Dying to see God

Recently I watched a video from Discovery News on the phenomena of Near Death Experiences (NDEs). Video here (http://testtube.com/dnews/dnews-517-white-light), I recommend watching it before continuing, its only a couple of minutes and worth your time.

It gives a very good summary of the current state of understanding of NDEs and its very interesting. For years NDEs have been jumped on by the religious community as being proof of an afterlife, specifically heaven. Over the years I have heard of several testimonies from people which included an NDE as part of the subject’s journey. They are always used as an indicator of the reality of heaven and the teller typically tells of a joyous sense of calm during the experience.

It is worth noting that the testimonies I have heard on the subject have always been from a Christian perspective and so my knowledge of NDE reports is heavily skewed with that bias.

NDEs as proof of heaven

Whenever I hear a story of an NDE I always think of this story (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Proof-Heaven-Neurosurgeons-Afterlife-ebook/dp/B008TTPQXA/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1) or at least one like it. I am sure the book I have heard of is a lot older than the book in that link.

From the perspective of many Christians, stories like this are seen as tangible proof of the divine and when someone has an experience like that and tells it in Christian terms it can provide very real encouragement and confirmation to those who sometimes struggle with their faith.

Thinking back to my Christian days, I’m asking myself how I felt about NDEs, there were certainly times when I never doubted that they were real and that people were provided with a glimpse of heaven. However, there were also times when I found myself wondering about the details that were occasionally provided. These are now so long ago that I honestly can’t say what effect they had on me at the time.

With this latest scientific research I find myself being relieved that there is an explanation that makes sense. Though I do also find myself wondering how the believing Christians will respond to this news.

 

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4 thoughts on “Dying to see God

  1. My mom’s former cardiologist, Dr. Maurice Rawlings, became a Christian and authored several books on NDEs after his experiences with patients he had revived. My mom had a NDE in an ambulance after her heart stopped during a heart attack she suffered at our home. I have to confess to being quite fascinated by the subject. Like most things, one can find a natural or supernatural explanation, according to one’s worldview.

    • Hi Doug,

      I too am fascinated by the subject, oddities like this have done for a long time. Ditto, spontaneous human combustion (which we now know isn’t, its just slow burning due to the wick effect). Things like this have intrigued me for years and I love how they have both moved from the stuff of myth and superstition into something that we understand and can explain.

  2. That bit about REM intrusions in the video was intriguing. I used to experience these quite a bit as a teenager due to sleep deprivation from playing too many video games. My most profound experience occurred while riding in a car on the way to church (ironically enough) after playing Lucas Arts TIE Fighter for about twelve hours straight all night long. In the car, I had a profound revelation of chasing down rebel fighters (on the freeway) and locking on to them with my photon torpedoes. The vision was vivid and I was certainly awake because the cockpit of my Advanced Twin Ion Engine fighter kept turning into the interior of an 86 Le Baron. I could say that this was proof that Annakin Skywalker was the chosen one, but the vision didn’t include Jesus so it couldn’t possibly have been a “real” revelation could it?

  3. What I find interesting is the confirmation bias on these NDE’s. When Christians bring up NDE’s as some kind of afterlife confirmation, I always want to know what they make of non-Christians who don’t experience the Christian “afterlife” in an NDE, but they don’t experience something hellish either. Wouldn’t that be a disconfirmation of Christian dogma? I think it’s a case of trying to have your cake and eating it, too. Yeah, we’ll use NDE’s as a confirmation of something after death (which can comfort us, I guess – and we can use it as a rhetorical weapon against atheists), but we won’t talk about how the specific details of these experiences should tell us that the Standard Model of Christianity is false.

    If NDE’s provide comfort to anyone, it should be to those people who conform to some kind of Deism or Universalism where everyone gets some kind of karmic choice of their post-life 31 flavors, and everyone experiences something different based on who they are, and most experiences are peaceful and positive.

    I can definitely see those “fuzzy” believers in some kind of amorphous god or spirituality getting something out of reports of NDE’s. I just don’t see how Bible-believing Christians can use it in their favor.

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