The debate over speaking in tongues, or glossolalia, is not a new thing. Sure, we look at some of the "Charismatic" and Pentecostal churches and the spouting of gibberish from their mouths while they writhe around on the floor and think, "Man, if that's what I need to do to get into Heaven, then leave me out." [And don't ask me why they're called "charismatic" or why it's the "Charismatic Movement," because I don't see any good reason for the usage of the term (and didn't feel like spending more than the 10 minutes I wasted not finding an adequate answer).] Trust me, I'm with you. Well, I'm with those of you that feel the way I do about it. [Because what I can say is that we don't have examples of that kind of behavior in the Bible. Paul never "sizzled like bacon" while letting nonsense drip out of his mouth.] I am not flopping around like a fish out of water or roaring like a lion or any of that other nonsense that goes on when those people are all being "slain in the Spirit."
Which is the heart of the controversy, actually, because "those people" say they're not doing it by choice. They're being possessed by the Holy Spirit, and they just can't help it. However, it is what gets you into Heaven (according to them), so, well, it's in your best interest to get in there with them and lose control of your bodily functions.
Now, here's the interesting part (isn't there always an interesting part?):
There has been a lot of research done into glossolalia. Which makes sense, because, if it's real, if people are spontaneously speaking some kind of language they didn't previously know, it would be a mighty strong proof of God or, at the very least, some kind of supernatural phenomenon. Before I go on, there are two types of glossolalia:
1. The kind everyone thinks of when they think of speaking in tongues: speaking an unknown language which no one understands. This is usually thought of as speaking in the tongues (languages) of Angels.
2. Xenoglossy: speaking an actual language that the speaker didn't previously know. Like breaking out into fluent Mandarin without ever even having had chow mein or orange chicken.
Here's the first interesting part: Nearly all of the actual instances of glossolalia in the Bible are xenoglossy. During Pentecost, it was xenoglossy that was happening. Or, perhaps, reverse xenoglossy since it was the listeners that actually heard the speakers in their own language.
If you look in the Bible for an example of what we think of when we talk about "speaking in tongues," we get exactly what goes on these days: a bunch of people (in Corinth) speaking in tongues and boasting about it, "Ha ha, we're better than all of you." Paul had to send a letter telling them to cut it out.
Modern xenoglossy is completely unverified. There are sporadic claims that it has happened, but there are never ever any witnesses or proof or anything of the nature. Usually, it's something along the lines of someone coming back from China and proclaiming to have broken out in Chinese while he was there, but there's no way to know if it happened, since there's never anyone available to say, "Oh, yeah, that guy totally spoke Chinese to me." The few case studies have pretty much shown that xenoglossy was not taking place.
Which leaves us with the gibberish form of speaking in tongues. Study after study after study (after study after study) by both linguists and psychologists have shown that no actual languages are being spoken during these episodes. [I'm not going to get into the technical aspect of how they know that.] There is also considerable psychological evidence that these bursts of "tongue speaking" are psychologically triggered in order to conform to expectations. Like peer pressure. What this means is that neither God nor "the Universe" is talking to any of these people. It's all coming out of their own minds.
Not that you can convince them of that.
And, also, that is not to say that there are not or have not been actual cases of speaking in tongues. I believe that some form of xenoglossy happened at Pentecost. There were potentially thousands of witnesses, and the event is recorded in some extra-Biblical texts. And, sure, there is the potential of the other form of speaking in tongues being real, too, just not in big groups of people the way it is commonly claimed today. So I'll admit the possibility of these things but not the current actuality of them.
Which brings me to the writing part of all of this.
So many, many writers claim to get their stories from "the Universe," or some muse, or some source of inspiration that is outside of themselves. "It was as if the story was just given to me, channeled through me, whispered into my ear," or whatever other nonsense. I'm sure there's no more validity to this than there is in the whole speaking in tongues thing. The human mind is a wondrous thing. Infinitely creative. The idea that we are incapable of coming up with remarkable stories is... well, it's just ludicrous.
It's why it bothers me so much that there are people out there trying to disprove that Shakespeare wrote the plays he's credited with. The idea being that no one can be that creative. What? Did the plays just materialize? Spring forth from the aether fully written? Beamed down by aliens? As with a rose, why does it matter what we call the guy who wrote those plays? Someone wrote them, but, instead of just saying, "Wow, what a creative mind," we have people out there trying to prove that, what amounts to, no one having written them. It's kind of insane.
What I say is this:
If you wrote something, own it. I mean, really own it. Don't try to blame it on some outside force or influence. Take responsibility for it, good or bad. And, if it's bad, keep working on it and make it better. If it's good, say, "I did this! Me!" I don't see why it is that we have to always discredit ourselves and our achievements, like we're not good enough. And that's what you're doing when you try to blame your art on the "the Universe": discrediting yourself.
So, yeah, I will admit to the possibility that "the Universe" or the Force or God or, even, aliens may have influenced someone at some time to write something. Or paint something. Or make music. But, just like with speaking in tongues, I'm pretty sure it's not happening on any kind of regular basis. People are just scared to own their creations, because, like in mass "tongue events," society says pretty consistently, "You can't say that you yourself did a good job." But, not only that, society says that when someone comes along and tells us we did, we have to brush it off and say "it was nothing" or "I was inspired." It wasn't me.
Don't be scared. Take credit for your work. If aliens want to send us books, let them send us the books. They don't need to whisper them in anyone's ear.