3: Near Death Experiences
"God isn‘t interested in religion, just what&lsquos in the heart" - Raymond Moody
Near Death Experiences (NDEs) certainly provide evidence of the continued existence of the mind after death. Near Death Experiences were first brought to public attention by Raymond Moody’s book, Life After Life. They occur when the brain activity has ceased, but the person is subsequently revived, and then produced an amazing tale of what took place while their brain was inactive. Sometimes they describe, with accuracy, what was happening around the body, but from the perspective of someone watching from above. Sometimes they describe travelling another realm, often supposed to be a heavenly realm, where they meet an incredibly loving light, or else one or more already dead close friends or relatives. Some have stated that the light was their favourite religious figure, such as Jesus, or an angel, but, in the cases I have found, whenever anyone has actually asked the light who it was, it answered: "I am your soul." (This is consistent with an idea not well known, but found in some other spiritual/metaphysical literature, that when a soul comes into incarnation, it splits, and only part of the soul – maybe 5 or 10% of it, incarnates, while the rest remains behind in the spiritual realm.)
So, then the materialists rubbished them as fulfilments of one’s expectations, but in so many cases the stories have been other than what the person would have expected. If they were fulfilments of one’s expectations, then where are all the NDE stories involving the popular mythology of St Peter and the Pearly Gates? This is a side-issue, but the answer "I am your soul" happens to fit nicely with my own spiritual conceptions, that pre-existed my investigation into these phenomena, but they do not fit many other people’s conceptions, and so it is unlikely that this would come from a mere playing out in the mind of the subject of his/her preconceived beliefs (but, I promise you, I did not make up the responses that those people got when they asked that question on their NDEs).
Materialist sceptics, such as Keith Augustine in his article Hallucinatory Near-Death Experiences, have rubbished these stories as mere hallucinations, a magical result of brain chemistry. But there is too much consistency in the various stories for them to be mere hallucination. Hallucinations have all manner of weird things appearing in them, and they differ greatly from one person to the next, but NDEs have many points in common. They cannot be mere hallucinations.
(Augustine’s article offers no actual evidence against the validity of NDEs, but only imposes his own structure of how he thinks they should work, and complains that they do not match that (hardly the attitude of an open-minded or scientific researcher, who should investigate the phenomena as they are, not as he thinks they should be). He gives speculative and far-fetched materialist explanations for various aspects of them. He also exaggerates the differences between the experiences of people of different cultures, and overlooks the common elements.)
It is also well established that child NDEs have all the same features that adult NDEs have. This tends to suggest that cultural conditioning is not a factor in them. The same basic factors also occur in NDEs in other countries, other cultures. They do not significantly vary from culture to culture, except that the beings encountered, and language spoken (if a language was used), may be culturally appropriate, and subsequent rationalisations and attempts to identify the various elements can vary. It is not true to claim, as many materialists do, that NDEs simply reflect a person’s own religious beliefs. It is true that they can be described in terms of religious belief, but I have read through hundreds of accounts of them without once finding a description of St Peter at the Pearly Gates, as expected in modern western mythology.
Of the NDEs that involved observing local events from above the unconscious body, there was an exceptionally high degree of accuracy of what they observed, sometimes including the use of medical equipment that the subject had no other way of knowing about. Again, this does not sound at all like hallucination, or even false imagery based on prior knowledge (e.g. from watching television programs).
The materialists like to use the argument of Occam’s razor, which, simply stated, is that the simplest explanation of the evidence is likely to be the correct one. Personally, I would have thought that the simplest approach would be to take the stories at face value, the What You See Is What You Get approach. It may not necessarily be the best interpretation once all factors have been fully thought through, but it certainly seems to me to be the simplest one, and therefore the one that best fits Occam’s Razor. But the materialists have a different concept of "simple", which is that to be "simple" it has to be grounded in materiality, and as a result they go to amazing lengths to find alternative, speculative, and definitely unproven explanations for the phenomena, and then call those explanations "simpler", just because they are materially based. They then take the further step of calling these "simpler" explanations "proof" that the phenomenon is purely materially based. There is, however, no explanation about how mere matter can produce any kind of consciousness. There is plenty of evidence to show that what is perceived by the consciousness is affected by physical events and conditions, but nothing about how the consciousness arises in the first place. That, for the materialist sceptics, is still away in the realm of some kind of material magic, in which they are willing to place great and unquestioning faith. It is exactly the same kind of faith that they criticise in religious people. (It is just like the Chinese government loudly criticising "Western Imperialists" for their imperialism, while at the same time committing exactly the same kind of imperialism in Tibet and in what is now the Chinese province of Xinjiang.)
Some of the NDEs have mentioned reincarnation, often contrary to the belief system of the person involved.
In his book Evidence of the Afterlife, Jeffrey Long, M.D. refers to sixty cases in which the observer noticed features (such as tops of roofs) that were impossible for the person to have known about beforehand, but when checked afterwards, turned out to be accurate. And yet whenever materialist sceptics discuss NDEs, with a view to dismissing them as evidence of anything non-material, they either claim that there is no case of verified observation, or else ignore the topic altogether, and keep on talking about the subject’s vivid imagination.
Dr Long has presented nine different forms of evidence for the validity of NDEs. A common sceptic approach is to construct a fanciful argument against one or two of those nine, and then claim that his ideas are bogus. I have yet to see any materialist argument that purports to demolish all nine of his forms of evidence. Nor have I seen any materialist argument that is actually persuasive, as opposed to merely speculative, against any one of them.
Dr Long’s book is summarised on made-for-television videos here: part 1, part 2, part 3. (These videos come from Supreme Master TV, who also have quite a few other interesting videos that may be useful to watch.)
If NDE’s are, as claimed by materialists, purely a physical phenomenon generated entirely by the body, why do so many of them describe events as viewed from a point some distance above the body? Why does none of them describe events as viewed from any other location, including, in particular, the body’s actual location? This happens for children as well as for adults, and for people of different cultures and educational backgrounds, and it happened in NDEs occurring before 1975, when they first reached public awareness, so it cannot all be blamed on the idea that people with NDEs assume that the viewpoint should be somewhere above the body, "because that is other NDEs do".
There is a one-hour BBC Documentary, made in 2005, called The Day I Died, that is worth watching, and contains the Pam Reynolds case that Keith Augustine attempts to discredit in his article referred to above. It also includes an account of a visual NDE by a blind person, one of the phenomena never explained by the materialist apologists.
A Google search will produce a wealth of other Near Death Experience resources.