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John Shore Christian Blog and Commentary

My Conversion Experience: Real, or Synaptic Misfirings?

  • John Shore
    Besides here on Crosswalk, John blogs on JohnShore.com.
  • 2010 May 04
  • Comments

A commenter to my post I, a Rabid Anti-Christian, Very Suddenly Convert wrote in to share the gist of an article recently published in Scientific American, entitled The Sensed-Presence Effect, which is about how people under great physical and psychological stress sometimes hallucinate a presence being near them. He meant to challenge me with the idea that this "very common chemical explanation" necessarily renders the supernatural aspects of my conversion experience invalid.

These infernal atheist mechanists, with their bloody science! How dare anyone try to wear a lab coat to church!

No, but interesting idea, right? Though so weak it raises the question of whether Scientific American is now being managed by discombobulated interns, the article's premise is nontheless compelling. If stress can induce hallucinations that are (sort of) just like my conversion experience, mightn't my experience be just an illusion?

My response to Mr. "That Wasn't God, It Was Synaptic Misfirings" was ... well, this:

I've got no issues with there being a hardcore physiological basis for what I ultimately experienced as spiritually transformative. I'm good with the idea of the body beginning what the spirit completes.

But what do you think? If people under stress sense the presence near them of people (whom they may or may not "see") talking to them, and in my own stress I experienced (as I did) a disembodied voice calling me to accept as reality the Christian concept of God, to what if any extent should that compel me to question the validity of my conversion experience?

The sudden conversion experience: God, or ... fully tweaked nervous system?

You be the judge!

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