Skip to comments.Review of Life After Death: The Evidence
Posted on 04/03/2010 9:50:37 AM PDT by betty boop
Review of Life After Death: The Evidence
by Stephen M. Barr
Life After Death: The Evidence
by Dinesh DSouza
Regnery, 256 pages, $27.95
While much apologetic effort has been spent arguing for the existence of God, relatively little has been spent defending the reasonableness of belief in an afterlife and the resurrection of the body, despite the fact that these are among the hardest doctrines of biblical religion for many modern people to accept. DSouza brings to the task his renowned forensic skills. (By all accounts, he has bested several of the top New Atheists in public debate.) He understands that persuasion is less a matter of proof and rigorous argument than of rendering ideas plausible and overcoming obstacles to belief.
One obstacle to belief in bodily resurrection is the difficulty of grasping that there could be places that are not located in the three-dimensional space we presently inhabit, or that there could be realms where our intuitions about time, space, and matter simply do not apply. DSouza rightly points out that modern physics has broken the bounds of human imagination with ideas of other dimensionsand even other universesand has required us to accept features of our own universe (at the subatomic level, for example.) that are entirely counterintuitive. He shows how blinkered, by contrast, is the thought of many who think themselves boldly modern, such as Bertrand Russell, who asserted that all experience is likely to resemble the experience we know. Another impediment to belief in life after death is our experience of the disorganization of thought as sleep approaches and the mental decline that often precedes death. While near-death experiences do not prove as much as DSouza suggests in his interesting chapter on the subject, the discovery that many have a surge of intense and coherent experience near the very point of death does counteract to some extent the impression of death as mere dissolution.
DSouza approaches his subject from many directions. In two chapters, he gives a very accessible account of recent thought on the mind-body problem and the reasons to reject materialism. In the chapter Eternity and Cosmic Justice, he bases an argument for an afterlife on our moral sense. Our recognition that this world is not what it objectively ought to be suggests not only that there is a cosmic purpose, but that this purpose is unfulfilled and unfulfillable within the confines of this world. Some of his philosophical arguments, however, are less happy. In particular, his use of Hume and Kant to undermine what he regards as the pretensions of science will provoke not only scientists, but all those who have a strongly realist epistemology. DSouza can also be faulted for sometimes claiming to demonstrate what cannot be demonstrated. Nevertheless, even those who find loose ends in his arguments will be rewarded with many fresh perspectives on the only question that really is of ultimate importance.
And then you get a Bertrand Russell: "...all experience is likely to resemble the experience we know.
And so "Plan A" the above italics is rarely effective. LOL!!!
Have a blessed Easter, dear friends!
NDE is a red-flag, because people of other faiths who undergo this, report “events” and “sightings” in congruence with the intricacies of those particular faiths.
You are wrong. There was a very good case on the history channel not to long ago.
Anti-NDE’s ignore the truth.
Looks like a good book.
If we die with Christ in baptism, aren’t we also reaised with him?
A question that St. Paul addresses next week in the Sunday’s readings!
Read what I wrote earlier, again.
I beg to differ, James C. Bennett. NDEs are not falsified on this basis. For what they all seem to exemplify is an experience that is deeper than any particular human doctrine or particular cultural tradition can explain. [E.g., why the ubiquitous "tunnel?" Why the "light at the end of the tunnel?" Why the sightings of departed dear ones? Why meeting/seeing angels?] The reports seem to indicate a fairly restricted range of phenomena. The fact that such more-or-less uniform reports come from across cultures may constitute evidence of their universality.
Then again, you can't falsify NDEs by simply claiming that they have no real effect on the persons experiencing them. Often, NDEs have proved to be life-changing events for the persons undergoing them. If there is an effect of this nature, in nature, can its cause be fictitious?
Thanks for the ping BB!
Yes. Absolutely. To me, this is THE central message of Easter.
PAX CHRISTI, dear sister!
May you and your dear ones have a blessed Easter!
May you and your dear ones have a blessed Easter, dear valkyry1!
DSouza rightly points out that modern physics has broken the bounds of human imagination with ideas of other dimensionsand even other universesand has required us to accept features of our own universe (at the subatomic level, for example.) that are entirely counterintuitive.
Our models of the universe are based on our understanding of what we can detect and measure. The perspective we are stuck with is defined by our bodily presence on this particular planet at this particular time, and is necessarily limited by that fact. Which gets me to thinking about Korzybsi's postulate, via (the great) S.I. Hayakawa:
"The map is not the territory."
And its corollary:
"The map is not the whole territory".
We've been discussing dark matter for a while, the topic not being one that can be reinforced much by most of the observed phenomena. A lot of the conjecture is off the map. But it's definitely worth pursuing since all that unexplained gravity out there must be coming from somewhere. Since I'm not particularly well educated, I need some help getting ahold of issues bigger than my pea brain can handle. So I ordered D' Souza's book, (one click ordering on Amazon can be dangerous) and await a fascinating read. Thanks for the post, and have a wonderful Easter.
The case on the history channel involved a woman who was getting a brain tumor removed. The doctors needed to stop her heart and brain function and pack her in ice.
They could only start the operation after brain waves stopped.
She was dead.
She completely describes the operation, who was in the room, what was being said, the tools used and what they looked like.
She said whe watched from outside of her body.
That is to say, a supposition of this type depends on man's experience being the measure of what can happen in the Universe. If Darwin was right, this to some degree depends on fitness that accrues by way of natural selection over very long periods of time. I gather the theory holds that man gets "smarter" over time. And thus the things man articulates today are "truer" than articulations of experience from the human past.
Notwithstanding, I gather you are not persuaded by the way this argument has been laid out for us, by the self-proclaimed experts of our age. [Me either, FWIW]
Also well and truly said was your observation:
We've been discussing dark matter for a while, the topic not being one that can be reinforced much by most of the observed phenomena. A lot of the conjecture is off the map. But it's definitely worth pursuing since all that unexplained gravity out there must be coming from somewhere.It seems nowadays all kinds of conjectural questions arise for which there is no immediate practical test by which they might be falsified/validated.
And so it seems to me best to keep an open mind, to follow the trail where it leads using one's own direct knowledge and experience as the test, not of reality directly, but of any purported theory of reality.
It's the "theories" that are "killing us."
Can we pull-eeze get back to reality, sometime soon?
Thank you so much for writing, Seven plus One! May God bless you and all of yours at this Eastertime!
Oh, DEAR ME!
Now someone will CLAIM
to want to know
When everyone knows . . . it depends on what the
Have a very blessed Easter, too, Betty, and thanks for the ping. :)
Thank you for sharing your insights, dearest sister in Christ!
Thank you for your beautiful essay-post, dearest sister in Christ!
Maybe for the simple reason it is all true.
I hope everyone had a blessed Resurrection Sunday.
He is Risen.
When I was a teenager(barely)in 1954, my uncle told me and my brother a story he said he had never told anyone, ever. He was a Captain of Marines in the Pacific an came down with a disease, he doesn't know what it was, something unspecified and undiagnosed by the docs at the time.
He does know he was dying, he was taken into what the other men called the dying room, because no one came out of the room. He said that he floated through a tunnel toward the light and when he got there he saw all of his dead relatives and a person he didn't know, who told him that he would have to return because it wasn't his time yet, that he had work to do.
He woke up and was returned to the regular ward, where he became extremely ill once more and once more he was returned to the "dying room". He died again, and again went through the light and talked to his dead relatives(including his mother and father)and was once again told he had to go back.
He woke again and was returned to the regular sick ward where he recovered but was given a medical discharge from the Marines. He retained his title of Captain and used it with pride on all of his correspondence until his death at 83 years of age.
I believed him when he told it and I still do. There is life after death and there is a creator, IMO.
I find it interesting that when scientists talk about the search for life in space and extra-terrestrials, everyone takes them seriously, including themselves. When Christians talk about angels and demons, those same scientists (and evos) scoff and mock.
Scientists propose alternate dimensions and multiverses, but label them heaven and hell, and watch the derision start.
That which we call a rose by any other name.....
Easter Sunday, 2010
This week, my yard has had regular visits from some uninvited (though cute) guests, just in time for Easter: two mallard ducks and two white bunnies. They come and go as if they own the place. All I need now are a few chicks, colored eggs and Easter lillies and I will have all the symbols most people associate with Easter. Yet Easter really has nothing to do with chicks, ducklings, eggs and bunnies!
The truth is more incredible than anything we could ever imagine. There exists another world, very close to our own, but invisible to our eyes at present. How do we know it exists? We know it because Jesus, who came from that world into our own, told us about it. The record of his words are in the Bible. All sorts of beings live in heaven: among them angels, who are pure spirits, and they always do the will of God. Heaven is the home of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Spirit. The Son of God, Jesus, through whom everything was made, both that which is visible to us and the invisible world, entered our world and became visible. Why did Jesus do this? Why did he become human for our sake? To save us from death and to help us to understand how the world really is.
Some people live as if this world is the only reality that there is, but they are very much mistaken. The moment that a person realizes that there is life after death, everything changes. Even some scientists are beginning to realize that the evidence for life after death is simply overwhelming. For example, I recommend to you a new book out called Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences by Jeffrey Long, M.D.
When we learn more about the world to come (the one that is one heartbeat away: yours!), we come to appreciate in a deeper way what this life is all about and how we are to live our lives. In order to understand these things, we must listen to someone who has been there and back: Jesus Christ, the only Son of God who both created us and saved us by dying on a cross. He did this to open a way to heaven for those who believe in him.
Our earthly lives, even the longest of them, are very short indeed. As Christians we are called to have an eternal perspective. How will my actions today look in the light of eternity, my final destination? How am I living my life? What have I done with the precious gift of life that God has given me? Jesus waits for us to have faith in him. He gives us time to choose him before he reveals everything to us on the last day of our lives. If I believe in Jesus and the world he has opened up for me, my life will never be the same again, starting right now.
How’s the retread account working out for you?
Thanks for posting this - for pinging out tomorrow and I want to buy the book!
(If my little brain can grasp it.)
Thank you ever so much, dear Salvation, for posting Father Gary's "Pastor's Column" for Easter Sunday, 2010. It is simply beautiful! So simple, clear, and direct in magnification, glorification of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Logos of the Beginning, Alpha and Omega, our Risen Lord....
A truly wonderful meditation. Thank you so much, dear sister in Christ, for sharing it with us!
There is such a thing as an “expectant” area. Those who are “expected” to die are taken there.
It’s standard military practice. In fact, it’s a necessary part of the triage process, iirc.
This may be a stupid question, but I’ll ask it anyway. Why is it that NDEs are always described as very pleasant events? It’s as if nobody who almost dies is destined for Hell. Has anyone here heard of such “negative” NDEs?
I read “23 Minutes In Hell” but that wasn’t an NDE, and probably a far more powerful account of the reality of Hell since NDEs seem to only brush with the actual afterlife.
Speaking of which, can anyone recommend a (credible) book/story of Heaven? “23 Minutes” was very powerful, but I’m generally more of a “carrot” guy than a “stick” guy.
Thank you so very much, calex59, for sharing your Uncle's testimony about his NDEs. They seem to have been closely similar in form to the reports of so many others who have undergone the experience. I don't see a reason not to believe what your Uncle told you was true.
Of course, those picky folks out there who disdain "witness testimony" as any kind of reliable evidence will not be satisfied. Their fundamental presupposition seems to be that witness testimony is thoroughly unreliable. For one thing, the similarity of the NDE reports might actually indicate the existence of a conspiracy.... There's no pleasing these folks.
Thank you again, calex59, for putting your Uncle's experiences "on the record" here!
My Uncle told me those things, as I said, about 1954, this was long before any books had been written about “going through the tunnel to the light” or any of the other things that occur during a death(I don’t think they are near death, I think they are dead)experience. He had never talked to anyone else about it and he had never read or heard of others having the same type of experiences. It wasn’t until about 10 years later he started reading and hearing from others on the subject. Now, of course, it is common knowledge and many people put it down as people copying others.
I’ve heard of an occasional encounter with hell myself, but you’re right that they’re not to common.
It could be that if the tunnel is only like a gateway, nobody ever really gets there to find out.
The with accepting witness testimony for some is that when they want to believe it, they do accept the witness testimony.
When they don’t, they won’t accept the witness testimony.
The other thing is, is that they have arbitrarily determined that something like *hard* evidence, physical evidence like fossils, is much more reliable than eyewitness testimony, not considering the fact that the physical evidence needs to be interpreted, which is a form of witness testimony of its own, from what I can see.
Here's some more testimony.
My Mother passed away in 2003. Some time later, as my nephew was having breakfast, she walked in, asked for a cup of coffee, and said ‘’I sure have missed you.’’
So true and essentially "the gospel".. there is a spiritual dimension of another kind..
In the same Universe two(at least) realms of reality..
Boggles the mind really.. two realities...
Both existing and real with different sets of axioms..
Life after death can bring both life and/or death into re-examination..
A mental exercise that challenges flesh and spirit..
And sings the song of what is the Spirit?..
What are spirits, are they creatures, are they beings?..
What really am I?.. The siren song of the Bible..
Humans seeking God, what is it, what am I?..
Are this worlds religions the science of the spirit?..
-OR- Sheep pens protecting superstitious pseudo-science?..
Is the Holy Spirit the one only teacher of this reality?..
Or are their human men and women authorized to certify others..
or can you even be certified?..
Those who disdain witness testimony are likely going to be more than a little shocked . . .
—rocks cry out against them
their own memory indicts them.
the hosts of Heaven indict them.
What will they have to say about witnesses then?
thanks for the ping
After all those who are saved are, we turn our attention to those triaged as expectant.
For military triage, think D.I.M.E.
Why is it that NDEs are always described as very pleasant events? Its as if nobody who almost dies is destined for Hell. Has anyone here heard of such negative NDEs?To answer your second question first: NO. At least I haven't heard of any. So probably you may be right, that "23 Minutes in Hell" is not a description of an NDE. I.e., the person who wrote it was not undergoing the physical death process at the time the epiphany/meditation (whatever it was!) on the reality of Hell occurred.
Wiese claims that he was lying in bed at 3 a.m. when he was plunged into hell not in a dream, but in actuality; not because he had died and was being punished, but because God wanted him to experience hell and warn others.FWIW, I had a similar experience once, "lying in bed at 3 a.m." However I was spared the vision of Hell; something entirely different was presented to my view. To boil it all down to essentials, what I heard and saw was that God loves His creation so very, very much; but that above all, He loves His creature, man not in the abstract, but as unique, individual souls, individually called to be sons of God. That was it, in a nutshell. With "full graphics" and "voiceover." Next thing I knew, I was safely restored to my bed, and crying my eyes out for the sheer beauty and glory of what I had seen and heard. I am absolutely sure this was no mere dream.
So I have to say these things do happen. But as far as I know, I, like Bill Wiese, was not "at death's door" when it happened to me. Therefore, it was not an NDE.
There have been such meditations of Hell across Christian creedal confessions. A particularly harrowing one is St. John of the Cross' "dark night of the soul." I don't think he was at death's door when this vision came to him. So that couldn't be called an NDE. Or St. Theresa of Avila's vision of divine Love, in which she dies to herself, the victim of a divine arrow of Love struck straight into her heart. I don't think she was at death's door when this happened to her. So that couldn't be called an NDE either.
It seems to me that nobody who has ever had such an experience asked to have it. It is something that simply happens to one, unasked for. Such experiences get classed into the category of "mystical experience." And as such, in our thoroughly rationalistic age, are simply dismissed (e.g., as hallucinations, maybe even as the result of bad digestion). Notwithstanding, they tend to be life-changing events for the persons who suffer them....
Which is presumably what they have in common with NDEs. Which brings us to your first question, Future Snake Eater: "Why is it that NDEs are always described as very pleasant events?" Well, it seems to me if you are at death's door, and then you see loved ones who have died, and you see them "well"; you've gotten to a "place" where an angel tells you, "You're not ready to die yet, because you still have something to accomplish in the world, so you have to go back," from the standpoint of mortality, you'd probably find that pretty pleasant, too.
I think you're right about this, Future Snake Eater: "NDEs seem to only brush with the actual afterlife." YES. It's as if in an NDE one comes to the boundary of incarnated existence and one's eternal spiritual being, and one is denied the ability to cross it. One is "sent back" into the world, presumably for a purpose which God intends.
Or so it seems to me. But then, what do I know? There are no "experts" in NDEs or mystical visions not even among the ones who experience them.
Thank you ever so much for writing dear Future Snake Eater!
I've got to say I couldn't agree with you more, right there at the bold italics, dear sister in Christ. At bottom, that's what I see, too.
But the persons holding the view that physical evidence is alone sufficient for our understanding of the world would never admit that the only thing backing up their presupposition is substantially nothing more than a personal wish....
Thank you ever so much for your astute observations, dear sister in Christ!
Perhaps they are both at once in Timelessness, eternity?
Angels, for instance, though eternal, are widely acknowledged in the Christian tradition to be created beings. [That makes the fallen angel, the formerly most exalted archangel Lucifer, "Prince of Light," a/k/a Satan, the Devil a created being.] Angels are also widely referred to as "spirits." In other traditions, as devas, daimonion, and suchlike all such words conveying the same central meaning: eternal beings with a job to do (so to speak; please see the following).
Maybe what your question really goes to is the question of souls. Human souls, like angels, are created beings. Like angels, souls are eternal. Unlike angels, with humans, souls are incarnate mired in space and time as it were and while so can never be purely spirit.
Also unlike angels who seemingly are programmed to unfailingly execute God's Will without a second thought, as it were ensouled humans have been granted free will. That means any person can elect against God's Will for whatever reason that makes sense to him or for no reason at all for that matter. The entire point of Judgment Day it seems to me is the separation of the wheat from the chaff, the gathering in of God's faithful beloved. Those souls who chose another path e.g., a falling away into the Satanic "gravitational field," so to speak probably face a pretty serious situation at that point.
Thank you ever so much, dear brother in Christ, for your beautiful and so gracious essay-post!
Oh, FWIW I imagine the entire Creation groans in misery for the shortcomings of mankind, in these days!
May God have mercy on us, and show us His Light.
May God ever bless you, dear brother in Christ you and all your dear ones.
Especially when Eloi's "testimony" has nothing to do with the problems engaged by the testimonies of such as John of the Cross, or Theresa of Avila?
You are screening out evidence here Eloi's, John's, and Theresa's alike. There are no distinctions to be made; according to your simplistic rule: If I don't understand it, then flush it down the rathole of oblivion. Thenceforth, the problem does not exist for me. Whatta relief!!!
Here's a question, spunkets. I ask it, not to aggravate you, but merely because I'm curious. If you're not doing this for personal jollies, why on earth are you doing it?
I have no doubt that what your Uncle told you was a truthful account.
May God ever bless him. And you.
I didnt even believe in the biblical concept of "visions" until I had one.. My vision had no language at all only images in my mind, while fully awake.. But the image(s) were worth many thousands of words.. each.. Actually I've had three visions.. All different but all with no words.. only images.. I'm open that others can visions of another character than mine.. My visions keep me fairly sane in an insane world.. Could be visions are "for us" to strengthen our faith.. or "a peek" at what we cannot "see".. in some respect..
Could be that's what NDE's are too.. a form of encouragement.. or gift from the other realm.. or even an answer to prayer like mine was.. an answer to questions asked in prayer.. Call them Near LIFE experiences(NLE)... LoL.. I've had 3 NLE's.. which have made me wealthy in a spiritual sense.. Answered many questions of mine.. and made my faith full and robust.. Leading me to anticipate life here or there (wherever there is)..
My last vision was what is heaven and hell going to be like.. I think we shared that one in past discussions.. Visions are so cool.. Is God Kool or WHAT?...
Actually, I forget who did the research . . .
HOWEVER, NDE visits to hell are fairly common
IF—A BIG IF—
IF SOMEONE ASKS QUESTIONS
IMMEDIATELY UPON RESUCITATION.
THE EXPERIENCE IS SO HORRIBLY TRAUMATIC THE PERSON EVIDENTLY REPRESSES IT SUCCESSFULLY.
I think it was Dr Eby sp? who was an atheist MD . . . died 11 times!!! in the hospital. Every time he’d come around, he was
SCREAMING—I’M IN HELL—GET ME OUT OF HERE—GET ME OUT OF HERE!
Finally, in desperation, the attending MD remembering something from Sunday School in exasperation said
‘OH, PRAY TO JESUS AND SHUT UP!’
Dr Eby did and became a believer, was saved and lived many more years with his testimony.