Don Piper (2004). 90 Minutes in Heaven. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Revell.
A Book review
I have read several books on Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and Out of Body Experiences (OBEs). Yesterday, I was at a book store and picked up yet another book on near death experience. I got home and began reading it and did not put it down until I was done with it his morning and decided to do a double take on it, review it as well as use it as a spring board to ask questions on near death phenomenon.
In this particular book, Don Piper, a pastor told us about his near death experience. He was driving a car across a bridge; as he was about to exit the bridge a truck ran head on into his car. His car was totaled and his body was mangled inside the wreck of what was his car.
Paramedics were called and they pronounced him dead and covered his body up with a blanket, as they do in such matters. The EMTs, instead, paid attention to those who were alive but sustained injuries.
Mr. Piper’s body was left in the car he was driving, for the EMTs did not feel it necessary to scoop out what seemed his dead body until they had treated the living thus he was left lying in the wrecked car for ninety minutes.
Another pastor who was passing by asked the police and paramedics what was going on and was told. He said that the Holy Spirit asked him to go and pray for the dead man. The police told him not to waste his time since the man was already dead. After pestering them for an opportunity to pray for the dead man he was told to suit his self. He crawled into the back seat of the car and placed his hands on the man’s limp body and prayed for him. He prayed and prayed and sang to his God asking for a miracle to be done for the dead man.
The dead man at some point began singing with him and he fled from the car, for he now realized that he is no longer dead. He tried to get the paramedics to come and reevaluate the status of the supposed dead man and they told him that he is dead. Upon bothering them they humored him and went and took a pulse of the man and realized that he is now alive.
The EMTs called a mechanical company to come and saw off the top of the dead man’s car so that they could fetch his body out. They then transported it to a local hospital. That hospital lacking in the right equipment needed to treat such a mangled body sent them to a hospital In Houston, Texas (eighty miles away) where several hours of operations were performed on him.
Two weeks later he regained stable consciousness, before that he was in and out consciousness, but stayed in treatment for another year. His body was wracked by pain. Upon discharge his body was still unable to function normally, his legs were so badly damaged that walking was out of the question.
In the meantime, when the accident happened, Mr. Piper found his self at the gate of heaven. How it happened he did not know. He did not go through the familiar dark tunnel and emerge in a place of light. He simply found himself in a place of light with a gate dividing where he is at from another part.
He was surrounded by folks he had known on earth who are now dead, including his dead grandfather and college friends.
He peeped into what lied beyond the gate and said that it looked like a city built with gold. He speculated that God is in that city although he did not enter it and therefore did not see God.
He said that where he was, at the gate of heaven was filled with incredible music, songs of praises to God.
He described that world as a place of pure light, with luminosity that cannot really be described in our type of words.
He described the place as full of mesmerizing dance of colors.
The description of the place he was at tallies with the description those who have had near death experience describe. It is like our world except that it is in light form and things are beautiful beyond measure. There is no sense of time in it; he felt that people there live eternally; that things there are eternal, permanent and changeless.
As he was savoring this heavenly beauty, all of a sudden he found himself back in his earthly body. He narrated the circumstances of his return to his body. The minister who was in his car praying to God on his behalf apparently persuaded God to let him return to our side of heaven. While the pastor was singing to God the dead minister, Pastor Piper found himself singing along with him; how that took place he did not know.
Pastor Piper is convinced that he did visit heaven (actually he visited the gate of heaven since he did not enter into the city of God, heaven itself).
He has since his experience read up on the literature on near death experience. He has read what some skeptical psychologists say about the experience, such as that it is a sort of dream or hallucination that occurs when people’s brains lack in oxygen as they are about to die.
The lack of oxygen in the brain apparently makes the brain have a hallucination that makes one feel like one is outside one’s body and went to heaven.
Neuroscience suggests that NDE is hallucination due to biochemical changes in traumatized dying brains.
Mr. Piper has read up on the cynical literature out there suggesting that NDE is nothing but hallucination. But he is not convinced that what he had was mere hallucination. He is convinced that he, in fact, did die and did go to heaven. No amount of empirical scientific evidence is going to persuade him that what he experienced is mere dream.
For one thing, he does not understand how his brain could make up the world of light forms that he saw since it has no equivalence on earth and he could not have seen it in his earthly existence.
The question is not whether Mr. Piper’s particular experience is true or false but whether the whole idea of near death experience is true or false.
The real question actually is whether there is life after our physical death? Science is predicated on materialistic philosophy; it teaches that our bodies are made of matter, specifically 26 of the 92 elements in nature. Our brain is nothing but a bunch of neurons interacting with each other through complex neurotransmitters and electrical ions.
Electrons, protons and neutrons are in the cells of our brains; they produce our consciousness and so-called intelligence.
Somehow, science tells us, matter in our brain is able to understand itself and understand the universe we live in. There is no little man, aka god in our brains; our thinking and intellectual activities, science would like us to accept, is epiphenomenal, is the product of the dance of atoms and particles in our brains.
Given its premise that matter produced our consciousness, when we die our brains decay and our consciousness ends. Whatever it is that thinks in our brains die with the death of our bodies, materialism tells us.
Science’s materialism notwithstanding, Mr. Piper and other NDEs believe that they did leave their bodies and went to what they call heaven and that the world they experienced is real; indeed, they say that our empirical world is the unreal world, the dream world. Heaven, they say, is real and our world is mere shadow of haven, a dream world projected out by heaven.
So, is science correct in dismissing NDEs as mere fantasy and hallucination produced by our dying brains?
Let us, for the sake of argumentation, agree with science. If science is correct we can proceed to say that if our brains are able to produce our near death dreams, that it is also able to produce our dreams at night and produce our day world!
If our brains produced our nightly dreams, our day world and what folks call heaven, it must indeed by powerful brains.
We must then accept that the universe is produced by matter. A world produced by matter is a meaningless and purposeless universe.
It follows that we live in a meaningless and pointless universe. Scientists who have this view generally seek solace in alcohol and drugs. Many physical scientists are alcoholics; they see the world as meaningless and their lives as pointless; we live in a meaningless and pointless universe and materialistic scientists drown their sorrows in alcohol.
The only good in the universe, as scientists see it, is that we can study and understand it; it is fun understanding the universe. The only thing worth doing in the universe is studying the universe, thus scientists escape from thinking about the meaning of their existence by studying the universe. When they get up at 3 AM in the morning and their minds ask: what is the point of living they experience depression and reach for their liquor; spirits enable them to forget their masked depression.
A universe without life after death is essentially a pointless universe; if our lives end with our physical death we might as well not have lived at all.
Oblivion and finitude after death is a great blow to our sense of specialness, our narcissism; it means that we are nothing; we are mere animals who were accidentally produced by a meaningless universe; we are a bunch of atoms and particles (of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen etc.) that will decay back to the nothingness from which they came into being during and after the big bang explosion 13.7 billion years ago.
There is no hope for us; our little sun will in five billion years exhaust its hydrogen fuel and die and our planet earth would die along with our sun; our Milky Way galaxy would die and all the other billions of galaxies would die. In trillions of years the entire universe becomes a cold empty space.
Our lives are transitory and ephemeral; we are nothing. Scientists who teach this philosophy drown their sense of meaninglessness with alcohol and drugs and sex, including homosexual sex.
People are such creatures that they now do what even self-respecting animals do not do: stick their penises into other men’s anuses and call it pleasurable activity. Science without God has led to the degeneration of morality!
So, is there life after death? Is the world that near death experiencers talk about for real or have they been smoking and or drinking something that intoxicates their brains, and produce biochemical reactions in their dying brains that result in hallucinations?
I tend to believe that a universe that produced thinking and consciousness in us is capable of producing them outside our brains; it seems to me that there is consciousness outside our bodies.
I tend to believe that the world of light forms that near death experiencers talk about is true! But since I have not experienced that world I cannot verify its existence from personal experience; all I can say is that it seems true to me.
Science is not predicated on what seems true to the individual but what all of us, following the scientific method, can verify to be there. Thus, what I believe is true is mere faith and that is not science.
What do you say; is near death experience for real; is there life after we die or is belief in life after death mere wishful thinking?
October 10, 2015