Goosebumps are an involuntary and natural physical reaction to cold, fright, sudden startle, or feelings of excitement when the muscles at the base of the hair follicles contract. The contraction causes the hairs of the body to stand up on end or bristle, raising bumps on the surface of the skin at the same time. These bumps and the raised hair trap air and form a layer of insulation against the cold.
The name goosebumps comes from the way a goose’s skin looks after having its feathers plucked. Other terms for goosebumps include goose pimples, chill bumps, and gooseflesh. There is nothing of inherent spiritual significance to goosebumps.
God is our creator. He designed the human body with all of its amazing and intricate functions, including those that happen without us ever thinking about them, such as goosebumps. God made a way for the body to respond to cold, and part of that is to allow the skin to react automatically to create insulation and warmth.
People may experience goosebumps, even in warm environs, during moments of intense emotion, extraordinary inspiration, and spiritual arousal. Some people have suggested that these goosebumps are a “message from God” or that goosebumps hold some spiritual meaning. But the Bible gives us no evidence to indicate any spiritual significance to goosebumps.
Some people may indeed experience goosebumps when the Holy Spirit moves in their lives or speaks to their hearts; after all, these are exceptional and awe-inspiring moments. We are spiritual, emotional, and physical beings. Body, soul, and spirit are mysteriously interconnected, and thus we can sometimes expect physical reactions to spiritual experiences. But the physical reaction is not proof of spiritual work of God.
Believers ought to be aware that there is no biblical foundation upon which to claim goosebumps as a sign of God’s presence or any other spiritual indicator. We live by faith, not by sight—or by feeling. We don’t put stock in vibrations, energies, or emotions. At the same time, we can rest assured that there’s nothing adverse about feeling goosebumps during times of worship or other inspirational moments of fellowship with God. We can relish and even celebrate the body’s natural reaction to a living God who interacts with His people, while being careful not to attribute spiritual value to a purely physical response.