Dr. Raymond Mood Responds to Criticisms of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs)
Are near-death experiences simply a biological process? Does this explain how and why many people share similar experiences or is this a true glimpse into what lies beyond?
Margaret Manning speaks with Dr. Raymond Moody, author of more than 14 books, psychologist, and the man who coined the phrase “near-death experience”, about what critic’s state about NDEs. Dr. Moody has a website, TheUniversityofHeaven.Com where his research continues, and in this interview, he addresses not only the criticism, but explains what it is that critics fail to grasp about NDEs.
It’s All Just a Chemical Reaction
A common criticism or explanation of what NDEs are is that the reason many people share the same experience is due to a chemical process in the brain due to a lack of oxygen. In other words, the brain is simply preparing the mind for death.
Dr. Moody replies that “This material is very threatening to many people”. Whether they are fearful of death or they hold a religious ideology that an NDE conflicts with, the larger problem is that the framework people use for discussing a possible life after death is, in Dr. Moody’s words, “incoherent”.
Plato believed that NDEs were glimpses into the afterlife while Greek philosopher Democritus, who first formulated what we now know are atoms, suggested that NDEs were nothing more than a biological process. This same framework of discussion has continued for more than 3,000 years and while many things have changed in this same amount of time, our discussions in this area remain 3,000 years old.
How Can the Living Share Deathbed Experiences?
One area that isn’t being discussed is that many people who are physically present when a person passes, share not only similar experiences, but they often describe sharing what occurred to the person who has died.
Some have talked about being able to “see” what the deceased has seen, such as the tunnel with the white light at the end or rising from their bodies and seeing themselves on the bed and the room. Once the deceased sees or meets the spirits that are to guide them, the living person is “returned” to their bodies.
Bystanders describe how they watch what appears to be a spirit of the person leaving their body as they die or doctors, attempting to revive a person, state that they have visions of this person’s life, even though they never knew them. Other’s describe how the room fills with light.
Most people try to rationalize away these experiences, but it doesn’t explain how so many people, who are alive and not deprived of oxygen are sharing similar things that they have seen or that have happened to them.
Margaret relates an experience she had as a young woman when she rushed to her mother’s hospital room only to discover that her mother had already passed on. She says she felt that the room was flooded with an “energy” and she saw sparkles of light. Margaret says she always rationalized what she had experienced as “I was going to faint and that is why I saw and felt these things”. She believed at the time that those feelings were associated with fainting, not that they could in any way be related to her mother’s possible energy or spirit after death.
NDEs Are Nothing More Than Memories
Other’s state that when people had NDEs they are simply experiencing memories about their lives and nothing more. Dr. Moody responds by saying that even his wife, who is a non-intellectual, agrees that memory is a strange thing and very unreliable.
If an NDE is nothing more than memory, where does this come from? Surgeons cannot find your memory, consciousness, or “mind”, so how can this part of yourself continue after you have died? Many people are declared dead for 20 minutes or more and they talk about things that happened in their hospital room 15 minutes or more after they technically died that they could not have any memory of.
Are We Simply Speaking of Things that Currently Don’t Make Sense?
If you tried to explain to a person living in 1919 that you watched a movie on your cell phone or that you were speaking to someone in another country on your computer and that you could see them, they wouldn’t understand what you were talking about.
Is it possible that in 2019, we are talking about a possible life after death scenario when we don’t really have a full understanding of what this could be?
In 2019, the idea of life after death doesn’t make sense because we can’t make sense of something that seems contradictory.
A Different Kind of Thinking
Hume’s essay on Immortality states that by the mere light of reason it seems difficult to prove the immortality of the soul.
Dr. Moody believe we need a different type of thinking. By what argument or rationality could we prove any state of existence which no one has ever seen or experienced?
Some new species of thinking is needed to understand this. Sentences such as “there is life after death” are not literal, so we need a new way of thinking about this in order to understand it.
Plato was the first person to distinguish between the literal and the figurative. He also worked on things such as understanding things that don’t make sense. Nonsense is considered to be beneath meaningful or literal language when it is actually above it. This is a difficult concept for many people.
Dr. Moody talks about an investigation by Lisa Smart who is looking into what people say in their last moments. He feels that what people have to say about what they are experiencing as they pass on can be a key to what the afterlife holds. Margaret says she intends to interview Lisa Smart and we can’t wait for this interview.
Everyone wants to hear the stories about NDEs, which is understandable because they are truly fascination, however, Dr. Moody believes that few people are truly interested in understanding or rationalizing the possible life after death experience. This isn’t a black and white topic and we currently don’t seem to have the skills or the ability to make definite conclusions.
What do you think about NDEs? Are they nothing more than brain chemistry or are they glimpses into the afterlife? Why do you think so many people dismiss NDEs? Let’s have a conversation about NDEs!