Why aye, Abnib. Let me barge in, there…

..And add a wee bit to the ongoing “Religion” thing. I’m not out to get drawn into the wider debate, mind (not yet, leastways) but I’m dropping in a quick reply to Andy’s question, and from here so I can lob a photo in more easily. [Well, I say that, what I mean is “from here I have more hope of getting a photo to work”…]

Handily flagged-up disclaimer:
This is rather, I’m afraid, by recounting a religious experience, with all the gubbins of “unverifiable thing what happens to one person” that entails. If you can’t deal with that in a sensible and adult manner, than shove off to the American Bible Belt and make a nuisance of yourself over there, because you’ll not be welcome here, my friend. Fair warning.

Main bit.
Some years ago now – I think I’ll have been in the region of eight or nine – we ended up, in the course of a family holiday, on Lindisfarne. There, as yon Wikipedia doesn’t, at first skim point out, they’ve got a statue to Saint Aidan the man who re-Christianised the North (as the Wikipedia entry does say).

And here we have a photo of said statue:
Statue of St. Aidan on Lindisfarne

Note the lowness of the thing. We’re talking something basically life-size here, not a hulking great thing that rears up to the skies. We’ve got a wee copper staff, but it’s not likely to act as much of a lightning conductor, or owt, especially not on warm, cloudless, summer days.

We were there on a warm, cloudless, summer day. And my parents thought “That’s a nice statue, let’s get a photo of it,” and promptly sent me over to pose with it, as parents do when on holiday. So I went and stood on the raised bit on the left side of the statue, the one closest to the camera in that shot there, and leant against it, propping the bulk of my weight on my left arm, in turn leaning on the stone of the statue, somewhere in the region of the elbow-fold in the cloak, and a a good foot or so away from yonder staff thingy.

Which was the point at which the bastard thing sent a shock right through my arm. It quite and electric shock, such as you get from a fence, or something, it was just a definite thump right down my arm.

That scared me witless, and we ended up not with the photo, because I refused to touch the thing again, and kept bursting into tears when I was asked to.

All very disconcerting. I genuinely don’t think I got an electric shock, or anything; I didn’t get any sudden convulsions of muscles, or hairs sticking up or pain, or owt. I just got a thumping great pulse off it.

Those of you who’ve paid over-much attention to the backs of my hands may, at some point, have noticed my broken knuckle, on the ring finger of my right hand. The finger ends, and then, a quarter of an inch later, I’ve got a knuckle, which makes that finger look like it’s a lot shorter than it should be, only slightly longer than my little finger. I get the same thing with the corresponding toes on both feet, so I look like I’ve got a big toe, two toes of equal length, then a sudden drop and another two toes of equal length. It’s very weird.

The only equivalent knuckle I’ve got that isn’t busted, as you should, by this point, have been able to divine, is the knuckle of my ring finger on my left hand. That’s fine, and contrives to look very much like it’s supposed to. I’m bloody sure the damn thing never bloody used to; they were all weird and busted up even before.

And that’s why I thought I’d slug in an answer to Andy’s question. I reckon it’s as close to proof of owt as I’m ever likely to get, and, since most people dinnae even get that, I reckon it’ll be good enough for me.

That is all.

Have fun!

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  1. On March 14, 2007 Statto says:

    What’s intriguing about this isn’t really the experience itself…we could posit all kinds of non-supernatural explanations involving an actual electric shock, your brain playing some kind of weird trick as they are sometimes wont and that kind of thing.

    The thing that intrigues me is how you take this possibly-difficult-to-explain, caveat-ridden experience, and use it to construct a complicated hypothesis about the existence of a higher consciousness. Why not go for the altogether simpler explanation that it’s that specific statue, or perhaps some subset of normal objects (“statues” or whatever), which have the power to dole out psychic shocks, rather than making God the inevitable result? Or why not just let it inform you that some things do seem to be beyond rational explanation, rather than making such a specific claim as a result?

    I confess you’ve not defined this God you speculate about, but I think it would be a rather restrictive definition for me not to ask the above questions about it—perhaps so restrictive that most people wouldn’t call it “God”…

    Also: do you really know enough about electricity and psychology to dispense with rational explanation? Did you when you were nine?

    Enough with the interrogation.

  2. On March 14, 2007 Mister JTA says:

    See, this is why I continue, amongst other things, to believe that, whilst interesting, debating the possibility of the existence of God is ultimately futile. There must be people out there who’d read this and go “Wow, that’s cool! Whilst I already believe in God, this is a further comforting proof to me!” just as there’s people out there, rather like yourself, who read it and go “Well, yeah, that is pretty weird, but I don’t see how it’s relevant.”

    I’m not sufficiently verbally dexterous to be able to explain much further, really. Or, rather, I don’t have a way to explain further; it all comes down to what I believe or, if you want to take a more edgy approach, what I know (or even what I know I believe, which is a comforting certainty.)

    To me it “proves,” insofar as I feel the need for proof, that there’s a God (the nature of which, as you say, I haven’t specified, but I’ll not do that just yet anyway). You’re right, it could just prove that it is possible for people to believe they’ve been given a shock from a big old lump of stone.

    And that’s where the capacity for rational debate falls flat on it’s arse, because there isn’t a reason for me to take this as proof of God rather than proof of people believing in electric stonework. I do, however, not least because I already believe in God, and this is more proof than I really need.

    This is possibly coming out either garbled or repetitive, or a combination of the two, but that’s because there isn’t really an answer I can give that’ll satisfy you: what I’ve got is —

    Q: Why take this as proof that there is a God?
    A: Because I believe that there is, and this is proof of it.

    — Which is about as good as you’re going to get. I can’t explain why I believe in God, because it’s not something I’m capable of understanding. I believe in God, but I can’t justify why.

    Really, I don’t think external arguments or attempts at proofs to the contrary are going to convince me, but I don’t think any evidence I can offer with prove anything to anyone else (And, in fact, I think it’s rather a bad thing for people to convince themselves that they do have the capacity to persuade anyone else one way or the other, because that’s the point at which they start down the road to setting people on fire…)

    But Andy asked if anyone else had run into anything which they believe is proof, not which they believe will convince anyone else, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s proof. To me, it makes far more sense that it’s proof of God than that it’s an instance of rare psychic-shocking stone, or something about that specific statue.

    And the Reading Room is closing up, so I need to get outta here, but I’ve not got anything new to say, anyway.

  3. On March 15, 2007 Scaman Dan says:

    Nicely put, JTA.

    Of course, it makes no sense to me to come to the conclusion that you did, but it’s interesting to see how you got there.