Have any of you seen or heard God directly?
November 23, 2004 6:25 PM   Subscribe

Have any of you seen or heard God directly?
posted by Pretty_Generic to Religion & Philosophy (56 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
John 1:18: "No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. "
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:26 PM on November 23, 2004

Just once, at the Reading festival... then I worked out it was just the bloke from The Eels in his Colonel Sanders suit, and I had to have a lie-down.
posted by pompomtom at 6:29 PM on November 23, 2004

Yes. I was about 5 hours into a really great methamphetamine binge, and god came out of the wall and I wanted to bro down with him but he left.

Then I drank some vodka and paced around for a while.
posted by cmonkey at 6:32 PM on November 23, 2004

Pretty_Generic: This is a great question!

Smart alecks: Come on, watch the wisecracks. I know you think you're being clever, but you're creating a hostile environment for anyone to come forward with a sincere answer. They probably assume they'll be laughed at for claiming to have seen God and you're proving them right.
posted by 4easypayments at 6:53 PM on November 23, 2004

Checks P_G's posting history...

Oh. Had you marked as surefire hellbound. Maybe not. Anyway, NO.

And neither have I seen the Easter Bunny, Santa, Tooth Fairy, Buddha, YHWH, Zeus, Odin, Kali, Manitou, Allah, Jesus, or George Best. But I have seen Morrissey.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:57 PM on November 23, 2004

posted by dash_slot- at 6:57 PM on November 23, 2004

Response by poster: I will personally guarantee that neither of us are going to hell, dash.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:58 PM on November 23, 2004

My concept of God is not as someone or something that can be "seen" or "heard" in a phenomenal sense. I do feel connected to God in varying degrees, and sometimes feel inspired by God. But, no, I can't imagine my ever seeing or hearing God as though God were a physical being.

However, I am very interested in other people's experiences of this.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:05 PM on November 23, 2004

Unfortunately only on my first mushroom trip. And it may have been the mushrooms.

also, umm, what Sidhedevil said
posted by rooftop secrets at 7:07 PM on November 23, 2004

Response by poster: For the Jews and Christians out there: When Genesis says God made man "in his image", what does that mean to you?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:10 PM on November 23, 2004

For the Jews and Christians out there: When Genesis says God made man "in his image", what does that mean to you?

I'm not a Christian now, but I've got two years of Bible college under my belt, so I'll take a stab at that...

First of all, you aren't your body. A Christian is a spiritual being that is currently occupying a body who will one day leave that body (die) and go to heaven, where (s)he will get a new, perfect body, one that isn't Fallen and disease-prone. So, if we are to be "in God's image" in any way, it would be spiritually.

So... if you're going to take the Dietrich Bonhoeffer spin on things, you would probably concentrate on the human desire to be part of a community. God, being three in one, is a community unto Himself, so he created us to desire that community as well, to participate as the beloved and the lover.

That's part of it, at least.
posted by heatherann at 7:43 PM on November 23, 2004

posted by docpops at 7:44 PM on November 23, 2004

posted by Stynxno at 7:49 PM on November 23, 2004

I'd broaden the question to "sensed". And to "gods."

To me, the more interesting question is how do you know you aren't nuts or engaging in wistful thinking. An interesting take on this, from the Asatruar position, is available at land-of-confusion.org.

Yes, I've had experiences where I had contact I hadn't initiated with gods. No, I wasn't on drugs. Nor was it particularly pleasant, since I did not want this and wondered if I was going crazy.
posted by QIbHom at 7:53 PM on November 23, 2004

When I was very young, say, 4, or 5, I was QUITE convinced that God communicated with me regularly. I was also fairly certain that I was the ONLY person with whom God communicated regularly (I had a big of a grandiose vision of myself. Still do, really.).
Keeping in mind that my family is totally Atheist (although my hometown is known as "The Little Vatican"), I'm not sure where that stemmed from. Probably a combination of coming into self awareness and confusing it for God/rebelling against the anti religion flavor of my house/me being a rather kooky kid with an active imagination.

In any case, he stopped talking to me a couple of years later, I became an Atheist (my spiritualism involves more of a general faith in humanity, I guess), and that was that.

Good question.
posted by stray at 7:58 PM on November 23, 2004

Straight answer, I always took the "in his image" line as a lead-in to the standard explanation of man's role of prominence in the world, vis-a-vis his responsibility to the animals and the fields and all that. We are the shepherds, caretakers of creation, the proxies of an absentee god, yada yada yada.

Or you can be cynical, and view it as a knowing nod to a centuries-old juggernaut of manipulation conjured in our name and useful for whatever dubious ends it will serve.

Or just tired and sad, considering that perhaps the reason man worships a mad times-ten version of himself is that the only thing answering back from the bottomless gulf is our own warped echoes.

I spent many early years trying to establish contact without a hint of success. If a "personal God" won't talk to children, what's it for? (I was pretty upset about the whole Santa con thing, too, FWIW.)

Just sayin'. I've heard salvia is the thing, if you're up for a mystic trip.
posted by krebby at 8:03 PM on November 23, 2004

Ullr is my god and he's outside the window right now!
posted by m@ at 8:15 PM on November 23, 2004

i've been a cynical agnostic for 2 decades. 2 months ago, in my backyard, i thought god reached down from the sky and grabbed me by the shirtcollar. looked me directly in the eye from 2 inches away, then ran in the other direction. i've been chasing him ever since.

i'm not kidding. and i wasn't on drugs.

i'm more at peace than i've ever been. and i still don't know shit. but i do feel certain that there is a plan and a balance. and that my life is a minuscule piece of the puzzle.
posted by glenwood at 9:03 PM on November 23, 2004

Response by poster: glenwood: what did He look like?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:09 PM on November 23, 2004

Yes. But you knew that already.
posted by konolia at 9:19 PM on November 23, 2004

Response by poster: No I didn't. I don't know why you'd think I would. Please tell us more.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:22 PM on November 23, 2004

I think the implication here is "tell us more how it happened."
posted by Krrrlson at 9:29 PM on November 23, 2004

Response by poster: konolia, please tell us what God looked like or sounded like, and what if anything he said to you.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:38 PM on November 23, 2004

I always figured the in his image bit to refer to human powers of creation, both in terms of art and in terms of technology. Sort of a reassurance of what's awesome about humans to offset the fact that we're easily swayed by evil and kill each other for dumb reasons.
posted by dagnyscott at 9:45 PM on November 23, 2004

I can understand where sidhedevil is coming from in seeing God as concept, but I'm afraid that anybody that says they've physically seen God, especially in the form of a man, is just plain delusional and/or incredibly susceptible to suggestion. If personifying the concept of goodness and calling it God is what you need to find some clarity in your life, than do so. That could be an easy way to deal with life's hurdles, but it might be a little healthier to trust in yourself and learn to accept your own thoughts as just that, your won thoughts. Not the word of God.

And to 4easypayments, I would think that if somebody has seen God, the very being that created the entire universe and everything they have ever known, that they wouldn't let a few "smart alecks" on a weblog keep them from reveling in the glory of the Lord. "I just saw God and he spoke to me, but I'm afraid that the guy that posted about Cooking with Cum is going to make fun of me." I would think if you're going to be thick skinned about SOMETHING, it would be in knowledge that you have seen the face of the creator and that he has spoken to you.
posted by HifiToaster at 9:48 PM on November 23, 2004

i remember the day when my (reform jewish) religious school teacher tried to explain that god was all around us and inside of us. even that kid picking his nose? yes. even these weird metallic blankets we stole outta the emergency kit? yes. even me? yes. huh.

many many years later, i was at a rave in a church, receiving a backrub, when something inside me started to push up on the hands pushing down on my shoulders. the harder my friend pushed down, the more this...this...space opened up inside my chest. it thrust upwards until it formed a flickering teardrop shape inside my ribcage.

so mentally i asked it, "hey, what are you?" the space said, "i'm god."

i said, "i don't believe in god!" the space said, "well, i'm here."

i said, "what are you, then?" the space said, "i'm part of you."

i said, "what part?" the space said, "the part where other people live in you. the part where you connect to the people you love."

then i felt warm and safe and happy that this beautiful little metaphor had said hello. it turns out that my experience aligns almost perfectly with the concept of chakras, but i didn't know anything about them at the time (and still don't, really). anyway, if i could choose or design a god--and perhaps i did--this is exactly how that god would behave.
posted by equipoise at 10:25 PM on November 23, 2004

I thought I saw God's presence once, but I soon came to realize that what I had witnessed was in fact an age-old con game, so all-encompassing and so self-perpetuating that the conmen don't even realize they're part of it. But that's because they were grifted in similar fashion.

Witnessing someone "receiving the Gift of Tongues" was the first crack in the Catholic facade that had crumbled by the time I turned 19. It was both laughable and frightening that people could believe in (and devote their lives to, and sometimes die for) such utter nonsense.

Today, I'm not an Atheist, only because I'm not anything. I simply pay no attention to matters of "spirituality", because spirituality doesn't matter to me. (That said, I'm more or less Libertarian, so I don't presume to involve myself with others' beliefs.)
posted by Danelope at 10:46 PM on November 23, 2004

Response by poster: equipoise: had you taken any hallucinogens?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:47 PM on November 23, 2004

Have any of you seen or heard God directly?

I am a bullet in His gun, if that counts.
posted by Hildago at 10:53 PM on November 23, 2004

Fortunately I'm not mentally ill (beyond a normative level), so no, I haven't.
posted by rushmc at 11:00 PM on November 23, 2004

My brother is adamant to this day that he saw God at a The Orb concert in London about 10 years ago. He had ingested large amounts of ecstasy and LSD which leads me to not take him all that seriously.
posted by DelusionsofGrandeur at 11:01 PM on November 23, 2004

i don't think so, p_g, but it was awhile ago and i can't say for sure. honestly, it doesn't matter to me either way.

of course i don't think that you'd find a teardrop-shaped space inside me if you cut me open. i also don't care whether a divine entity visited me or whether my mind just imagined it; given the "space's" message, they're the same thing.

so tell us, p_g...what sparked this question for you?
posted by equipoise at 11:08 PM on November 23, 2004

Response by poster: Just interest.

I must say, I find it very hard to believe that you don't care whether you imagined it or whether it was real. Aren't you interested in the meaning of life, and in the existence of supernatural beings?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:11 PM on November 23, 2004

To continue with mr_crash_davis' post. Exodus 33:20 - And (the Lord) said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

What god are we then talking about?
posted by Kilovolt at 11:18 PM on November 23, 2004

Response by poster: Kilovolt: you can certainly hear the Judeochristian God, who is also apparently capable of walking, as he does in the garden of Eden. So one would think Adam and Eve could see the rest of his body, if not his face.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:33 PM on November 23, 2004

p_g, what i'm trying to say is that nothing changes depending on whether i imagined it or it was "real." nor do i know of any way to tell the difference.

i don't believe that there's a teardrop-shaped being that hops around in people's chests, just as i don't believe that there's a white-haired guy sitting in the clouds. i do believe that connections between people are sacred and important. sappy as it may sound, i believe in love.

my experience reaffirmed my belief in connections, but it does that whether a god told me about it or i told me about it. either way, it doesn't answer any questions about where we came from or whether there are green beings on mars. i guess i'm agnostic about these questions, which doesn't mean that i don't care about them, just that i think i don't (and maybe can't) know the answers right now.

as for drugs...i've never had a drug-induced experience that "fooled" me about what was actually in front of me. sure, i've seen my curtain pattern dance around a bit, but i didn't think that the design had actually gotten up and tangoed. i thought that mushrooms were affecting my vision.

drugs have, however, opened me up to epiphanies that were entirely genuine. check out www.csp.org and huston smith's "cleansing the doors of perception" for far better articulated thoughts on this topic. basically, i see no reason to discount the experience because i might have taken an illicit substance.
posted by equipoise at 11:55 PM on November 23, 2004

Genisis 3:8 - (Adam and Eve) 'heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

9: And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, where art thou?

10: And (Adam) said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

It seems that even though God walked in the garden, he never did let himself be shown physically.
posted by Kilovolt at 12:01 AM on November 24, 2004

I would think if you're going to be thick skinned about SOMETHING, it would be in knowledge that you have seen the face of the creator and that he has spoken to you.
Don't mistake being willing to state one's beliefs and not even bothering because someone's efforts might be better spent elsewhere (ie, all the wisecracks give the impression that people won't really care).
Me personally, I've never talked to God or seen Him physically, but I do think I had a personal experience with God that brought me back the Church. Twas' all depressed and shit and pretty much said God didn't exist while at a funeral, but then something (I believe it to be the Holy Spirit...yea, yea, trinity stuff) kinda' make me "see the light" so to speak.
I don't expect anyone here to believe me, but yea, that's my story of directly encountering God on this realm.
posted by jmd82 at 12:42 AM on November 24, 2004


posted by kamylyon at 1:01 AM on November 24, 2004

note: Ask MetaFilter is as useful as you make it. Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer. Wisecracks don't help people find answers. Thanks.

That appears above the comment entry box every time folks. Just sayin.
posted by Bugbread at 1:23 AM on November 24, 2004

Response by poster: Me personally, I've never talked to God or seen Him physically

Well, konolia has. Surely that makes a difference.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:34 AM on November 24, 2004

That appears above the comment entry box every time folks. Just sayin.

Actually, for me, it appears below the comment entry box. Just sayin'.
posted by grouse at 3:02 AM on November 24, 2004

it's a miracle, then!
posted by matteo at 4:18 AM on November 24, 2004

A follow up question: I'm going to skip the I've SEEN God and focus on the I've HEARD God. For those of you that say that God spoke to you I'd like some clarification because I'm not sure that I'm fully getting what you're saying. Do you think you actually heard words, maybe even sentences, from the mouth of God or did you FEEL some unknown presence that you can't quite put into words? And if you spoke to him, did you speak ALOUD or was it an internal dialogue?
posted by HifiToaster at 4:25 AM on November 24, 2004

Yes. Just once. Given the way this thread is I don't want to go into much detail except to say this.

The experience was indescribable. Absolutely. Words are useful to capture things and bring them to public scrutiny. Some things can't be captured that way. This experience was of that kind. The only way of expressing it is by metaphor, and then the danger is that metaphor will be taken wrongly, or even literally.

I'm no poet. One side-effect of the experience is that I immediately recognise others (and there aren't many) who have had the same. The best metaphor for me is Plato's cave in that it describes exactly not only the process but also the return, together with the quite serious aftermath. If you haven't, give it a read.
posted by grahamwell at 6:14 AM on November 24, 2004

I would really, really like someone who feels that he/she has heard or seen God (or a god) to describe what that presence (or Presence) looked or sounded like.

I am a fairly devout person, and don't mind admitting it here; hell, I've discussed it with Penn Jillette, one of the few people in the world whom I find physically and rhetorically intimidating, and he told me that as far as he was concerned, that meant I was mentally ill (on that subject at least). And even that was a friendly conversation, at the end of which he bought me a diet Coke.

I am quite convinced that I have some kind of noumenal connection to the Great Spirit of Things, or whatever Emersonian construction one might use to describe my God-concept. I do feel that I have "sensed" God in varying degrees throughout my life.

But I have never "heard God's voice" or "seen God" in any sense that was even roughly analogous to the phenomenal experiences of "hearing" or "seeing". I am really eager, though, to hear what that's like from others who have had that experience.

My sense of the Biblical statement that "God made mankind in his image" is that it is a way of the human who wrote that statement to attempt to define the visible differences he or she saw around him or her in self-consciousness and intentionality between humans and other animals (since the Middle East was not populated by animals of seemingly complex self-consciousness like dolphins and higher primates).

I think that God made the world in his/her/its image, or perhaps more accurately, I think that the wonderful complexity of the world reflects the power of the force behind it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:34 AM on November 24, 2004

But, you know, Gerard Manley Hopkins said this much better than I could:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:38 AM on November 24, 2004

Sidhdevil, I agree with you now. Before I was a standard issue atheist who believed that such feelings were cloaked father fixation or the side effect of some primitive, possibly sexual impulses. It's a cute theory which can't be disproved, if it makes you feel good then fine.

But I was just plain wrong.

To try and answer my question I'll break my rule above. Understand what follows is pretty standard mystical stuff, and therfore irritatingly vague, smug and ultimately incomprehensible. Still I'll give it a go.

First you don't see or hear or touch God. What happens is that a wholly new and unexpected sense opens up. This is very strange indeed. The traditional analogy is with sight, but the analogy can mislead. Following the analogy however, it is like being blind from birth, with a good understanding of the outside world through touch and hearing, and suddenly being able to see what previously you could only feel and hear. This is only part of it however. What really knocks you out is that a whole new category of information arrives, as indisputible as sound or colour. The information has content and it has a source. The whole thing is at 90 degrees from anything you are likely to have experienced before.

There are two immediately important facts. Firstly that Love has some vital mediating part in it, perhaps as light has in the visual world. The second is that it is all Good. It might well not be, it just happens that it is - which is nice. This in Plato's analogy is the sight of the Sun, and the realisation that all life stems from it's warmth and power. It is also extremely beautiful - that's a bonus.

And what about the dead children? Well that's a problem, sufficient to say that there does seem to be a way of understanding, with the advantage of this new sense and new knowledge, which could make it all fit.

This is a story told to me by myself with the caveat that the story was untellable. Since then, like you I have occasional experiences of the numinous, like glimpses of a Cathedral through fog. They're not the same, but I believe they stem from the same root and lead to the same place. Normally, that's the best we can hope for.
posted by grahamwell at 6:57 AM on November 24, 2004

No I haven't and I am still waiting.
posted by govtdrone at 7:44 AM on November 24, 2004

Have any of you seen or heard God directly?

One time in college I was convinced that Jesus visited me in a dream. He was blue with lightening bolts all over him. This happen a few years later as well.

For the record, both times I was completely sober while this happened and drug free. And I'm a pretty light sleeper and do not dream often (so not too many dreams of scantily clad women feeding me grapes in a love palace...much to my dismay)

So I've boiled it down to two things.

A.) It was a dream, just like any dream...weird shit happens.
B.) I should stop being an ass before I get struck by blue lightening.

--oh, also...I have to say that it [dream] was a very comforting feeling unlike any I've had before. I was not scared, freaked out or timid to be around this person in my dream, who I percieved to be the Christ.
posted by Hands of Manos at 7:45 AM on November 24, 2004

I have not seen or heard God as a physical entity. However, I certainly have felt its presence - in my life, in me - and I have felt clearly communicated with.

I do not believe that God is not a separate, judgmental, arbitrary, ruling entity. I believe that God (or Spirit, or Lifeforce, or the Universal Force, call it what you will) is inside all of us and everything.

I was an atheist until I read Conversations with God. I've said it before, but it bears repeating - that book is just amazing and mandatory reading for anyone wondering about God and religion. For me, it adressed all my concerns about God - all the religious bullshit, all the stupid arbitrary decisions based on an archaic system of right and wrong that I certainly didn't agree with - all the crap we grow up hearing and eventually rejecting (if you have a questioning mind).

I'll be happy to answer any questions about this via email. MeFi isn't the most accepting place when it comes to anything to do with faith.
posted by widdershins at 8:06 AM on November 24, 2004

No, I haven't. And if, one day, I start to feel that I have, I will seek medical attention.

P_G, will you clarify what you mean by 'directly'?
posted by box at 9:38 AM on November 24, 2004

This one time, at Band Camp...
posted by madman at 12:49 PM on November 24, 2004

this is my real, serious answer.

I am god.

that was an epiphany i had within the last few years. There is no one else that has the same grasp or power of my universe. Sorry about all the unanswered prayers, i have a REALLY good spam filter.
posted by th3ph17 at 1:34 PM on November 24, 2004

Talking to God is a really great way to discard all rationality when you want to justify any action you take.

madman: I'm usually not a mean guy, but if that's all you've got to say, next time just shut up and sit down.
posted by baphomet at 1:36 PM on November 24, 2004

Now that I think about it, some dude at work claims God really did speak to him. However, he admits to being high as a kite at the time...but, something about how he's been high enough to know the difference between a hallucination and reality when he is high?
posted by jmd82 at 2:58 PM on November 24, 2004

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