Reading an article on NDE’s over at Wikipedia and it states that many people have major life changes and after effects after experiencing an NDE. While the article didn’t mention atheist in specific I am wondering if there is a high percentage of atheist’s that now believe in God or a “higher power” after experiencing and NDE. Anyone know of any studies in this area?
There are no atheists that now believe in God.
Well, I figure anyone who still calls themselves an atheist doesn’t believe in God. My question is: Have there been many atheist, which upon experiencing and NDE, had such a profound experiences that it changed their view on God? Pretty simple.
And for the record. I don’t care if you are an atheist, believe in God or anything else. I am just wondering if going through an NDE is enough to change someone religiously.
I am certain it would have been for at least one person at one time. Why do I think this is going to be about proving a point?
I agree. Granting that one or more people have been psychologically affected by an NDE in a way that causes them to believe in a higher power, what would that lead you to conclude?
However, I am unaware of any studies about it, and I am failing to think of any good reason why it should be studied.
I well, I guess I had a near-death experience–I am *told *I “damn near died” on the operating table once, blood loss and all that. I don’t remember a thing about it: no white lights, no beckoning grannies, no hell-fires. And I am as big a godless atheist now as I was before.
Awfully dull story, as I guess most real near-death experiences are.
NDE Analysis of Atheists.
I am not saying that is particularly objective, but it might be a place to start.
I’ve been very near death on a few occasions, and the experience didn’t sabotage my reasoning faculty or my interpretation of reality. Why would it?
Being close to death != having an NDE.
I’ve been in some lectures where it felt like a NDE. Afterwards my atheistic views did not change. I guess that’s a data point for you.
If you have a spare 10 minutes I suggest listening to this podcast about NDEs.
ETA: The reason I mention this link is because if there were former atheists who are now believers based on an NDE then it may be possible that they were not fully informed about why they experienced what they experienced.
That’s highly unlikely.
Whatever an NDE is, if there is any such thing in the first place, it cannot be anything else than a physiological based experience that the brain goes through, maybe because of lack of oxygen or some other uncommon bodily state that may be the cause of death.
In short, NDE’s can’t be anything else other than intense dreams.
For an atheist, this realization should not be a reason to cause the person to now start believing in superstitions and imaginary beings.
Atheism, although a misnomer, is the result of rational analysis of reality, not subjective preference in acceptance of fantasy, that can change due to some random event.
I actually went the other way – I had an NDE that helped push me into atheism, after I found out that what I saw happening was entirely incorrect and that nothing I “saw” had actually been going on, despite how real it seemed.
Well, if atheism is true, that, or something like it, must be true. However, since, for the person we are asked to consider, atheism is potentially in question, it is a circular, question begging argument.
Well, that might be the rational response to an NDE, and perhaps would be the response of someone who is firmly committed to atheism and rationality. I like to think that is how I would respond to an NDE if I had one.
As I understand it, fairly recent work in neuroscience has shown that the stereotypical features of NDEs can be explained quite readily. The tunnel with light at the end of it is a result of the brain being temporarily starved of oxygen, and the feeling of floating outside one’s body can be reproduced by artificial stimulation to certain brain areas concerned with representing bodily posture. No doubt these areas can get abnormally stimulated, or disinhibited, during events when the brain’s oxygen supply is compromised. The stuff about meeting dead relatives, or whatever, can, as you imply, probably be attributed to normal mechanisms of dreaming operating under circumstances where the subject believes, quite rightly, that they may be about to die.
However, I am also sure that there must be atheists who are neither so consistently rational nor so firm their atheistic beliefs as you would like them to be. There are probably quite a few atheists, also, who are not aware of the literature that explains the physiological causes of the stereotypical NDE effects. Also, from what I hear, NDEs, whatever their physiological causes may be, are typically experientially compelling and emotionally powerful experiences. After all, even ordinary nighttime dreams can sometimes be pretty emotionally impactful.
That being so, I would be surprised if, in fact, a considerable proportion of those atheists who have experienced typical NDEs have not turned to religion afterwards. (Of course, this might be very few actual people - perhaps none at all - because both people who experience NDEs and atheists are each only a tiny proportion of the overall population.)
I would also be very surprised if chorpler’s response to an NDE were typical.
[quote=“njtt, post:14, topic:602819”]
[…] I would be surprised if, in fact, a considerable proportion of those atheists who have experienced typical NDEs have not turned to religion afterwards. […]/QUOTE]
Reality is independent of human beings.
Humans don’t define reality. We can comprehend some of it ,some times, but we don’t get to define it.
In addition, attaching a label to something does not make that something real.
You can call NDE anything you want. It does not make it true that any reality exists that should be individually labelled with that acronym.
[quote=“Naxos, post:15, topic:602819”]
The original question is about how some atheists might, in fact, respond or have responded to NDEs, not about what NDEs really are. Do you not understand the distinction? As to what NDEs really are, I do not think that you and I are in any disagreement.
I am not sure what you are trying to say about labels. I used the same label you did, NDE, and it is a very neutral label. It is an acronym for Near Death Experience. It is an experience of a certain sort that people sometimes have when they come to close to death. There does seem to be evidence that such experiences, involving a hallucinated tunnel with light at the end, is relatively common for people falling into unconsciousness due to low brain oxygenation. As experiences, they are perfectly real, although they do not, thereby, constitute good evidence for the reality of a supernatural realm of being. You are quite right to say that there is noting about this fact that should worry an atheist, but it might worry certain atheists nonetheless.
There is no distinction.
Reality is real.
Human perception of reality may or may not be real.
There’s a concept around called “Universal Reality” that addresses your question. But as far as your question is concerned, the answer is easy enough:
Calling something an NDE does not make that thing real.
Atheists are not necessarily intelligent people who arrived at their viewpoint through rational analysis. So it wouldn’t surprise me if some Found God as the result of a near-death experience, much as some got religion after being in a foxhole with Audie Murphy.
If NDEs were an effective means of converting atheists by the Higher Power(s), you’d think they would be a lot more common, or augmented by undeniable manifestations when people weren’t in the middle of a Code Blue, i.e. while brushing their teeth or waiting on line at Subway.
Maybe only tangentially related (but the hallucinations and altered brain function is a common link), but I’ve often wondered what the effects of taking psilocybin or LSD would be for a stone cold atheist like me. From Wiki:
If you read the testimonies of these sorts of experiments there’s a lot of ‘I felt a spiritual oneness with the universe’ talk. Or temporary ego death.
No one can find any god.
No gods exist.