Take the sensation of "Second Wind", where a runner suddenly feels more able to continue running:
Second Wind (Newsweek July 27, '92) If an Olympian experiences a second wind, it's probably a sign that he isn't in a great shape. Scientists are divided over whether a second wind is purely psychological - the athlete "willing" himself forward. But if it has a physical basis too, the sudden feeling of "I can do it!" right after "I want to die" probably reflects a change in metabolism. The body gets energy by breaking down glucose, which is stored in muscles. This reaction releases lactic acid, which the body must burn in order to prevent a lactic-acid buildup that causes cramps. Burning lactic acid requires oxygen. If the body does not breathe in enough oxygen; the runner experiences oxygen debt: the heart beats more quickly; the lungs gasp; the legs slow. The second wind, says physicist Peter Brancazio of Brooklyn College, may come when the body finally balances the amount of oxygen coming in with that needed to burn the lactic acid. (When burned, lactic acid is transformed into sweat and carbon dioxide.) Why doesn't everybody get a second wind? Couch potatoes don't push themselves past oxygen debt; true Olympians have enough lung capacity and cardiovascular fitness to avoid oxygen debt in the first place.The mind is very powerful, even to the extent that it can control the body:
Many people have spoken in tongues, and have claimed to have seen angels. I believe though that people can convince themselves of almost anything. Just as a superstitious person will attribute getting fired to the black cat from earlier in the day, a religious person will praise God if they have a child when the doctors said they couldn't.
Similarly, people who endure difficult experiences often say that they could not have done it without God, or that they felt God "by their side". This raises some questions: Do atheists who undergo harrowing experiences also have God at their side? Is it possible to "survive" difficult times without God's aid? If a person ends up downtrodden, is it because God chose not to help them? I feel that people are much stronger than they realize, and that a dramatic turn in their lives does not have to be the work of God. And if a new inner strength is found and can not be explained, why must it be God? Could this strength because they believed in a higher power, as opposed to the Christian God in particular?
While I'm not trying to imply that people who have personal experiences with God are less than sane, there are many other types of personal experiences. In some religions, devotees reach a "higher plane of consciousness" through meditation (this can be measured). Many people will refuse to walk under a ladder. Some people claim to have met and even interacted with aliens. Several people will swear that they have seen Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster.
Surely skeptics and people of other religions are not barred forever from
heaven. Why then are most personal experiences had by people who are or became
Christians? How many people who have never heard of the Bible have had such
experiences? I would bet that many have, and have attributed them to the god
that they are most familiar with. Have Muslims had personal experiences with
Allah? From the Naseem e Dawat, by the prophet Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam
Our Ever Living and All Sustaining God talks to me like one person to another. I ask Him something and supplicate Him and He answers in words full of power. If this should happen a thousand times, He does not fail to answer. In His words, He discloses wonderful hidden matters and displays scenes of extraordinary powers till He makes it clear that He alone is the One Who should be called God. He accepts prayers and intimates their acceptance. He resolves great difficulties and through repeated supplications, revives those who are sick unto death. He discloses all these designs in advance through His word which relate to future events. He proves that He is the God of heaven and earth.' (p. 82)
But most importantly, a personal experience is a personal proof of God based on one's own observations, and has no independent test. I'm even skeptical of my own observations, both physical and internal, since I've seen Uri Geller bend spoons, and David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear, and I know they were faked.