Atlas Apologia (Formerly IDC)

Ep 173: Biblical Parallels in Near-Death Experiences & Final Demonic Foes Discussion

November 21, 2023 Aleko
Atlas Apologia (Formerly IDC)
Ep 173: Biblical Parallels in Near-Death Experiences & Final Demonic Foes Discussion
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When we straddle the line between life and death, what revelations await us? What experiences lurk in that liminal space that might validate or challenge religious convictions? This podcast episode grapples with such questions as we journey through mysterious anecdotes of near-death experiences (NDEs) and their uncanny parallels with biblical accounts. 

Finally, we'll take a turn towards the mysterious - the spiritual realm and its impacts on our lives. Sharing personal encounters and beliefs, we explore the influence of angels, demons, and the spirit world in our book club discussion. We'll also debate the use of hypnosis in recalling memories and its role in creating false memories. Our episode culminates with a reveal of our next book for the podcast - "The Experience of God" by David Bentley Hart. Prepare for an illuminating conversation that is sure to broaden your perspective on life, death, and what might lie beyond.

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Speaker 2:

Welcome to the IDC podcast. This is Aleko, and I hope you're doing well. There's been a lot going on in the world recently and I think that coming up with an idea for a new episode has felt challenging, and every topic that I've wanted to cover that I've had in my list sitting there stagnating for a while now, has felt trite and perhaps unimaginative and unimportant in the face of everything that we are seeing in the news, ranging from the war going on in the Middle East, as well as the war in Ukraine and Russia, and not the least of which would be the multiple volcanoes going off around the world, which is an unprecedented event. I think there's something like well, I don't know what the count was the last time, but I know Italy, iceland, mexico and many places in the ring of fire are seeing volcanic activity as well as earthquakes, which is a sign of volcanic activity to come in the Philippines and Indonesia. Discussing something like apologetics, which is important, feels almost passe in light of the fact that we are approaching what seems to be, by all accounts, the end times, and while there is indication in the scripture of what some of the signs will be before the Lord returns as a thief in the night to those who are not ready for him. There have been many people who have tried to create parallels with what they see around them and what they see in the scripture for centuries and have failed miserably. But only up until this point have most of the boxes been ticked, one of the biggest ones being Israel returning to the land. So, needless to say, we're probably close, but there's no way to know for sure. Only the Father knows. Right At this point, the only thing that feels like it matters is showing love and compassion and doing exactly as the Christ has asked us to do. And that's not to say that ministry should end and that we should not still abide and do the will of the Lord. This ministry will continue. I will continue with apologetics, god-allowing, but it is challenging in this time. I mean just being very candid, looking at everything going on and not wanting to just be in prayer at all times. So, with that being said, I think that there was one topic that I thought is kind of interesting and I have been following since my conversion to Christianity, and it's something that I've brought up superficially a number of times on the podcast and I thought it could be fun just to maybe go over it for a few minutes and work out some of the intricacies of that topic, maybe superficially Just do a cursory glance at it here on the IDC podcast. And that's near-death experiences, or rather NDEs. My introduction, as I said, to NDEs did come after I was converted and more or less I was working late at an office in Las Vegas years ago and the thought came to my mind of whether or not anyone had actually experienced the afterlife outside of Scripture or outside of writings of the Holy Fathers, people who had perhaps gone to heaven and were able to talk about it. And I thought in this day and age, especially in our modern times, there would be more accounts of people who had died and come back. Because of modern medicine and modern technology, people can be revived, they can be resuscitated, defibrillators exist. So hypothetically, somebody had a heart attack. There is potential for them to be revived and brought back. So surely there had to be some type of evidence of something. And while my faith was very strong in Christ and I had a genuine encounter with Christ that no one had prompted me for and I've gone over that as well in this podcast many times before where I felt his love and I knew beyond words why everything had happened in my life and I felt genuine connection to every one of the world that I couldn't explain. It was just this remarkable feeling that changed me forever. To quote one of my favorite expositors, you know, if you have a conversion experience with Christ because the same way you would know you were hit by a bus it changes you forever, and surely this did change me forever. So, without going too much further on a tangent, I more or less just wanted to confirm my suspicion that at least somebody had seen what had gone on in the afterlife. It was a long day at work and I had finished everything and I was sitting at my desk in a quiet little office in Las Vegas and I just decided to Google the topic and, sure enough, a UCLA paper came up. Well, I think it was UCLA. It was a big university that had published a paper with a conglomeration of multiple NDE stories, and the paper's way of confirming these stories was, you know, when the person essentially in each story had died. There were items set all around this hospital and I do believe it was UCLA to try to find out if people were, if they had been floating out of their bodies and moving toward light and going to heaven, which is what is often what often happens in a near-death experience. Surely they would be able to see a number of people on top of a refrigerator or a hidden dog toy, perhaps on the roof of a hospital or basically little items set around, to try to maybe add some validity to some of these amazing stories that people were coming back with. And sure enough, in many cases people were able to confirm spotting these things as they were leaving their room and perhaps going into the next room above them and the next room above that, before eventually landing in heaven while going through a light tunnel, which is very much a reoccurring motif in the stories going through the light tunnel. So I thought, well, that's really interesting, that is some type of corroboration. That is obviously not scientific proof, but when you've had the experience with Christ, you tend to see him in everything and you're open to stories, especially ones that have decent qualitative data attached to them, and that is very much the case with NDE's. Going a day or two further, some of the things that were attached to some of these NDE stories were one of the experiences that everyone seems to have, or most people at least, is this profound sense of love, and I found that interesting because that is something that I encountered during my conversion experience, and again, it wasn't something anyone prompted me to feel. I was alone in my bedroom, I didn't know what I was going to encounter when I started praying to God and I had my conversion experience, but I felt this profound and unfathomable sense of love, and that is what everyone seems to describe. And there are a few other things and we're going to get into that in maybe a little bit more detail here in a second. But more or less there was congruence with their stories and my own personal accounts of meeting the Christ in my room and I found that to be very fascinating. I had a sort of unspoken kinship with some of these people and what they had seen and felt. So immediately it caught my eye and it had been in my periphery for a long time as I wrote my book, the Pillars of Intelligent Design, and as I built my case for apologetics, I thought you know, nde's, that that's one heck of a thing to tackle and I hope somebody does at some point because it's an extremely compelling topic. I know that Gary Habermas, who has created one of the best arguments for the resurrection of the Christ, at least carnally speaking, is writing a book, a sort of magnum opus, and the focal point of the book is near-death experiences. And I'm looking forward to that when it comes up, because he's a very compelling writer and he's got some very interesting perspectives, but for the time being, I mean, there's a lot of material out there that I've been able to glean and I was curious, you know what kind of about, what kind of parallels one would find with NDE's and the Christian experience and what we know in the scripture. And as it turns out, a lot of the main waypoints are there. But before I get into them, there's one other semi-story it's just a little anecdote that I had which really nudged me into looking into some of these things, and that was the death of my father. So my father had ALS, or rather Lou Gehrig's disease it's the same thing that Stephen Hawking had and he eventually died of it. I could go a little further and say that he had cancer concomitantly with Lou Gehrig's disease. So it was a really terrible and slow way that he died. That's another topic altogether and I wouldn't be glad to get into that. But notably, he lost the use of his right arm for the last, oh, I don't know year and a half, two years before his passing he just, it just went completely limp, and my father was a very strong man and he was very fit and he was known as an athlete. For most of his life he was a runner, he was a weightlifter, he was a lot of you know, incredible things. But it was very sad when he lost the use of his right arm and his body began deteriorating. As you know, it is a degenerative disease and he was losing the use of multiple limbs, but his right arm was one of the first big things to go. So anyway, the anecdote is it's not a very long story, but I was in China when this happened, so I didn't see it, but my mother and my brother were there and they say at the time of his passing he looked up in his bed. He, I guess, awoke out of slumber and he raised his right arm with his own power and reached out for something and his mouth opened with awe and then he passed. And while it might be meaningless to, let's just say, the uninitiated, those who are heavily skeptical and people have the right to be if they would like to be. I am firmly convinced that he was greeted by someone and it wouldn't abnegate the merits of many NDE stories to agree with that sentiment. So accounts of near-death experiences are by no means restricted to recent times, evidently, which was a surprise to me. Along with similar phenomena, they have been reported throughout history, evidently, and they have commanded far more interest in the last few decades because of our ability to revive people. So, as mentioned, some of the reoccurring motifs are someone floating above their body, which is a very common occurrence traveling through a tunnel of light and in some cases a tunnel of darkness, encountering or even being welcomed by a being of pure light, or meeting deceased loved ones, hearing incredible sounds and music, seeing wonderful colors and afterwards completely losing the fear of death. As is often the case with near-death experiences, in some cases people are actually shown the future of their lives and, granted, sometimes I think it could be erroneous, but in many cases I think it is probably accurate, because some of the things that people are shown are pretty severe and very pointed in terms of their futures. So, for example, I remember one man said he was told the exact date that he would be diagnosed with cancer, and sure enough he was, and he overcame it, as he was also told what happened. So a number of very amazing things happened during some of these near-death experiences. So for many people these phenomena alone are enough to account for the widespread interest currently in near-death experiences. But critics sometimes charge that even similar sightings such as these may indicate nothing more than the presence of common brain chemistry among humans. So analogous experience would equate to similar function in the brain. According to them, perhaps this is simply what happens to the human brain when it nears a state of personal and final extinction. But, to be succinct, the theory falls short when oftentimes the person encountering the near-death experience has what we might call complete brain shutdown, where there is no activity going on, as was the case with Dr Eben Alexander, someone whom I read about years ago and found very compelling. For those of you who don't know, dr Eben Alexander was an academic neurosurgeon for 25 years at places like the Brigham Women and Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Over his academic career he authored or co-authored over 150 chapters and papers in peer-reviewed journals and made over 200 presentations at conferences and medical centers around the world. He thought he had a very good idea of how the brain generates consciousness, mind and spirit. Yet a week spent in a coma due to a severe gram-negative bacterial meningitis in November 2008 changed all of that forever. The extraordinary spiritual journey he experienced that week completely defied everything he thought he knew about the brain and consciousness, supporting an alternative view in which the consciousness is fundamental in the universe. His original journey was portrayed in the international bestseller Proof of Heaven, followed by the map of heaven describing the commonality of such experiences, and the much-anticipated sequel to Proof of Heaven, entitled Living in a Mindful Universe a neurosurgeon's journey into the heart of consciousness, which came out on October 17th 2017. For those of you who haven't read any of them, I recommend them. They're actually quite interesting. They follow his journey from becoming completely brain dead to winding up in what some would consider paradise, and are very compelling accounts of what we know as heaven. Further, as mentioned, some NDE reports are accompanied by evidential claims. In these cases, the dying person's report data that can often be verified. The closer the individual is to death and the more detailed the evidential report, the more able the experiences to answering subjective claims, like those regarding common brain physiology, for example. In dozens of NDE accounts. The dying person claims that precisely during their emergency they actually observed events, which were subsequently confirmed. These observations have occurred in the emergency room when the individual was in no condition to be observing what was going on around them, and sometimes the data are reported from a distance away from the scene and actually may not have been observable from the individual's location, even if they had been healthy with the normal use of their senses, like, for example, watching the surgery going on inside the room from a completely different vantage point. In more evidential cases, the dying person reported their observations during extended periods of time without any heartbeat. On rare occasions, no brain activity was present in the individual either. Further, blind persons have also given accurate descriptions of their surroundings, even when they had not seen anything either before or since. One well-documented case involved a little girl who had nearly drowned and who did not register a pulse for 19 minutes. Her emergency room physician, pediatrician Melvin Morse, states that he quote stood over Katie's lifeless body with an intensive care unit. An emergency CAT scan indicated that Katie had massive brain swelling, no gag reflex and was profoundly comatose. Morse notes that quote when I first saw her, her pupils were fixed and dilated, meaning that irreversible brain damage had most likely occurred. Her breathing was done by an artificial lung machine. She was given very little chance of surviving, but then, just three days later, katie unexpectedly made a full recovery. In fact, when she was revived, she reproduced an amazing wealth of information regarding the emergency room, specific details about her resuscitation, along with physical descriptions of the two physicians who worked on her. All this occurred while she was completely comatose and most likely without any brain function whatsoever. As Morse recounts, a child with Katie's symptoms should have the absence of any brain function and therefore should not comprehend anything. It took her almost an hour to recall all the details. However, part of the story made no sense in usual medical terms. Katie related that during her comatose state she was visited by an angel named Elizabeth, who allowed her to look in on her family at home. Katie correctly reported very specific details concerning what her siblings were doing, even identifying a popular rock song that her sister listened to, watched her father and then observed her mom who cooked a meal that she correctly identified roast chicken and rice. She described the clothing and positions of her family members. Later she shocked her parents by telling them these details that it occurred only a few days before. So attempts have been made to provide natural explanations of NDE accounts. Medical factors such as oxygen deprivation or temporal lobe seizures have been suggested, as have physiological causes such as hallucinations or faulty memory. However, in addition to the medical and other shortcomings in each case, each of these subjective approaches shares at least one major common problem Because they deal with internal conditions relative to the individual, they are unable to account for particular observations of the external sort, such as the one just mentioned, where evidential reports are confirmed. This is especially the case when the evidence occurs from a distance away. So just briefly, I'll maybe ask the question do NDEs conflict with biblical beliefs? I don't believe so, but there are indeed NDEs that I think to be sometimes exaggerated or possibly even erroneous or attention seeking, and while that is the case, I think more often than not they are legitimate. I think some of the more compelling aspects of the NDEs, as mentioned before, are encountering a being of pure light. The theme of encountering a bright light or a being of pure light is not explicitly mentioned in the New Testament. However, the Bible does contain a reference to divine light, such as the transfiguration of Jesus, where his face shown like the sun in Matthew 17, one through 13. Oftentimes, when people encounter the Christ in these NDE stories, they say not only that he radiates unimaginable love, but that he is very bright, with a light that should be blinding and that's sometimes also seen in the tunnel that one travels through to get to this heavenly place. There's also unconditional love and acceptance felt in many of these near-death experience stories, and that shouldn't be a stretch for one to connect the dots on. So the New Testament emphasizes the concept of God's unconditional love and acceptance, of course Obviously. For example, the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, 11 through 32, which illustrates the idea of a forgiving and welcoming father, which aligns with the sense of unconditional love reported in NDEs Encounters with deceased loved ones. So while the New Testament contains accounts of individuals encountering angels and heavenly beings, direct encounters with deceased loved ones is not really reported in the New Testament or the Old Testament that I can think of. But oftentimes in these NDEs people are also given a sense of purpose, or rather a mission at the very end, and the New Testament contains numerous passages emphasizing the importance of purpose and a mission in Christian life. For example, jesus is commissioned to his disciples in Matthew 28, 19 through 20, which highlights to make disciples of all the nations. One interesting thing I hadn't considered, though, is that near-death phenomena may be reported of sorts in the Bible. For example, in Jesus' story of the rich man and Lazarus, we are told that the beggar Lazarus died and was carried by angels into paradise in Luke 1622. A brief process that sounds somewhat similar to contemporary reports. Just before being stoned to death, stephen, a righteous leader in the early church, saw a vision of the glorifying Jesus standing at God's right hand in Acts 7.55 through 56. The apostle Paul explains that he had an experience during which he was unsure whether or not he was out of his body or in his body when he visited the third heaven in 2 Corinthians 12, 1 through 5. Some commentators think that the timing of this event coincides with Paul being stoned and left for dead during his trip to Lystra in Acts 1419. Paul also experienced several other occasions when he was near death's door. Admittedly, some tough questions remain in relation to this topic. For example, non-christians have described very positive experiences during near-death episodes. Rarely do they mention judgment, however. Since these individuals were not biologically, or rather irreversibly dead, but near-death, we can hardly ascertain their eternal state of existence in the future. Further, when near-death survivors describe what they often take to be their experiences of heaven or hell, they have moved beyond the more mundane reports of events surrounding them on earth. Thus, they are not describing their perception of common everyday events in their vicinity, but their personal interpretations of another reality altogether Beyond this, it is crucial to note that in cases where heaven or hell are portrayed, very little evidence is ever provided, so verifying some perceptions would be exceptionally difficult. For the record, however, exceptionally negative, even ghastly experiences, including graphic visions of hellfire, have also been mentioned during hell NDE's. One of the last motifs that I haven't brought up yet is the sense of timelessness that people tend to encounter in their death experience, where they don't know if a minute or five years have passed because they are outside of space-time. This one isn't a stretch as well, as there are many examples in scripture, but one that comes to mind immediately is Isaiah 57-15. With us, says the high and lofty one who lives in eternity. The holy one says this I live in thy and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. Taking it a step further, if one were to look into the cosmological proof for God, which was, I would say, popularized by Thomas Aquinas in analogous, or rather similar, terms, researchers have tried to explain, or rather define the undefinable and explain in again analogous terms what God might be like, and one of the major conclusions is that if there were an all-powerful being responsible for every atom in the universe, that being our God, would have to exist outside of space-time as we know it. And while I can't summarize that here in just a few seconds, more astute philosophical mind probably could. I would recommend looking into Ed Faser, more specifically his five proofs of the existence of God book, where he breaks down the concept beautifully. It is quite a read, though, so take your time with it. So, in summary, while the evidence and the data is by no means concrete on what people encounter or will encounter after death, there is very compelling reason to believe that in some to many of these near-death experience stories, there are direct parallels with what we know to be true. Above all, seek God and trust him first and foremost. If you have questions on these things, and if you do look into some of these stories, these anecdotes that have been recorded. They can be edifying from time to time, but glean carefully and prayerfully the information that you take from them. Thank you, welcome to the Intelligent Design Collective Book Club where we are finishing Dr Richard Gallagher's demonic foes. This is Aleko, and before I introduce my friends, we're gonna start with an opening prayer. Heavenly Father, bless our book club and the discussion that we have, and everyone who's with us and everyone who's listening, and our friends and our family and our enemies Watch over us and guide our conversation. Thank you for allowing us to come together and, if you would allow many more of these, in Christ's name, we pray, okay, so who is with us? Who is joining us?

Speaker 1:

I'm Darren and I'm on the west coast of British Columbia and I just woke up. So there you go, are you? The weather reporter.

Speaker 3:

It's Brian in the northeast of England, so I've been awake. Well, I get up several hours ago and after lunch I had a little snooze. I had to check with Aleko exactly what time it is, whether I was going to be able to fit in my siesta before this book club started, but I managed to grab 40-45 minutes, so that was good.

Speaker 2:

I don't know if I can't nap. If I nap I just wake up on Mars, so my head is just completely out of it. So you can come from a nap and just be perfectly ready to go.

Speaker 3:

I'll let you be the judge of that in 30 minutes.

Speaker 2:

Okay, I actually just saw. I only read the title and made an assumption. But I saw the title of an article that said people who nap may have bigger brains.

Speaker 3:

Guilty as charged. Okay, okay.

Speaker 2:

I would be the diametric opposite of that. So, yeah, yeah, I think I typically do things, maybe the way Darren did this morning, more often than I should, where, if I know I have to be some place, say at eight o'clock or seven o'clock, I'll be up six o'clock and you know I'll have everything ready the night before. So all my clothes will be ironed and ready and laid out and just rinse my face, brush my teeth, down, some coffee out the door, so Alright, so we're discussing the final few chapters of Dr Richard Gallagher's demonic foes, and I thought there was some pretty compelling stuff in here and I'm keen to hear what everyone else says. I will request that you guys kick me if I forget to read what Hillary wrote. I always do this. So Hillary did send in some of her thoughts and I'm interested to hear what she had to say as well. So, yeah, perhaps we'll begin with. Brian, did you have a favorite part of the reading?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I think in chapter 12 he says it relates to the story of being interviewed by he doesn't name the scientific magazine, but he says quite a well-known scientific magazine in the US.

Speaker 1:

I gotta go get Noah a second. I'll be back in like three minutes, sure, yeah you can splice it to you?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we can splice it. Do you want to wait, brian? We can. We can wait here.

Speaker 3:

Yes, no problems, we can do that, I'm bad.

Speaker 2:

One of the most beautiful train rides I've ever done was Seattle to Vancouver. That was really nice, yeah, and when we came in I don't know if I've ever told this story before, but when we came in to the Vancouver train station there were Nazi flags hanging from the train station everywhere and there were people wearing Nazi uniforms. And it was when it comes in it's very, very slow. So we had a moment to just stare out the window Nazi flag, like the full-on Nazi flags hanging from from the train station, and what we found out was they were filming a TV show about. It was this alternate reality TV show about how, what happened if the Nazis won and took over, and I forgot what it's called. It was actually kind of popular for a minute where I guess the Nazis controlled the east coast of America and the Japanese controlled the west coast. But we watched one episode of it and it was complete fiction because it depicted the Nazis as you know, whatever. The Hollywood version of the Nazis is kind of cold and calculating and, you know, heartless and blah, blah, blah. And then the next scene, the opening scene. It completely lost me because it showed a white woman with blonde hair sparring karate, sparring with the Japanese and basically it was, it was what was the word, it was when it's, it's something that is something that is depicted inaccurately historically. It was anachronistic. It was anachronistic because they depicted the Japanese as they are now and not the Japanese as they were during World War two, where, if you've, you know, if you've even read a copy of the rape of Nanking or something, and you saw what they did to their enemies. It was like I clearly, you know, whoever, whoever wrote this was a, you know, failed out of history or something, because the, the Japanese of World War two were ruthless, they were horrible. So, okay, that was a big tangent, but yeah, anyways my apologies for interrupting no, no, it's good, it's good, it's good. Okay, so swinging back into things. Yeah, let's, brian. Did you have a favorite part of the final reading of of demonic foes by dr Richard Gallagher?

Speaker 3:

I did so. Dr Gallagher's relays in chapter 12, when he was approached by a science journal and sent a reporter, interviewed him and seemed to be quite interested about what he had to say on the subject. But to his to dr Gallagher's disappointment the article never, never reached publication, and he surmises that because this was a scientific journal and they were talking about spiritual things, which many people perhaps. He surmises that the reason it didn't publish it was that many of the audience would not have reacted well to having an article on things which many of the so-called scientists would just not have accepted as being having any reality and therefore they didn't want to jeopardize their readership by doing that. But he concludes then that in many ways the world is better off when we separate between, sticking to distance between the physical and spiritual realms. So I think after his initial disappointment he said maybe it is better to have a clear distinction between those things that are physical and scientific and those things that are of the spiritual realm. And as I think we've come across in other books, he makes the point when experts in one field try and think that their expertise in the scientific field allows them to pronounce on spiritual issues, we can do all sorts of trouble.

Speaker 2:

Sure, yeah, that was my favorite bit and let me ask you something what do you think, if we're being intellectually honest here and I think I know what the superficial reason is, but what do you think that the genuine reason is? People have such an aversion to the spiritual when it comes to publications like that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, because I think certainly our Western education system is very much predicated on repeatability and doing experiments, some rigorous process, and this stuff isn't. You can't tell a spirit to perform something and then have it repeatable and all the rest of it. So I just think, therefore, because it doesn't fall into the material world, they say well, therefore it doesn't exist, they don't have any cognizance of that. There is completely different realm where things are not bumping by the normal physical, material rules of the game. So that's my opinion.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I would also add I think part of it is that this article I would suspect it's because it's from a Western perspective. So if you explore, say like, the spiritual realm from the perspective of someone who's not Western oriented, it can be considered as it can be more accepted because it's kind of like a cultural exploration and something. But because it's from a Western perspective it's kind of like no, no, we've moved past that and now we're in a very physical, materialistic world and we're not going to embrace this sort of nonsense and in our journals it's.

Speaker 3:

Sure, yeah, it's almost super-slicious and therefore it just doesn't exist. It's not that there's any quarter given to the possibility that these things might exist, yeah you know.

Speaker 2:

I think obviously you're both very right. I also think that there's another component that I'm sure you're aware of as well, and I think it stems from watching a lot of Richard Dawkins material, reading his publications and things like that, and as I've gotten to know his stuff, I've seen more and more that If one were to be a bit reductionist and sort of combine everything that he said, there's a very personal vendetta toward Christianity. Because if I'm not mistaken I don't want to misspeak here, so people should probably look this up he was actually abused by a vicar or a. I'm not sure what exactly happened, I don't even know if he was very clear about what it was, but someone who was a member of Clergy, I think, maybe touched him or maybe did something inappropriate with him, and the way he recalls it he says oh, it's just a meaningless thing, it was just, you know too, biological life, for he has a very cold way of describing it. But it's very clear that something happened and that there's a very personal vendetta, understandably. And I think that with a lot of people it's sort of a reduced version of that or somewhere on the spectrum where they just see it as this saccharine thing, and when they see it, maybe something about the way they grew up and they were around a really cheesy phony pastor, so to speak, or priest or whatever, and they just don't want it in their lives. So I agree that the repeatability from a scientific perspective I think is For me, I think it's the superficial reason, it's the veil, and a lot of the foundational reason is just bad experience with religion growing up, perhaps, whether it be something very severe and where a law was broken, or maybe just and it's just pure assumption. Obviously there's not a lot of thought going into that, but just Okay, let's see. Darren, did you have a favorite part of the reading?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So my favorite part is where he again from chapter 12, he discusses the role of exorcists and sort of experts or practitioners in the spiritual realm and he brings up this great Latin phrase, which is probably going to butcher the pronunciation here, but abusis non tolla to usum, and it basically is that just because there can be a flawed use of some sort of thing or role, that a proper practitioner of that use should be banned. And I think what he's getting, or prohibited, I guess. Yeah, so I think what he's getting at here is this kind of trend that we've seen, certainly, I can say, in Canada. It's been a big thing where, if Let me give an example so there's this whole idea of conversion therapy with homosexuality, where churches would hold these kind of counseling, sometimes even group counseling sessions that deal with counseling and prayer and that sort of thing, to basically relieve and counsel someone from same-sex urges. And it usually is when that individual is has asked for the counseling and is really struggling with this, because they're aware that it is, say, a sin and missing the objective in God's created order, let's say, for the role of, say, a man and a woman, and so they've asked their priest or pastor to do this counseling with them and in some cases it is successful and it provides people with a lot of relief, and in other cases it was not handled correctly and people have had very bad experiences with it and the response has been basically in Canada that now you cannot do any kind of conversion therapy or counseling or anything that even could be construed to be that, and there's massive monetary penalties that you can get. They're absolutely absurd and you can also it would risk your church's charitable status and they have all these sorts of things that they've come up with. And I think with what he's getting at here is he's concerned that there could be also a movement to ban exorcisms as being this sort of culturally unacceptable practice and because well before that he relays a story of a pastor in a, I think, a Protestant or Lutheran church who was quite cocky about performing an exorcism and it went very, very poorly and caused some physical damage to both the priest and other people in the room and that sort of thing. So yeah it, I love that phrase because it's being very careful about how we view things and practices and making sure that people are properly trained and properly performing things, and I think it's even very true in the psychological and in the spiritual realm, because we don't have a great understanding of how these things work.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, really good points, really good points.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think it's very noticeable all the way through the book that it comes across, even though he's got many years experience and is obviously an intelligent, well-educated guy, that he remains quite skeptical and quite humble in many ways what it comes across, which really certainly in my perspective, gives much greater weight to what he's saying than if he was bombastic and saying well, I, because of my experience, I know these things for certain man.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, yeah, I'd agree. I mean, when I read parts of these books, and or parts of this book and these stories in that he shares in the book, I can't help but think that he's about as baffled by them as the reader would be.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely absolutely.

Speaker 2:

That particular part of the reading played out like a movie in my head. You know, the cocky pastor goes in there to try it first and what do you get? Thrown across the room by a woman. That was quite funny. But yeah, yeah, I definitely. I think that there's a lot to say on the idea of doing it the Protestant way or the more formal way, perhaps like Catholics or Orthodox. I think it's a huge conversation, but I don't necessarily disagree with the Protestant man. I think he had the right intentions. But there does tend to be speaking from a completely neutral standpoint, especially when you get into the American church, where it's a little bit more liberal. There does tend to be an arrogance there that's misguided and I think it leads to a lot of issues. But I mean, that's a massive conversation, isn't it? So Okay, let's see Hillary's favorite part of the reading. Let me just I've got to kind of look around my camera here. I've got a big screen, but I put the camera in front of the screen and let's see. Okay, so I think she wrote page 226. It is easier to believe that there might have been a definitive event that explains their problems rather than a complex mix of vulnerabilities and multiple causes. The same is true in many situations, and it makes it harder to resolve them. That is why conspiracy theories are so popular. So popular, an easy solution to a complex problem yeah, really good point.

Speaker 3:

I think, if I'm not right, this was sort of in the context where they were talking about you know what was it? Sras was the acronym. They used Satanic ritual abuse. They were saying that there were sex and they dealt with. Many people were trying to look at there was some kind of reason for these demonic abuses. And then they were trying to figure out how much satanic ritual abuse there was. And I think he said, well, yes, there is some, but it's often looked for as the one cause and it's not that simple and it's not that common. So what does happen is, fairly he seemed to summarize it's not that frequent and it shouldn't be jumping to that as a simple solution or a simple cause of many of these possessions. Sure.

Speaker 2:

My thought personally. This is just an opinion, but I think that Dr Gallagher, throughout the book, tends to divorce physical issues and spiritual issues and says that there's not one blanket solution for all of them, and I understand the merits of that argument. But I personally feel that, especially after reading Miracles by Dr Craig Keener and a couple of other books to supplement that, that there is some type of and I think we discussed this maybe the last time we got together some type of spiritual foundation for everything that we have in our lives. And it's not to say that the person is sinful or maybe it's a demonic spirit or something like that, but that all of these things find their origination in spiritual realm. And I have what I feel is good reason to believe that. But I think I don't know, and it's another big, big conversation you know we stand at the foot of but I tend to think that there is spiritual reason for most things, that if not all things, it's just not all some crazy demonic possession perhaps Oops, or I'll get off my soapbox. Okay, with regard to favorite part of the reading from me, looking at my notes right now, I think the quote, the Latin phrase that Darren brought up. I thought that was really fun. That you know, misusing something doesn't abnegate the merits of the correct use of a thing you know. Like pouring a cup of water on your head shouldn't shouldn't mean that you're not to use it. I don't use cups anymore, that you know. Cups still have a very good function. Oh, and one of my favorite quotes the author brought up from a movie I can't recall which movie it was which was people that cease to believe in God tend to believe in everything else. I think that's very true in society. Oftentimes when you see somebody who denounces especially the Christian God there into other stuff that maybe fills that void, whatever it may be drugs or the occult, or horoscopes or whatever it is. I think that's very common in Western society. I don't know if you guys agree with that or not, but yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yep, yeah, it tends to be a void that people like to fill with something, that's for sure.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so let's see opinions changed, brian.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so suppose something new. For me. This was in chapter nine where he talked a bit about, you know, the horrible situation of human sacrifices tended to be, tended to be practiced in quite a lot of societies. But what I didn't appreciate was what he said was that Romans and Greeks, in agreement with Hebrews, believed human sacrifice was debased and they even fought a war with Carthage over this. So, very briefly, when I was at school I did a Latin and we did a little bit about the Carthaginian Wars, but either I hadn't remembered or I'd never been taught that one of the reasons for this was, according to Dr Gallacher, that the Romans and the Greeks had moved on from the belief that human sacrifice was an acceptable way of appeasing the spirit world, and to such an extent that they were willing to go to war with the Carthaginians because they still practiced that. So that was something that I never appreciated or never knew before, hadn't come across.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a really interesting point. I don't know if I agree with it, just simply based on my upbringing and the amount of times my father tried to sacrifice me, but my father being Greek for anyone who doesn't know, alright, darren, any opinions changed?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, the part that I thought was quite new to me was his writing on basically how Freud and Osterike wrestled with this kind of psychological explanation for everything versus the spiritual aspect of the and particularly Osterike he had. It sounds like he was a bit of a student of Freud and he had a lot of ideas about trances and other behaviors that he felt came from a sort of psychiatric foundation or psychiatric cause, such as like emotional distress and things like that. But then he was very aware of, but could never explain, things like people levitating and he was very, very, very and he wrote about this and basically he is only abajo on any kind of historical roots and roots or hang transitions and so forth. Um, so then he И como browse through all the links in those links that may be found under Basic. He wrote about this and basically he ultimately so this is Ostrich then decided that there has to be a plausible explanation for these things that go beyond just the material and psychiatric field and that go into a supernatural phenomenon like that is basically paranormal. And yeah, I thought that was interesting. It's definitely not when you go to university and you take, like the earlier years of psychology and inevitably you come into writings about Freud and that generation of the Austrian and German psychologists. They don't discuss this at all. So I thought that was very new and interesting and sort of changed my perspective on it a little bit, that these early psychologists were aware that there was something abnormal about certain aspects of human behavior.

Speaker 2:

Sure, yeah, very good points. Yeah, I would have nothing to add to that. But, yeah, good points, very good points. All right, hillary, writing on opinions changed. She wrote page 245. More significantly, the anecdote illustrates that there is a dark world out there that seems to know a lot, hardly only about me, but about each of us. It despises us poor mortals and is strangely invested in misleading and harming us. It is not a subject that I ever touched upon growing up. Yeah, I think what's really interesting is the scripture constantly goes on about just how many beings there are in the spirit world. I mean, christ says that we're going to be judged, or sorry. We have an innumerable cloud of witnesses around us. And there's another verse in the Old Testament I'm terrible at quoting the Bible, but it was something of the like where it referred to just how many angelic beings there are surrounding us. That it's not this quaint little thing where there's just one fluffy white angel maybe standing in the room, but I think it's a very fascinating topic definitely.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and when I was reading about that I couldn't help but think about the difference between the Protestant perspective on the spiritual realm versus the Catholic and Orthodox perspective. So in the Protestant world there's very little discussion of any kind of spirit other than the Holy Spirit, and even that is, I think, depends on which branch of Protestantism you're in. In certain branches that particularly lead more like charismatic ones, it's very prevalent, and then in other branches, like Calvinism, it's almost not discussed at all. But then on the other side you have Catholics and Orthodox who have prayers to guardian angels, who very much believe that there are evil spirits and pray for protection from those evil spirits. And it was. I've recently become Eastern Orthodox and it's been quite eye-opening to see some of these differences in the thinking on the spiritual realm.

Speaker 2:

So you're a card-carrying member officially now.

Speaker 1:

Catacuman.

Speaker 2:

Okay, Catacuman. Yeah, they haven't taught you the secret handshake yet.

Speaker 1:

No, not yet Okay okay, very good.

Speaker 2:

Good stuff, good stuff. Yeah, it's a very interesting point that you bring up. Yeah, it's, I mean really nothing to add to it. But yeah, I think you're right. I have attended a few Protestant services and the only conversation of course I think it's not a bad thing, the only conversation is the Holy Spirit. But we are spiritual beings living in a physical world and, yeah, it is a big part of the theology of the scripture and of the Orthodox church and Catholic church that, yeah, they're everywhere, there's life everywhere. All right, let's see, I didn't have any opinions changed on this one, but I definitely have some things for the next bit, so I'll maybe add in. I'll chime in there. Let's see questions or objections, brian.

Speaker 3:

Okay, so let's try to find it. There's somewhere that he says about foretelling the future, that basically, when you go to a fortune teller and they claim to have some sort of a team Demon or team access to a spirit that can tell you the future, dr Gallagher seems and says that you know they can't tell the future because you know demons, spirits, are not able to tell the future, and I'm Not sure where. I'm not an expert in this area of any means, but I'm not sure where he, why he says that so categorically. I'm not sure the Bible says anything about it. No, I know there's a. There's a case, isn't there? Where Is it? Paul gets into trouble where he casts out a demon of a woman who makes quite a living for her master by sort of telling you, for telling people's future, and Because Paul casts out the demon, then the master gets very upset with them and as I'm thrown in prison, I think that's maybe an accident, apostles. So you know. That doesn't definitely say that you know, because Dr Gallagher makes the point that a lot, of, a lot of this is you. Just People are a bit gullible and can be guided and therefore, a few some of the time you'll be true when you try and predict the future. So that's why there's this belief that that spirits are able to tell the future, but he very categorically says that they can't. And I just I don't know on what basis he he makes that bold presumption on.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I've. I know that in the Orthodox and Catholic Theology and understanding of the spiritual realm, they would say the same thing that demons cannot predict the the future. And I don't know what the basis for that is exactly. But what they do say is that demons are Very aware of your past and, based on your past, they can, they can, have a good guess. Yeah, basically, yeah, exactly. They basically can guess the the future and you know, be Be quite correct in many cases, because they, they understand your patterns of behavior.

Speaker 3:

So, yeah, I, I don't know what the basis is for I don't know what the basis is for for that Assertion, though it yeah, I don't know if the surgeon is, if behind it is that only God knows, sort of is outside of time and can tell the future, and that Angels and Satan and demons and all the lesser beings have no ability. As you say, they know the past and they may know things they're. I think there's been a few examples in the book where he talks about things that are having simultaneously. So earlier on the sort of telling the some time the color of somebody was wearing a jump on a beach or something. So they know things that are sort of happening Coincidentally, but they can't for tell the future and I just that was something that Okay.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, interesting points, really interesting points. Alright, darren, any questions or objections?

Speaker 1:

No, not really. Yeah, I thought it was a good, good book, but I'm sure we'll get to ratings in a in a minute here. Yeah, sure.

Speaker 2:

All right, hillary writes with regard to questions or objections Page 221. Hypnosis a dubious way of trying to help people recall memories Is a common element in many false memory cases, and then she wrote it in a book. It is quite concerning that it is used at all. I think the case that was brought up in the book was a gentleman who was almost, I would say, posing as a professional to help a younger, younger man to overcome some issues, and he himself had experienced trauma, if I'm not mistaken, and he was trying to help this man who had experienced trauma and he thought hypnosis might be the best direction to go. Based on personal experience, I suppose, and I don't know, is that ever used in in actual clinical settings? I don't know much about it. Have you either of you heard about hypnosis being used? Yeah, I have. Yeah, that's interesting, wow, oof. And is it like in the movies where they have a One of those pendulum clocks where they they kind of swing it up and then they're like they have a pendulum clock where they they kind of swing it back and forth in front of your face, or how do they hypnotize you?

Speaker 1:

I'm not sure about that part of it, but I do know that there are like registered, at least in Canada, that there are registered Psychologists and therapists who practice Hypnosis as as part of their you know, whatever healing and that sort of thing.

Speaker 2:

Wow, huh, okay, yeah, that is interesting. I don't know much about it, but yeah, if they can implant memories or or get you to believe that something happened, it's a little weird I had a couple that sorry.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I know that there's. There could be some subtle differences between um, this and hypnosis, but there's a very uh common and I it's quite a niche area of psychology called rapid eye movement therapy and it's often used to treat things like PTSD and and, um, yeah, that's related kind of issues. And uh, yeah, it's basically what the whole Therapy is is to put someone in a Sort of altered state and then reprogram their memories to Um, wipe out or block certain traumatic events from their memories. So, um, yeah, it's called REM REM therapy. That's interesting, okay.

Speaker 2:

Well, I liked most of the book, but I think that when and I'm gonna get to my questions or objections here when dr Gallagher ventures into territory he is not an expert in. He tends to go with the what's in the zeitgeist rather than really research it, and I think it was evident in two places for me immediately, but maybe in a couple of other places. So he claimed that Jewish tradition at one point had was in in some way derivative of zoroastrianism. Uh, and zoroastrianism From for people who have not heard of it claims to be the first monotheistic religion. Um, the only issue with that claim is that the parcy biography, which was the first written Thing about zoroastrianism, was written a thousand years after christ. So you have this thing that was written a thousand years after christ. That claims to be, you know, 2000 years before him. So, or whatever it would have been. You know well however long the jews came 4,000, yeah, something like that. Yeah, so, um, you know, I, I believe oral oral tradition was quite strong in many places in the world and I think that there could be some something rooted in reality there. But I I tend to think that the claims are exaggerated for zoroastrianism. But it's one of those things that you people engage in authoritative parroting and you know somebody important says it. Therefore it must be true, um, but it's not that big, you know, a big mistake. I know that that's it's quite a popular opinion, but, um, historians, you know, I don't think Really rest on that claim Too much. Okay, and then the other part was uh, he referred to the book of enoch as something that the jews took seriously as history Because it was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Um, no, no jew takes the book of enoch seriously as a history. I think that it's. It was kind of their equivalent of the lion, the witch in the wardrobe. It was a work of fiction and they knew it. Um, but it had some, some basis in reality. So it was, you know, it kind of intermingled fiction with With things that the jews actually believed. There is reference to it in the new testament, I believe. I don't recall which which epistle references it, but, um, you know, as a parallel, alexander the great, I believe, carried the iliad with him and it was sort of a motivational work that kind of inspired him to move along. Having the book of enoch in the Dead Sea Scrolls is not a confirmation that the jews integrated into their theology and in most jews, would would agree with that. So there are people who Um tend to think well, you know the Dead Sea Scrolls. They're dated to anywhere from 100 to 500 years before christ, um, and you know, therefore, all the the jews must have believed it. But if you ask a jew, they'll, they'll, they will tell you this. It was kind of a work of fiction, that, yeah. So that just just two things that came to mind immediately. I don't think that that undermines this book. I think the book is Incredibly well done and so, yeah, on that note, maybe I'll ask everyone to to give their one to ten. I should have asked hillary as well to To maybe put something out. You know a one to ten rating of their feelings on the book, so maybe we'll just assume what hillary would have would have said and just just call that the definitive. I think All right. So, brine, perhaps I'll go with you first. One to ten, and what do you think overall?

Speaker 3:

Um, ten being the top score and the one being not very good at all, I would give it an eight. I think sure I'm gonna enjoy this book. Yeah, yeah, it was good, I suppose primarily because it's a subject area that I'd never Delved into, never been exposed too much before, so just so much it was new and interesting. So, yeah, it was well written. Um, as I said before, I think he came across as a thoroughbred without being um Ever getting in a suit box and and saying absolutely this is correct. There was so much nuance To his arguments and he kept himself humble all the way throughout, which I I really did appreciate, sure sure there any thoughts.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'd give it about an eight as well. I, yeah, would concur with everything brine says and add that it it is really a Really easy read and if anyone is interested in this topic or I would say even if people if there are people out there listening to this who, um, have dabbled in things like readings and other you know, um what would you call it like Basically working with mediums and that kind of thing Um, read this book. It's not very long, it's pretty accessible and easy to read and I think it would maybe change their perspective on using those kinds of People to help them with their, their problems.

Speaker 2:

Sure, Sure, yeah I. I think I'm probably at an eight myself. Yeah it was good, I enjoyed it. I think, um, I agree with everyone's points. So, yeah, what do you think? Hilary gave it brine.

Speaker 3:

Well, no, I think from taught with. I think she'd probably be up there as well.

Speaker 2:

Okay, okay, all right.

Speaker 1:

If you dig up the um, the pass score on phaser, and then multiply it by two, I think you're probably be close to that.

Speaker 2:

Well, no, you'd still be in a negative number, though, if it was.

Speaker 1:

Hilary's.

Speaker 2:

All right, good stuff. So we had the votes for oh, dropping everything now, um, we had the votes for the new book and the. The books that were put out there were the case for heaven I believe that's lee strobel, whom we've read before when we read the case for the real jesus, the experience of god, which was david bentley heart, um, who's um pretty great scholar, um, then isiah, ezekiel and daniel maybe a scripture study. I thought that that could be appropriate, given everything that's going on in the world right now, and it could be really fascinating. Those, in my opinion, are three of the most interesting books of the bible, and I think the bible has a lot of interesting stuff. But I mean, those ones are pretty, pretty meaty, meaty books. The surprising rebirth of belief in god, which I believe is justin brierley. I met justin brierley, uh, about 18 months ago in england at the unbelievable conference. He's a really interesting guy and he used to run the unbelievable podcast, which was one of the most popular christian podcasts out there. He recently left and is doing his own podcast now. But Person of interest is, uh, I believe, jay warner wallace, former police detective, I believe, the most famous, the most famous former police detective in the us. He was on a show where they discussed criminal cases I can't recall the name of it because I don't watch a lot of tv, but and then he converted to christianity and it's him breaking down the reasons why he's convinced that jesus is the messiah, from a detective's perspective. Um, the god delusion which is richard docens, and that was just. You may have to create some opposing arguments. And then the case for the resurrection of jesus, which I believe is gary habermass, who has created the and I brought this up before the minimal are minimal facts argument, which is one of the most utilized arguments for the resurrection of christ in terms of um Scholars, who you know, created a case for it. So, okay, okay.

Speaker 1:

Let's repress your page, your results.

Speaker 2:

I did, did somebody else vote.

Speaker 1:

I may have okay, all right, I logged into a um bpn and you know put in several uh rounds of votes there to go off, you know that's fine.

Speaker 2:

That's fine. I don't think darin typically votes, you know, have you ever voted before?

Speaker 1:

Um, I normally don't vote. I I think way back, like I don't know, two years ago or three years ago. I voted one time and then I was like you know, the books we read are all end up being Pretty interesting. We've had a few duds, I would say, but for the most part they've been very interesting and they're almost never the book that I would vote for. So I figured I just roll with that. Roll with whatever comes our way, okay.

Speaker 2:

Okay, but I was.

Speaker 1:

I know you had mentioned there was a Tie, so I thought, well, okay, maybe I'll. I'll throw in a vote and see if it ends up being a tiebreaker or not.

Speaker 2:

How many did you vote for out of curiosity? Just one or three or two, okay, two, okay, okay, interesting, interesting stuff, brian. Maybe I'll ask which one were you hoping for?

Speaker 3:

I'm like Darren. I've taken Darren's approach. I let the collective wisdom decide and then I go with the reading.

Speaker 2:

Okay, okay, all right, so we do have a definitive winner now. But just out of curiosity, I had you both write down numbers beforehand that we would arbitrarily apply to the two that tied to break the tie. Just out of curiosity, what numbers did each of you write? Darren wrote one One. Wow, all of us wrote one that actually coincides with what Darren just voted, which is the experience of God by David Bentley Hart, so that is the winner. That, to me, is a sign, if anything you know, because, yeah so, the experience of God. This has rave reviews online. I know nothing about what it contains. David Bentley Hart wrote a translation of the New Testament which, by some accounts, is one of the most accurate Greek to English translations, and it does away with a lot of the blanket words that people often don't understand, like love and hell, and gives a very accurate translation of them to help people understand, perhaps, what's going on a little better in the New Testament. And I realize that's a really simplistic way of looking at what he wrote, but he's obviously very intelligent and he knows his stuff, and I don't know much about him outside of that, but I know Darren knows a little bit about him, so I'm looking forward to reading the book. So okay, david Bentley Hart's the experience of God is our next book. So when is everyone keen to get back together? When should we Think, perhaps? I mean, we've got Thanksgiving coming up, american Thanksgiving, and then how's December looking for everyone? Is it pretty busy?

Speaker 1:

Pretty much. The 16th is the weekend that I'm free, but then after the 16th I've got Well, okay, I could do the 16th, I could do the 23rd, and then I'm out for the 30th and then yeah so I've got. I guess I've only got really one week that I would miss.

Speaker 2:

It Okay, December 16th next available date Okay, december 16th, brian, how about you?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, December 16th is fine for us. As far as I know, 23rd is out. Yeah, we'll be too many people here then, but 16th is good, Okay so perhaps I'll send out.

Speaker 2:

I haven't looked at the book yet, I haven't downloaded it, but perhaps we could figure out the reading in an email and then go with the 16th and All right, sweet, yeah, looking forward to this one. I'll just by reading the reviews, I'm very curious about what the contents are, so I have no idea what it's gonna be. Is it gonna be philosophy? Is it gonna be? Yeah, I have no idea. Okay, so who was doing closing prayer? I can't remember.

Speaker 1:

It was me, Okay. So, Father in heaven, thank you for this conversation and we pray that it would be edifying to those who listened to it. We pray for safety on the roads for Hillary and the girls that she's driven down for that swim competition, and we pray that in due time we get together again and discuss another book. We pray this in Jesus' name, amen. Amen.

Speaker 2:

Amen, amen, all right.

Near-Death Experiences
Exploring Near-Death Experiences and Christian Connections
Near-Death Experiences and Consciousness Anomalies
Near-Death Experiences and Biblical Beliefs
Dr. Gallagher's Spiritual Realm Views
Spiritual Realm and Hypnosis Discussion
Selecting the Next Book
Scheduling Meeting for December 16th