American Atheist Converted at Medjugorje, Bosnia

One of my very best friends went to the pilgrimage at Medjugorje, Bosnia while vacationing about five years ago to see Our Lady of MedjugorjeHe went as a skeptic. I want to give you just a short history of one of the smartest people I know. He has the best memory recall of anyone I have ever met, loves to study the sciences and religion and many other disciplines, and he is currently active in coaching and teaching at a collegiate level.

He went up to Medjugore completely convinced it was nonsense and looking to see what all the talk was about. He came down as a believer. He saw the apparitions and the images dancing in the sun. He could look directly at the sun and suffered nothing. He felt something special he can’t explain. Raised catholic but operated as an atheist since late teens. Now he is an active catholic and a 100% believer. He can’t explain it. Can you? I can’t help but believe there is a logical or psychological explanation. One thing I do know, the Catholic Church regards the first visit to the children a miracle. They are remaining skeptical about the continued messages delivered by Mary.

Phil also stated that “not everyone that goes sees it. Only those meant to see it I guess” Another question I would pose, do people that have no prior knowledge of the site see the miracles? It’s not obvious what your mind is going to do with the stored knowledge and expectations or reservations of any specific event. Here is some good read and video if you haven’t seen it, and this is an email answer I got from Professor Taboo. “Bottom-line? Neurological and endocrinological explanations are quite plausible in all cases of ‘paranormal’ activity and visions/hallucinations. The pilgrimmage/hike in Medjugorje, Bosnia contributes to those physiological conditions…. as they do in other parts of the world. When large groups/crowds all participate/perform the “worship” together, it makes it all even MORE intense — the Placebo-effect.”

Further reading and Other Insights

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

74 thoughts on “American Atheist Converted at Medjugorje, Bosnia”

  1. A couple of years back my mother ( she is a Catholic and I was still one ) went on a pilgrimage to one of the virgin Mary’s supposedly apparition site.
    She told me that she experienced all what you described in this post
    I had planned on going on one this year just to check things out for myself but I couldn’t make it. May go on one next year or the year after that just to verify things
    BUT
    I was told by her and many others that not all people who go see and that you may have to pray and ask god to reveal the signs to you
    So if my “pilgrimage” does not bear fruit, the believer wouldn’t see anything wrong

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Of course one must remember that the “conditions” must also be just-so. The sun, the clouds, the angle … which, if you “pray and ask god,” they will surely be placed exactly as they need to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What sort of context does your friend bring up his experience? Is he trying to convert you?

    I’m asking because his experience doesn’t seem too terribly different from other conversion miracles I’ve heard about. Even if we assume what he’s saying is true – that a deity came down and did some stuff for him to notice – that message was only intended for him. There’s no point for him to share it with anyone else, because his experience wasn’t intended for anyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No conversion attempt at all. We were just comparing our experiences. He and I talk a lot about different things and this came up over a couple of Johnny Walkers. He had never mentioned his faith. I thought he was still an atheist and he said he’d been attending. He was comfortable telling me as our friendship is just that way. My reply was “really, that is really interesting”. He told me the details again the other day when I called him about putting a post together. He had no explanation other than everyone doesn’t see it. He said “I guess only those meant to see it, see it”. It was unexpected. Why do you ask?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had to ask because it’s rare for me to hear about these sorts of conversion stories outside of an attempt to convert, control, or coerce people deeper into the faith. I was subjected to a lot of these stories while growing up, all of them in places or situations where I couldn’t just walk away. In short, it’s been rare where I’ve seen them offered in anything resembling a neutral fashion.

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        1. He asked me what I think and I didn’t have any answer. Now that so much is being discovered about neurotheology it was just back in my mind. The first time he told me was 5 years ago about a month after he got back from Bosnia. His story hadn’t changed when we talked the other day. He did say again that he was just meant to see it “I guess”. He’s not thrilled with it. It just is and he still in church over it.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I only scanned a couple of the top comments since my eyes are a little tired. Congrats to your son! Wrestling is a hardcore sport, especially in high school when people think they’re invincible.

            With regards to your friend, I think you’re right for seizing on the notion that not everyone gets to see it. If his deity is real, I’d have to wonder why people only get selective revelation.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. Long ago I worked with two women who were single and wild, if you get my drift. Well they both “found” religion and were saved. I believe it came from guilt of their past. But their favorite way to try to get people to convert was telling them they were going to hell unless they were born again.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know a guy, I posted about him before and he was a wild party hound drugs sex dishonest and he converted and is super hard core religious now. You might be in to something.

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  3. Dear Jim and everyone here ♡ ♡. Here are some things I do not understand. Why do evidence that belief in God is something inherited from our ancestors become a proof that rules out a creator? Furthermore, why does an experience with God that show that up in a brain scan debunk God? Would we have to be dead so that it would have no impact anywhere in the human body? No serotonin, no dopamine no nothing. My bet is that if no impact were found anywhere in our bodies you would rather use that as an argument. Faith would be non-existent. You would be pretty satisfied with that option I suspect. Either way, I bet atheism can be found in the brain as well. In fact, research suggest less theory of mind and more autistic traits. By the way, is not everything perhaps a product of the brain and body? Probably suggesting some sort of Matrix? Especially according to your lines of reasoning. Finally, only those whom can remove themselves from themselves have a truly objective image. What would be the point of the observer? No observations ever would be valid. Everything could potentially be a product of the brain and body. Confirmation-bias, visual-bias, optical illusions and illusions in general. Love, Isabella

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Isabella. Good to se you. The brain is a hot topic right now. I see your point, but when left brain parietal epilepsies mimic visions and religious aura prompting prophetic speech, would you consider that god, or a physiological miscue in the brain. Someone with those highlights naturally occurring in the brain causes people consider them oracles, in my opinion is not god speaking through but is in fact a brain function of hallucination and human thought. It is important to me to distinguish the two. For one reason, the Bible forbids soothsaying and fortune telling and yet with your argument, those things could be god. I don’t think so.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was just asking questions. To promote thinking about the reasoning that I consider have some fatal errors in it. I am all for thinking, and especially not letting others do it for you.;-)<3

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We need both halves of our brains to function. Higher brain function is also a must. Furthermore, it is not unlikely that our hearts play a vital part. It is after all where we feel love and compassion. The best of all those worlds it to be preferred. Not to mention avoiding the primitive brain. I do not see how anyone could be an oracle if the above is not the case. God is love, so I do think the heart ranks at the top. If you have all kinds of prophetic powers and have not love you are nothing.

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  4. It doesn’t mean your friend didn’t meet God.

    How does one discern if he met the right god?

    In all likelihood there are numerous people all over the globe going through a similar experience but with a different god … probably depending on which culture they belong to.

    Now, an intelligent person, or one not suffering from any form emotional trauma or mental instability would consider this possibility and act accordingly.

    You obviously never did.
    I wonder why this is JB?

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    1. There are so many to chose from here. I bet the same in Johannesburg. In the end I think JB believes what makes him feel good. Not what is rational.

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      1. He has been emphatic in the past that it was evidence that convinced him to become a Christian, or become born again … I am not sure what it was. But he will never tell you what that evidence was, because he knows full well he cannot and he would be forced to lie.

        You can ask him, of course. Maybe he actually will answer you honestly?
        But history suggests he will simply write something such as ”What do you consider to be evidence?”
        And then you are off on a merry dance.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I did not realise he atheist blog-hops – which is odd as in the past he was always up for crying Troll.
            I have raised the odd eyebrow upon encountering his comments.
            There was a time I really thought it was all an act and he was simply mining for comedic material. And boy, does he need it!
            Turns out he really is a full-on religious whacko.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I do think he just finds a way to argue. He was even abrasive and jumping on Mel Wild last week. I couldn’t tell whose side he was on

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Trying to understand. I don’t think anyone here is critical of him. Why is a good question Christians still can’t answer. Obviously this is an atheist forum. Why are you interested in how we feel? Maybe learning?

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        1. You’re wrong. I am looking for truth. You offered your piece. Everyone sees it. Phil is open to discussion too. If a real answer presented itself in faith I would explore that too. But so far nothing of worth has shown itself to me

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            1. Why. Aren’t the the mother church. All the corrupt origins passed down from them can’t create a new and better church. You can’t make a whole pie out of a half eaten pie with a poison recipe

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  5. I too would be interested in an update in 1, 3, or 5-years on how Phil is doing in his “new or renewed faith.” As we also talked about Jim in our email exchanges, places like Medjugorje, Bosnia are scattered all over the world and their spiritual impacts. However, each location has a unique experience and are certainly NOT Christian or Theistically centered.

    Btw, thank you kindly for the Pingbacks to my blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am curious too. I might shoot him all this when it’s appropriate. Mary’s Newsweek article might be a starting point. Thanks boss

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I can’t help but think about deception as well with a million people a year traveling to check it out that $ome other motive$ might be in play here. How much $taging is involved?

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  6. Jim, you wrote: Groups have a powerful impact. I think that pretty well sums it up. We’ve all seen it in action — when a group of people all believe in something, the dynamics of “the crowd” can be quite powerful. This has been proven time and time again in emergency situations, but also in numerous other ways. Some call it “collective behavior.”

    There is considerable information on the internet related to this subject that might help you understand it better.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am in the flood zone of information right now. Lol. Not sure if Phil has looked into it like I am. When the time is right I might clean this up a bit and forward it to him.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I would say your friend had some inner longing or turmoil. Maybe something had happened to him you are unaware of. I have also read when people have a religious epiphany an actual area of their brain is enhanced as seen on an MRI. This area has been stimulated in tests by electrodes or something (I’m not a scientist) and the people have feelings of an epiphany…for the moment. Maybe strong emotions and a desire to find meaning can cause this to happen in the brain and some people are more prone than others.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Great article!
        “That a religious experience is reflected in brain activity is not too surprising, actually. Everything we experience–from the sound of thunder to the sight of a poodle, the feeling of fear and the thought of a polka-dot castle–leaves a trace on the brain.”

        We trust our brains to tell us thunder and poodles are real. Why don’t some people trust their brains when they inform them about religion? Maybe because religious experiences aren’t connected to the 5 senses?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You never know what your reaction is going to be. He may be more susceptible than others with a smaller knowledge base. The crowd, travel fatigue, mystery, who knows? Interesting points.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think the catholic church has had 2000 years of practice in how to manipulate people.

    I think your friend was primed by his childhood indoctrination to take catholic “miracles” seriously. How many non-catholics that go there find the “miracle” convincing?

    And how would he answer someone of a different religion, who was also convinced of it by an intense personal experience?

    Liked by 6 people

            1. A mild restorative would be great. Jim, I wouldn’t wish this, whatever it is we got, on anyone. I’m going back to bed. Later, Nationofnope

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  9. Inspired?
    When I was an adolescent, We had an intricate display of St. Patricks Cathedral in NYC in our living room. It was made by my grandfather out of Philadelphia Cream cheese boxes, not the cardboard boxes but the old wooden boxes. I say intricate as it was a beautiful display of the woodwork, the altar, the light fixtures…. In my early teens, my mom sold the display to someone who was very interested in it.

    In my late teens, I took a date to NYC and we went all over the place. At that point in time I was likely Agnostic leaning toward Atheist. One of the places she wanted to go was St. Pat’s… hmm.. I suppose if my date wanted to go, then yeah, let’s visit, lol. But upon stepping inside, I was reminded of the display we had in our home growing up. Although the church had changed a tad bit throughout the years, it was as if I was looking at the display that was in my living room growing up. I felt sentimental emotions about being there, and the workmanship my Grandfather did… it was…almost…spiritual…

    In a way, it kind of inspired me to take another look at religion but it really didn’t last long. As much as tried to justify it, the answers to my age old questions and the reasons I left religion were still there. There was simply not enough evidence. That being said, I think it can be psychological, one can be inspired as your friend was, to return to the fold.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That makes a ton of sense. What if your personally type had been more sensitive or emotional? Great answer.

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  10. Jim, please update us when your friend comes to his senses. He will. I was the smartest person I knew (chuckles), and I fell for religion. 10 years, swooped away into la-la land. Here’s why. There is cutting-edge evidence that our genes harbor actual memories, passed down from our ancestors, especially as it relates to survival. Since the ancients attributed everything to the “gods,” food, rain, sun, etc., we are literally hardwired to worship. During my time as a Christian, I experienced what I considered to be miracles. (I plan on addressing them on my blog soon, because it does merit a discussion.) Are there unexplained things in this life? Certainly there are. The difference is, science looks at those things skeptically, seeking an explanation. Religion believes it has the explanation, so the unexplained always fits neatly into that box and provides “further evidence” of God. If I’m Catholic, I just might see the Virgin Mary in my breakfast pancakes. If I’m a skeptic seeing flashes in the sun, it just might dawn on me that I’m frying my retina.
    Let your friend know that you support his choices. That was the most valuable part of my journey out of Christianity, when I realized that most of my religious friends would immediately judge my lack of belief, while all of my intelligent secular friends had stood by me, during my stint with cray-cray. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We have very open dialog about this. He knows I’m discussing this also, but not here on the blog. I didn’t want anyone to hold back. I do love this guy a lot. He has been supportive in my times of need too. Excellent point. I just wonder if he’d had no prior knowledge if he would have seen it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Even a person who has lived a secular life from childhood can’t escape the imagery in shows and pop culture. I think it has to do more with the receptiveness to suggestion. There’s a continuum of that personality trait that ranges from someone like my sister, who was skeptical of everything she saw on TV, heard, or read about from around seven years of age, to someone like me, who believed in every mythical creature, as a child, and continue to be intrigued by the paranormal and spirituality throughout my adulthood. The two of us can be in a room and experience a bizarre coincidence in opposing ways. She sees it as cool proof of scientific statistics, and I see it as some kind of “reminder” that there is more to life than meets the eye. A message from my future self, perhaps? A clue that this is all a matrix and we are living somewhere outside of it? A hint that it is all a dream? Statistics and probability are the farthest thing from my mind when I say a phrase and a song comes on the radio with the same phrase in it. I don’t think I will ever change, but I’m discovering that the depths of quantum physics and the universe share some qualities with the concept of a spiritual realm. I think we just haven’t discovered how it all ties together.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. So true. My brother and I grew up together and when he describes our childhood it makes me wonder if I was even there. Lol. As for your last point, I am willing to wait for an answer. And the more I see lately about brain research I know patience is key. You can trick yourself in a big way and not even see it coming.

          Liked by 2 people

  11. “I can’t help but believe there is a logical or psychological explanation.”

    Would a psychological explanation mean his conversion is illegitimate?

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    1. Well Jon, Yes. And yes, I do think his conversion has some other explanation than actual angels and apparitions. Groups have a powerful impact. Their own church isn’t convinced either even though a million people a year $pay tribute there.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I know what I wrote. Do you have something to add or just pick at shit and copy and paste? If you don’t have any original thoughts go away.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Here’s an original thought. Just because psychology can describe religious experiences doesn’t mean those experiences are invalid. It doesn’t mean your friend didn’t meet God.

            Like

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