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NDE's


inquiringmind

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What do you guys think of NDE's (and have any of you heard of Dr. Sam Parnia's AWARE project)?

I don't know anything about Parnia but I have always enjoyed reading NDE's. I recently read Howard Storm's "My Decent into Death". I also read Sarah Menet's "There is no Death". I've read others but its been so long that I can't remember. I think there is value in reading these stories and I view them as testimonies of God and the supernatural.

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I've considered picking up Dinesh D'Souza's recent Life After Death: The Evidence (Regnery Pub., 2009) before. But I'm a bit skeptical given that D'Souza is more of a political pundit (one whose current work on Obama is, shall we say, a bit too Glenn Beckish for me). I enjoyed his Letters to a Young Conservative (Basic Books, 2002) and What's So Great About Christianity? (Regnery Pub., 2007). But I wouldn't cite either of them to support an argument (maybe just for a quote I like).

I would be much more interested in his The End of Racism (Free Press, 1995) or Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus (Free Press, 1991), which seems to be more up his alley of research.

Does anyone have any good sources on NDEs? Anyone read D'Souza's book?

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Near death experiences are viewed with a great deal of skepticism. Despite years of interest no real understanding of self has arrived. That said, I personally think there is something to NDE's and even potentially something to be learned.

From the website you posted, I find this discussion To Be or Not to Be: The Self as Illusion to be a concrete example of just how utterly lost humanity without modern revelation is.

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What do you guys think of NDE's (and have any of you heard of Dr. Sam Parnia's AWARE project)?

Regarding NDEs I wrote a study comparing NDE research to the Book of Mormon for the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies.

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=2&num=1&id=16

I attended the NDE conference in Salt Lake City in 1999, and found it fascinating. The speakers included Howard Storm, who I noticed, talked a lot like Alma. Of a few dozen NDE books on my shelves, my personal favorite NDE book is Carol Zaleski's Otherworld Journeys, which attempts a cross-cultural view.

I'm not aware of AWARE, but I haven't been doing much with NDE literature in recent years.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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Another one of those things that may have merit but there is no empirical evidence. Mostly just stories from individuals that have had them and then the stories vary some so not sure what to make of it. As usual I will say they probably are not reliable until I have evidence to the contrary.

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I've considered picking up Dinesh D'Souza's recent Life After Death: The Evidence (Regnery Pub., 2009) before. But I'm a bit skeptical given that D'Souza is more of a political pundit (one whose current work on Obama is, shall we say, a bit too Glenn Beckish for me). I enjoyed his Letters to a Young Conservative (Basic Books, 2002) and What's So Great About Christianity? (Regnery Pub., 2007). But I wouldn't cite either of them to support an argument (maybe just for a quote I like).

I would be much more interested in his The End of Racism (Free Press, 1995) or Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus (Free Press, 1991), which seems to be more up his alley of research.

Does anyone have any good sources on NDEs? Anyone read D'Souza's book?

I would believe the best book out there would be Raymond Moody's book, (1975) Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon - Survival of Bodily Death. New York: Bantam

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Another fascinating book on the subject is "90 Minutes in Heaven" by Don Piper.

I think there is definitely something to these experiences. I know scientists have said, they, possibly, come from trauma, and in most instances the person is still alive (still has brain waves, etc), but the man, John Piper, was pronounced dead, had no pulse and was left, covered with a tarp, for 90 minutes. He says, he went to heaven and had a very beautiful and very "real" experience. Some preacher on the scene of the accident that "killed" this man, went to him and started praying. His prayers, miraculously, brought this man back. It's really an amazing story. A "goose-bumpy" story.

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I too have several "life after" books, including one of my favorite NDE books by Prof. Brent Top, co-authored by wife Wendy Top and titled: Beyond Death's Door. They conducted years of careful research on NDE's experienced primarily by non-LDS to consider similarities between such NDE's and LDS doctrines on the afterlife. It is a fascinating compilation... and they report "We were amazed at the similarities and consistencies between the near-death accounts and the doctrines of the restored gospel."

Two things I liked that seemed to be spoken of most often: 1) the colors, which were usually described as being brilliant but not garish or harsh... some colors that they could not find words to describe, except as being so very beautiful.

2) The music... so many described hearing "heavenly music"... again, not having words to describe except to say it seemed to envelop them with an energy, tones, and vibrations far surpassing anything like our earthly concept of music... a soothing symphony of indescrible beauty.

GG

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Another one of those things that may have merit but there is no empirical evidence. Mostly just stories from individuals that have had them and then the stories vary some so not sure what to make of it. As usual I will say they probably are not reliable until I have evidence to the contrary.

And then there is Michael Sabom's Recollections of Death, in which he, as a cardiologist, interviewed 26 people who claimed to have watched then own resuscitation procedure. None of them made mistakes. He interviewed a control group of 25 patients who he deemed "hospital savy", and yet all of them made major mistakes.

Moody's Life After Life started formal research into the topic, but as a collection of anecdotal evidence, it does not represent a systematic study. That began with Ring and Sabom, and then the beginning of IANDS, the International Association of Near Death Studies. Moody's The Light Beyond, my favorite of his books, includes consideration of the results of systematic studies, including a study of the distinctive aftereffects.

Regarding differences in accounts, Moody observes, heaven is a big place. Why should people who see different parts of it report identical experiences? Zaleski's book discusses cultural differences, and, it happens, converges with the Book of Mormon on that topic.

Kevin Christensen

Bethel Park, PA

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Duane Crowther wrote "Life Everlasting" in 1988. As I remember it was a book of anecdotal accounts of NDE's. I remember thinking it was a pretty good book. I may even still have a copy of it packed away in a box somewhere.

The first edition of Life Everlasting actually predates Moody's Life after Life by a couple of years. Researchers soon pointed out the obvious implication that Mormon culture provides a distinctively congenial environment for NDEs. Moody includes references to Mormon NDEs in both Reflections on Life After Life, and The Light Beyond. Life Everlasting dissects Mormon after death stories into doctrinal tidbits. A proof-text approach. Several subsequent LDS books have taken this approach. Personally, I prefer to read the accounts intact, or presented in larger, cross cultural studies, as in Zaleski's book.

At about the same time I presented on NDEs and the Book of Mormon at a Sunstone West, Robert Fillerup did a detailed comparison of Moody's NDE work and Joseph Smith's first vision at a Salt Lake City Sunstone. His paper may still be up on the web.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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The first edition of Life Everlasting actually predates Moody's Life after Life by a couple of years. Researchers soon pointed out the obvious implication that Mormon culture provides a distinctively congenial environment for NDEs. Moody includes references to Mormon NDEs in both Reflections on Life After Life, and The Light Beyond. Life Everlasting dissects Mormon after death stories into doctrinal tidbits. A proof-text approach. Several subsequent LDS books have taken this approach. Personally, I prefer to read the accounts intact, or presented in larger, cross cultural studies, as in Zaleski's book.

At about the same time I presented on NDEs and the Book of Mormon at a Sunstone West, Robert Fillerup did a detailed comparison of Moody's NDE work and Joseph Smith's first vision at a Salt Lake City Sunstone. His paper may still be up on the web.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

As I said I haven't looked at Crowthers book in years. I do remember that at the time I enjoyed studying it.

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An interesting book is Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of Near Death Experience

The good part of the book is the review of some of the studies into NDE and the medical aspects of clinical death (which puts a damper on claims that NDE are simply a complex hallucination).

The latter-half of the book he (a cardiologist by profession) tries to speculate on some physics of how consciousness could persist. Unfortunately, his physics his muddled, at points just plain wrong, and not really worthy attention.

PS: The author is one of the panelists in the discussion I linked above.

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