As a high functioning autistic person growing up in a Christian family and environment I have struggled hard to believe in Christianity and God but could never feel the spirit of God well within. Now I find out that this may be common among autistic individuals. Autistic’s spiritual perceptions are typically very low or non-existent.
Most article I have read seem to show that just as autistic people have problems perceiving the thoughts and intentions of others through body language and by other means, they also have the same problem perceiving a spiritual being.
Thus I have a big problem with the concept of spirituality. It is my understanding that God is within oneself, a part of oneself. We are born in the image of God because we mirror in part God’s character. God is not simply another being. It is up to each one to find God within. At least that is what I have been lead to believe. It is like gene expression. All our cells contain the same entire DNA genome of us as individuals but in order for the genes to express themselves as cells of a specific organ they must express or activate that part of the genome that has to do with the cells of that organ.
Autistic people don’t have a fundamental problem being in touch with themselves, at least I feel that I am no more out of touch with myself than anyone else. However I fail in the ability to connect with other people. Thus if God resides within my being then I should not have any more problem coming in contact with God than anyone else. Yet I spent almost two decades as a young adult seriously searching to find God within me and have yet to find or realize that God more than four decades later. This leads me to believe that either God is external to me or does not exists. It would seem to me that in either case God deliberately makes is difficult for autistic individuals such as myself to find him. This does not seem fair or just.
Two members of my family are extremely spiritual and empathetic with other people, just the opposite of me. Their friends seek them out when troubled and the two family members seem to know how to help resolve problems with others or make them feel better. I could never do this in a thousand years. I believe these family members can actually connect mentally to other people. I feel that people put out strong signals when in distress or in deep emotional states and that certain people are very talented at picking up on these subtle signals which contain the emotional and even thought states of other people like mental telepathy but much more subtle. Most normal people have this ability to varying degrees in every day life but Autistic people lack the ability to pick up such signals just as they lack the ability to read body language from others.
I have expressed this in my post ‘An Autistic’s Personal Perspective‘ and ‘Is there a God out there?‘ but it is my belief that people who are in a heightened state of spirituality send out this subconscious signal to people around them. Depending upon how strong a signal they send out and how receptive nearby people are to these signals these nearby people are subliminally influenced by these signals from others. There are people who are very talented in sending out very strong signals as well as people very talented at receiving very weak signals. My two family member are examples of the latter. If many people joined in worship these many subliminal signals get amplified by a group feedback loop of heightened feeling signals resulting in a heightened spiritual experience for all present, that is all but Autistic people. Thus people who may not believe in God could have a religious experience in such surroundings and spiritual people can have heightened experiences beyond what they experience alone. It is also possible that people talented at putting out very strong signals can influence people they are communicating with. We often call them charismatic individuals. Because expressing God is such a passionate belief strong subliminal emotional signals may be sent out to those nearby. These people are strong transmitters and seem to have an aura about them. For example one might have a stronger spiritual experience as part of a congregation than by watching the same church service at home alone on TV. But lesser emotional feelings watching TV can still exist from conditioning and the convictions of one’s beliefs.
Other heightened emotional situations involving many people such as at sport events or at demonstration rallies can also evoke these mass interconnected emotions. People feed off of other people’s emotional signals which become emotionally amplified by large numbers of like-minded individuals. A sports team can get energized by a crowed cheering them on not only from the cheers heard but by the subliminal but strong emotional signals given off by the fans and even by other team members. I would guess that Autistic people are also far less interested in teem spectator sports or demonstration rallies for the same reason they are not interested in religion due to the lack of connection with others in the group or crowed. People who go through extreme trauma can also give off strong signals to people they are closely linked to who are also find tuned to their loved one’s signal. For example a person who is traumatically dying can possibly communicate to a loved one far away.
If this is true then Autistic people would possibly be an indicator that perhaps there is no God since people get subliminal signals from others in their corporate belief in God whereas Autistic individuals cannot pick up such biasing signals thus making them better indicators of reality.
So I remain an agnostic. Why am I not an atheist? Because I have not yet eliminated all other possibilities about God’s existence and probably don’t have enough time in my life to do so. Some eastern religions don’t even have a god figure. There are endless possibilities.
Related Post: An Autistic’s Personal Perspective