If God doesn't exist, why did He talk to me last night?

This is a reply to the question, embedded as a reply to both atheists and theists. I also had the experience of God talking to me, and I would like to say right off the bat that I was a confirmed and practicing atheist for all my life, until the age of 30, when this happened. I would no longer describe myself as an atheist, but the funny thing about this is that none of my factual knowledge about the world has changed in the transition. I didn't start believing that the world was created in 6 days, or that there were any supernatural events in its past, or that anyone came from the dead (in the material sense), or a virgin birth, or anything like that. But I understood why people would find it important to lie through their teeth and say that this stuff happened, and keep lying in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. God is important, and to some, it is more important than scientific truth. I don't believe the two concepts are contradictory, because I think both are true, and truth doesn't contradict other truth.

So although I get the concept of God, I don't believe in any of the dogmas of religious authorities. I support gay marriage, and I like religious rebellion, people finding new ways in response to new circumstances. I will not accept a religious authority telling me what God thinks, or that any text is infallible, because I don't believe in infallible things in this world.

But I get the whole God business now, where I didn't before, so I feel I can speak to atheists in a way to make the whole thing make sense to them, in a way that other people of faith cannot. Because I know what the problem is--- the problem is not God, it is the supernatural picture of God painted in the fairy tales in the Bible.

God is not supernatural. Nor is God even particularly counterintuitive. it is a description of the universal ethics, as (correctly) personified in a super-smart individual, which makes decisions on right and wrong. God is described as omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. It is more precise to say God is impotent, unchanging, and abstract. But, though the actions of people who have faith, God can work certain types of miracles. Miracles like toppling the Roman empire and getting rid of human sacrifice. Miracles like abolishing slavery, and instituting charity. The world with religion is slightly better than the world without, although the world with a future religion, I hope, is better than the world with the present religions, which are authoritative, and generally require you to check your brain at the door.

First, I must pause to say how my religious experience came about. I read The 120 Days of Sodom, by Marquis de Sade. The reason I read this work is because I read a longish short story by Sade, which was, to my mind, the first transgender story ever written, and I became compulsively interested in the how the 1790s allowed a story like this to get written, a story which better belongs in the 1970s. Sade is a fantastic and engaging writer, writing full-blown 19th century style at the end of the 18th century, except he is more taboo-busting than any of the Brontes. He is more subversive than any literature before or since, with the possible exception of some pamphlets in the 1960s (like the SCUM manifesto, or the Discordianism documents), which lived on in the 1990s, on usenet. The general pattern of taboo eradication on usenet was what led me to Sade. I needed to know how someone could be writing usenet at the turn of the 19th century. Sade is writing during the pamphleteering era, the French Revolution, and his writing is in a society where free speech is new and celebrated, the more free the better. In this sense, he is writing on his era's usenet.

Anyway, while reading Sade, one has a disorienting psychological experience. He tells you of debauchery, sexual stuff, and horrific crimes, side by side, and mixes it with the most authoritarian of totalitarian power. He links the sex impulse and the authority impulse, and enhances the link. The sexual things become more and more depraved with each page, and the authority becomes more and more totalitarian, until he is describing outright sex murders, and complete and total dehumanization of both victim and perpetrator.

The funny thing is that you don't become titillated (at least, I found it impossible to find it sexy), because Sade engages in authorly tricks. He has a bowl of human feces, which, whenever something the least bit titilating is happening, somebody grabs a turd from the bowl and eats it. It's like the treatment in the movie "A Clockwork Orange". Every time something sexy is happening, it is mixed in with a crime, and with the eating of a turd, and you get this nausiating mixture of sexual thoughts and revulsion.

By the end of Part I of the book (the only part fully written), I was physically sick. I had a headache and a stomacheache. Reading Parts II,III,IV took a very short time (they are only sketches), and it didn't help, the nausea and headache just got worse. The problem for my atheist mind was that the absurdly cartoonishly abhorrent ethically behavior of the villains is combined with insanely long rationalizations, which individually are not enough to persuade, but which in their self-consistency and length, are genuinely persuasive and get you to think the way the villains do, so that you understand exactly why they think they should continue to behave in this terrible way.

I will give an example, although I can't do justice to Sade:

And so on and so on. The same sort of thing is done in "Philosophy in the Bedroom", and "Justine"/"Misfortune of Virtue", and in many of Sade's short stories.

The problem is that the arguments are reasonable, and they carry force of logic, in that it is consistent to believe these awful things. And yet, as a human being, it is impossible to believe these things. Your mind rebels, and the rebellion makes reading Sade (at least for the atheist) a torture, it feels like your soul is being murdered by the logic of the villains. When I went to bed that night, and I tossed and turned, horrified. Could the world be like this? How could the world be this way? And yet, it seems that it is. This state is what Christians describe as Hell, although I would have called it moral anguish, it is the same thing. Sade is writing science fiction of a sort. He is describing a world without God.

I woke up in the middle of the night with the feeling of a comforting presence, which was assuring me that the descriptions in Sade are just not so, that this is not the order of the world, that it is just a lie. This feeling was that an external agent was calling me, telling me it would be ok. I am not delusional--- I know that there was nothing there in any physical sense, that anything I felt or percieved came from my own psychology. But this thing is universal human psychology. We all have a little antenna inside our head that can hear the word of God. It has nothing to do with creating the universe, or putting animals on a boat (although these are nicer kid-friendly illustrations of the concept than Sade's dugeons).

I am not talking about a literal antenna, it doesn't work by radio waves, it's a moral antenna, and it derives it's wisdom from experience and collective memory, shared through our cultural stories. But the guidance comes nonetheless, and it comes with a force, and it is only when you really reject this guidance, if you are a real atheist, if you are one of Sade's villains, that you understand what God means, and what it means to reject it.

In human history, only nietzsche attempted to reject God for real. I don't like nietzsche, because he is ripping off Sade. Except unlike Sade, he takes this contemptible world-view of the villain seriously, nietzsche isn't trying to show you the absurdity of the philosophy. This is why Sade was considered "The Holy Marquis" in his time. He was recognized as a writer of secular religious texts. If you want to know what God is, there is no better way than through reading Sade.

Sade's influence is immense. He essentially invented the psychology of the modern villain, the 19th century Gothic story, the horror genre, and he was an important precurser to psychopathia sexualis, the study of sexual fetishes that eventually led to the Kinsey report and the sexual liberalization of the 20th century. The 20th century genre of film-noir also ows him a great debt, as noir also is the science fiction which asks "what would it be like in a world without God?"

The feeling of God is distinct from the reality of God, and it is not enough to say one feels something to explain why it is true. You can feel a lot of things that just aren't so. I will argue that God is not one of these false intuitions. But as this window is unbearably slow, I will do so in another answer.

Lets take this logically.

God talked to you last night, so today you put up a question on his existence on www.quora.com implying that God talking to you last night means God exists.

We dont know what God said, what was the pitch, tone, frequency of the voice you heard, whether there were any witnesses or audio visual equipment to reinforce or refute your statement, your hearing abilities, your psychological state before and after the experience, and how you got the ability to recognize God by his voice.

We shall ignore monotheistic God versus multiple Gods, or your personal beliefs.

Let us put ourselves in your ears.

  1. I hear a sound
  2. I hear a voice
  3. I hear a voice saying something
  4. I hear a voice saying it is God, or which something secondary event proves it is God's
  5. Let me not listen to what it says
  6. Let me not spread God's word
  7. Let me ask a question on Quora

Judging by this forensic analysis as well associated doubts raised by my fellow humans (I hope!), it is quite likely that (in decreasing order of probablity):

  1. you asked a provocative question seeking humor, mirth, lulz
  2. your mental abilities are compromised that you think you hear God's voice but they are recovered enough then ask this on Quora (ignoring Reddit and Stack Overflow)
  3. you are suffering from delusion (with swings and ups and downs in your condition)
  4. you really heard God's voice and want to share this discreetly without provoking people to call you crazy

I am sorry. I really don't know the answer to this. No one really knows, even the ones who think they know. If I knew the answer to God's existence, well I would be smarter than typing this for you here.

If you do believe or were once trained to believe in a Judeo-Christian God, you may want to brush up on the Third Commandment though.


"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain."

God might decide to downvote you (if He exists).

It always makes me wonder when I see a "witness" for a god, such as this, by an Anon User. It does seem a contradiction.

Anyway . . .

If your god talked to you last night, then that would seem to be perfect proof to you, but only to you, that your god does exist. None of the rest of us can confirm this happened. We have only your word for it. And I am perfectly willing to take your word that you believe this happened. But, as others have pointed out, there do exist other explanations for your belief.

And you need to understand that atheists do not have this subjective experience of a deity talking to them in the night. That absence is actually the first occurrence (or non-occurrence) that tends to confirm a lack of belief in any god or gods. (If people of faith cite a personal, subjective relationship with their god as evidence for that god's existence, then it seems fair that atheists should be able to cite a total lack of any such personal and subjective relationship with any god as one of the reasons they are comfortable with a lack of belief.)

The second reason, of course, is the lack of any credible, objective and verifiable evidence for the existence of any god(s) in the physical world, where there should be evidence if such god(s) did exist.

So, I respect your belief and do not question it at the personal, subjective, one-on-one basis you cite. It simply is not convincing to me,

It's not god. It's your mind. You think someone(god) is talking to you, but it really is just your inner voice or something of that sort perhaps.

I don't find your question foolish at all. It may not be god, but it could be something spiritual that you felt last night. Or it could be as random as a thought can be.

Its easy to bash. I am going to suggest that we have an instinctive orientation toward behaving lovingly and selflessly - the voice of which is our conscience, and that when someone prays they are getting in touch with a part of ourselves that is perfectly attuned to the universe. In a sense, he was talking with God.

That's normal. Delusion and hallucinations, this is normal in our society.