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The term “Near Death Experience” (NDE) was coined by Raymond Moody Jr., M.D. in his book Life After Life to describe out-of-body encounters. 

Supposedly these people experienced some of what it is like after death without actually dying since they returned to their previous lives after the encounter. I have generally not looked into NDE in general. In Heaven Is Beyond Imagination I was specifically interested in the experiences of those who actually experienced what heaven (or hell) is like. These people typically came through a serious accident: auto accident, plane crash, second story fall onto concrete, or a life threatening illness. In all these cases the individual was clinically dead, no heartbeat, no breathing, no brain waves. So I prefer the term “Temporary Death Experiences” since they were actually clinically dead, not near death. But their death was temporary in that they each regained heartbeat, breathing, and brain wave activity. (Otherwise they would never have been able to tell us what they experienced.)

Here are a few of the Near Death Experiences or Temporary Death Experiences I have heard about where the individual never went to heaven or hell but stayed here on Earth before returning to his or her body. George Richie in Return from Tomorrow tells of dying from double pneumonia in an army hospital in west Texas in the early 1940s. He woke up from a sleep (so he thought) and realized the jeep that would be taking him to the train station so he could travel to Virginia for medical school to be an Army doctor would be here any moment. He needed to get dressed but he couldn’t find his clothes. When he happened to look back at his bed, it looked like there was someone in it, but he didn’t have time to try to understand this since he had to meet the jeep. But that was just the first of a continuing sequence of strange experiences. An orderly walking down the hallway totally ignored him and his request about his clothes. In fact, the orderly was about to crash into him seemingly oblivious to George’s presence until George jumped aside at the last second. When he thought the jeep might be outside the door at the end of the hallway, he found himself going through the door. There was no jeep but George started flying through the air. This was very perplexing as he saw trees and houses and towns passing under him as he flew. When he crossed a large river he became concerned that he did not know where he was or if he was headed in the right direction to get to Virginia. He descended into the town to a street along the river with an all night café displaying a “Pabst Blue Ribbon” sign in the window. He spoke to a man who ignored him so he patted the man on his shoulder but his hand went right through. The man turned into the café and George leaned up against a guy wire but fell through that also. He realized he was missing his “solid part”, so he flew back to west Texas to find his solid part. It was a challenge to find it in the massive array of identical hospital buildings. When he did find it, it was covered with a sheet just like his grandpa when he lay in state after his death. This was the first moment it occurred to him that he had died.

Jesus came to him in a very bright light and took him to see various states of people who had died and did not go to heaven. George fell in love with Jesus because of all the love and acceptance he received from him. But Jesus told him he had to go back. Then in what was deemed a true medical miracle his heart started beating and he regained consciousness. He survived, slowly recovering his health, but it was a long journey. This was clearly not a near death experience but a temporary death experience.

Maurice Rawlings, M.D., in Beyond Death’s Door tells of a young man in the hospital for a surgical procedure who died while they were working on him. His spirit left his body and rose up to the ceiling where he remained.  He saw everything that went on when they were trying to resuscitate him. He saw people that were only in the room while he was dead. He saw what they were wearing and what they did.  Their efforts were successful, his heart restarted, and his spirit zoomed back into his body. After he recovered he was able to tell all that happened, who was there, and what they were wearing, all the time his eyes were closed, he was unconscious, and his spirit was not in his body. His testimony was completely confirmed by those who were there during that time.

I have used this story when I was teaching computer science, specifically artificial intelligence, to illustrate that attempts to mimic human intelligence by simulating the functions of the brain cells and their synapses will ultimately fail because human intelligence is more than brain cells. Humans are fundamentally spirit beings indwelling a physical body, so the spirit and brain go together to constitute human intelligence. This is further illustrated by the fact that these people have knowledge in their minds that they could not have obtained through human senses in a living state.

In another case a woman said there was a sneaker on a ledge outside the hospital. No one had ever seen it and getting to it was nearly impossible. But somehow someone was able to check and found her testimony to be true. This also is a case that there was new information in her mind she could not have obtained while she was lying on her bed unconscious and non-functioning.

There are many more such adventures people have reported of being outside their bodies and seeing or hearing things they should not have been able to see or hear. For a more complete discussion of Near Death Experiences, read John Burke’s Imagine Heaven.

Dr. Jacques LaFrance is the author of the book Heaven is Beyond Imagination. Check out the copy via Amazon and Google Books.

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