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Why so many people including scientists suddenly believe in an afterlife
Maclean's ^ | May 7, 2013 | Brian Bethune

Posted on 05/07/2013 11:00:54 AM PDT by rickmichaels

Death, it seems, is no longer Shakespeare’s undiscovered country, the one “from whose bourn no traveler returns.” Not according to contemporary bestseller lists. Dreams and visions of the afterlife have been constants across human history, and the near-death experiences (now known as NDEs) of those whose lives were saved by medical advances have established, for millions, a credible means by which someone could peek into the next world. Lately a fair-sized pack of witnesses claim to have actually entered into the afterlife before coming back again to write mega-selling accounts of what they saw and felt there. Afterlife speculation has become a vibrant part of the zeitgeist, the result of trends that include developments in neuroscience that have inspired new ideas about human consciousness, the ongoing evolution of theology, both popular and expert, and the hopes and fears of an aging population. Heaven is hot again. And hell is colder than ever.

Recent polls across the developed world are starting to tell an intriguing tale. In the U.S., religion central for the West, belief in heaven has held steady, even ticking upwards on occasion, over the past two decades. Belief in hell is also high, but even Americans show a gap between the two articles of faith—81 per cent believed in the former in 2011, as opposed to 71 per cent accepting the latter. Elsewhere in the Western world the gap between heaven and hell believers is more of a gulf—a 2010 Canadian poll found more than half of us think there is a heaven, while fewer than a third acknowledge hell. What’s more, monotheism’s two destinations are no longer all that are on offer. In December a survey of the 1970 British Cohort group—9,000 people, currently 42 years old—found half believed in an afterlife, while only 31 per cent believed in God. No one has yet delved deeply into beliefs about the new afterlife—the cohort surveyors didn’t ask for details—but reincarnation, in an newly multicultural West, is one suggested factor. So too is belief in what one academic called “an unreligious afterlife,” the natural continuation of human consciousness after physical death.

While most of the current bestselling accounts of afterlife experiences are recognizably Christian—at least in outline—signs of changing beliefs can be found in them too. Nor are the new travelers—who include a four-year-old boy and a middle-aged neurosurgeon—what religious skeptics would think of as the usual suspects. Colton Burpo, now 13, “died” 10 years ago from a ruptured appendix, and spent three minutes of earthly time in heaven—some of it in Jesus’s lap, some of it speaking with a miscarried sister whose existence he had never been told about—before being pulled back to Earth by his surgical team. Since 2010, when his father, Todd, a Nebraska minister, published his account of what Colton told him, Heaven is for Real has sold more than 7.5 million copies. If Colton’s story sounds like a contemporary take on an ancient Christian motif—“unless you become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3)—the same can’t be said about Eben Alexander’s post-religious cosmic experience.

It is Alexander’s provocatively named Proof of Heaven, released in November, that wrenched afterlife visitation literature out of its below-the-radar religious publishing niche and into the spotlight. Alexander’s professional stature—as a Harvard-trained neurosurgeon, a man expected to know what is possible and what is not for human consciousness—ensured him of extensive media coverage, including on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday, massive sales (it remains No. 1 on the New York Times paperback non-fiction bestseller list), and often venomous responses from fellow scientists.

Alexander woke one day in 2008 with an intense headache. “Within hours, my entire cortex—the part of the brain that controls thought and emotion and that in essence makes us human—had shut down,” he writes. Doctors finally determined that “E. coli bacteria had penetrated my cerebrospinal fluid and were eating my brain.” For seven days he was in a deep coma, during which time, often guided by a beautiful girl riding a giant butterfly, he flew around the “invisible, spiritual side of existence.” And there he encountered God, whom Alexander frequently refers to as Om, the sound he recalls as “being associated with that omniscient, omnipotent and unconditionally loving God.”

He eventually recovered, a medical miracle in itself, Alexander writes. But he was an entirely different man, no longer a neuroscientist like other neuroscientists. “I know that many of my peers hold—as I myself did—to the theory that the brain, and in particular the cortex, generates consciousness and that we live in a universe devoid of any kind of emotion, much less the unconditional love that I now know God and the universe have toward us. But that belief, that theory, now lies broken at our feet. What happened to me destroyed it.”

Not according to most of his fellow neuroscientists, whose reactions made the predictable Christian wariness—no angels, no Jesus, and a God named Om left Toronto pastor Tim Challies to sum up Proof of Heaven as “more New Age-y than the rest, close to non-Western religion”—seem welcoming. Oliver Sacks called Alexander’s claims “not just unscientific but anti-scientific.” Others opposed dogma with dogma: Alexander was correct that by current neurological understanding what happened to him was impossible if his cortex was shut down—therefore, they said, it wasn’t shut down, no matter what his medical records say. Many skeptics referenced British psychologist Susan Blackmore’s 1993 book, Dying to Live, which dismisses NDEs as a result of chemical changes associated with dying brains, as the last word.

For their part, non-materialist neuroscientists, like University of Montreal professor Mario Beauregard, have long critiqued Blackmore and point out that brain research was in its infancy 20 years ago. Blackmore argued that a lack of oxygen (or anoxia) during the dying process might induce abnormal firing of neurons in the part of the brain that controls vision, leading to the illusion of seeing a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel.

Beauregard cites objections by Dutch cardiologist Pim Van Lommel that if anoxia (lack of oxygen) was central to NDEs, far more cardiac arrest patients would report such an experience. What’s more, as pointed out by Dr. Sam Parnia, whose resuscitation techniques have doubled his New York hospital’s cardiac-arrest-recovery rate, some NDE patients were not terminal during their experiences, meaning their oxygen levels were normal. In fact, Parnia notes, dropping oxygen levels are associated with “acute confusional state,” something at odds with the lucid consciousness reported by NDE people.

Two decades of research and medical advances have moved near-death experiences from rare events to common occurrences. In his book Erasing Death, Parnia cites a 30-year-old Japanese woman as the current record holder (in terms of time) for someone who was found dead and restored to life. She “may have been dead up to 10 hours,” Parnia says, but after six hours’ work, doctors got her heart started and brought her back to health: “she had a baby in the last year.” Now that patients who have been clinically dead for hours can be brought back to life, says Parnia, the question of the continuation of human consciousness is a live scientific issue.

And it’s not only the remarkable extension of the time patients can now spend suspended between life and death, but the sheer number of individuals involved, that has made NDEs so contentious among researchers. Those whose NDEs also involved an out-of-body experience raise the stakes further.

Materialist skeptics are not troubled by accounts of tunnels of light or angelic beings. Perhaps the dying brain hypothesis doesn’t fully explain them, but there are other possibilities. Too much carbon dioxide in the blood perhaps or, as a recent study from the University of Kentucky posits, NDEs are really an instance of a sleep disorder, rapid eye movement (REM) intrusion. In that disorder, a person’s mind can wake up before his body, and both hallucinations and the sensation of being physically detached from the body can occur. Cardiac arrest could trigger a REM intrusion in the brain stem—the region that controls the most basic functions of the body and which can operate independently from the (now dead) higher brain. The resulting NDE would actually be a dream.

But that hypothesis still cannot account for people who report seeing, during their out-of-body experiences, what they could not have. Most commonly that’s an overhead view of their frantic medical teams. Parnia reports a 2001 case, in which a Dutch patient’s dentures were removed during cardiac arrest. When his nurses couldn’t find the dentures later, the patient was able to remind them where they were. Perhaps the most famous corroborated case, cited by Beauregard, is that of a migrant worker named Maria, whose story was documented by her critical care social worker, Kimberly Clark. The day after she had been resuscitated after cardiac arrest, Maria told Clark how she had been able to look down from the ceiling and left the OR. She found herself outside the hospital and spotted a tennis shoe on the ledge of the north side of the building’s third floor. She described it in detail. Maria, not surprisingly, wanted to know whether she had “really” seen the shoe, and asked Clark to go look.

Quite skeptical, Clark went where Maria sent her, and found the tennis shoe, just as she’d described it. “The only way she could have had such a perspective,” said Clark, “was if she had been floating right outside and at very close range to the tennis shoe.” It shouldn’t have been possible, as both Beauregard and Parnia point out. “The question becomes,” Parnia says, “how can people have conscious awareness when they’ve gone beyond the threshold of death?”

The answer to that question is not necessarily Christian, or even metaphysical at all, not for Parnia, who describes himself as “not a religious person” and not for many of his fellow NDE researchers. In a similar vein, many traditional Christians are more than a little wary of the reported experiences of the heaven travelers. For them the idea—so intolerable to materialist skeptics—that consciousness, or the soul, can and does exist outside the body is an article of faith. But some of the new afterlife, however seemingly Christian in outline, is often troubling, especially in its utter lack of judgment. All are welcome, all are heaven-bound in those accounts: there is no sign of God’s wrath for sinners. The division over the possibility of continuing human consciousness is not entirely between the religious and the secular. And the extraordinary popularity of heaven tourism—books have continued to pour down the publishing pike this year, including I Believe in Heaven by Cecil Murphy, one of the pioneers in the genre—is not entirely driven by evangelical enthusiasm.

In that regard, the storm stirred up by Proof of Heaven only obscures the wider significance of the afterlife books. The controversy over the scientific basis of Alexander’s experiences, like the skeptical poking for holes in the Burpo story—can Colton’s parents really be sure he never heard a word about his mother’s miscarriage?—can miss the cultural forest for the factual trees.

Consider the many other near-death survivors-cum-authors and their places along the continuum, from pastor’s son to neurosurgeon. There’s Mary Neal, an orthopaedic surgeon whose account of the aftermath of her drowning in Chile in 1999, To Heaven and Back, has spent two years on bestseller lists; teacher Crystal McVea, whose Waking Up in Heaven tells the story of the nine minutes that followed after she stopped breathing in 2009; The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven is about six-year-old Alex Malarkey, who met Jesus after an car accident in 2004; and Texas pastor Don Piper, whose 2004 account (co-written with Cecil Murphy) of his car crash, 90 Minutes in Heaven, is often credited with kick-starting the phenomenon.

There are elements, from key plot points to tiny details, that link their stories, starting with two obvious points. The idea that major scientists no longer dismiss the idea of continuing consciousness colors all accounts, as does the fact that, whether truth or fantasy, the experiences are necessarily culturally specific.

All overwhelming and bewildering mental states have to be sorted, defined and made comprehensible in the light of the familiar—what else do our brains have to work with? One way or another, a pastor’s child and a fallen-away Christian like Alexander will filter an NDE through the earliest Sunday school tracks laid down in their memories. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, first famous for her five stages of grief, later became a doyenne of NDEs—her lectures on her NDE patients (who turned her into a believer), first published in 1991, were reissued in 2008 to catch the current publishing wave. Even in her rather homogenous western European clientele, Kübler-Ross could see the effects of early enculturation: “I never encountered a Protestant child who saw the Virgin Mary in his last minutes, yet she was perceived by many Catholic children.”

Many of the writers share a common gaping wound, centred on lost children, a wound usually healed by simultaneously finding the child and realizing there is no blame or judgment to suffer, no forgiveness to offer or seek. Most of Colton Burpo’s account is a child’s-eye account of orthodox teaching, but its most affecting passage is when he lifts years of guilt and anxiety off his mother, Sonja, by telling her that her miscarried child had been a girl, and that she was now flourishing in heaven as God’s adopted daughter. One of Kübler-Ross’s patients, a 12-year-old girl, told her father how she was comforted during her NDE by her brother. Except that she didn’t have a brother. Her tearful father then told her about the son who had died three months before her birth.

Eben Alexander, who—unlike most NDE cases—lost all sense of personal identity during his experience, was troubled because that loss meant no relative offered him assurances of love and acceptance. Afterwards though, Alexander—an adopted child who had felt abandoned his whole life—saw a picture of his deceased natural sister, whom he had never met in life. She was the girl on the butterfly. (There is more than a trace of Kübler-Ross’s influence in Proof of Heaven. The butterfly girl stands out as one of the more psychedelic elements in an account mostly abstract and metaphysical: Kübler-Ross, however, constantly describes the human body as a cocoon, from which a metaphorical butterfly of spirit will eventually emerge.)

And the stories offer similar proofs: Colton, like Kübler-Ross’s patient, inexplicably knew of a lost sibling, whose existences their parents believed they had kept hidden, while Eben Alexander could describe precisely what his medical team and his family were doing during his seven-day coma. They are all, even the children, witnesses who experienced what they did—and came back, reluctantly—for a reason. Mary Neal was sent back with what she called “a laundry list of tasks to do,” which she still doesn’t talk about, at least not until they are accomplished: one was to help the rest of her family cope with the foretold death of her young son, which occurred 10 years later in 2009. Colton and Alex provide truth “out of the mouths of babes.” Alexander knows he is uniquely positioned among NDE subjects to challenge the materialist orthodoxies of mainstream neuroscience.

Those similarities in form pale beside the deep thematic link between the new bestsellers: the (previously) undiscovered country is a place of unconditional love. Several of the writers pause, sometimes for pages, to stress the adjective as much as the noun. None express the message more clearly than Alexander, who writes that “the only thing that truly matters” was communicated to him in three parts. He boils those down to one word—love—but the key phrase may be the third sentence of his longer version:

You are loved and cherished.

You have nothing to fear.

There is nothing you can do wrong.

That’s fodder for cynics and skeptics, of course. That an individual like any of the authors, someone of broadly Christian background coping with emotional pain, should undergo such a heaven-centerd experience when in the throes of physical trauma, is broadly predictable and easy to dismiss as wish-fulfillment. The fact it has happened to a group of such similar individuals does not in itself prove the truth (or the falsity) of the experiences; what that does, though, is illuminate a culture that increasingly rejects the very notion of judgment while equating salvation with personal healing.

Most observers trace the current upsurge to Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven. Largely ignored by the non-religious world and looked at askance by many Christian commentators, 90 Minutes sold like hotcakes. And while it set the template for what was to come, what stands out about it today is its modesty. Piper was declared dead at the scene of an auto crash on Jan. 18, 1989. His body was left in place while the authorities waited for the tools needed to extract him from the wreckage. An hour and a half later, though, Piper stirred back to life, albeit to a long and excruciating recovery, involving 34 painful surgeries.

And to bear witness to where he had been in that 90 minutes. In the transcendent light, actually, just outside the “pearlescent” gates of heaven, surrounded by “perfect love” and the gathering presence—simultaneously physical and spiritual—of loved ones who had died during Piper’s lifetime. There were friends who had passed away young and were thus still youthful looking; his grandfather, instantly recognizable by his shock of white hair; and his great-grandmother, still aged but now no longer with false teeth, but her own restored, no longer stooped and no longer wrinkled. Signs of age, in other words, and of the gravitas they confer, but no traces of the “ravages of living.”

All this—the approach to the pearly gates, the welcome from loved ones, the presence of unconditional love and the absence of judgment—was pregnant with accounts to come. But, as it turned out, 90 Minutes’ first-born—the genetic relationship obvious in their titles, not to mention the way Amazon bundled them together for a special low price—was the most striking outlier in recent afterlife literature, Bill Wiese’s 23 Minutes in Hell. A California realtor, Wiese was sleeping peacefully on the night of Nov. 22, 1998, when God pitched him into hell at 3 a.m., so that—Wiese later decided—he could warn others of their peril. He landed abruptly in a five-by-three-meter cell, shared with two gigantic, evil, reptilian beasts who proceeded to smash him against the walls before shredding his flesh.

Yet Wiese did not die, could not die, as much as he wanted to. He continued in seemingly endless pain, tormented too by “the terrible, foul stench.” (Smell—the most evocative of senses, the one most closely tied to deep memory—is prominent in accounts of heaven as well, where it brings visitors the most comforting reminders of childhood and, when the odors arise from food, assurances of plenty.) At precisely 3:23 a.m., Jesus rescued Wiese and returned him home, where he landed, terrified, on his living room floor.

The book, published in 2006, spawned no serious imitators. In part that was due to its lack of the scientific gloss the heaven narratives bear (and the times demand)—one Christian nurse, posting on Amazon, rejected 23 Minutes because of her familiarity with NDEs. There is no explanatory traffic accident, cardiac arrest or brain-eating bacteria, nothing to indicate a hovering between life and death when the sufferer could peek through the curtain, nothing that didn’t point to a (very) bad dream.

But Wiese’s book also went nowhere because hell no longer possesses the power it once held in Christianity. That’s particularly remarkable within an American religious milieu that was always attentive to warnings of hellfire. In 1741 Jonathan Edwards delivered what is often called the most famous sermon in American history, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” It is beautifully composed, rigorously logical (in terms of Calvinist theology) and frankly terrifying: “Men are held in the hand of God over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked.” Edwards was interrupted often during the sermon by congregants moaning and crying out, “What shall I do to be saved?” It’s doubtful he’d receive the same reaction today. Many modern Christians struggle to reconcile a loving God with one who would condemn the majority of humankind to eternal torment.

Within Roman Catholicism, notes Smith College world religion professor Carol Zaleski, the last three pontiffs, including Pope Francis, have all been supportive of the late Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, who taught that Catholics have a duty to hope and pray for an empty hell, for the salvation of all. Even those Protestant traditions that have historically been more attuned to the gulf between the elect and the damned have seen vigorous theological debate about the afterlife, and the defense of ideas that effectively weaken the severity of divine wrath. Conditional immortality, for one, says true eternal life is reserved for the saved; souls in hell will eventually—and, in this context, mercifully—be annihilated.

“Most people are no longer afraid of being seized at an unguarded moment,” judged wanting and flung into the fiery pit like Edwards’s congregants were, says Zaleski. “We are now more creatures of anxiety than of guilt.” The anxiety, as well as the interest, is surely tied to the greying of the Western world too, as our thoughts, conscious or not, increasingly turn to what’s next, whether we think that’s oblivion or some kind of afterlife. Baby boomers, by sheer force of numbers, have always driven cultural trends, from the lowering of voting and drinking ages in their youth to the politically untouchable status of retirement benefits today. It’s hardly surprising to see them favor not just the existence but the congenial nature of an afterlife.

And that is where the heaven tourists finally mesh, not just with each other, but with the larger culture. We seem to be moving inexorably from a society where organized religion dominates issues of morality—and mortality—but not to the secular promised land of reason. Rather, we are orienting ourselves to a more personal spirituality, at once vague and autonomous. Ordinary sinners increasingly don’t believe that they deserve judgment, let alone hell. Theists and atheists alike dispute any earthly authority’s right to judge, and both feel NDEs give them reason to hope for something beyond the grave. And many believers confidently expect that God isn’t judgmental either.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: afterlife; faithandphilosophy; reincarnation
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1 posted on 05/07/2013 11:00:54 AM PDT by rickmichaels
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To: rickmichaels

It’s all happened before...


2 posted on 05/07/2013 11:01:57 AM PDT by GOPJ ( A gang rape by eight isn't 'immigration reform'... Send the 33 million illegals home.)
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To: rickmichaels

There’s no dead atheists.


3 posted on 05/07/2013 11:04:39 AM PDT by Rennes Templar (If guns kill people, how come no one dies at gun shows?)
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To: rickmichaels

They know the end is near.


4 posted on 05/07/2013 11:10:28 AM PDT by Resolute Conservative
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To: rickmichaels

Obama’s Amerika — proof positive that hell exists.


5 posted on 05/07/2013 11:11:30 AM PDT by kevao (.)
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To: rickmichaels

And the “visions” tend to correlate with whatever the person was trained to believe in. Like that kid whose book sold well last year or so, who “saw” a blonde-hair, blue-eyed Jesus.


6 posted on 05/07/2013 11:13:29 AM PDT by James C. Bennett (An Australian.)
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To: rickmichaels

We scientists are a religious lot. As Einstein used to say in talking of the existence of God, “God does not roll dice.”


7 posted on 05/07/2013 11:13:38 AM PDT by mfish13 (ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES!!!!)
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To: rickmichaels
Colton Burpo, now 13, “died” 10 years ago from a ruptured appendix, and spent three minutes of earthly time in heaven

It is appointed unto man once to die, then the judgement.

8 posted on 05/07/2013 11:14:15 AM PDT by Graybeard58 (_.. ._. .. _. _._ __ ___ ._. . ___ ..._ ._ ._.. _ .. _. .)
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To: self

ping


9 posted on 05/07/2013 11:22:44 AM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: James C. Bennett

Even if you took God out of the equation there is far too much evidence that suggests there is life after death. Tales of reincarnation, ghost stories, out of body experiences where they one back with knowledge they could not have possibly known or observed things that are other worldly and unfamiliar to them. I’ve literally heard thousands myself because this is one thing my wife is really into. Even taking into account charlatans / hoaxers the evidence is overwhelming. I’m guessing once the scientific immunity really e mbraces this that the liberals may start to worry. Maybe they have been the ones with closed minds that lacked sufficient creativity or imagination to believe that another reality may exist right around them. After you usually can’t see nitrogen or oxygen but you breath it every day.


10 posted on 05/07/2013 11:28:31 AM PDT by jsanders2001
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To: Graybeard58
It is appointed unto man once to die, then the judgement.

___________________

It seems rather obvious to me that human beings, regardless of intelligence, have absolutely no idea “how” death occurs - not all the signs of death are physical - if so, we have not learned to detect them.

Is anyone who was “brought back” ever really dead in the first place? I don't think so. The thought of it staggers my mind.

Satan can truly deceive.

11 posted on 05/07/2013 11:29:38 AM PDT by KittenClaws (You may have to fight a battle more than once in order to win it." - Margaret Thatcher)
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To: rickmichaels

<”And the stories offer similar proofs”>

And the stories were all deception...amid drugs and vivid imaginations.


12 posted on 05/07/2013 11:32:20 AM PDT by caww
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To: rickmichaels

I love reading things like this. People who believe in Heaven, but not Hell, or Heaven, but not God, are cowards. They want all of the beauty that faith brings, but not any of the responsibilities. Their stance is, “I’m going to Heaven whatever I do and no one judges me for anything”

I have to ask these people if they believe they’ll meet Ted Bundy and Hitler in Heaven. Their disbelief in God is usually grounded in “rationality”, yet they find belief in Heaven to be perfectly reasonable.

In the end, these people are what’s known as “cowardly atheists”, and I am related to a few of them. They embrace atheist disbelief in divinity to avoid having to subject themselves to any kind of objective right and wrong, however unlike Dawkins and other members of the hardcore elite, they just cannot bring themselves to the logical conclusion of their beliefs. That when they die, that’s all there is. They will never see their dead loved ones ever again, because humans are just bags of meat.

I can’t help but shake my head at people like this. They eat from both sides of the plate.
The facts are these. There is a Heaven. There is a Hell. Our actions in this life determine where we shall end up.


13 posted on 05/07/2013 11:40:09 AM PDT by Viennacon
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To: GreyFriar

Afterlife ping.


14 posted on 05/07/2013 11:43:57 AM PDT by zot
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To: KittenClaws
Is anyone who was “brought back” ever really dead in the first place? I don't think so. The thought of it staggers my mind.

Jesus? Lazarus?

15 posted on 05/07/2013 11:43:59 AM PDT by BipolarBob (Happy Hunger Games! May the odds be ever in your favor.)
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To: rickmichaels

No one ever mentions their dead pets in these NDEs. I’ve always wondered about that.


16 posted on 05/07/2013 11:52:32 AM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
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To: BipolarBob

Jesus? Lazarus?
__________________

Apples, Oranges


17 posted on 05/07/2013 11:53:09 AM PDT by KittenClaws (You may have to fight a battle more than once in order to win it." - Margaret Thatcher)
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To: rickmichaels

This article states that none of the books talk about hell. I read one by a college professor from KY who ‘died’ in Paris, in which he was being dragged to hell by a host of demons before being saved. Can’t remember the name, but it was much better than the Mary Neal book I just finished.


18 posted on 05/07/2013 11:53:14 AM PDT by redangus
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To: BipolarBob

Bueller?


19 posted on 05/07/2013 11:54:31 AM PDT by TigersEye (If babies had guns they wouldn't be aborted)
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To: KittenClaws
Is anyone who was “brought back” ever really dead in the first place? I don't think so.

What of Lazarus?

20 posted on 05/07/2013 12:05:06 PM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: OneWingedShark
My comments are specific to the subject matter.

None of them were resurrected by an act of faith (either by themselves or of others), by God Himself, nor a Miracle performed by Jesus.

They “said” they died, man-made machines may have “said” they died - perhaps they were even resuscitated by men. That is not to say they were yet “dead”.

21 posted on 05/07/2013 12:11:28 PM PDT by KittenClaws (You may have to fight a battle more than once in order to win it." - Margaret Thatcher)
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To: rickmichaels

The spiritual realm is constantly trying to communicate with us on this Earth. The story being told is not what we were told in Sunday school or in ancient times.


22 posted on 05/07/2013 12:12:50 PM PDT by Brett66 (Where government advances, and it advances relentlessly , freedom is imperiled -Janice Rogers Brown)
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To: rickmichaels
But Wiese’s book also went nowhere because hell no longer possesses the power it once held in Christianity. That’s particularly remarkable within an American religious milieu that was always attentive to warnings of hellfire.

That is an interesting comment but one that is true. Christians rarely talk about hell any longer. It's almost as if they're embarrassed by the topic. But it is a fact that our Lord Jesus talked more of hell than He did of heaven. For those who are interested: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

23 posted on 05/07/2013 12:18:41 PM PDT by HarleyD
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To: KittenClaws

Ah, then I merely misunderstood what you were getting at.


24 posted on 05/07/2013 12:20:09 PM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: Brett66
The spiritual realm is constantly trying to communicate with us on this Earth. The story being told is not what we were told in Sunday school or in ancient times.

And if they are in rebellion, then it only makes sense they would wish to spread disinformation.

25 posted on 05/07/2013 12:22:42 PM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: rickmichaels

Bttt


26 posted on 05/07/2013 12:36:58 PM PDT by aberaussie
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To: rickmichaels

I would be interested in a NDE account by a person who verifyably had not been previously exposed to any organized religion. I did read a book once called, I believe, 13 minutes in hell. It was about a man whose NDE wasn’t about a heavenly experience, but of the pure anguish and existence void of God in hell. Scary book.


27 posted on 05/07/2013 12:37:50 PM PDT by gop4lyf (Are we no longer in that awkward time? Or is it still too early?)
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To: rickmichaels

Bookmarked.


28 posted on 05/07/2013 12:45:43 PM PDT by Inyo-Mono (NRA)
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To: rickmichaels

I don’t wanna go tot he afterlife, I wanna hang around as a ghost and haunt all of the liberals...

At least for a few thousand years....


29 posted on 05/07/2013 12:47:04 PM PDT by GraceG
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To: rickmichaels
...much less the unconditional love that I now know God and the universe have toward us.

Ok... If that is so, why did we need Lucifer?

Rhetorical.

There IS an afterlife, but IMO what you want out of it goes a long way towards predicting what you'll get out of it. No proof, just my opinion.

30 posted on 05/07/2013 12:51:36 PM PDT by Dead Corpse (I will not comply.)
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To: stuartcr

Someone had a pet butterfly.


31 posted on 05/07/2013 12:56:24 PM PDT by Gadsden1st
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To: Gadsden1st

Hopefully all sentient beings are there.


32 posted on 05/07/2013 1:07:19 PM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
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To: stuartcr

“No one ever mentions their dead pets in these NDEs.”

Sure they do. All the time. Don’t you listen to George Noory?


33 posted on 05/07/2013 1:22:12 PM PDT by Zuse
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To: OneWingedShark

Widow of Nain’s son? Jairus’s daughter?


34 posted on 05/07/2013 1:25:27 PM PDT by freepertoo
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To: Zuse

I’m not familiar with him


35 posted on 05/07/2013 1:36:23 PM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
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To: jsanders2001

I believe. I’ve read the books by George Anderson and went with a colleague to see John Edwards once in one of his performances. Edwards contacted this colleague’s deceased father and told him things that Edwards had no way of knowing - such as that the father spoke in tongues at church when he was alive.

After my best friend (not the colleague mentioned above) was murdered, his family and I went to a psychic. The psychic said that my deceased friend wanted his family to have the $100 dollars that he had hidden in his room. His room was locked and we had to climb in through a window, but the $100 bill was right where we were told to find it.

My friend’s spirit also told the psychic to tell us to forgive his murderer and to feel compassion for him.


36 posted on 05/07/2013 1:42:42 PM PDT by A'elian' nation
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To: stuartcr

For anyone who may be interested read the book that started me becoming interested in the NDE’S phenomenon. “Return From Tomorrow”, written by Dr. E. Gorden Ritchie while he had an NDE during basic training in WWII.


37 posted on 05/07/2013 1:57:07 PM PDT by V V Camp Enari 67-68 (Viet Vet)
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To: rickmichaels

I am not an atheist or denier of an afterlife, but a near-death experience is not a death experience.


38 posted on 05/07/2013 2:00:18 PM PDT by luvbach1 (We are finished.)
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To: KittenClaws

Here are a few:

Acts 9:36-41 - Peter raises Tabitha

Luke 7:11-16 - Nain’s Son

Mark 5:35-43 Jairus’ Sick Daughter

II Ki 4:20-37 - A Resurrection by prophet Elisha


39 posted on 05/07/2013 2:00:50 PM PDT by VaeVictis (~Woe to the Conquered~)
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To: OneWingedShark; VaeVictis
Ah, then I merely misunderstood what you were getting at.

That's right OWS, I was not speaking of REAL Miracles or Biblical resurrections - just the topic of "after death experiences".

40 posted on 05/07/2013 2:08:32 PM PDT by KittenClaws (You may have to fight a battle more than once in order to win it." - Margaret Thatcher)
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&
41 posted on 05/07/2013 2:21:04 PM PDT by ELS
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To: KittenClaws

For what it’s worth, I saw an interview once with a man who claimed to have died and reentered his body while it was being autopsied. If he wasn’t really dead, then somebody made a very big boo-boo.


42 posted on 05/07/2013 2:28:51 PM PDT by Nea Wood (When life gets too hard to stand, kneel.)
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To: gop4lyf
Check the book “To Hell and Back” by Dr. Maurice Rawlings. His collection of anecdotes suggest that atheists will be in for a surprise.
43 posted on 05/07/2013 2:30:13 PM PDT by Zuse
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To: rickmichaels

44 posted on 05/07/2013 2:39:26 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: zot

thank you.


45 posted on 05/07/2013 4:31:03 PM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: KittenClaws
That's right OWS, I was not speaking of REAL Miracles or Biblical resurrections - just the topic of "after death experiences".

Um, if they (Jesus, Lazarus, etc) were miraculously brought back from the dead, then everything experienced after that is an "after death experience."
;)

46 posted on 05/07/2013 4:44:32 PM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: rickmichaels; metmom; boatbums; caww; presently no screen name; smvoice; Godzilla; Elsie; ...

WATCH (Prove all things)
http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/Amazing/ (various amazing testimonies)
NDE Research: Gary habermas Near Death Experiences and the Afterlife (Video File download) http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/context/lts_fac_pubs/article/1214/type/native/viewcontent
Glimpse of Eternity with Ian McCormack: stung by box jellyfish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1-ezZ9hkD8
Download: http://www.divinerevelations.info/Documents/ian_mccormack/Glimps_of_Eternity_GoodQuality.mp4
Dr Maurice Rawlings - NDE – Interviews: To Hell and Back; including an atheist) Download: http://media.tbn.org/download/tbn/gallery/To_Hell_And_Back.wmv
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M19g4KtVAGQ ( Mickey Robinson — air crash to Christ)
Roman Gutierrez — “Twice” dead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hh38mI498C0
Channel 7 news — man raised from dead after 40 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRoAcfzytCA
23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysqXNRdZ4V8
Matthew Botsford - To Hell and Back http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/Amazing/Matthew_Botsford011206.aspx
Deerinda Lowe Gets A Second Chance http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/amazing/Deerinda-Lowe-120810.aspx
The Day Jeffrey Thompson Almost Died http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/amazing/Jeffrey-Thompson-072810.aspx


47 posted on 05/07/2013 6:14:24 PM PDT by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a contrite damned+destitute sinner, trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
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To: Zuse

Dr Maurice Rawlings - NDE – Interviews: To Hell and Back; including an atheist) Download: http://media.tbn.org/download/tbn/gallery/To_Hell_And_Back.wmv


48 posted on 05/07/2013 6:15:28 PM PDT by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a contrite damned+destitute sinner, trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
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To: Viennacon
The facts are these. There is a Heaven. There is a Hell. Our actions in this life determine where we shall end up.
____________________________________________________________

You should spend more time reading the bible and less time coming up with your own facts. Jesus Christ would greatly disagree with you.

49 posted on 05/07/2013 6:37:27 PM PDT by bramps (Sarah Palin got more votes in 2008 than Mitt Romney got in 2012)
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To: bramps

Repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ are actions.


50 posted on 05/07/2013 6:43:51 PM PDT by Viennacon
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