Recently, a girl I know, and who knows me through family, brought up some personal information about me in a heated discussion on my Facebook page. Although I’m not ashamed of it, because to share this story is to show that science actually does sustain my Atheist position and destroys the religious illusions I once bought into.
It’s no secret, when I was growing up I was more than a devout Christian, I was downright religious. And for years I thought I was having divinely inspired visions, hearing the voice of God, and being attacked by demons on almost a daily basis. My dear Christian friend brought this up, perhaps inadvertently, or perhaps to get a rise out of me and surprise me by shocking my atheist readers with the fact that I used to believe in all this stuff for real. Although I can’t really tell what her intentions were exactly, it brought up a good chance to bring the point home, because that’s not the full story. Here’s the letter I wrote to her explaining the rest of the story, the part she didn’t know about:
Dear Christian Friend,
Since you’re studying psychology, you’d probably like this story.
First of all, one must be uber pious, I mean not just a devote Christian, but totally devout. The reason for this is because you need to feed something into the imagination to spool up. This is sort of like the effects of dreaming, or something when one has a nightmare. But we’ll come back to this in a moment.
When I was a child I had migraines all the time. When I was in middle school the migraines would get so bloody awful that I would lose vision in both eyes. As I got older the intensity and pain increased, and I started passing out periodically. You might be able to guess what’s going on, due to you probably having studied it, but let me continue.
As a young person I didn’t know what it was. Then I started having waking dreams at about 13 or 14. Are you able to diagnose my psychological disorder yet? As I was going to Church 3 times a week and was co-president of our Youth Group at my church. I attended the Assemblies of God denomination of Evangelical Christianity, and one of my jobs was to know the Bible inside and out so I could be a youth adviser. This means when we broke off into study groups I was the group leader who guided the discussion… so I had to know the scripture like the back of my hand, or else look the part of a fool. My friend Matt and I had a friendly competition to see who could memorize more verses each week. It was about even between us.
Then I went to college, joined Campus Crusade for Christ, and for my summer job I started working at Big Sky Bible Camp as a Youth Counselor. Matt was a Youth Pastor by that time.
Then I started having waking nightmares, visions, and all the religious imagery I was absorbing on a daily basis made it appear that I was in contact with the supernatural…
When men of great stature throughout history have had this mental defect, they have been praised as Saints and Venerated as Great Prophets. Paul of Tarsus fell upon the desert road to Damascus hearing voices and seeing visions, and the Prophet Muhammad had regular attacks in his moments of meditation, and the patron St. Joan of Arc saw visions and heard voices too. They all believed that the divine had contacted them, and they felt the presents of this almighty power, and what’s more, they felts it’s mysterious supernatural effects upon their intellect–and they allowed it to guide them.
Not only is one capable of sight and sound sensation from the brain’s misfiring electrical neurons, but also olfactory smell can be triggered. Whenever I saw demons, blotchy blurry dark shadowy figures, I smelled eggplant. When I saw Angels I smelled the light scent of cinnamon. Not knowing then what I know now, I thought evil stank and good smelled spicy nice.
When I was a teenager I thought I lived in a demon haunted world. When I was studying my wife’s epilepsy and taking her to different hospitals to get full brain scans, I realized that I exhibited all the symptoms of ‘Frontal (Temporal) Lobe Personality Disorder’.
Low and behold, I’m a type of epileptic myself. But that’s not the only thing, however, the rest of my personal affairs do not need to be discussed for me to get to the point, and that’s how truly amazing science is, something I feel we all take for granted.
Science has flown us to the moon, given us the iPod, helps us stay off disease, gives us better eye-sight, gives us hearing aids and prosthetic limbs, solar panels and electric powered automobiles! Science has shown that my brain was not working properly, that it was glitching out and taking images that I was bombarding it with, and my brain’s misfiring was causing all kinds of real tangible sensations and experiences which created the illusion that I was living in a demon haunted world, where the paranormal exists, and the supernatural was all too real.
People who don’t discover what it is that is impacting them often believe they are being afflicted by demons, or else, gradually going insane. Due to the actual mental illness and repeated damage that might be occurring in their brain hemispheres, the brains malfunctions can cause sometimes dangerous side effects. My wife’s own epilepsy has flattened her numerous times. Once while riding a bike in city traffic, she had and epileptic fit, fell off her bike and into the road. Another time she spasmed, passed out while standing upright, fell over and smacked her head so hard on the solid wood computer desk that her sister, a physical therapist, thought that she might have broken her neck. Once at a military base my wife had a seizure on a long climb of cement stairs, lucky I was there to catch her from behind, otherwise she would have tumbled down a few hundred steep steps, a possibly fatal incident.
Unless people get the proper medication to help, epilepsy can cause all kinds of harmful side effects. Bizarre waking dreams , confused ‘mystical’ language, and fish out of water style convulsions being the lesser of the capricious evils, for sure.
Now that I don’t have the seizures anymore, I no longer have the visions. But you probably know all this from your studies.
And don’t worry, I’m not angry about you having brought up a personal and private matter such as this, because it allows me to show others that I know exactly what I’m talking about in this case, because I have had the experiences first hand. Although, now I know much more than I once did. Certainly I know more than some dude three thousand years ago who thought his leather strapped scandals were the keenest thing invented since ghee, and so I can share with others how to diagnose such a glitch, how to seek proper treatment. It just goes to show, nothing is always what it seems, even reality itself.
I think I smell cookies. No wait… seizure! Doh!
Tristan D. Vick
If you’re keeping score, this is ATHEISM 1, SUPERNATURAL 0. REALITY 1, PARANORMAL 0. SCIENCE 1, RELIGION 0. Nuff said.