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P. David Hornik

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March 9, 2014 - 9:00 am

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During the 45 minutes that Brian Miller’s heart and brain were not functioning, the medical staff shocked him four times—to no avail. Then, suddenly, his heart started beating normally again—as far as they could make out, on its own.

As the same nurse, Emily Bishop, told a local TV station: “The fact that he is up walking, talking, everything—I mean that’s amazing.” Miller is fully recovered, with no brain damage or other loss of function—something that, according to medical knowledge, was not “supposed to happen.”

But Miller claimed that, during the time he was clinically dead, something transpired. As he told it: “The only thing I remember, I started seeing a light and started walking towards the light.”

He said there were flowers along the path, and after a while his mother-in-law—who had died a week earlier—appeared, with his deceased father-in-law in the background.

“She was,” he said,

the most beautiful thing when I seen her. It was like the first day I met her. And looked so happy. She grabbed a hold of my arm and she told me, “It’s not your time, you don’t need to be here…you’ve got things to go down and do.”

To say that Miller revived because someone in the afterlife urged him to is not, of course, considered medically or scientifically valid. But even though the CPR efforts seem to have helped to an extent, the same nurse says of the case as a whole: “It gives you the chills.”

She is hardly alone in such a reaction; here, among countless other examples,  the late, leading cardiologist Lloyd Rudy expresses similar amazement at NDE phenomena he saw in his practice.

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Top Rated Comments   
I'm afraid not.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
From what I’ve read, it seems as though the salient shared characteristic of NDE survivors is that they become more loving and tolerant of other humanoids—as far as I’m concerned, the absolute final frontier, i.e., the ultimate spiritual goal.

If this can all be attributed to neuropeptides, maybe we should find a way to bottle them and sell them.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great column, Dave.

Only a fool believes there is nothing beyond nature.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (70)
All Comments   (70)
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I've been a physician for 40 years, so I can speak with a modicum of authority regarding what I believe are serious medical and factual errors in this essay. first, "clinical death" is not an expression that has any meaning in the medical community. You are dead or you are not. Just because your heart stops beating does not mean that you are dead, or "clinically dead". However, if circulation is not restored - by CPR or some other means - the brain begins to die in about 3 minutes. Irreversible changes start then, and get worse. 45 minutes without circulation is fatal. I would love to see a documented case to the contrary.
Second, there is absolutely no way, during a cardiac arrest situation, to determine that there is or is not brain activity. Just because the patient is unconscious does not mean there is no brain activity. Even a "flatline" EEG would not be a demonstration of anything other than lack of activity in the cerebral cortex. Do you imagine that they do PET scans during CPR? During this patient's 45 minutes, CPR was providing circulation to the brain. That is the point of CPR. If it were not doing that, he would have been "dead" dead. The fact that his heart returned to normal rhythm "spontaneously" is not at all unusual in that situation - they were certainly giving him antiarrhymic drugs during CPR.
The fact that he had a dreamlike memory during the affair is hardly surprising. I would agree that this was a "near death experience". But "near" is the important word here.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've never seen any claims of NDE from non-Judaeo- Christian countries. Do
Hindus have them? Do Buddhists? Muslims? Animists?

If so, are the same (tunnel of light etc)?

If so, that would be food for thought. If not.....
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think it’s just a glimpse of Oneness, of what lies ahead at the end of the spiritual journey.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
By problem wth this article and others like it is exemplified in your loose use of "while he was brain-dead"; death is not just interruption of function, it is irreversible: degradation, protein degeneration, cellular destruction, and eventually rotting. It is very possible that during the 45 minutes this man was unconscious, he was not undergoing any cellular destruction, even if there was no detectable function.

Call it hallucination or vision, it is still suseptible to misinterpretation, and its cause is not yet known. When you can accurately tell me what a dream is -- actually, and with accuracy and certainty -- then perhaps we can separate these NDEs from dreams and hallucinations.

As for the fervid interest and legitimacy these experience are increasingly enjoying, remember: there is coming a Great Deception; and even Satan can appear as an Angel of Light. So while reading about NDEs is fun and amusing, is must be put in perspective, and skepticism should be the rule, and it all must be incorporated into our existing vast body of spiritual knowledge -- that is, the Word of God.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
During those 45 minutes that Miller's brain had flatlined, as a major researcher in the field of CPR wrote to me: "I would appreciate any scientific papers that demonstrate a functioning brain after cardiac standstill... I have not seen any. As a general rule the brain stops functioning immediately during cardiac standstill even with CPR. The only exception is if the heart has not truly stopped but people think it has stopped.... In a true cardiac arrest (i.e. truly stopped heart) the brain however cannot function. There are many references to the flatlining of the brain - you can find them on pubmed."

In this case, of course, Miller's heart had truly stopped, meaning there was zero blood flow to his brain. Yes, at that point his brain cells would not have died yet, but his brain had zero function. The fact that he had a lucid, luminous, coherent experience during that time can only be understood in transcendental terms.

27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
All you've got is an appeal to anecdote and an appeal to ignorance. Do you also believe people who claim to see bigfoot and travel on flying saucers?

Sorry, but such feeble "evidence" doesn't pass muster as scientific rigour.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
A more honest conclusion would be that we don't understand what this man experienced. Godditit is no answer. As I mentioned in another reply in this thread, show me someone who has died for sure, rigor mortis, decay, etc and revived afterwards. Until then, this remains a NEAR death experience, not a resurrection experience.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
From what I’ve read, it seems as though the salient shared characteristic of NDE survivors is that they become more loving and tolerant of other humanoids—as far as I’m concerned, the absolute final frontier, i.e., the ultimate spiritual goal.

If this can all be attributed to neuropeptides, maybe we should find a way to bottle them and sell them.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
So feeling good and getting along during those few years we occupy this spinning globe is the "ultimate spiritual goa"l? Not that any of that is unimportant, but if that's all you got, ma'am, what a SMALL worldview you have, and what LITTLE you have settled for.
ETERNAL DESTINY, HEAVEN OR HELL, etc., etc., are not even worthy to be mentioned or considered? Just love and toleracne? That's all there is?
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes it’s easier to care about others if you think of them as spirits or souls. One thing about my NDE is that the intense rapture of the beginning was an entirely familiar sensation. I had been there before many times but I don’t know how that could be possible. As for evidence, in a little over a hundred years everyone now living on the planet will be dead and each with a first-hand experience as to the validity of the theory.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
People have the same experiences on ketamine, LSD, psychosis, temporal lobe epilepsy and fighter pilots undergoing extreme G flight training.

28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Uh, not so much. But thanks for playing, atheist.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm afraid not.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just saying something doesn't make it so. A lot of the newest techniques and thinking about resuscitation say that the limit in many cases is far beyond the previously taught six minute barrier, perhaps stretching to hours under the correct circumstances. Your *entire thesis* is based on the premise that your subject could not cognate in some way during the 45 minutes of clinical death.

There is ample evidence that this is not true under a wide variety of circumstances. We call this evidence, among other things, "Near Death Experiences".

People who want to believe that NDEs mean something real like to pretend that medical science just ignores them or says they don't exist. Far from it. These experiences help drive theory that is pushing the envelope of what is possible in terms if getting someone back with brain function intact. Weird things like not doing the breaths in CPR are being driven by increased understanding of what the body can do to preserve brain function when shut down.

This could easily simply be a case of these people having been blessed with advantageous genetics or circumstances which allowed their brains to persist longer in the face of systemic shutdown, and the well documented euphoria associated with anoxia melding with memories of religious stories or stories of NDEs to allow the subject to make sense of what is happening.

It would be really nice if you are right, and if you are, I'll buy you a beer in Heaven (because if they don't have beer the place is misnamed). Unfortunately your "opposition" is neither as ignorant or obdurate as you portray them.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
To "cognate in some way during the 45 minutes of clinical death," and to the extent of having a lucid, coherent experience--it's my understanding that this is like saying one doesn't need to have a brain in order to have a brain.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or that the "brain" and "mind or soul" are two different things.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Are there any near death hell experieces? Why do you say "near death"? Why not challenge the doubt and simply say "Death experiences" followed by reVIVal where the "viv-" means coming alive?
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, there are near death hell experiences--a tiny minority of the NDEs, often involving suicide attempters. As I mentioned in my first column in this series, NDE researcher Sam Parnia calls NDEs occurring in cases of cardiac arrest, like Brian Miller's, ADEs--"actual death experiences." It's indeed more accurate for those cases.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I just thought of two world changing NDE's...Paul on the Road to Damascus and Luther under the tree.

Hmmm.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Except there is nothing in the Road to Damascus experience that indicates Paul died or was near death. He was fully alive when he experienced an encounter with the risen Jesus. He did not experience death at that time. There is no suggestion whatsoever in the account that this was some kind of out-of-the-body experience. He spoke with Jesus while in his own body and there is no suggestion that any of his companions viewed him as dead and then returned to life.

However, Paul did indeed have a Death Experience, as related in Acts 14:19,20 :
"they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. "

Paul relates more details of his death experience -- humbly in a third person account in 2 Corinthians 12:1-6:

"Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ [i.e. Paul himself] who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak."


28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great column, Dave.

Only a fool believes there is nothing beyond nature.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The appeal to authority, how original. Which authority? Please specify. If your own, what makes you the expert? I could just as easily say: only a fool believes in something for which there is zero evidence. Over to you.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Given that everything we see, or can detect with our finest instruments, makes up only 5 percent of the Universe, with the remainder being undetectable "Dark Matter" (23%) and "Dark Energy" (72%), I think it's safe to say that mankind is still ignorant of how reality is actually put together.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd like to see your sources for these percentages. Even so, dark matter, dark energy and the rest of the universe is still nature. Or are you claiming that dark matter and dark energy are supernatural? If so, I really like to see your source for that claim. And I agree with you that mankind is probably ignorant of a great deal of how reality works. But that doesn't make it supernatural.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Go to any astronomy / cosmology site and see for yourself.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or nothing beyond what they see or know about. One of my father's favorite phrases is, The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your father was a wise man. There are two kinds of people: those who know they don't know and those who think they do. I'll let you decide which of the two groups are the fools.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
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