Are ALL Visions a Product of the Mind?


This is a continuation of a little debate I’m having with a buddy of mine. I’ve come to ask here cause I’m Frankly stumped. He says when talking about nearly ALL DIFFERENT faiths having visions:

"Now you could argue all of these are some kind of manifestation of the divine, but that we all read into what it means through whatever religion or other information we happen to know already, kind of a Jedi, “the force” thing. This is what I would argue, but I wouldn’t say divine. I would say its a hallucination, or complex illusion created by our incredibly sophisticated brains. If you have seen that hollow clay mask rotating, or other clever optical illusions (I like the rotating snakes one) Our brains are rigged up for pattern recognition, its something we humans are very very good at. If we are of strong religious conviction, is it surprising that we would spot patterns which match that?"

Then onto Fatima we moved and he said:


watch that and forward to 1:38 for confirmation bias. I would recommend watching all five. I especially like the part where he points out that it is inevitable that large groups of people will think of someone within five minutes before they die unexpectedly. Its just a mathematical inevitability.

Nostradamus also promised many signs, nearly all of them are wrong, but people latch onto the ones which seem to be right. This is a confirmation bias.

when I was a kid I actually did stare at the sun, do you know what happens?
*First it burns an after-image into your eyes which is just as vivid as the sun, its red, then blue. The image dances around jumping as your eyes twitch under the abuse you are hurling upon them. The suns then appears to split in two, since the image is burned into each retina. My advice? don’t stare at the sun.

To quote the most quoted report of the events

“The silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy grey light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds… The light turned a beautiful blue”

However, its still more likely that since people saw things like rainbow colours it was some kind of localised atmospheric event, dust cloud or ice crystals, there are many documented incidents."*




He also said:

*I tend to believe that visions, all visions have a common cause. If you want to say its divine, then okay, I will stick with a naturalistic explanation since it makes the most sense. You can even trigger visions purposefully either through meditation or through drugs. Our brains are rigged for visions."

I asked: “How do you know what these people saw are just natural phenomenal?” He said:

"*Well, by the fact that they saw them. Scientists use the definition of natural to mean ‘actual’. How do you know when you flick a light switch that it is converting electrical energy into light?
It could be a miracle this one time. You know because of consistency. How do we know pluto is orbiting the sun?

Plutos orbit takes 200 years, yet we have only known about the existence of pluto for 70 years. Nobody has ever seen pluto complete an orbit… How do we know that pluto actually orbits the sun?

Consistency. We know how things work, we can look at pluto and see it conforming to the laws of physics. It’s not like physics just stops working every so often, that is why there is no documented scientific evidence of miracles and the paranormal, that is why the James Randi foundation is willing to put a million dollars on the line.*



And finally he said:

"*How do you know that all the visions that Hindus have, that muslims have, that the vikings and romans had were not true? How about bigfoot, or alien abduction stories, or people who see ghosts, goblins, elves and so on?

When the evidence is missing, either due to no observations or inconsistent observations, we can dismiss the claim as having no evidence.

Absolute knowledge is impossible, but we can use objective knowledge, we can look and determine what is most likely.

Since many of these visions are in clear contradiction, we can logically say they cannot all be true. Yet the evidence for one against another is equal.

Would you go to austrialia if you did not believe my wining the loto prediction would come true? No, you wouldn’t just as you wouldn’t travel miles to get to fatima if you didn’t believe you would actually see something to make the trip worth while.

Now, regarding Bernadette Soubirous, ahh, back nearly two hundred years ago. Once again the problem should be obvious, a vision is something which occurs inside someones head, it is not shared, and thus is not objective.

“of what she termed “a small young lady” standing in a niche in the rock. Her sister and her friend stated that they had seen nothing…The apparition did not identify herself until the seventeenth vision and Bernadette never claimed it to be anything other than this, but the townspeople all assumed it to be the Virgin Mary and until then Bernadette called her simply ‘Aquerò’”

So, she had NOT claimed that she was seeing mary, until the seventeenth vision, well surprise surprise, looks like someone told her who she was seeing and convinced her of what it was.

A young starving fourteen year old girl living in rural France, sees a lady in a cave, this type of event is common across the world, the only difference is what was read into the vision."
And finally, regarding the “I was lost then found” saying, he says:

I* was born free from the shackles of superstition, I questioned I learned, and then superstition was placed upon me. I broke those bonds and am free once again. I have walked in the darkness and I have walked into the light. Science is my candle, the darkness will never encroach.*

Ok, I’m not a good debate to begin with, but he has pretty much blown my A** out of the water. I feel like a pile of ashes under his feet. :slight_smile: What should I say in response?


I just want to tell you all is that I’m sorry for bringing some of my battles here, I’m just at a lost for words and ideas, looking for help. :slight_smile:


I would say its a hallucination, or complex illusion created by our incredibly sophisticated brains.

Hallucinations are different from revelations and prophecies. Hallucination is different from the gift of knowledge. Hallucinations cannot tell you what the other person is thinking, but the gift of knowledge can.

Then onto Fatima we moved

I don’t know much about Fatima, so I won’t comment. But I’ll surely comment on the resurrection of Christ! How is it that all the 12 apostles saw him at the same time after the resurrection? Hallucinations don’t occur simultaneously and they don’t produce the same results in 12 persons at the same time!

Now you might say that it was just a lie and they saw nothing. If that were true, they would be the biggest fools on earth to sacrifice themselves for the sake of Christ! Why would they do so? Were they not well off? Matthew the tax collector was a rich man! Why do you think he will let himself be sacrificed for a lie?

How do you know that all the visions that Hindus have, that muslims have, that the vikings and romans had were not true? How about bigfoot, or alien abduction stories, or people who see ghosts, goblins, elves and so on?

If the source of Revelation is God, then the revelation is true. If the source of Revelation is the devil, then the revelation is false! And we have the gift of discernment, to tell the good spirits from the bad!


“if the source of Revelation is God, then the revelation is true. If the source of Revelation is the devil, then the revelation is false! And we have the gift of discernment, to tell the good spirits from the bad!”

Thanks for your help, but this is not a good response against him, and I can see why. Playing Devil’s advocate, who are YOU and I to say what is and is not from God?? The Bible? Ok, what about all other faiths? So they are ALL wrong and you are totally correct? Only YOUR vision is accurrate and all others are false?

Do you see what I mean,? While I agree with you, this is playground time for an atheist.


I’m sorry, I just sort of jumped around in the posts because there is just so much information.

As far as the title question and how to approach your friend i would suggest an oblique approach.
It is obvious that he has a great deal of scientific information, research and hypotheses to build his statements on, and much of it is quite correct.

However, the Church also has this information, and is always, “Skeptical” of visions etc. She has a group of people specifically charged with studying these things. Also, the Church, so far as I know, does not require that we accept the various visions etc. that are deemed worthy. (I may be mistaken about this though)
So, in one sense, you can agree with your friend that there is much in and from our minds that can be misconstrued. This is why the learned men of the Church, who are charged with investigating visions, signs etc. always look to disprove them based upon the very items your friend has mentioned.

However there are two things to remember here. First is, we can never scientifically “Prove”, one way or another what is “purely” generated by the mind as opposed to what might be generated within our mind by divine inspiration.
The second, and related, thing is whether the “vision” is detrimental to the person having the vision. Is the vision harmful or helpful to the person having it? If it is not detrimental, then what is the harm in allowing for the possibility of a Divine Source.

Finally I would ask this person, why it is important to him to dismiss visions as not divine. Is it to disprove God? You cannot do that scientifically until all the questions are answered for, in science, God exists behind the question, “WHY”.

I hope at least some of this helps



Yes, it does. Thanks.


We are the children of God!

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) If you don’t want to believe that, fine! We choose to believe! We will meet again on judgement day and know whose belief was right! :stuck_out_tongue:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

Discernment is a gift given by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:10). And we, as children of God, destroy false arguments (2 Cor 10:4-5).

Yes! :smiley: Again, if you don’t want to believe it, don’t believe it! Our message has always been nonsense to those who are perishing (1 Cor 1:18), and you are one of them! We choose to believe! For no other faith has produced such signs and wonders as Christianity. No other God has loved as our God, giving his only son to die for us.


I agree, but he nor any other Athesit will not. Using Bible quotes is a flaw against them. Secular evidence applies better.


I don’t know where he got his information about Fatima but I don’t think he has the story quite right. Bernadette was told to ask the lady what her name was and she asked the lady three times before she finally got an answer. The answer she got was, “I am the Immaculate conception.” She had no idea what that meant and it was only after she told her priest what the lady called herself that she was told she had seen Mary.

“According to Bernadette’s account, during that same visitation she again asked the lady her name but the lady just smiled back. She repeated the question three more times and finally heard the lady say, in Occitan, “I am the Immaculate Conception” (Qué soï era immaculado councepcioũ, a phonetic transcription of Que soi era immaculada concepcion by someone not literate in Occitan). Four years earlier, Pope Pius IX had promulgated the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; that, alone of all human beings who have ever lived (save for Jesus, Adam, and Eve), the Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin. However, this was not well known to Catholics at large at that time, being generally confined to discussion amongst the clergy. It certainly was not an expression known to a simple under-educated peasant girl who could barely read. Her parents, teachers and priests all later testified that she had never previously heard the words ‘immaculate conception’ from them.”

“According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was.”


If he does not agree, I will do just what the apostles did, leave him alone!

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18)


To an extent I agree with this sentiment, but I would still like to plant that little seed that says, Science cannot fully explain all things and so there should always be room for God.
Science can explain many things but it cannot explain the most basic question of how life got started in the first place. This and many other questions is where God is for the scientific minded.

Plant that seed, then let it lay. It may sprout a huge faith one day.



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