What Does God Feel Like?

June 21, 2020 in Blog

I consider myself a deeply spiritual person. I also consider myself an intellectual. Sometimes the two sides of myself don’t understand each other. And as much as my intellectual side can reason itself into believing it is right, my spiritual side sometimes just feels right.

I’ve lately been using my intellectual side to think through the existence of God. I have a friend who is a devout Christian who told me that she prays for me. I really don’t understand what that means. What exactly is she praying for? I asked her and she replied:

“Mmm great questions. Buckle up!😄 I firmly believe that this is the beauty of a God outside ourselves. A truly autonomous force doesn’t need us to conjure or manufacture him, to “do” anything; at the same time, this is a being so personal that he knows the number of hairs on your head… and that’s saying something.😜He will speak to you in a still small voice but the reverberations will hit you like a freight train. And it won’t be abstract. It will make sense, in vivid and clear colors, like your expensive TV…. ☺️ When that happens, you’ll know what you need to do next. And don’t be surprised if this encounter is at once somewhat familiar and completely foreign. For now, you don’t need to understand it with the mind. I don’t expect you to. You are open— that’s all that matters.”

My intellectual gut reaction is that this is a lot of patent nonsense. Pure fluff.

But then I started reasoning about this.

What if atheists and agnostics just simply haven’t experienced God yet? Of course they would deny the existence of God. They have no idea what it’s like to experience such a thing. Further, what if the militant atheists– you know, those who go on twitter and actively mock religious people and assume they are stupid nitwits– are the ones who are most out of touch with God? Their exclusive reliance on reason actively inhibits their capacity to be open to their experiences in just such a way that would actually reveal the existence of God to them?

Now, Maybe these are crazy questions. And I’ve basically been an atheist my whole life. But I kept thinking…

What would God feel like? Then something clicked deep inside me. I started thinking back on the moments in my life when I felt most connected to my fellow humans. I thought back on moments when I felt I was my best self. When I felt universal love. When I was in the flow state of creating something. When I felt uninhibited, non self-critical, empathetic, warm, sincere, authentic, open, honest, gentle, and caring. Could it be in those moments I somehow was deeply listening to God? That it wasn’t more to it than that? That that’s what my Christian friend meant?

Further, could it be that any moment of peak self-transcendence and connectedness with the universe and other people is us experientially listening to God? That would include a good LSD trip, a hug from a loved one, a moment of gratitude, a gesture of kindness, an open heart. What if a critical mind inhibits an open mind? And what if an open mind is what is needed to open one’s heart?

Or, what if I’m talking crazy talk. What if everything I’ve just said makes absolutely no sense: The concept of a God is incoherent and highly improbable given what we know about the physics of the universe. My intellectual side is inclined to think that is true.

Regardless of the existence of a God in the old-school religious sense, this thought exercise was helpful to me and I appreciated listening with an open heart and an open mind to my Christian friend’s question. Because it made me realize one big thing:

Each of us has a built-in moral compass and sense of when we are realizing the absolute best version of what a human could be. We wax and wane in how strongly we are feeling this inner compass. Some days or moments the compass may be faint. Some days or moments the compass may feel strong. For instance, at this very moment I am feeling very emotional. I feel very connected to love. I feel very connected to the pain and suffering of my fellow humans and feel the burden of it all on my back. Maybe in 10 minutes it’ll be gone. I’ll get sucked into some twitter war, or get agitated with something my Mom said, or feel jealousy or embarrassment. All that too is part of being human.

Whether or not a real God exists or not, I feel very blessed that the machinery and mechanisms of God exist in all of us, ready anytime to be tapped into whenever we are feeling ready to listen to the deepest reverberations of our soul.

5 Responses to “What Does God Feel Like?”

  1. Evan Hadkins says:

    The word ‘god’ can label particular experiences.

    It is worth enquiring what these real experiences are.

    The relationship of the outside and inside and the perception of the real has several thorny philosophical issues bound up in it.

  2. Fawn Parish says:


    I think you are fascinating, and have such a lovely heart for people.

    I am positive you have heard God speaking to you many times, but just haven’t recognized it was Him.

    Like your Christian friend, I too pray for you many encounters with God, that will transcend your wonderfully gifted mind.

    Scripture says; “No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it. What God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you. 1 Corinthians 2:9, 10

    Your heart knows things your mind has yet to encounter.

    I am thankful for the gift of you to the world.

  3. Ivy Shelden says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this topic Dr. Kauffman! I am a life long agnostic exploring the idea of God as well.

    I am on the same page with you on what It may be like to experience God or spirituality—I have been calling it being on the “God frequency” or in “the God zone” when I am in that state of creative flow or deep empathy/compassion/connection.

    A really interesting rabbit hole to go down is to research near death experiences, if you haven’t already. Hearing people’s sincere stories about incredible experiences during clinical death really helps open my mind to the mystery of a possible spiritual world. My favorite stories:

    Dying to be me by Anita Moorjani
    Near death in the ICU by Dr. Lauren Bellg
    Awakenings from the light by Nancy Rynes

    Thanks again for this post and best of luck on your journey!

  4. Hi Scott, thank you for sharing your thoughts. It seems as though you are referring to God as an experience, rather than the figurative bearded man cultural concept of God… unless, perhaps you wouldn’t exclude the possibility that there may indeed be a figurative God (real in this case?) with whom you may interact with… and thus “experience God”?

    This is an interesting topic to explore, and I see that Ivy Sheldon may have some interesting insight. I just wanted to see if you had worked out a definition of God.

    Thanks again for everything that you do, Scott.

  5. Alan Grinnell Jones says:

    Yes, with Mohammed Altantawi, I would appreciate your definition of God. When I exult in interplays of connection and integration with uncertainty and ambiguity, I’m unable to name my experience-emotion with a term that has such an awful amount of either/or (ideological-authoritarian) baggage. I’m reminded of my aversions to Robert Solomon’s redefinitions in his “Spirituality For the Skeptic”.

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