As we have seen, there is considerable evidence of survival of human consciousness after clinical death, implying a transphysical dimension of human nature and a transphysical origin of consciousness. However, it does not show that this transphysical dimension of consciousness is eternal. Nevertheless, there are some clues that this transphysical condition is eternal – e.g. the love and benevolence of the white light as well as the love of Jesus and deceased relatives and friends, which seem to betoken the intention of a loving deity to fulfill our greatest desire, namely, unconditional love and joy with that deity throughout eternity. This last point deserves special consideration because in every instance of an encounter with the “being of light” in all of the above studies patients reported the experience to be one of intense love. The following case resembles hundreds of others reported by the above researchers:
I became very weak, and I fell down. I began to feel a sort of drifting, a movement of my real being in and out of my body, and to hear beautiful music. I floated on down the hall and out the door onto the screened-in porch. There, it almost seemed that clouds, a pink mist really, began to gather around me, and then I floated right straight on through the screen, just as though it weren’t there, and up into this pure crystal clear light, an illuminating white light. It was beautiful and so bright, so radiant, but it didn’t hurt my eyes. It’s not any kind of light you can describe on earth. I didn’t actually see a person in this light, and yet it has a special identity, it definitely does. It is a light of perfect understanding and perfect love.... And all during this time, I felt as though I was surrounded by an overwhelming love and compassion.83
This experience of overwhelming love by those who encountered the “being of light” may legitimately provoke the intuition that this being’s intention is not only transitory benevolence, but to give unconditional and eternal love -- which corresponds to the fulfillment of our greatest desire.
The above studies of near death experiences give considerable probative evidence of transphysical consciousness after bodily death which is not explained by current physicalist explanations and unlikely to be explained by future ones. In view of this, and the preponderance of evidence for a positive, loving experience after bodily death, we now have an ultimate context in which to interpret happiness and suffering. We no longer need to limit happiness to our physical existence and our bodily lifespan, but can explore transcendent and eternal happiness both now and in our eternal future.84
At this point, the evidence and methodology of experience, reason, and science fall silent. For even though near death experiences point to a future of intense love, we are left with many questions that NDEs, natural reason, and experience cannot answer. How do we orient ourselves toward this post-mortem life of love? Is the “being of light and love” God? Does God help us, protect us, guide us, and inspire us in this life? If so, how? In view of the fact that about 85% of children undergoing clinical death have near death experiences, why do only 9 to 18% of adults have one? Is there something that adults must decide or do before they can transition to a heavenly domain (with the being of light, deceased relatives, and Jesus)? Why do some adults (around 1%) have negative post-mortem experiences? Does God or the being of light have a specific purpose for each of us? Can we pray to God or the being of light before we die? These and many other questions go beyond the data of near death experiences – yet they beg for an answer in light of them.
Does God or the being of light stop his revelation (about our transcendence and post- mortem future) with near death experiences – or does he provide additional revelation that can answer the above questions? I find it incomprehensible that a loving God who gives us a glimpse into our eternal existence with Him (through NDEs) would leave us completely in the dark about the above questions – especially if they have significance for that eternal existence with Him. If this conjecture is correct, then God must have given us another source of revelation to answer the above questions. What could be the source of that revelation?
I would submit that it is the revelation of Jesus Christ – not only because many people see Jesus in near death experiences, but also because the being of light is intensely loving – resembling Jesus’ revelation of God as “Abba” and “the father of the Prodigal Son.”85
For Jesus, God is not only our Father, but “Abba” (the word used by little children to address their fathers). Jesus compares him to the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son – a father who is unconditionally forgiving, compassionate, affectionate, accepting, and humble. Jesus not only reveals His Father to be unconditional love, but also He Himself. His miracles, teachings, love of sinners, and self-sacrificial death all show this unconditionally loving heart which gives credibility to his claim to be the only begotten Son. Moreover, many members of the early Church were witnesses to his resurrection, and reported that his risen body was transformed. Some aspects of this transformation resemble near death experiences. Furthermore, Jesus’ view of the resurrection as a state of unconditional love is corroborated by the vast majority of near death experiences. These parallels between Christianity and near death experiences suggest that Jesus does hold the key to the additional revelation we need to orient ourselves from this life to the next.
If the above reasoning seems plausible to readers of this website, you might want to explore Jesus’ revelation further. If so, see free video, The Reasonableness of Christianity. See also the free article, Science and the Shroud of Turin and the free Jesus Wiki on the latest
historical evidence supporting his claim to be the only begotten Son of the Father. Readers may want to purchase my future book – God So Loved the World: Clues to Our Transcendent Destiny From the Revelation of Jesus (Ignatius Press – coming in early 2016).
Notes and Sources
1 Parnia et al 2014(a).
2 van Lommel 2001.
3 Ring 1980.
4 Ring 1999.
5 Janice Holden 2009. Handbook of Near Death Experiences: Thirty Years of Investigation (Connecticut: Praeger Press).
6 Basford (1990), Fenwick & Fenwick (1995), Greyson & Flynn (1984), Roberts & Owen (1988), Sabom (1982), Zaleski (1987), Moody (1988), Greyson (2010), Cook et al (1998), Kelly et al (2000).
7 See the website www.iands.org for a complete index of 135 topics concerned with research and longitudinal studies of NDEs.
8 See Gallup and Proctor 1982.
9 Alexander 2012.
10 I have written a thorough analysis of this in Chapter 6 of a forthcoming book – The Soul’s Upward Yearning: Clues to our Transcendent Nature from Experience and Reason (Ignatius Press coming Fall 2015). In that work, I discuss a cogent solution to the problem of soul-brain interaction that borrows from the Nobel Prize winning physiologist, Sir John Eccles and physicists, Friedrich Beck and Henry Margenau called “trialist interactionism.” I also borrow from philosophers Michael Polanyi and Bernard Lonergan to show how trialist interactionism can be combined with a modern theory of hylomorphism. See the References at the end of this article for further study.
11 Alexander 2012.
12 See Chalmers 1995, 1997, and 2010. The basic problem is explained in Chapter 6 of my forthcoming book – Spitzer 2015.
13 See Gödel 1931. I have explained the problem in Chapters 3 and 6 of my forthcoming book – Spitzer 2015.
14 Nuland, S.B. (1994). How we die: Reflections on life’s final chapter. (Norwalk, CT: Hastings House).
15 See Chapter 6 of my forthcoming book – Spitzer 2015 for a detailed explanation of my synthesis of trialistic interactionism and modern hylomorphism.
16 In his early work, Eccles declared himself to be an “interactionist dualist,” but when he realized the need for a “field of mediation” between the immaterial “soul” and the material body, and saw quantum field theory as a viable candidate for this mediation, he along with his “co-theorist,” Sir Karl Popper, moved to a theory of “tri-alistic” interactionism. See Chapter 6 (Section III.A.) for a detailed explanation. See also Eccles 1989 and 1990; also Popper and Eccles 1984.
17 Eccles has provided a book of essays by scientists and philosophers about the cogency of strong interactionist dualism in Eccles, ed. 1983.
18 See Eccles 1989 and 1990.
19 Chalmers 2010.
See also Chalmers 1997.
20 Nagel 1974, pp. 435-450. See also Nagel 2012.
21 See Stapp 2007.
22 See also Beck and Eccles 1992 and 2003)
23 See Stapp 2007.
24 Hameroff 1998, pp. 1869-1896. See also Penrose and Hameroff 1995, 99112. See also Hameroff and Penrose 1996.
25 Penrose and Hameroff have been criticized for making unexplained (and seemingly unjustified) leaps from quantum activity in brain microtubules (which is hypothetical) to quantum computation in the brain and then to human self-consciousness. The difficulties with this theory are assessed in Chapter 6 of my forthcoming book – Spitzer 2015.
26 See Beauregard and O’Leary 2008, and Beauregard 2013.
27 Polanyi 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971.
28 Lonergan 1992, pp. 270-278
29 This problem is well recognized by Plato, Aquinas, Kant, and Lonergan. I give an explanation of it in my forthcoming book – Spitzer 2015 pp. 115-117.
30 See Lonergan 1992 on “the notion of being” – pp. 372-398, particularly pp. 380-381. I give a detailed explanation in my forthcoming book -- Spitzer 2015, pp. 118-133.
31 I give an explanation of this in my forthcoming book – Spitzer 2015 pp 129-132 and 209-211.
32 See Chalmers 1995, 1997, and 2010. I give an explanation of this problem in my forthcoming book – Spitzer 2015, pp. 216-219 and 233-238.
33 http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/psychiatry 34 Parnia et al 2014(a).
35 See van Lommel, et al 2001.
36 Parnia et al. 2014.
37 van Lommel, et al 2001, p. 2039.
38 van Lommel, et al 2001, p. 2044.
39 van Lommel, et al 2001, p. 2041.
40 van Lommel, et al 2001. P. 2045.
41 Ring and Valarino 2006, p. 81.
42 Ring and Valarino 2006, p. 81.
43 Ring and Valarino 2006, p. 81.
44 Moody 1988, pp. 7-20.
45 van Lommel, et al 2001, p. 2041.
46 Moody’s study is significant because it indicates how patients were transformed by these encounters with departed loved ones. See Moody 1993.
47 Holden 2007, pp. 33-42.
48 Carter 2010, p. 217.
49 Explored in all 15 studies mentioned in this Chapter – that is: Sam Parnia et al (2014), Pim van Lommel et al (2001), Kenneth Ring et al (2006), and Janice Holden (2007), Basford (1990), Fenwick & Fenwick (1995), Greyson & Flynn (1984), Roberts & Owen (1988), Sabom (1982), Zaleski (1987), Moody (1988), Greyson (2010), Cook et al (1998), Kelly et al (2000).
50 van Lommel, et al 2001, p. 2042. 51 Morse 1990, p. 20.
52Clark 1984, p.243.
53 Moody 1988, pp. 17-20.
54 Greyson 2007 p. 237.
55 See Ring, Cooper, and Tart 1999, and Ring and Valarino 2006, pp. 80-82.
56 Raymond Moody 1993.
57 See Long 2010, Ch. 8.
58 See van Lommel 2010, pp. 310-319.
59 Greyson 2010.
60 Kelly 2001, pp. 229-249.
61 Cook, Greyson, and Stevenson 1998, pp. 377-406. 62 Kelly, Greyson, and Stevenson 2000, pp. 39-45.
63 Fenwick & Fenwick 1995, p. 163.
64 Kelly 2001, pp. 238-239.
65 Kelly 2001, p. 244.
66 Dr. Sam Parnia et al (2014), Pim van Lommel et al (2001), Dr. Kenneth Ring et al (2006), and Dr. Janice Holden (2007), Basford (1990), Fenwick & Fenwick (1995), Greyson & Flynn (1984), Roberts & Owen (1988), Sabom (1982), Zaleski (1987), Moody (1988), Greyson (2010), Cook et al (1998), Kelly et al (2000).
67 See Parnia et al. 2014 pp 40-47.
68 See Beauregard 2012 (b) p 2.
69 See Beauregard 2012 (b) p 2. See Pearson 2002. 70 See Beauregard 2012 (b) p 2. See Pearson 2002. 71 See Beauregard 2012 (b) p 3.
72 See Blackmore 1993 pp. 49–62
73 See van Lommel 2001 p. 2044.
74 Parnia 2014 pp. 159-160.
75 See Beauregard 2012 (b) p. 3. See also Kelly, Crabtree, and Kelly, 2007, p. 379-380. 76 See Beauregard 2012 (b) p. 3. See also Kelly, Crabtree, and Kelly, 2007, p. 379-380. 77 Jansen 1997 pp. 79-95.
78 Beauregard 2012(b) p. 3.
79 See Beauregard 2012, p. 3. See also Kelly, Crabtree, and Kelly, 2007, p. 383 80 Beauregard 2012 (b) pp. 3-4.
81 Borjigin 2013.
82 See Parnia 2014. pp. 159-160.
83 Moody, 1975, pp. 53-54.
84 Readers interested in transcendent happiness might want to look at the two free videos, Happiness, Suffering, and the Love of God and The Four Levels of Happiness as well as the free article Getting Started on Prayer.
85 For an explanation of Jesus’ Father being like the father of the Prodigal Son, go to The Reasonableness of Christianity - (free video).
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