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Why so many people – including scientists – suddenly believe in an afterlife
Maclean's ^ | May 7, 2013 | Brian Bethune

Posted on 05/07/2013 11:00:54 AM PDT by rickmichaels

Death, it seems, is no longer Shakespeare’s undiscovered country, the one “from whose bourn no traveler returns.” Not according to contemporary bestseller lists. Dreams and visions of the afterlife have been constants across human history, and the near-death experiences (now known as NDEs) of those whose lives were saved by medical advances have established, for millions, a credible means by which someone could peek into the next world. Lately a fair-sized pack of witnesses claim to have actually entered into the afterlife before coming back again to write mega-selling accounts of what they saw and felt there. Afterlife speculation has become a vibrant part of the zeitgeist, the result of trends that include developments in neuroscience that have inspired new ideas about human consciousness, the ongoing evolution of theology, both popular and expert, and the hopes and fears of an aging population. Heaven is hot again. And hell is colder than ever.

Recent polls across the developed world are starting to tell an intriguing tale. In the U.S., religion central for the West, belief in heaven has held steady, even ticking upwards on occasion, over the past two decades. Belief in hell is also high, but even Americans show a gap between the two articles of faith—81 per cent believed in the former in 2011, as opposed to 71 per cent accepting the latter. Elsewhere in the Western world the gap between heaven and hell believers is more of a gulf—a 2010 Canadian poll found more than half of us think there is a heaven, while fewer than a third acknowledge hell. What’s more, monotheism’s two destinations are no longer all that are on offer. In December a survey of the 1970 British Cohort group—9,000 people, currently 42 years old—found half believed in an afterlife, while only 31 per cent believed in God. No one has yet delved deeply into beliefs about the new afterlife—the cohort surveyors didn’t ask for details—but reincarnation, in an newly multicultural West, is one suggested factor. So too is belief in what one academic called “an unreligious afterlife,” the natural continuation of human consciousness after physical death.

While most of the current bestselling accounts of afterlife experiences are recognizably Christian—at least in outline—signs of changing beliefs can be found in them too. Nor are the new travelers—who include a four-year-old boy and a middle-aged neurosurgeon—what religious skeptics would think of as the usual suspects. Colton Burpo, now 13, “died” 10 years ago from a ruptured appendix, and spent three minutes of earthly time in heaven—some of it in Jesus’s lap, some of it speaking with a miscarried sister whose existence he had never been told about—before being pulled back to Earth by his surgical team. Since 2010, when his father, Todd, a Nebraska minister, published his account of what Colton told him, Heaven is for Real has sold more than 7.5 million copies. If Colton’s story sounds like a contemporary take on an ancient Christian motif—“unless you become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3)—the same can’t be said about Eben Alexander’s post-religious cosmic experience.

It is Alexander’s provocatively named Proof of Heaven, released in November, that wrenched afterlife visitation literature out of its below-the-radar religious publishing niche and into the spotlight. Alexander’s professional stature—as a Harvard-trained neurosurgeon, a man expected to know what is possible and what is not for human consciousness—ensured him of extensive media coverage, including on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday, massive sales (it remains No. 1 on the New York Times paperback non-fiction bestseller list), and often venomous responses from fellow scientists.

Alexander woke one day in 2008 with an intense headache. “Within hours, my entire cortex—the part of the brain that controls thought and emotion and that in essence makes us human—had shut down,” he writes. Doctors finally determined that “E. coli bacteria had penetrated my cerebrospinal fluid and were eating my brain.” For seven days he was in a deep coma, during which time, often guided by a beautiful girl riding a giant butterfly, he flew around the “invisible, spiritual side of existence.” And there he encountered God, whom Alexander frequently refers to as Om, the sound he recalls as “being associated with that omniscient, omnipotent and unconditionally loving God.”

He eventually recovered, a medical miracle in itself, Alexander writes. But he was an entirely different man, no longer a neuroscientist like other neuroscientists. “I know that many of my peers hold—as I myself did—to the theory that the brain, and in particular the cortex, generates consciousness and that we live in a universe devoid of any kind of emotion, much less the unconditional love that I now know God and the universe have toward us. But that belief, that theory, now lies broken at our feet. What happened to me destroyed it.”

Not according to most of his fellow neuroscientists, whose reactions made the predictable Christian wariness—no angels, no Jesus, and a God named Om left Toronto pastor Tim Challies to sum up Proof of Heaven as “more New Age-y than the rest, close to non-Western religion”—seem welcoming. Oliver Sacks called Alexander’s claims “not just unscientific but anti-scientific.” Others opposed dogma with dogma: Alexander was correct that by current neurological understanding what happened to him was impossible if his cortex was shut down—therefore, they said, it wasn’t shut down, no matter what his medical records say. Many skeptics referenced British psychologist Susan Blackmore’s 1993 book, Dying to Live, which dismisses NDEs as a result of chemical changes associated with dying brains, as the last word.

For their part, non-materialist neuroscientists, like University of Montreal professor Mario Beauregard, have long critiqued Blackmore and point out that brain research was in its infancy 20 years ago. Blackmore argued that a lack of oxygen (or anoxia) during the dying process might induce abnormal firing of neurons in the part of the brain that controls vision, leading to the illusion of seeing a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel.

Beauregard cites objections by Dutch cardiologist Pim Van Lommel that if anoxia (lack of oxygen) was central to NDEs, far more cardiac arrest patients would report such an experience. What’s more, as pointed out by Dr. Sam Parnia, whose resuscitation techniques have doubled his New York hospital’s cardiac-arrest-recovery rate, some NDE patients were not terminal during their experiences, meaning their oxygen levels were normal. In fact, Parnia notes, dropping oxygen levels are associated with “acute confusional state,” something at odds with the lucid consciousness reported by NDE people.

Two decades of research and medical advances have moved near-death experiences from rare events to common occurrences. In his book Erasing Death, Parnia cites a 30-year-old Japanese woman as the current record holder (in terms of time) for someone who was found dead and restored to life. She “may have been dead up to 10 hours,” Parnia says, but after six hours’ work, doctors got her heart started and brought her back to health: “she had a baby in the last year.” Now that patients who have been clinically dead for hours can be brought back to life, says Parnia, the question of the continuation of human consciousness is a live scientific issue.

And it’s not only the remarkable extension of the time patients can now spend suspended between life and death, but the sheer number of individuals involved, that has made NDEs so contentious among researchers. Those whose NDEs also involved an out-of-body experience raise the stakes further.

Materialist skeptics are not troubled by accounts of tunnels of light or angelic beings. Perhaps the dying brain hypothesis doesn’t fully explain them, but there are other possibilities. Too much carbon dioxide in the blood perhaps or, as a recent study from the University of Kentucky posits, NDEs are really an instance of a sleep disorder, rapid eye movement (REM) intrusion. In that disorder, a person’s mind can wake up before his body, and both hallucinations and the sensation of being physically detached from the body can occur. Cardiac arrest could trigger a REM intrusion in the brain stem—the region that controls the most basic functions of the body and which can operate independently from the (now dead) higher brain. The resulting NDE would actually be a dream.

But that hypothesis still cannot account for people who report seeing, during their out-of-body experiences, what they could not have. Most commonly that’s an overhead view of their frantic medical teams. Parnia reports a 2001 case, in which a Dutch patient’s dentures were removed during cardiac arrest. When his nurses couldn’t find the dentures later, the patient was able to remind them where they were. Perhaps the most famous corroborated case, cited by Beauregard, is that of a migrant worker named Maria, whose story was documented by her critical care social worker, Kimberly Clark. The day after she had been resuscitated after cardiac arrest, Maria told Clark how she had been able to look down from the ceiling and left the OR. She found herself outside the hospital and spotted a tennis shoe on the ledge of the north side of the building’s third floor. She described it in detail. Maria, not surprisingly, wanted to know whether she had “really” seen the shoe, and asked Clark to go look.

Quite skeptical, Clark went where Maria sent her, and found the tennis shoe, just as she’d described it. “The only way she could have had such a perspective,” said Clark, “was if she had been floating right outside and at very close range to the tennis shoe.” It shouldn’t have been possible, as both Beauregard and Parnia point out. “The question becomes,” Parnia says, “how can people have conscious awareness when they’ve gone beyond the threshold of death?”

The answer to that question is not necessarily Christian, or even metaphysical at all, not for Parnia, who describes himself as “not a religious person” and not for many of his fellow NDE researchers. In a similar vein, many traditional Christians are more than a little wary of the reported experiences of the heaven travelers. For them the idea—so intolerable to materialist skeptics—that consciousness, or the soul, can and does exist outside the body is an article of faith. But some of the new afterlife, however seemingly Christian in outline, is often troubling, especially in its utter lack of judgment. All are welcome, all are heaven-bound in those accounts: there is no sign of God’s wrath for sinners. The division over the possibility of continuing human consciousness is not entirely between the religious and the secular. And the extraordinary popularity of heaven tourism—books have continued to pour down the publishing pike this year, including I Believe in Heaven by Cecil Murphy, one of the pioneers in the genre—is not entirely driven by evangelical enthusiasm.

In that regard, the storm stirred up by Proof of Heaven only obscures the wider significance of the afterlife books. The controversy over the scientific basis of Alexander’s experiences, like the skeptical poking for holes in the Burpo story—can Colton’s parents really be sure he never heard a word about his mother’s miscarriage?—can miss the cultural forest for the factual trees.

Consider the many other near-death survivors-cum-authors and their places along the continuum, from pastor’s son to neurosurgeon. There’s Mary Neal, an orthopaedic surgeon whose account of the aftermath of her drowning in Chile in 1999, To Heaven and Back, has spent two years on bestseller lists; teacher Crystal McVea, whose Waking Up in Heaven tells the story of the nine minutes that followed after she stopped breathing in 2009; The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven is about six-year-old Alex Malarkey, who met Jesus after an car accident in 2004; and Texas pastor Don Piper, whose 2004 account (co-written with Cecil Murphy) of his car crash, 90 Minutes in Heaven, is often credited with kick-starting the phenomenon.

There are elements, from key plot points to tiny details, that link their stories, starting with two obvious points. The idea that major scientists no longer dismiss the idea of continuing consciousness colors all accounts, as does the fact that, whether truth or fantasy, the experiences are necessarily culturally specific.

All overwhelming and bewildering mental states have to be sorted, defined and made comprehensible in the light of the familiar—what else do our brains have to work with? One way or another, a pastor’s child and a fallen-away Christian like Alexander will filter an NDE through the earliest Sunday school tracks laid down in their memories. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, first famous for her five stages of grief, later became a doyenne of NDEs—her lectures on her NDE patients (who turned her into a believer), first published in 1991, were reissued in 2008 to catch the current publishing wave. Even in her rather homogenous western European clientele, Kübler-Ross could see the effects of early enculturation: “I never encountered a Protestant child who saw the Virgin Mary in his last minutes, yet she was perceived by many Catholic children.”

Many of the writers share a common gaping wound, centred on lost children, a wound usually healed by simultaneously finding the child and realizing there is no blame or judgment to suffer, no forgiveness to offer or seek. Most of Colton Burpo’s account is a child’s-eye account of orthodox teaching, but its most affecting passage is when he lifts years of guilt and anxiety off his mother, Sonja, by telling her that her miscarried child had been a girl, and that she was now flourishing in heaven as God’s adopted daughter. One of Kübler-Ross’s patients, a 12-year-old girl, told her father how she was comforted during her NDE by her brother. Except that she didn’t have a brother. Her tearful father then told her about the son who had died three months before her birth.

Eben Alexander, who—unlike most NDE cases—lost all sense of personal identity during his experience, was troubled because that loss meant no relative offered him assurances of love and acceptance. Afterwards though, Alexander—an adopted child who had felt abandoned his whole life—saw a picture of his deceased natural sister, whom he had never met in life. She was the girl on the butterfly. (There is more than a trace of Kübler-Ross’s influence in Proof of Heaven. The butterfly girl stands out as one of the more psychedelic elements in an account mostly abstract and metaphysical: Kübler-Ross, however, constantly describes the human body as a cocoon, from which a metaphorical butterfly of spirit will eventually emerge.)

And the stories offer similar proofs: Colton, like Kübler-Ross’s patient, inexplicably knew of a lost sibling, whose existences their parents believed they had kept hidden, while Eben Alexander could describe precisely what his medical team and his family were doing during his seven-day coma. They are all, even the children, witnesses who experienced what they did—and came back, reluctantly—for a reason. Mary Neal was sent back with what she called “a laundry list of tasks to do,” which she still doesn’t talk about, at least not until they are accomplished: one was to help the rest of her family cope with the foretold death of her young son, which occurred 10 years later in 2009. Colton and Alex provide truth “out of the mouths of babes.” Alexander knows he is uniquely positioned among NDE subjects to challenge the materialist orthodoxies of mainstream neuroscience.

Those similarities in form pale beside the deep thematic link between the new bestsellers: the (previously) undiscovered country is a place of unconditional love. Several of the writers pause, sometimes for pages, to stress the adjective as much as the noun. None express the message more clearly than Alexander, who writes that “the only thing that truly matters” was communicated to him in three parts. He boils those down to one word—love—but the key phrase may be the third sentence of his longer version:

You are loved and cherished.

You have nothing to fear.

There is nothing you can do wrong.

That’s fodder for cynics and skeptics, of course. That an individual like any of the authors, someone of broadly Christian background coping with emotional pain, should undergo such a heaven-centerd experience when in the throes of physical trauma, is broadly predictable and easy to dismiss as wish-fulfillment. The fact it has happened to a group of such similar individuals does not in itself prove the truth (or the falsity) of the experiences; what that does, though, is illuminate a culture that increasingly rejects the very notion of judgment while equating salvation with personal healing.

Most observers trace the current upsurge to Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven. Largely ignored by the non-religious world and looked at askance by many Christian commentators, 90 Minutes sold like hotcakes. And while it set the template for what was to come, what stands out about it today is its modesty. Piper was declared dead at the scene of an auto crash on Jan. 18, 1989. His body was left in place while the authorities waited for the tools needed to extract him from the wreckage. An hour and a half later, though, Piper stirred back to life, albeit to a long and excruciating recovery, involving 34 painful surgeries.

And to bear witness to where he had been in that 90 minutes. In the transcendent light, actually, just outside the “pearlescent” gates of heaven, surrounded by “perfect love” and the gathering presence—simultaneously physical and spiritual—of loved ones who had died during Piper’s lifetime. There were friends who had passed away young and were thus still youthful looking; his grandfather, instantly recognizable by his shock of white hair; and his great-grandmother, still aged but now no longer with false teeth, but her own restored, no longer stooped and no longer wrinkled. Signs of age, in other words, and of the gravitas they confer, but no traces of the “ravages of living.”

All this—the approach to the pearly gates, the welcome from loved ones, the presence of unconditional love and the absence of judgment—was pregnant with accounts to come. But, as it turned out, 90 Minutes’ first-born—the genetic relationship obvious in their titles, not to mention the way Amazon bundled them together for a special low price—was the most striking outlier in recent afterlife literature, Bill Wiese’s 23 Minutes in Hell. A California realtor, Wiese was sleeping peacefully on the night of Nov. 22, 1998, when God pitched him into hell at 3 a.m., so that—Wiese later decided—he could warn others of their peril. He landed abruptly in a five-by-three-meter cell, shared with two gigantic, evil, reptilian beasts who proceeded to smash him against the walls before shredding his flesh.

Yet Wiese did not die, could not die, as much as he wanted to. He continued in seemingly endless pain, tormented too by “the terrible, foul stench.” (Smell—the most evocative of senses, the one most closely tied to deep memory—is prominent in accounts of heaven as well, where it brings visitors the most comforting reminders of childhood and, when the odors arise from food, assurances of plenty.) At precisely 3:23 a.m., Jesus rescued Wiese and returned him home, where he landed, terrified, on his living room floor.

The book, published in 2006, spawned no serious imitators. In part that was due to its lack of the scientific gloss the heaven narratives bear (and the times demand)—one Christian nurse, posting on Amazon, rejected 23 Minutes because of her familiarity with NDEs. There is no explanatory traffic accident, cardiac arrest or brain-eating bacteria, nothing to indicate a hovering between life and death when the sufferer could peek through the curtain, nothing that didn’t point to a (very) bad dream.

But Wiese’s book also went nowhere because hell no longer possesses the power it once held in Christianity. That’s particularly remarkable within an American religious milieu that was always attentive to warnings of hellfire. In 1741 Jonathan Edwards delivered what is often called the most famous sermon in American history, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” It is beautifully composed, rigorously logical (in terms of Calvinist theology) and frankly terrifying: “Men are held in the hand of God over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked.” Edwards was interrupted often during the sermon by congregants moaning and crying out, “What shall I do to be saved?” It’s doubtful he’d receive the same reaction today. Many modern Christians struggle to reconcile a loving God with one who would condemn the majority of humankind to eternal torment.

Within Roman Catholicism, notes Smith College world religion professor Carol Zaleski, the last three pontiffs, including Pope Francis, have all been supportive of the late Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, who taught that Catholics have a duty to hope and pray for an empty hell, for the salvation of all. Even those Protestant traditions that have historically been more attuned to the gulf between the elect and the damned have seen vigorous theological debate about the afterlife, and the defense of ideas that effectively weaken the severity of divine wrath. Conditional immortality, for one, says true eternal life is reserved for the saved; souls in hell will eventually—and, in this context, mercifully—be annihilated.

“Most people are no longer afraid of being seized at an unguarded moment,” judged wanting and flung into the fiery pit like Edwards’s congregants were, says Zaleski. “We are now more creatures of anxiety than of guilt.” The anxiety, as well as the interest, is surely tied to the greying of the Western world too, as our thoughts, conscious or not, increasingly turn to what’s next, whether we think that’s oblivion or some kind of afterlife. Baby boomers, by sheer force of numbers, have always driven cultural trends, from the lowering of voting and drinking ages in their youth to the politically untouchable status of retirement benefits today. It’s hardly surprising to see them favor not just the existence but the congenial nature of an afterlife.

And that is where the heaven tourists finally mesh, not just with each other, but with the larger culture. We seem to be moving inexorably from a society where organized religion dominates issues of morality—and mortality—but not to the secular promised land of reason. Rather, we are orienting ourselves to a more personal spirituality, at once vague and autonomous. Ordinary sinners increasingly don’t believe that they deserve judgment, let alone hell. Theists and atheists alike dispute any earthly authority’s right to judge, and both feel NDEs give them reason to hope for something beyond the grave. And many believers confidently expect that God isn’t judgmental either.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: afterlife; faithandphilosophy; reincarnation
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To: Viennacon
Yeah, o.k. Humor me. What does the ‘action’ of repentance and acceptance of Christ look like?
51 posted on 05/07/2013 6:52:14 PM PDT by bramps (Sarah Palin got more votes in 2008 than Mitt Romney got in 2012)
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To: bramps

Well, I’d probably recommend going to a church. That’s where most people repent, especially Catholics.


52 posted on 05/07/2013 6:55:38 PM PDT by Viennacon
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To: Viennacon

So going to church = repentance and acceptance of Christ.
Does that mean that a bed bound invalid cannot repent and accept Christ?


53 posted on 05/07/2013 7:02:22 PM PDT by bramps (Sarah Palin got more votes in 2008 than Mitt Romney got in 2012)
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To: bramps

You’re arguing semantics. Bedridden individuals, as well as people in prison can meet with priests, who are not bound to their church and can travel. The point was, that without repentance, however you choose to do it, you are effectively refusing to knock on Christ’s door.


54 posted on 05/07/2013 7:06:39 PM PDT by Viennacon
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To: Viennacon

No, I was just trying to get you to admit that you chose the wrong word (actions) to describe how one gets into Heaven.


55 posted on 05/07/2013 7:19:03 PM PDT by bramps (Sarah Palin got more votes in 2008 than Mitt Romney got in 2012)
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To: jsanders2001

A pursuit of investigation that has dropped the assumption of spirit would not be able to arrive back at a conclusion of the existence of spirit. However, spirit has been accepted by all mankind as a postulate for all known recorded history until the advent of modern materialism. People would differ over the effective existence, identity, and qualities of a God or gods, but not about the existence of spirit.

Denial of spirit or at least of spirit’s power over humans has brought a lot of false comfort to atheists and agnostics. However this throws them, at best, upon the impoverished rags and tags of meaningless psychology and a world that can never say “ought” or “should” but at most can say “does.”


56 posted on 05/07/2013 7:31:14 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: mfish13

God made the dice, and the rolls, of such matter.


57 posted on 05/07/2013 7:32:39 PM PDT by RedHeeler
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To: bramps

Jesus is spirit and is as close as a prayer that opens up your heart for Him to enter, which He will if asked in sincerity. You have to be willing to want Jesus... if the whole idea of a Savior of your soul is utterly indifferent to you, then you are not at the point of being able to accept. God won’t barge into the heart that does not want Him. It might be a monstrous oversimplification, but is very true, to say that Christianity is getting the right spirit in your heart, a spirit that is God, when before you were riding upon a spirit that was not God. The Bible goes into much, much further detail about what the qualities of this spirit is... loves, forgives, watches, supports, warns, directs, feeds, and much more.


58 posted on 05/07/2013 7:38:36 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: OneWingedShark

Jesus Christ. What of Him?


59 posted on 05/07/2013 7:38:57 PM PDT by RedHeeler
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To: RedHeeler
Jesus Christ. What of Him?

*nod* - I wanted an example that wasn't "hand wave"-able as "He's God, it doesn't apply to Him."

60 posted on 05/07/2013 7:41:27 PM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: caww

There are many evidences of spirit, if not proofs in the modern scientific sense. Spirit is willful and it is not amenable to things like being poured out of a flask or heated over a Bunsen burner. So there is no such thing as a “modern scientific experiment” upon spirit. However spirit DOES get involved in relationships as well as in filling (for good or for evil).


61 posted on 05/07/2013 7:44:57 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

That would depend on what your definition is of spirit or spirits is. Many accept anything abby-normal as good or an experience in the unseen world as good or from God.


62 posted on 05/07/2013 7:48:41 PM PDT by caww
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To: rickmichaels

By the way, I am skeptical of the spiritual wisdom of the “Calvinistic” approach in the sense that it is described here. While God can certainly use Calvinism’s fright to warn souls about the need of salvation, because God is not proud and does not require perfect circumstances in which to work, it can’t herald an ironclad salvational promise to accept. And so it is a half truth, not a pure gospel. It can at best say “good luck” (which is also a problem with extreme Arminianism, so I am being an equal opportunity critic here).

John Calvin himself was probably not a very strong “Calvinist,” by the way.


63 posted on 05/07/2013 7:50:56 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: caww

A non-physical entity that possesses a will... that’s probably a pretty good working definition. I’m not making any value judgment upon experiences with spirits. One could have an experience with Old Scratch and that would be evidence of spirit, but also perhaps not a very helpful one except as much as it may drive someone to seek God.


64 posted on 05/07/2013 7:52:36 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: OneWingedShark

I know. Thank you for doing good work.


65 posted on 05/07/2013 8:01:39 PM PDT by RedHeeler
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To: HiTech RedNeck

And what did I say that makes you think I believe otherwise?


66 posted on 05/07/2013 9:11:35 PM PDT by bramps (Sarah Palin got more votes in 2008 than Mitt Romney got in 2012)
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To: bramps

Funny one should be so touchy about being reminded, like being known in the world for believing in Jesus is an ego thing to you.


67 posted on 05/07/2013 9:14:41 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

You’re doubling down, huh? My simple question was being ‘touchy’? Either you’re jumping threads and have me confused with someone else or you else you’re having a real bad night.


68 posted on 05/07/2013 9:26:18 PM PDT by bramps (Sarah Palin got more votes in 2008 than Mitt Romney got in 2012)
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To: bramps

Aren’t you glad to be reminded? Normal serious Christians would be. But you got touchy and blame it on me. Guess you ain’t the “tell me the old, old story” kind after all?


69 posted on 05/07/2013 9:28:21 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
Have the water checked in your town immediately.
70 posted on 05/07/2013 9:33:56 PM PDT by bramps (Sarah Palin got more votes in 2008 than Mitt Romney got in 2012)
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To: rickmichaels
There is nothing you can do wrong.
And many believers confidently expect that God isn’t judgmental either.

That kind of talk comes straight from the devil.

71 posted on 05/07/2013 9:58:33 PM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not Nurture™)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
‘Old Scratch’ knows how to play a good game of ‘counterfeit’ as well documented...and those who, like him, know well how to appear as angels of light.

Many scriptures come to mind when reading of these various accounts....or discussions of...not once have they been an encouragement to believe what I'm reading or of the event, rather warnings.

“Blessed is he who believes without “seeing”.

What I have encountered with those who have such experience's is a tendency to rely on the experience entirely yet stamping it with the seal of God to legitimize it.....as many false religions do.

Also there are those who will not settle for that one time experience and continue to seek more of them...they begin “looking” for other experiences and if not finding then seek those who have had them and “feed” or keep alive the experience they've had...one hand feeding the other. I've also seen those who seek these experiences or encounters to find their faith eventually erode as the expereinces fade or cease entirely....in the end they found their faith rested far too much on what they encountered with their senses...rather than their faith being exercised/becoming stronger thru their relationship with the Lord and His word.

72 posted on 05/08/2013 1:21:14 AM PDT by caww
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To: rickmichaels
Why so many people – including scientists – suddenly believe in an afterlife

Well; they're getting OLDer and Death is starting to knock at their door...

73 posted on 05/08/2013 3:51:23 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: mfish13
We scientists are a religious lot.

Aren't we all?

However; there is just ONE religion who has a Savior who claimed...

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.

No man comes to the Father but by me."


74 posted on 05/08/2013 3:53:58 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: KittenClaws
...have absolutely no idea “how” death occurs...

Well; we are still arguing when LIFE does as well!

(At least for HUMANs)

75 posted on 05/08/2013 3:55:30 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Viennacon
There is a Heaven.

We have 3 levels to ours...

--MormonDude(Did you know that only about 15% of us will do everything required by our church to get to reside at the HIGHEST level - where GOD will be?)

76 posted on 05/08/2013 3:58:37 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: KittenClaws; BipolarBob

Jesus was resurrected.
Lazarus was restored.


77 posted on 05/08/2013 3:59:40 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: redangus
... he was being dragged to hell by a host of demons ...

Ghost had a scene in it like this...

78 posted on 05/08/2013 4:01:40 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Brett66
The spiritual realm is constantly trying to communicate with us on this Earth.

Yeah - the BAD ones!

79 posted on 05/08/2013 4:03:06 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: A'elian' nation
My friend’s SOME spirit also told the psychic...
80 posted on 05/08/2013 4:06:55 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Zuse
Check the book “To Hell and Back” by Dr. Maurice Rawlings. His collection of anecdotes suggest that atheists will be in for a surprise.

No need for this, as the BEst selling book every year states the same thing!

(One can skip to the end to find out...)

81 posted on 05/08/2013 4:09:14 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Viennacon; bramps
What does the ‘action’ of repentance and acceptance of Christ look like?

Probably like this:

 

John 6:28-29

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”


1 John 3:21-24

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.


82 posted on 05/08/2013 4:11:42 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: bramps
...you chose the wrong word (actions)...

Not necessarily.

The 'action' just needed to be explained a bit more fully.

83 posted on 05/08/2013 4:13:46 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: caww
Many accept anything abby-normal...

We can always fall back on reading tea leaves - or entrails...

84 posted on 05/08/2013 4:18:28 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: caww
‘Old Scratch’ knows how to play a good game of ‘counterfeit’ as well documented...and those who, like him, know well how to appear as angels of light.

Hey!

We are PERSONAGES we'll have you know!!!



85 posted on 05/08/2013 4:22:52 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Brett66

How would one recognize having an attempt made to communicate with them by the spirit world?


86 posted on 05/08/2013 6:08:49 AM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
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To: Elsie

Many religions claim a “messiah.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_messiah_claimants


87 posted on 05/08/2013 6:38:30 AM PDT by New Jersey Realist (America: home of the free because of the brave)
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To: Elsie

I’m sorry you don’t believe me, but you weren’t there. I was. I know it was my friend’s spirit by what was said and how the medium described him.

What I can’t understand is if Christians believe there is a heaven, why is communication with those in heaven impossible?

The love, understanding, communication, and signs are there for those open to them. They still watch over us.


88 posted on 05/08/2013 8:01:03 AM PDT by A'elian' nation
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To: A'elian' nation
I know it was my friend’s spirit by what was said and how the medium described him.

you 'know' nothing of the kind.

Why do you think they are called LYING spirits?

89 posted on 05/08/2013 8:40:58 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: A'elian' nation
What I can’t understand is if Christians believe there is a heaven, why is communication with those in heaven impossible?

The BIBLE says NOT to try to communicate with the dead.

CHRISTIANs don't.

90 posted on 05/08/2013 8:42:16 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: rickmichaels

This was a wonderful article. Thank you.


91 posted on 05/08/2013 8:53:31 AM PDT by Lazamataz ("AP" clearly stands for American Pravda. Our news media has become completely and proudly Soviet.)
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To: Elsie

Awesome that you have the ability to know if others know stuff. Keep up the good work


92 posted on 05/08/2013 9:54:05 AM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
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To: stuartcr
Awesome that you have the ability to know if others know stuff.

There's a LOT of it going around.


93 posted on 05/08/2013 2:06:32 PM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Elsie

Yeah, I was gonna comment on that, as well.

Don’t mess with spirit communication.
Ghosts, UFOs, paranormal - if you’re of a biblical worldview, you know all those things come from Satan and his “angels”.


94 posted on 05/08/2013 2:09:04 PM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: MrB
Ghosts, UFOs, paranormal - if you’re of a biblical worldview, you know all those things come from Satan and his “angels”.

I just got scolded for this...


Ghosts, UFOs, paranormal - if you’re of a biblical worldview, you BELIEVE all those things come from Satan and his “angels”.

95 posted on 05/08/2013 3:17:44 PM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: A'elian' nation

“I know it was my friend’s spirit by what was said and how the medium described him.”

Having read extensively about how Houdini traveled the world exposing mediums as FAKE, revealing their tricks, showing how they deceive, etc., I doubt it was him - regardless of how it felt or looked.


96 posted on 05/08/2013 7:30:50 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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To: A'elian' nation

Here is the definitive book that shows how it is done...

http://www.thecoldreadingbook.com/index.php?p=hm


97 posted on 05/08/2013 7:47:46 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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To: aMorePerfectUnion

15 or so years ago, a strip mall went up in flames in Nashville, In - a day or so before Christmas.

Now this little town in Brown County Indiana is quaint in it’s tourist attractions.

N. Van Buren street is a MAJOR artery into town and this fire REALLY messed up the pre-Christmas shoppers getting there.

As we lived only a few miles away, we decided, after dinner on Christmas, to drive over to see the damage.

The debris was still steaming in places when I noticed a Fortune Telling shop nearby.

I would have thought those folks would have warned the others of the impending doom.


98 posted on 05/09/2013 4:54:41 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: caww

Spirits should be tested before being believed, of course. Is what they urge you to do or what they assert to you, consonant with the Holy Word? If so, that’s a sign of a good angel or the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, they are evil....


99 posted on 05/10/2013 4:29:22 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: Elsie

Some fortune tellers are fakers with nothing but furnishing entertaining make-believe to customers on their minds, and others are in express league with the devil. Anyhow none of the shoppers asked them, I suppose....


100 posted on 05/10/2013 4:32:36 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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