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Are Near Death Experience's a valid form of Religious Experience

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Introduction

Are Near Death Experience's a valid form of Religious Experience? Before delving deeply into Near Death Experiences, their validity and whether they are or aren't religious experiences, the terms 'NDE' and 'Religious Experiences' must firstly be defined. The term Near Death Experience refers to the experience of an individual that is clinically dead. The individual arises from the situation describing details that ca be found in Raymond Moody's book Life after Life. All around the world, from Shamans in Siberia to the Inuit Indians, experiences of similar type are experienced. This has lead to presumptions that these experiences are true experiences because of their universality. However, the content of the experiences and the origin of these experiences are in turn questioned by various psychological and theological challenges. These must be discovered first before any presumptions become truth. However, religious experiences and their diverse definitions must also be decrypted. A religious experience can be depicted as a "non-empirical supernatural occurrence." Non-empirical meaning that it cannot be felt, seen, heard etc. The question of its empiricism is the main problem why scientists and religious followers aren't 100% fanatical on the idea of Near Death Experiences. This also raises questions of subjectivity which is a major factor in both NDE's and Religious Experiences. The event is personal and is a mental occurrence. The individual is made aware of this and is normally giving forms of knowledge that are derived from the experience itself. The experience can occur in a flash/spontaneously or through intense training of self-discipline. Although, the prior is more common to the latter. There are circumstances of Conversions and Mysticism being training and intensitified but on the most part, the event is spontaneous. The experience can bring a deeper knowledge of God, the individual is brought closer it God as they feel his warmth and love. However, in circumstances of the numinous, the person can feel a distancing between themselves and God. ...read more.

Middle

Going back to Swinburne's categorisation of religious experience, the NDE can be put under, though with some disrepute into Type 3. The experience is Direct and the experience can normally be described in normal language though with a few exceptions. The experience is private because it's personal and of mental nature. In Moody's book, many of the characteristics found in Religious Experiences can be located also inside his book. William James in his characteristic analysis of Religious Experiences but down four qualities that were - ineffability, noetic, transience, passivity. 'Life after Life' conveys through its 150 NDE Case studies, these characteristics alongside many others located in Moody's 'theoretical ideal' of an NDE. This ideal contains 15 common traits that have been found by Moody analysing transcripts and accounts. These commonalities include ineffability, peace and tranquillity, out of body (paranormal), the review, the border, telling others, hearing noises and hearing news of their death. Raymond Moody explains that no two experiences are precisely identical, no experience has ever had every component and the experiences don't come in any particular order. It is through finding common traits in most experiences that Moody developed his 'theoretical ideal' and 15 common traits. Near Death Experiences themselves, involve many of the types of religious experiences that have been found. If we look at the three examples of Visions, Mysticism and Conversion; one could find that NDE's contain similar characteristics found in some of these religious experiences. For instance, many people are converted after an NDE experience, many see a vision of light or even corporeal beings and finally, some have described the unity or oneness between themselves during or after the experience. These common traits could lead one to believe that the high commonality between these could portray NDE as a Religious Experience. Here are examples below of similarities between Conversions, Visions, Mysticism and the NDE: Conversion in NDE Mysticism in NDE Visions in NDE Profound effect on the individual causing individuals to change their way of thought and re-evaluate some of their views on life Ineffability is one of the characteristics of an NDE and also in Mysticism. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is likely to be so vague that it will have little in common with the claims about ultimate reality made by any one religion. These objections to religious experiences and the objections to NDE's, leave the question of Near Death Experiences as religious experiences still hanging. Without scripture to support Near Death Experiences and with so much criticism surrounding it psychologically and biologically, it hard to accept it as an experience itself, let alone a religious experience. For accepting its validity first, then comes the problems of subjectivity, matching with Catholic Teaching and then arguments put forward by scholars that oppose religious experiences. It must be also noted that there are contradictory instances of negative Near Death Experiences that are total opposite to the positive ones. Feelings of loneliness, barren wasteland, and zombie-like corporeals are seen. These negative experiences can be life-transforming in two ways as well. Firstly, the individual can interpret that they are sinful and not doing all they can to enter Heaven and thus become more loving, generous, forgiving. Or secondly, the person can reject the experience all together. This rejection could be a rejection of God or just an ignorance/disbelief in the experience. This issue is two-sided and very difficult to weed out. Subjectivity is a main issue in this debate along with the reduction of experiences. However, the universality of experiences and the fact that all experiences follow a particular trend and appear valid from testimony balances the argument out. On a final personal note, it could be true that NDE's are a valid form of religious experience. However, does religion belong in a science lab? Unfortunately, to test the testimony of experiences and to test the overall idea of an NDE, it must be scientifically tested. However, many religious and non-religious people would rather leave the argument to their own personal judgement and not to science that has intervened enough in religious questions. Science can only answer the How, not the Why. Connor Scullion 14G Connor Scullion 14G ...read more.

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