Paranormal Investigations – Near Death Experiences (NDE)Table of Contents Overview Data / Evidence Validation Process Testimonies / Opinions Analysis / Criticism / Debates References
Every day, all over the world, thousands of people report some sort of near death experience (NDE). Surveys taken in the US, Australia and Europe suggest that 4 to 15 % of the population have had a near death experience (NDE) at some point in their life. According to the ‘ Near Death Experience Research Foundation ‘ approximately 750 NDE’s occur every day.
These occurrences happen far too often to simply be ignored. However it is easily to dismiss, as they cannot be systematically proven and that the only evidence for them is the testimonies of those whom have had the experience.
DATA / EVIDENCE
All data for near death experience comes from personal testimonies and the scientific examination of the individuals who make such claims. Testimonies of people whom have had some kind of experience in which their physical body has died, or in which they had been separated from their physical body. Somehow beyond medical or scientific explanation, they perceived an ‘out of body’ or ‘other type’ of spiritual experience.
Out of Body Experience (OOBE)
The OOBE is the experience in which a person ‘leaves’ the physical body, and is said to perceive their environment and events around them. However they are in a spiritual or non-material body. This is said to happen during NDE’s or during other supernatural phenomenon known by some as astral projection.
Historians are able to trace back and document events of spiritual experience like this to almost every ancient culture. The same type of experience people testify to today. Different terms are used by different cultures such as trances or spiritual projection, of which has been recorded by various ancient religions and folk tribes.
Near Death Experience (NDE)
The near death experience is when the physical body actually dies for some period of time and a person experiences a supernatural experience. The experience is recalled after the person is revived.
Testimonies / Opinions
Difficulty with Data vs. Experiences
Before examining personal testimonies, there is a particular problem with understanding NDE’s from a natural perspective that needs to be addressed. That is, as humans we rely on the scientific method, and basically, the ability to observe something before we are willing to accept it as fact.
Telling someone else the testimony of a NDE experience is like trying to explain to someone how an apple tastes. You can provide all the data of how the apple formed, the amino acids that builds up its proteins and its nutritional facts, etc. However, you cannot prove ‘how’ an apple tastes until you eat it; in the same way, until the other person gets the experience of tasting the apple. There is no way that they cannot know what it is like. There is no amount of data that can reveal it, there is no possible way to prove what ‘taste’ is, and it is something that can only be experienced.
Examine the Evidence
This reveals that fact that data, observation and the scientific method are all limited in our material universe. This understanding of limitations should allow a person to accept the fact there are things the go beyond the limitation of the scientific method. The limited abilities that observations can provide.
Thousands of testimonies have been recorded featuring near death experiences. Here we will review some of the most prominent testimonies of interest. NDE testimonies can be systematically categorized into separate case types. Each case type will allow us to examine different aspects of NDE’s to help identify their origin as they examine different characteristics of different types of people.
Case Type 1 – Historic / Written / Biblical Testimonies
There are countless recording of afterlife or near death experiences throughout all cultures of the world. Ancient religions and religious texts including the Bible speak of people experiencing the spiritual world, or kinds of ‘out of body’ experiences.
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. – 2 Corinthians 12.1-4
Case Type 2 – Nominal (Normal) Experiences
Nominal, normal or typical ND experiences are those recorded in modern day society. These are the testimonies of people from average communities reporting their experiences. This is the broadest and most extensive amount of research available as this category encompasses the largest group of people that have had the experiences. The average, working class group of society.
Case Type 3 – Testimonies from Impaired or Undeveloped
These are the testimonies of children and mentally handicapped. At first thought, the testimonies of those with mental handicaps or from children may seem unreliable or irrelevant to the subject. However, from a psychological perspective, the testimonies of these individual may be of more value in some ways then nominal experiences. Consider the fact that children, even though they often fabricate stories, do not do so with precision or consistency. Remember that fabricated stories always change, especially when scrutinized. The testimonies of the mentally handicapped are also helpful to the investigation as they should have different kinds of experiences.
Case Type 4 – Exemplar Experiences
These are testimonies of individuals held in high honor or respect and typically have something to lose by coming forward with unreliable stories. Police officer, firefighters, soldiers, government officials and the like have had NDE’s and have come forward to tell of their experiences.
Case Study 5 – Critics Experiences
The Most intriguing of all, are the experiences of those whom where once critical of such experiences, that have changed their mind after a personal experience of their own. Critics of the spiritual world, the afterlife, and NDE’s such as atheists have come forward with frightening experiences of their NDE.
Examination of the Near Death Experience
It cannot be denied that people legitimately have near death experiences. There is enough evidence to explicitly conclude that they are a real phenomenon;
Quantity & Quality of Near Death Experience
There is a significant quantity of people that have experienced a NDE, and investigations reveal that they are experienced by all types of people from various kinds of backgrounds. When recollecting these events, people become very emotional about their experiences. They are able to vividly recollect the details surrounding what happened to them. When they are scrutinized they remain committed to telling the same stories with the same vivid details. Lie detector tests have been performed on specific individuals that have had NDE’s, many concluding they are telling the truth about their experience.
Independent Verification –
Of various tribes from the remote villages of the world that have limited to no communication with the outside world, to the great metropolitan cities. Societies everywhere in the world experience near death experiences. People separated by both time and space account exact same or similar stories about the spiritual, astral world or the NDE.
Both physical and psychological medical examinations confirm the accounts of personal experiences with near death phenomenon. Doctors confirm the accounts patients give right after being revived in the hospital. Psychologists and therapists have uncovered suppressed memories or the emotional trauma related to the NDE of specific people.
Now after examining the information, the question becomes, what exactly are these experiences, and what do they mean? This basic question comes down to two separate points of view concerning this entire experience, either these experiences are;
Either the entire experience is happening inside the body, namely, within a personal mind, similar to a dream state, or
The experience is extrinsic, meaning that it is actually happening outside of the body.
The basic explanation for these experiences is that people are genuinely experiencing an out of body experience (OOBEE). This occurs while their physical body is dying. Their spiritual body is being removed from the physical, and is therefore able to experience a ‘higher dimension’ or spiritual (astral) realm.
Scientifically, to prove a near death experience, or that anyone has experienced anything beyond the implications of a psychological event is very difficult. However, in some cases, people have been able to provide additional evidence they could not have possible known about the physical world. They express infomration they had somehow experienced ‘outside their own body.’ These events substantiate the claims that the NDE’s are actually a person’s spirit being removed from their own physical body.
Medically, it is also difficult to believe that for those individual that where literally ‘brain dead’ for a period of time. Afterwards, to have been resuscitated and have memories of events that occurred while they were ‘dead.’
ANALYSIS / CRITICISM / DEBATES
Explanations for the Experience
Critics acclaim that out of body experiences and NDE’s are nothing more than a psychological experience by a person’s brain that is vividly expressing the deep rooted emotions of that person’s life. Thus is the explanation for the famous saying ‘life flashing before one’s eyes.’ The critics analyze these experiences and explain everything through a purely intrinsic point of view.
Problems with Both Points of View
Similarities & Differences between NDE Testimonies
Many NDE’s are very similar which does validate the reality of the NDE experience. However they could support either the intrinsic or extrinsic point of view.
People could have similar experiences due to the fact that there is a similar psychological interpretation that happens inside the human psyche during death. There really is some ‘other place’ the person is experiencing.
Examining the Intrinsic Point of View
Recollection of Events
Often times, as it is pointed out in various testimonies, a person that had experienced a NDE or OOBE will hear or see things from their ‘astral’ body that they are able to recollect after they are revived/ awakened. These instances are difficult to account for as either their physical body was not present in the room they remembered an event. They recall events that occurred after their brain had completely shut down and should not have been able to interpret or remember.
Similarities between Events
Even though similarities can be used by those who support the intrinsic point of view. The reliance on this data, from this point of view, comes from the understanding that the human psychological processes of experience are the same between all people. This becomes problematic once you add the experiences of not only non-believers (atheists) who reject the belief in an afterlife, but those of children and the mentally handicapped. As these individuals are not developed or are impaired psychologically therefore should not have exact same experiences as the nominal person. However, we find that they do, and this actually gives more credibility for the extrinsic point of view.
Another issue many psychologists have with NDE’s is the fact that they are not accompanies with any dream-like state. The experiences are very vivid and real to the individual and they feel as though they were mentally awake and aware of their surroundings. Even though this echoes the ‘sleep paralysis’ state described by some doctors. This begs the question why are NDE’s not accompanied by more ‘dreams’ or other fanciful dream like sequences. Why are the experiences always so similar to each other, accompanied by similar patterns of experience (such as by angels, lights, heaven, hell and tunnels)? These are the questions that still do not have a satisfying answer from an intrinsic point of view.
Similar human biology produces similar near death experience effects
Critics acclaim that human biology should account for the similarities in the NDE. Similar neurological degradation during the death process will produce the same effect in people. Even though human biology could account for some of the NDE, it cannot account for everything. Human biology is the same for every person but we do not always have the same dream. In fact no two dreams are alike even though they may be similar. However to have every person experience a similar event and experience the same dream is a mathematical improbability.
- People often describe the same supreme being of light
- Beings of light are often described by people (angels)
- Deceased loved ones are often seen
- Places like heaven or hell (or similar locations) are described often on returning
- why aren’t more NDE experienced like dreams
There are just too many questions that cannot be satisfied with a simple physiological biological explanation.
Examining the Extrinsic Point of View
Different Types of Experiences
It cannot be denied that some people have some different types of NDE then the traditional ‘norm.’ Some people do not experience the tunnel of light but still experience some ‘path of travel,’ or movement sensation towards something. They still experience a lifting form the physical body. The biggest discrepancies are the kinds of beings that people see when experiencing a NDE.
NDE’s are always accompanied by the presence of other beings, angels or something that people interpret as a ‘higher’ being. People have claimed to have seen; angels, the angel of death, demons, spirits of relatives, other human spirits, etc. The differences in each personal experience is still slight in comparison to the amount of similarities. Concerning the place that people, go, the beings of light seen, and the overall sensations and experiences.
Christian Apologetics on Near Death Experience
Some critics acclaim that the near death experiences contradicts the teachings of the Bible. Many Christians that follow this viewpoint quickly dismiss the NDE as an occultist or demonic experience. However there are a few things to logically consider before so quickly dismissing the ND experience;
- Christian’s experience NDE’s as well
- NDE don’t necessarily contradict the Bible
- Non-believers have become believers after an ND experience
Bible vs. New Age on Near Death Experience
Christian’s experience NDE’s and state they have seen God, Jesus and His angels. They experienced the typical movement through a tunnel of light into heaven or the presence of God. The biggest problem that Christians have with many of the NDE accounts is the teachings that there is no judgment once you reach the spiritual world. Now there are many things to consider about this;
First of all we know God gave us a conscience to know there is a judgment between right and wrong.
Second even New Age NDE experiences testify that they had this presence of all their past deeds and lifestyle accompanied them.
The Bible says that we all will be judged and we can speculate that perhaps these individuals where not judged yet. This would be because God knows they will be resuscitated and return to their physical bodies. This can be substantiated with the testimonies of people hearing “you time has not yet come.” If their time has not yet come how can they be judged?
New Age Experience
New Agers say they experience an all knowing being of light and love; these are some of the primary attributes of God. New agers come back and become more spiritual people. However, they may not always recall all of their experiences in the NDE account, which can lead to fallacies. This is why spiritual experiences should always be compared to the revelations that God has already given in His word.
Further, the fact there is a judgment after death is evident by those who have experienced demons and hell in their NDE. This is why all the NDE data should be collected instead of basing an interpretation on only a few experiences. Once again comparing them to the already available, revelation of God- the Bible.
Speculations about Different Religious Experiences
From Christians to Atheists, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists that have converted to Christianity after their NDE. Many of whom claim to have literally seen heaven, Jesus or some of God’s angels. Some other religious individuals, such as some Hindus, have claimed they have seen the god of the dead after traveling to the afterlife. This would seem to be a contradiction of Biblical beliefs; however are these accounts simply misinterpreted by the viewer?
It is interesting that different people seem to have different levels of understanding about how they are interpreting their experiences. Some proclaim a level of total understanding once they reach this spiritual world. Others claim they are ignorant of different things they experienced.
Hindu NDE Testimonies
In some Hindu NDE accounts the person is told by, what they claim to be, “the god of the dead” that it was a mistake and they are brought back to earth. Perhaps the god of the dead they describe is actually the angel of death seen by other near death experiences. At this point only speculations can be made about combining all NDE’s experiences with one another. However when these types of spiritual experiences are combined with historic data and biblical interpretation. It seems most like that this is the proper interpretation.
Perhaps the level of understanding in the spiritual world depends on your spiritual status achieved on earth. For those that where spiritually reborn and regenerated, they have a fullness of knowledge, and as for those who never received Jesus as their Savior. They remain ‘spiritually dead’ when they reach the spirit world and therefore are not able to comprehend the fullness of the experiences. Once they are revived they put their own interpretation into what they saw.
Jesus tells us that things are kept from the eyes of those who don’t understand or else they would be accountable on judgment day for the things they knew (Mark 4.11-12).
Occult Astral Projects
All things considered, it is true that many involved in the occult claim to experience similar events in their ‘astral projection states.’ Understanding the deception of the Devil, there is a strong probability that many NDE apparitions are counterfeit spiritual experiences designed to deceive some individuals.
This is of course not to say that all NDE’s are a counterfeit experiences or deceptions. Perhaps for some who have not died completely, the ‘spirit’ that accompanies them (like demons for those involved in occult practices) will lead that person further into delusion. This would confirm the scripture passage – for those who choose to follow after lies that God will continue to send them into delusions. This is because they love the lie (2 Thess 2.11). Once again this is why it is always important to correlate a spiritual experience with Biblical revelations that God has already given to humanity.
Conclusion of Near Death Experience
When you consider the facts, and put together all NDE accounts. The phenomenon can in a general since, be defined by the following statements:
- People see one holy, loving, all knowing – God (Deut 6.4)
- God dwells in light unapproachable (1 Tim 6.16)
- Jesus is encountered (John 1.1)
- Angels or demons are witnessed (Luke 16.22)
- Traveling through tunnels of light are experienced (Acts 9.3)
- People go either to heaven of hell (Luke 16.22-23)
- Deceased loved ones are seen (Luke 16.23)
- Experiences of inexpressible and indescribable things. (2 Corin 12.4)
- Feeling or experience a presence of their life and deeds (good or evil) with them (Heb 9.27)
- Afterwards people become more spiritual
- People become believers in God
All things considered there is only one theological, religious belief that has existed since ancient times that all these NDE experiences are consistent with – Christianity, with few deviations.