermer to be very enlightening:

      “Most people, most of the time, arrive at their beliefs for a host of reasons involving personality and temperament, family dynamics and cultural background, parents and siblings, peer groups and teachers, education and books, mentors and heroes, and various life experiences, very few of which have anything at all to do with intelligence. The Enlightenment ideal of Homo rationalis has us sitting down before a table of facts, weighing them in the balance pro and con, and then employing logic and reason to determine which set of facts best supports this or that theory. This is not at all how we form beliefs. What happens is that the facts of the world are filtered by our brains through the colored lenses of worldviews, paradigms, theories, hypotheses, conjectures, hunches, biases, and prejudices we have accumulated through living. We then sort through the facts and select those that confirm what we already believe and ignore or rationalize away those that contradict our beliefs.

      “Reasons bit is in the mouth of belief’s horse. The reins pull and direct, cajole & coax, wheedle & inveigle, but ultimately the horse will take it’s natural path.”

      ~ Michael Shermer from his book ‘The Believing Brain’.

      Best regards,
      Steve

      • Christine Johnson says:

        Another thing to say about all the other religions is, the devil can, and does, counterfeit anything.! As demonstrated in the story of Moses and the magicians which you quoted. But they couldn’t do EVERYTHING that Moses did. The devil does not have the same power that God does. But then, you don’t believe in the devil do you! 😊

      • SteveBloor says:

        Christine, your point about the devil counterfeiting religions is a valid point, if the devil existed.

        The point to note is that other religions also say that. Mormons say that other Christian sects are in the Church of the Devil.

        How is an outside observer to determine which version of Christianity, or which religion, is actually of God, or the right God, and which is a counterfeit of the Devil, designed to deceive?

        And, wouldn’t a scam religion tell you that all other religions are counterfeit? Created by the devil to deceive. How do you know the difference?

        Jehovah’s Witnesses are totally convinced they are correct, and so are Mormons. So, if we judge a religious adherent’s religion by how convinced they are, what about those who are so sure about their own religion’s veracity that they’ll commit suicide for their God?

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