Author Topic: atheists and near death experiences (question for theists).  (Read 179 times)

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Offline jynnan tonnix

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atheists and near death experiences (question for theists).
« on: March 05, 2014, 03:08:31 PM »
This is something I've wondered about, and just decided to google. It was only the first thing which came up, and I don't have the the time or inclination right now to go more in depth.

I'm not saying I believe NDE's are genuine glimpses into the afterlife or not. Frankly, there's still enough woo in me that it would be nice to believe in them even though what critical thinking ability I have remains skeptical. But I wonder how a theist would interpret this:

Quote
The majority of recorded claims link NDEs to feelings of joy and comfort. A statistician calculated that 69 per cent of the thousands of cases he investigated reported a feeling of overwhelming love. When he broke his subjects down by belief (Christian, Religious but non-Christian, Non-religious, New Age, etc.) he found 100 per cent of people calling themselves atheists had experienced "tremendous ecstasy".

http://www.near-death.com/experiences/atheists01.html

It seems to me that this would either invalidate the NDE as a genuine experience of life after death to the theist who believes that Jesus (or whatever other religious figure/belief) is the only path to salvation, or the idea that said belief IS the only path.

Or does the unbeliever who actually dies completely experience a moment of peace and bliss before being sucked down to hell (vicious little fake-out)? Surely, if there was a learning experience associated with a NDE, a loving god would make sure that this glimpse included a clear picture of the correct deity to be worshiped. And I know there are those reported that pretty much do that (easily explained through early, mostly abandoned indoctrination), but just as many, or more, might turn the atheist toward something of a new-age spirituality or similar without giving him any sense that a particular deity might be involved. So, no salvation there.

Anyway, just wondered whether any of our resident theists had two cents to contribute here. Anyone else welcome to chip in as well.


Offline Graybeard

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Re: atheists and near death experiences (question for theists).
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2014, 03:29:14 PM »
Years back, and unexpectedly, an atheist friend had a near-fatal heart-attack. I asked if he had felt any pain. He replied, "No, I recommend it. It was like I was floating and could see everything." He agreed that it was probably a lack of oxygen to the brain and general euphoria kicking in.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: atheists and near death experiences (question for theists).
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2014, 03:51:50 PM »
Yes...I've never gone as far as a NDE, but after the birth of my third child, I lost a lot of blood, and my blood pressure came pretty close to bottoming out before they found a monitor that worked and confirmed that there was a problem (this was in a fairly small hospital in Scotland while we were stationed there, and they were not all that prepared).

I didn't have any visions or any sense of leaving my body, etc, but I do recall that it was an extremely peaceful sensation. Probably doesn't really qualify, though.

Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: atheists and near death experiences (question for theists).
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2014, 09:19:42 PM »
So, no theists out there who are interested enough in this to comment?

OK. Just checking.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: atheists and near death experiences (question for theists).
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2014, 05:11:10 AM »
So, no theists out there who are interested enough in this to comment?

I hope they do.  In the meantime, I'll take comfort from the statistic that says 100% of atheist will apparently have a good afterlife, but that if you are a believer - of any stripe - there is a significant likelihood you will not.

Yay us!
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: atheists and near death experiences (question for theists).
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2014, 07:10:44 AM »
This is something I've wondered about, and just decided to google. It was only the first thing which came up, and I don't have the the time or inclination right now to go more in depth.

I'm not saying I believe NDE's are genuine glimpses into the afterlife or not. Frankly, there's still enough woo in me that it would be nice to believe in them even though what critical thinking ability I have remains skeptical. But I wonder how a theist would interpret this:

Quote
The majority of recorded claims link NDEs to feelings of joy and comfort. A statistician calculated that 69 per cent of the thousands of cases he investigated reported a feeling of overwhelming love. When he broke his subjects down by belief (Christian, Religious but non-Christian, Non-religious, New Age, etc.) he found 100 per cent of people calling themselves atheists had experienced "tremendous ecstasy".

http://www.near-death.com/experiences/atheists01.html

It seems to me that this would either invalidate the NDE as a genuine experience of life after death to the theist who believes that Jesus (or whatever other religious figure/belief) is the only path to salvation, or the idea that said belief IS the only path.

Or does the unbeliever who actually dies completely experience a moment of peace and bliss before being sucked down to hell (vicious little fake-out)? Surely, if there was a learning experience associated with a NDE, a loving god would make sure that this glimpse included a clear picture of the correct deity to be worshiped. And I know there are those reported that pretty much do that (easily explained through early, mostly abandoned indoctrination), but just as many, or more, might turn the atheist toward something of a new-age spirituality or similar without giving him any sense that a particular deity might be involved. So, no salvation there.

Anyway, just wondered whether any of our resident theists had two cents to contribute here. Anyone else welcome to chip in as well.

A very interesting article.  Along with the tremendous ecstasy I noticed 100% of the atheists also experienced what can be called a "life review". 

As a theist, I have no problem with NDE's being an insight to an after life.  I am aware that the same feelings of euphoria can be duplicated in a centrifuge which seems to point that a lack of blood to the brain is what triggers the NDE. 

Many years ago, I read the book "Life After Life" which was a compilation of various NDE's among, as I recall, Christians.  I was always curious if non-Christians experienced an NDE so I thank you for the article. 

I don't know where the truth lies, to be honest.  I believe in an afterlife but there is no way I can prove that belief.  The idea of atheists experiencing a supreme being in would seem to indicate a loving God but, again, no way to prove that interpretation is accurate.

As always,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: atheists and near death experiences (question for theists).
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2014, 08:24:12 AM »
As a theist, I have no problem with NDE's being an insight to an after life.
There are many theists who would actively seek to claim what is an illusion as support for their beliefs but two things arise: first the "image of heaven/the god/etc. is entirely dependent upon your belief system, however, many who survive NDEs report dead relatives appearing. This combination of selected gods/heavens contrasted with the universal "dead relative" leaves the only conclusion as "we see what we believe and is within our memory, but do not experience any revealed reality."

The next problem is that nobody seems to see the flames of hell (or their personal underworld) beckoning. This supports the "ecstatic delusion" idea. The Death ErectionWiki adds further support.

Finally, were it a vision of the afterlife, it seems a very strange time for it to be revealed. By definition, all those who experience NDEs and tell of them have not died. We are in a constant state of not being dead but potentially are permanently on the point of death, yet we do not receive these "messages from beyond" at any other time than when or brains are in an exceptional state.

Consequently, it does not seem reasonable to claim NDEs as even hinting at an afterlife: it is common to humans regardless of any religiosity.

Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Add Homonym

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Re: atheists and near death experiences (question for theists).
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2014, 10:11:42 AM »
I have a friend who says he has life reviews during orgasms. I didn't ask him if this made them a PITA.

You should probably read this
http://www.commonsenseatheism.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Ayer-What-I-Saw-When-I-Was-Dead.pdf

Ayer's NDE sounds more like a delusional nightmare than anything real. To verify a NDE, you would be looking for (a) cohesion with other stories, or (b) some information that could not have been gained any other way.

This topic suffers from many propagandists, trying to distort stories to their ends.
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Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: atheists and near death experiences (question for theists).
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2014, 12:15:05 PM »
I just ran across this article today and it seems relevant:

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/scientists-unlock-mystery-of-woman-who-sees-herself-out-1538196076

Short version. A woman who said she can have out of the body experiences any time she wants was hooked up to a brain scanner, and weird things were going on inside her head. But apparently what happens is the head gets a little confused with itself. We have a part of our brain that always knows where our limbs are in relation to our body and the other limbs, and in the out of body experience (if I'm reading this right) she could "see" this relationship, and interprets it as her being out of her body. A synesthesia of sorts. And apparently this is something that can happen when one is unsuccessfully dying or under tremendous stress, hence the "near death" experience.

I'm in a hurry because I have to go meet a friend, and I may not have read the whole article correctly. Feel free to fix that for me.
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