Monday, April 18, 2011

Near-Death Experiences

For those who don't know, there's a lengthy discussion about near-death experiences in the comments section of a recent thread. I'm still in the early stages of my study of this issue, so there's a lot I don't know, and I don't have much confidence in some of my conclusions at this point. It's a subject that Christians have handled poorly so far. We can, and should, do better. I think the thread I've linked above goes into more depth than most Christian discussions of the subject. If anybody wants to offer corrections of what I or others have said, recommend some resources, or contribute in some other way, I'd be interested.


  1. I haven't looked at all your material yet, so maybe you already know about this guy, but he has some interesting interviews with scientists on NDEs:

    This was a good one with the atheist philosopher of science Massimo Piggliuci:

    Pigliucci thinks they are obvious pseudo-science, but Tsakiris does a good job at showing Pigliucci isn't prepared to back that up.

  2. I think at this point I would really like to study the actual evidence.

    One contention by Tsakiris that I would like to examine is if NDE's all tend to give an inclusivist message. Is this true?

    I looked at another of his interviews with a guy who had some remarkable examples of pre-cognition and went and read some of his dreams and from the little I read they did not seem to be inclusivist. He actually had experiences of God/Jesus establishing a holy city of truth on earth where dishonest people could not enter. I guess some of that is outside the realm of NDE's but it is still linked to veridical stuff in terms of the pre-cognition aspects of many of his dreams that came to pass.

    So I would like to see whether evidence for the contention about inclusivism really bears out.

    I think the previous point Jason made in the comments in the previous post about internal critiques - inconsistencies between NDE's is definitely an important avenue to explore.

  3. Also,

    I wonder what place the following verse should play in our discussions:

    The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion so that they may believe what is false... 2Thess2:9-12

  4. Jason (& other Triabloggers), I'd be interested in finding out what you all think about Remote Viewing. Always demonic? Sometimes demonic?

  5. I'll probably do a post on NDEs in the near future.

  6. halo,

    No, not all NDEs are inclusive. And many of the ones that are assumed to be inclusive seem to be perceived as such for bad reasons. As I explain in the other thread, having a neutral or positive NDE, which is always prior to death in the ultimate sense of that term, isn't equivalent to going to Heaven. And the fact that both a Hindu and a Christian have a positive NDE, for example, doesn't prove that both NDEs are perceived as inclusive by the experiencer. Rather, I think what often occurs is that other people are assigning that interpretation to the two experiences based on the fact that both individuals had a positive NDE. But if each NDE was portrayed as exclusivistic to the experiencer in some manner, and both were perceived as positive by that experiencer, why should we think they have a combined message of inclusivism? They could both be misleading in some way, or one might be. Concluding that both individuals actually went to Heaven or some precursor to it wouldn't be our only option. And many NDEs don't address the issue of inclusivism. They have no accompanying message that's inclusive or exclusive.


    I don't know much about remote viewing. But I see no reason to consider it demonic. There would have to be some other factor involved, not just the remote viewing itself, to make me think that demonic involvement is probable.

    1. Maybe its just the magnetic poles as Persinger suspects. Why is everything that actually demonstrates power considered demonic?

  8. If anybody is going to attempt a debunking of NDEs use this book as the best of breed on the subject:

    Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience - Pim Van Lommel

    He's a Dutch heart surgeon, a skeptic on the subject at first, then did a large, multi-hospital study. I heard an interview of him on the radio, and he's a serious individual.

  9. Here's an extensive article by Pim van Lommel:

  10. Here's a two-part interview of Pim van Lommel posted to YouTube:

    Those URLs looks strange, but it's what YouTube is now giving when you click their 'share' link.