Near-death experiences

Today’s sermon was about the rich man and Lazarus. The guest speaker today made some interesting observations about the passage, but he mentioned near-death experiences in passing and how so many people see a “bright light.” I don’t know what today’s speaker thinks about near-death experiences, because he didn’t elaborate, but I am skeptical. If Christianity is true, then people who have rejected Christ should not be seeing the same thing that Christians do…and yet they do.

Secular researchers have suggested that it may just be a chemical reaction in the brain, and I tend to believe that it probably is. I don’t think these people are actually coming back from the afterlife. These people may have been pronounced dead, but did their souls actually leave their bodies? I don’t think so. We can see from the passage above that once someone dies there is no coming back. The rich man obviously would have done anything to go back and warn his family, but he was unable to do so. It is appointed for men to die once and after that the judgment.

I think the soul probably leaves the body after resuscitation is no longer possible. Since there’s no coming back and souls aren’t kept in limbo, I think near-death experiences are pretty much useless in telling us what happens after death. There’s no “cheating” death. If we really want to know what happens when we die then, like today’s guest speaker said, we need to go to the one who holds the keys to death and hades. Jesus holds all authority over death, so he is the authoritative source on the subject.

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3 Responses to “Near-death experiences”

  1. Allenupl says:

    If you want to know about the most current research on near-death experiences (NDEs), you can read about them on the website of the International Association for Near-Death Studies at http://www.iands.org. In particular, you might want to check under the Research tab for published papers outlining new findings, particularly the two articles written by medical researchers Dr. Peter Fenwick and Dr. Pim Van Lommel.

    During the past 30 years, near-death experiences have been the focus of many scientific studies at universities and medical centers throughout the U.S. and around the world. Many medical professionals who have seriously studied the research — and it is extensive — no longer dismiss this phenomenon as hallucinations, intense dreams, or caused by physiological or pharmacological factors. The best analysis of the many physiological theories regarding NDEs is on a DVD that has a presentation by Dr. Bruce Greyson (from the University of Virginia Medical School) titled “T3-Explanatory Models of NDEs.” It can be obtained from the website above by clicking the link on the home page for DVDs from a 2006 conference at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
    Allen

  2. casey says:

    Thanks, Allen. I’ll have a look.

  3. casey says:

    I took a look at both articles. Dr. Fenwick’s article says,

    The flat electroencephalogram (EEG), indicating no brain activity during cardiac arrest, and the high incidence of brain damage afterwards both point to the conclusion that the unconsciousness in cardiac arrest is total…Now, that raises interesting and difficult questions for us, because the NDErs say that their experiences occur during unconsciousness, and science maintains that this is not possible.

    He also notes the following about the timing:

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that the OBE, and so the NDE, occurs during unconsciousness. There is also anecdotal evidence that it may be veridical. Sabom in 1982 found that some of his research participants gave correct accounts of resuscitation procedures, suggesting that the NDE occurs when the brain is “down.”

    So I’m still unconvinced. It feels like time passes when we dream, but studies suggest that dreams occur in an instant. Is it not also possible, then, that the visions seen by people who have “died” take place immediately after blood begins flowing to the brain again and before consciousness is regained?

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ruling anything out. I guess I’ll just be skeptical until I have one of these experiences for myself.