Where does Deja Vu come from?

Scientifically Stopping Your

—Athena Bici, via e-mail

A: Déjà vu is a French expression that means "already seen." It's used to describe the strange feeling that we've had an experience before—the sensation that we're reliving an event or a conversation, though we're actually having it for the first time. Many people say they've had déjà vu. And there are a lot of possible explanations. Some believe it's simply confusion in our subconscious minds, a mix up of fragments of memories, dreams, childhood experiences, and things we've read or heard or seen on TV.

Scientists think it may be neuro-chemical. The brain misfires and causes us to confuse the present with the past. It's been documented that people who suffer from temporal-lobe epilepsy frequently experience déjà vu during seizures.

Some people believe that déjà vu is a spiritual experience—that it's a sign of psychic powers or evidence for reincarnation. They say we feel like we've been in a situation before because we have—in a past life. Christians, of course, reject that theory.

There is nothing in the Bible that attempts to address or explain déjà vu. There's no mention of it at all. But Scripture makes a clear distinction between God-given spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:4-11) and the practice of the occult-experimentation with psychic or supernatural powers that do not come from God (Deut. 18:10-12). The Bible also tells us that while there is a resurrection—eternal life in Christ—there's no such thing as reincarnation. "Man is destined to die once and after that to face the judgment" (Heb. 9:27). The most important thing is that we stay focused on where we're going, not where we've been.

Christin Ditchfield is the host of the syndicated radio program Take It To Heart, and the author of A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia (Crossway).

Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian magazine.

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