Home > Science and Faith, World Views > Foundations: 3) What Next?

Foundations: 3) What Next?

In “The Toxic Lie” we examined the issue whether “What you see is all there is” and concluded that there is more to this world than we can see.  When we think of the “world we can see”, we generally think of our physical Universe of three spatial dimensions and tend to forget about the fourth:  Time.

We are born, we live, and we die locked in time.  We are but a flash in the Universe.  But do we exist only in that brief moment, or is there more to our life than death?  We will examine that topic in this post.

The Wall

All your life you have lived in a house surrounded by a high wall that you cannot scale.  One day a friend comes to you and says, “You think your garden is beautiful?  You should see the garden on the other side!  The flowers are bigger and the grass is greener.  It’s incredible!”

Would you believe him?  Well, it depends.  It depends on how truthful you friend has been all his life.  If he has never lied to you, you’d be more likely to accept his statement as true; otherwise you would doubt it.  He might pique your interest.  But then another friend comes and says the same thing.  Then another, and another.  Sooner or later you will begin to believe that there really might be a beautiful garden on the other side of the wall.  If enough reliable friends continue to tell you the same thing, you will ultimately accept the fact as truth that there is a garden on the other side of the wall – even though you personally have never experienced it, nor do you have the means to verify it through experiment.

So it is with the issue of life outside our brief life.  I cannot perform the following experiment:  I will commit suicide, see what happens, come back to life and tell everyone about it.  But I can carefully examine the world and see if there is any evidence for life beyond that brief span between birth and death.  If there is sufficient evidence that there might be more to life than death, then we need to at least consider it as a real possibility.

What is sufficient evidence?  To prove that there might be something, only one reliable instance is adequate.  To prove that there is something, and it is as claimed, more reliable evidence is needed.

Even if something can be verified experimentally, there is always a chance of error in the experiment, so we can never know anything with 100% certainty.  So we are always betting on the odds when we accept something as true.  When we get in our car to go to the store, for example, we accept as truth that we will not have an accident and die on the way.  In truth, there is a finite probability that we will experience a wreck that kills us, but we assume that probability to be small enough to offset the benefit we derive from going to the store.  So we go.  In icy weather the odds of having an accident increase significantly, so we may choose not to go.

Now let’s examine the situation mathematically and apply it to the question of life outside the brief span of birth to death.  How sure does one have to be to know or accept something as truth?

  • Is 60% (true 3 out of 5 times) sure enough?
  • How about 80% (true 4 out of 5 times)?
  • Or 90% (true 9 out of 10 times)?
  • How about 99% (99 times out of a hundred)?
  • Or 99.9% (999 times out of a thousand)?

That’s getting pretty sure, but it may still not be enough to risk our lives on it.

Contemporary Evidence

Ghost Stories

As a Christian I do not believe in ghosts[1], nor do I care to study them.  Nevertheless I have chosen to include ghosts in this essay for the simple reason that ghosts are routinely considered to be the spirits of people who had lived and physically died, but some aspect of them continues to exist in the supernatural.  That being the case, true ghost stories must be an indication that those particular individuals didn’t just turn to dust and cease to exist when they passed.  If some individuals continue to exist as ghosts after death, what happened to the others?  Do they continue to exist after death as well?  Even they do not, the point is made:  Existence does not necessarily stop at death.

I have included two web sites for reference primarily due to the volume of “true” ghost stories they contain.  If only 1% of these stories are verifiable, then just the two referenced sites include over 250 instances of existence after death.  Googling “true ghost stories” yields 7,420,000 results.  If just 1% of these are verifiable, we still have 74,200 instances of ghost stories.  Surely some of those hits also contain instances of existence after death!  Thus one would expect the real number of verifiable “true” ghost stories to be in the many, many thousands.

http://theshadowlands.net/ghost/experiences.html – claims to have over 16,700 true ghost stories

http://www.ghostplace.com/?gclid=CKXeqIK7_a4CFVO9tgodOSQd4w  – claims to have over 6,500 true ghost stories

Medical Near Death Experiences (NDE)

Doctors deal with life and death issues on a regular basis.  They witness death regularly.  They also witness an inexplicable recovery from medical death in some cases.  In these cases all signs of life have ceased for an extended period of time, but then somehow the heartbeat and breathing re-starts.  Medical science has no explanation for these phenomena, but there are numerous documented instances.  One of the noticeable effect of NDE is that individuals who have such experiences are transformed:

“…having a NDE is good for you, resulting in a love for living. One girl summed up the transformation as learning that “life is for living and the light is for later.”

Adults who had NDEs gave more money to charity than control subjects, volunteered in the community, were in helping professions, did not suffer from drug abuse, use many over-the-counter medications, and ate more fresh fruit and vegetables than control populations.”
  http://www.near-death.com/experiences/experts06.html

A quick Google search for “critical near death experiences” resulted in 2,940,000 results.  A quick scan of these results indicates consistent first hand recollections of conscious experiences during the period of death.  These experiences include witnessing real life events out of the body, heavenly peace, beauty, encounters with dead loved ones, and pure joy.  Some have provided information they could not have known except through an out of body experience.  For example, in one instance the patient said there was a sneaker on the roof of the hospital, though the patient had never been on the roof.  Indeed the sneaker was there when hospital staff checked it out.

If only 1% of these results are verifiable, we still have over 29,400 instances of near death experiences.  Surely this is an indicator that conscious life does not cease to exist after physical death.  It is most interesting to note that even those physicians most wedded to a physical explanation invariably point to the possibility of a conscious soul living on after physical death!  A few references follow:

http://www.near-death.com/evidence.html (home page http://www.near-death.com )
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1693-no-medical-explanation-for-near-death-experiences.html
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104397005
http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/Chapters/ShermerNDE.htm
http://profezie3m.altervista.org/archivio/TheLancet_NDE.htm
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/DrJohnson/story?id=126449&page=1#.T2y4DtlfRto

Christian Experiences

Some might argue that a Christian’s whole concept of life after death is the derived from that individual’s faith.  Since Christianity clearly states that life is eternal, that it does not end when our life on this earth ends, a non-believer could conclude that a Christian’s death and life experience is solely the product of that faith.  Therefore in the previous paragraphs I have intentionally focused on references to non-Christian experiences.

But it would be remiss not to address Christian experiences, which include many documented instances of returning to life after death.  A small number of those have been publicized in books; many others are less well known.  Some examples follow:

“90 Minutes in Heaven” by Don Piper
“Miracles are for Real” by Dr. Jim Garlow
“Flight to Heaven” by Capt. Dale Black
“The Heavenly Man” by Chinese Pastor Yun
“Mega Shift” by James Rutz
“23 Minutes in Hell” by Bill Wiese
“Heaven” by Randy Alcorn.

A personal encounter with an overwhelming, awe inspiring, loving Jesus is always central to the experience.  Other elements are quite similar to those described in secular literature:  Witnessing real life events out of the body, visits to Heaven, meetings with dead loved ones, and pure joy.

There are also a few personal testimonials of visits to Hell.  All these testimonials describe horrors beyond earthly comprehension:  The lake of fire, loneliness, agony, and indescribable eternal demonic torture.  The horrors of the earthly holocaust are Heavenly compared to the eternal terror of Hell!

A quick Google search of “Christian near death experiences testimonies” produced a whopping 32,500,000 results!  If only 1% of these results are verifiable, we still have 325,000 instances of near death experiences.  Even if only 0.1% of these results are verifiable, we still have 32,500 instances of near death experiences.  Surely that statistic supports the Christian belief of eternal life!

A few examples follow:

http://www.near-death.com/forum/nde/000/89.html (A Baptist Minister’s sobering testimony)
http://www.testimoniesofheavenandhell.com/tag/near-death-experiences-of-hell/ (personal video testimonies)
http://spiritlessons.com/ (video testimonies and books)
http://www.emjc3.com/helland.htm (a cardiologist’s personal experience with patients brought back to life)
http://www.freechristianteaching.org/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=489#axzz1py2buttz (A Christian’s perspective on the Scientific Evidence for Near Death Experiences)

Historical Evidence

The most convincing evidence, however, comes from Jesus Christ himself.  He was crucified, dead, and buried for three days, then rose again and was seen by his disciples and others.  They touched his body.  They heard his voice.  They saw his wounds.  They ate with Him.  They were thus convinced of the fact that death is not the end of life; it is but a door to another phase of life.  Jesus Christ demonstrated it, and through that demonstration He testified to the Truth of the Gospel[2].

One of the most striking aspects of all these NDE experiences is a life transformation of the individual.  Christians and non-Christians alike become more like Christ after such experiences.  They become more connected to the community, and more caring of their fellow human beings.  Those who were Christian prior, often become missionaries, pastors, or evangelists; they feel compelled to spread the Gospel to a lost world, and to do so fearlessly of their lives.

It was the same way with the first Christians.  Uncounted thousands of Christians willingly and peacefully accepted death by torture because of their faith.  Every one of Jesus’ Apostles, with the exception of John, was transformed and then martyred.  They did not fear death because they witnessed the fact that life did not end with death.  They were convinced.

Are you willing to die for your faith, whatever it may be?  Are you as sure about what will happen to you after you die as the early Christians were?  If not, seek Jesus!

Illusionists

It is ironic indeed that two of the greatest illusionists ever, Houdini and David Copperfield, have lived in what most would consider the age of reason, the age when it is declared, “If it cannot be reproduced in the laboratory, it cannot be real.”  It is ironic that at the same time visitors to our state fairs flock to performances where people from the audience are sawed in half, made to levitate, and even disappear.  We gasp in awe and look in wonder at these feats and walk away muttering, “That is impossible.  How did they do that?”

Beware!  All is not as it looks.  It is easy to be fooled.  No doubt there are many who make false claims made about demons, visits to hell and heaven, and so forth for personal gain.  Do not allow yourself to be consumed by falsehood and evil.

If the Bible is true, as I believe it to be, demonic spirits are always seeking to capture and destroy the unwary through deception.  That was Lucifer’s classic approach in the Garden of Eden and he continues to practice it today.  It is better to learn about such matters from a safe source, The Bible, than to enter into the lair of dragons only to be destroyed and consumed by the enemy.

The Truth Detector

Known Truths and Laws 1.1  Absolute truth exists, whether we detect it or not. [link to Truth]1.2  Absolute truth = Reality.  Truth cannot contradict itself. [link to Truth?]1.3 Hypotheses (A) and (B) are mutually exclusive.  If one is true, the other must be false since they are opposing statements. (Based on 1.1 and 1.2)1.4  There is a reality we cannot always empirically prove, measure, or test, but we know of its existence through its interaction with the physical world. [Link to The Toxic Lie]1.5  The laws of probability
Assumptions 2.1  We do not know all truth.  Some truths we may never know for certain.  Other truths we may know only partially or incorrectly.2.2  We may be unable to reproduce in a laboratory experiment a life to death to life condition, but the documented testimony of someone is acceptable.
Hypothesis

(A)

There is nothing after death.  When we die, we simply cease to exist.

(B)

There is more to life than death.  When we die, we do not cease to exist.

Prediction No verifiable examples can be found that contradict the hypothesis.Any experiences describing consciousness during death can be explained medically and scientifically. At least one verifiable example can be found indicating that life does not cease to exist after death.Documented evidence will have the following characteristics:

  • A person was clinically dead
  • The person unexpectedly came back to life
  • The person described a conscious experience during the time of his death.
Verification & Test(Observation) Many examples that cannot be explained medically or scientifically do exist. After discarding 99% of Google returns, we find that 428,600 possible cases remain meeting the requirements stated above.Let us now discard 99% of those remaining cases because they may be fraudulent.  (We have now discarded 99.99% of the cases!)Now let us further assume that the probability of each one of the remainder will be true only 50% of the time.With those assumptions, the probability that all the instances are false is 1 in 101200.  101200 is such a huge number that it makes the probability of all instances being false statistically impossible![3]
Conclusion The probability that life ends at death is statistically impossible; conscious life after death must exist.Therefore we conclude there is more to life than death.

In Closing

“There is nothing after death.  We just die and go back to dust,” is a critical foundational concept for most modern world-views.  Careful examination of the concept indicates that it is a false concept.

All is not as it looks.  There is definitely more to life than death.  Anyone who ignores that truth will likely experience eternal suffering, as described by Jesus in Mat 13:40-42 and  John 15:5-6.

Wouldn’t it be wiser to build a strong eternal life on the rock of life, Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone?  Wouldn’t it be wiser to at least investigate the matter?

Beware, my friend.  All is not as it looks.  Read “The Explosion” next.


[1] Christians believe that ghosts are manifestations of evil spirits and demons we must avoid.

[2] The Gospel is historically accurate.  An in-depth analysis of that topic is outside the scope of this essay.  However, there is significant extra-Biblical evidence for the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  See the following reference for a brief summary:   http://www.pleaseconvinceme.com/index/Is_There_Evidence_for_Jesus_Outside_the_Bible

[3] 101200 is approximately equal to 24286.  The number is so large the computer can’t handle it!  In comparison there are only 1082 atoms in the entire Universe.  (We would have to throw out nearly 99.9999% of all the cases, or effectively ignore all reality, just to achieve a 1 in a trillion chance that life actually ends at death  – but even that is highly unlikely to support the conclusion that life actually ends at death.)

750

© 2012 notasitlooks

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