Many religious visions of an afterlife, like those of heaven from Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, are essays of faith that are expected to be believe without any demands for proof or evidence. However, scientific quests for immortality are based on beliefs that evidence is the main premise but could already exists through Near-Death Experiences and even reincarnation. Let us look at both paths to heaven independently since they have completely different rationale for what’s actually happening.
Are Near Death Experiences Really Stairways to Heaven?
Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) are usually depicted by 5 components that common to each incident: (1) Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE) with feelings of floating above their body while they look down; (2) Total separation from their body; (3) Going into darkness via a hallway or tunnel; (4) Observing a very bright light at the tunnel’s end that appears to be a passageway to… (5) Another side, where bright light, the holy God, angels, and loved ones who have “crossed over” are all there to usher in and welcome the person who is dying.
Often times there’s a review of one’s life, and most of these NDEs are very positive and lead dying individuals to experience extreme joy and gratitude. But according to the International Association of Near-Death Studies, some 9 – 23% of these people have experienced very negative NDEs that were characterized by void, fear, pain, emptiness, and even the feelings of nonexistence. Rather than going to heaven, several of these folks feel they are going to hell.
According to one NDE scientist named Phyllis Atwater, who’s gone through NDEs herself and now specializes in these negative experiences that some people are reporting, these hellish NDEs happen to “those who seem to have deeply repressed guilt, fear, and anger, or those who expect some kind of punishment after death.” So whenever we start explaining NDEs, we have to realize that there is going to be big variety of them and therefore, no single monolithic theory is going to explain all of them.
The public became aware of NDEs and OBEs in 1975 because of Raymond Moody’s bestseller entitled Life After Life, which described well over one hundred cases, where numerous individuals accepted as proof of the afterlife. The frequency at which NDEs take place is very difficult to express with reliable data or numbers. There is a cardiologist who is named Fred Schoonmaker, for instance, who claimed that some 50% of more than 2000 of his patients across an 18 year interval had reported having NDEs.
In a 1982 Gallup poll, they reported a percentage number that was considerably smaller at 5%. There is another cardiologist named Pim van Lommel who is claiming that about 12% of his 344 cardiac arrest cases have been successfully brought back from NDEs, and he wrote in his book called Consciousness Beyond Life what most folks believe—NDEs are proof that the mind survives without their brain.
Perhaps the most famous and popular NDE occurred in the year 1984 when this migrant worker named Maria entered a hospital in Seattle after suffering a heart attack. While in ICU she had another cardiac arrest. After resuscitation she described what had happened to her. She said that she had floated above her body to the ceiling. From there, she saw medics trying to revive her. Remarkably, she claimed says she floated outside that hospital room and spotted a tennis shoe on a ledge of a window on the third floor. Her social worker in the ICU, who was a woman called Kimberly Clark, went to the third floor and got a shoe from the ledge of that window: “The only way she could have had such a perspective was if she had been floating right outside and at very close range to the tennis shoe. I retrieved the shoe and brought it back to Maria; it was very concrete evidence to me.”