Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

Do You Believe in Life After Death?

As P. David Hornik starts a new series on the boundaries of science and spirituality, check out his previous writings on the subject and voice your views in the comments.

by
PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

Bio

February 18, 2014 - 8:30 am

shutterstock_76825810

January 27, 2013: What Near-Death Experiences Tell Us

Among the nine lines of evidence that Long reviews: People who were blind from birth experience clear vision during NDEs and accurately report things they saw, usually in the operating room but sometimes even outside of it. NDEs sometimes occur during general anesthesia “when no form of consciousness should be taking place.” Virtually all people encountered during NDEs are deceased, usually relatives; skeptics who insist NDEs are a dream or hallucination-like event cannot explain why, unlike in dreams or hallucinations, that should be the case. NDEs often change people’s lives permanently, leading to enhanced spirituality or religiosity; in Long’s survey, 95 percent said subsequent to their NDEs that they were “definitely real” and 5 percent “probably real.”

And NDEs show remarkably similar features all over the world, transcending religious and cultural backgrounds. One of those constantly reported features is the encounter with the deity. Strongly religious people usually perceive the deity (and sometimes other mythological beings) in terms of their own religion; but people of little or no religion also have the encounter and speak more generally of a “being of light.”

Most dramatically of all, the phrase “unconditional love” occurs repeatedly in these descriptions. The deity is reported to be what we would call nonjudgmental; entirely accepting; and a source of overwhelming love. Yes, the news is rather good.

June 23, 2013: Near-Death Experiences: Two Books Provide More Compelling Evidence

A Russian NDEr named Victor reported: “The light was extraordinary. In it were love and peace. I was completely enveloped by love and I felt totally secure.” Miller notes that “the descriptions of [the light’s] personality and abilities and effects are remarkably similar.” Moody called the encounter “the most incredible common element” of NDEs and affirmed that “not one person has expressed any doubt whatsoever that it was a being, a being of light.”

The being of light is always singular; there is only one, never multiple beings. Van Lommel wrote: “This encounter is always accompanied by an overwhelming sense of unconditional love and acceptance.” The light knows and cares about the NDEr’s whole life and personal choices, and is always experienced as just, not capricious or errant.

February 16, 2014: Near-Death Experiences—A New Take on Life, Part 1: Sam Parnia Explains Where the Field Is Leading

To all that must be added the numerous reports of people in NDEs accurately recalling specific conversations and events that occurred—in and sometimes out of their operating rooms—while they had no brain function. Parnia recounts one case where a new doctor, dealing with a patient in a prolonged cardiac arrest, ate the patient’s lunch. After recovery, the patient described to the doctor a detailed NDE, and finished with: “And you ate my lunch!”

No, the skeptics may not like it, but doctors and their staff are hearing more and more accounts from revived patients like this one, told by a patient to a nurse in Parnia’s AWARE study:

His journey commenced by travelling through a tunnel towards a very strong light, which didn’t dazzle him or hurt his eyes. Interestingly, he said that there were other people in the tunnel, whom he did not recognize. When he emerged he described a very beautiful crystal city and I quote “I have seen nothing more beautiful.” He said there was a river that ran through. There were many people, without faces, who were washing in the waters….

What’s going on? Some scientists are suggesting, Parnia notes, that “human consciousness or the soul may in fact be an irreducible scientific entity in its own right, similar to many of the concepts in physics, such as mass and gravity, which are also irreducible entities.” If so, then consciousness is not just an epiphenomenon of the brain; it has an independent existence and could survive death. The exhaustive, multiauthored book Irreducible Mind, well-known in the field of mind-brain studies, argues just such positions based on abundant evidence.

shutterstock_96593659

***

image illustrations courtesy shutterstock / Bruce Rolff /

Every week day a book excerpt, video, news story or some combination thereof to provoke spirited debate on controversial subjects. Have an idea you'd like to offer up for discussion? Email PJ Lifestyle's editor Dave Swindle: DaveSwindlePJM [@] Gmail.com
All Comments   (36)
All Comments   (36)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
NDEs are real, the question is what causes them - an afterlife or an hallucination.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm wondering - what difference does it make? I mean, it would be interesting knowing that consciousness goes on post mortem. But without a lot more details, we wouldn't know whether the afterlife was a good thing, a bad thing, or more of the same thing. We certainly wouldn't know whether any particular religion's statements about it were accurate.

I'd like to know this isn't all there is. Beyond that - well, "To Serve Man" was a cookbook...
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Life after death? Since I am in the midst of _this_ life, and have never experienced death, there is no way that I _can_ know if such exists. (Spare me revelatory literature, please.) Belief, one way or another, is irrelevant. That being the case, it's not all _that_ long until I will die, and then I _will_ know. (I'm 75, and statistically, I don't have that much longer.)

Short response: I don't know, and the question's a meaningless noise.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
(Re: Comments below)

It seems the tendency to believe what one WANTS to believe, the preponderance of logical fallacies, the commonality of whims, is just as strong on the right as on the left. If "there's not a dimes worth of difference", it's because there is so much overlap.

The medieval and Dark Ages were 1,000 years, the Renaissance and Enlightenment were about 200. I guess humans are more equipped for the former than for the latter. On the right, the aspects of the Jesuits and the Scholastics apparently continues into the 21st century.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
You don't know what you don't know. A deep understanding of science can lead to many things spritiual without a bit of faith. A place to start is the question: What intrinsic mechanism or process does energy use to arrange matter into information to facilitate sentience? The information to make a sentient mortal vessel possible had to exist in the in the laws of physics before sentience existed. I would start by defining “information” as well as possible. Also why does life contradict the second law of thermodynamics? How do you explain order out of chaos?
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy LRS
The borders between faith and superstition and rational belief can be fuzzy.
Almost everything I believe in ethics has a rational basis but then everything I believe in ethics is shared by nearly all decent people. Honesty and fair dealing, mutual assistance, marital fidelity and conscientious parenting -- all of these contribute to well-being and social order. Who can argue that they are mystical when their practice is obviously useful?
My belief in God is fuzzier and that's one reason I am careful to respect any theology that a person really believes. Not agree, but respect that one person's agnosticism or atheism may be as sincerely believed, as deeply considered, as any Muslim's or Christian's faith, or mine.
I agree with you that some people seem to mingle faith and superstition. Mark Twain was raised a Christian but seems to have landed as an agnostic or deist. He wrote of one time believing that a thunderstorm had been got up to warn him individually of his sins, indeed perhaps to strike him for his sins. He used that to illustrate the superstition that may parade as religion. He felt much the same about some Catholic imagery and most Catholic relics and I have to say he had some reason for that.
Faith and wanting to believe are, I think, somewhat different. I think they are related, though. Perhaps the strongest sign of faith is finding you believe what you may not really wish to believe in an area where science does not answer.
Historically, the Middle Ages are usually counted from around 450 AD to around 1450, the Dark Ages around 450 to 1300, but those dates are of course open to interpretation. This period applies really to Europe only. The Renaissance is usually counted from around 1450 to 1600 or 1700 at the latest.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have been fortunate or unfortunate to experience communication with the dead. This has taught me that there is conciousness after death. My experiences have demonstrated that the dead feel the need to express messages of love to their loved ones still alive to relieve their alive family member's guilt and worry.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't think we understand the human mind at all. If chimps have 97% of our DNA, why do we seem to have all of the abstract intelligence and ability to see things at a higher intellectual level? We can't seem to find a physical basis for our minds.

Even before "The Matrix" movie came out, I always thought of the human mind as something that lives somewhere else, but interfaces with our world through our physical brains and bodies. That part of our consciousness that lives elsewhere, I think, is what we call a 'soul'. C.S. Lewis said there are two kinds of people: those who see the world as permanent and ourselves as temporary, and those who see the world as temporary and themselves as permanent. Souls, I think, are permanent, which makes it important to think about what happens when our temporary forms return to dust.

Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Intelligence doesn't stem from DNA, but from evolution of the brain.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy LRS
DNA is the substance that transmits the changes that become evolution.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Do you consider yourself to be a good person? Have you kept the 10 commandments? How many lies have you told? Have you ever stolen anything regardless of its value? Jesus said you have heard of old, you shall not commit adultery, but I say to you if you look at a woman to lust after her you have already committed adultery already with her in your heart. have you done that? Have you taken God's name and used it as a cuss word? Blasphemy is a serious sin in God's sight. If you've broken these commandments, you, like the rest of us are seen by God as a lying, blasphemous thief and an adulterer. When you stand before God on judgement day will you be innocent or guilty? Heaven or hell? Well, the Bible says all liars have their part in the lake of fire, no thief nor adulterer will enter the kingdom of heaven. You'd be guilty. But this is what God did for guilty sinners. 2000 years ago God took to himself a fully human nature--Jesus of Nazareth, born of a virgin. He was born under the law to redeem those under the curse of the law. He died on the cross taking the punishment for the laws you broke. You and I broke the law, the 10 commandments, Jesus paid our fine in his life's blood. then he rose again and defeated death! Now God can legally dismiss your case, he can let you leave the courtroom of divine justice because of the suffering, death, burial, resurrection of Jesus Christ. For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. That is the issue--eternal life. We have a god-given will to life. Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the life" if you believe in him, repent and trust in him-he will grant you eternal life. Then you will be given a new heart that wants to please your Creator and Savior and you will know where you are going after you die--God will give you His Holy Spirit as a guarantee of your being with him in heaven for eternity.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
are you a good person? Have you kept the 10 commandments? How many lies have you told? Have you ever stolen anything regardless of its value? If you have God sees you as a lying thief. Jesus said, "you have heard of old you shall not commit adultery, but I say to you he who looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart." Have you ever taken the name of the Lord in vain? This is called blasphemy--very serious sin in God's sight. God is a judge. If God judges you by the 10 commandments how will you plead? The Bible says all liars have their part in the lake of fire. No thief no adulterer will enter the kingdom of heaven. the good news, what God has done for guilty sinners: 2000 years ago God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law's penalty; which is death. Jesus suffered and died on a cross as if he committed all those sins, though he himself was sinless. then he rose again from the dead and defeated our worst enemy--death. What you must do is repent, turn from sin and trust alone in Jesus to save you. The moment you do that God will remit your sin, he can legally dismiss your case and let you leave the courtroom of divine justice because of the suffering, death, resurrection of Jesus Christ. God will give you a new heart and grant you the free gift of eternal life. Then you will know what you need to know about the afterlife from the God who knows everything including your eternal future. God bless and thanks for reading this. Think about this and get right with God today
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think it's a tenet of Christian theology that there are no good people. "All our righteousness is as filthy rags." "There are none righteous, no, not one." "There are none who seek God." "We are dead in sin." The Bible is full of these sorts of commentary on the human condition. People often complain about ambiguities and contradictions in the Bible, but that particular message is fairly unambiguous. There is practically nothing in the Bible, anywhere, that praises man for his goodness.

Nobody deserves Heaven. God sees us all as "lying thieves", "blasphemers", and worse. But for the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit, it would be much worse.

But the Good News is Jesus can wipe the slate clean.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
"What is man that You regard him? Yet you have made him little less than the angels." Paraphrased because I don't have the quote handy.
The Psalms are full of mankind's estate as righteous and God-seeking. The Bible, Old Testament and New Testament both, has many phrases that remind us we are less than God and many that remind us we are exalted even so.
I like CS Lewis' take (also paraphrased, don't have the book handy): "You are a Son of Adam. There is enough in that to raise the head of a beggar and to lower the head of a king."
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
“when no form of consciousness should be taking place.”
Preposterous statements like this always make me suspicious and cynical. The patients in these circumstances are clearly not dead or they would not be relating the tales afterward.

"consciousness...could survive death."
My consciousness cannot even survive a short nod-off on the sofa. None of us has any consciousness of what goes on around us while we sleep. Are our "souls" in some kind of lock down?

Like everyone else reading this article and these posts, I want it to be true. But alien abduction stories have eerie similarities too. How many of us believe in alien abduction? (On second thought, don't answer that one) In five years of surgical residency and twenty six years of general surgery practice I saw my share of notable events, but not one miracle nor tale of an NDE. I saw lots of good folks die and bad folks live. It all just seemed random. The NDE stories are fascinating, but far from convincing.


9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
“Where revelation comes into its own is where reason cannot reach. Where we have few or no ideas for reason to contradict or confirm, this is the proper matters for faith… that Part of the Angels rebelled against GOD, and thereby lost their first happy state: and that the dead shall rise, and live again: These and the like, being beyond the discovery of reason, are purely matters of faith; with which reason has nothing to do.” John Locke

As a physician who has presided over many episodes of cardiac arrest where the patient's blood pressure is greatly reduced, and where most die yet some are rescued, it is clear that the survivor's brain function is altered, i.e.: reduced, during the near death experience, because circulatory (blood) perfusion of the brain (and the other organs) is reduced. That which is perceived during a period of altered cerebral (brain) function cannot be equated to observations made by individuals while cerebral function is good. Scientific knowledge (scientific truth) is based on human observation occurring under conditions of good cerebral function, thus the near death experience cannot be construed as observation fit for acceptance as scientific data. So, conclusions drawn from near death experience fall into the realm of faith since conclusions drawn could be true or false, with no way to contradict or confirm.

I believe in God and the possibility of eternal life after death (salvation), but such belief is beyond the discovery of reason, and therefore requires an act of faith.

9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 Next View All