Can a changed life provide evidence that
a proported event has happened?
In the case below, this college professor on his death-bed experiences some of the pains of what he says was hell. The change in his life shows that SOMETHING happened. What would a scientist say to these claims? How would the scientist explain this experience?
It’s science week. How do we approach this from a scientific perspective? A scientist sets up the observation. Looks at the evidence. Considers the laws at work, and looks for the best explanation. Then the scientist tests their theory.
Looking at the Evidence
We have watched the videos. The man says he was an athiest. He got sick and died/almost died. During this time he had a horrifying experience which he called hell. His experience in “hell” changed when he called out,
“Jesus, please help me!”
Then positive things happened, resulting in his coming back to this life and being healed by the doctors.
Considering the Laws at Work
& Looking for the Best Explanation
This is an issue in the mental-psychological realm
Either he saw something. (Truth-teller)
Or thought he saw something. (Self-deceived/delusional)
Or did not see anything, but said he saw something. (Liar)
From the change in his life we can probably rule out the Liar option, since many years passed between the experience and the recording, yet he did not change his story. It appears he obviously believes in his own story. So either he is delusional or telling the truth.
How can science help us know if he is telling the truth or not? Do we need to determine our boundaries?
…would say that the answer has to lie in the physical world. It could not be true that he experienced something in the supernatural. It was in his mind, and something he saw flipped his view of reality. So he would be delusional, somehow. They would run a battery of tests to find out what kind of psychological problems he has. Simple.
A Theistic Explanation
…would not automatically reduce the possibilities to physical world, so the option of super-nature is still on the table. He might have seen something, and that something might be supernatural.
Testing the Theory
How can we test if he is telling the truth about what he said?
We could test for delusional psychology. Test how he interacts outside of this recording. Is his lifestyle consistent with his profession of faith in God? (Or does he speak on contrary topics elsewhere, for example). We’d need to check his life. To see if he is a habitual liar, or if his actions reflect someone who is not in touch with reality.
If his lifestyle is consistent with his profession of faith in God, we could test if he speaks in accordance with theistic laws.
When I listened to him, I was keenly aware of each point he said, and compared it with what the Bible says. Why the Bible? Because through other reasoning I have come to the confidence in the reliability of the Bible in matters of supernature.
I measured his words against the Bible. It didn’t seem to contradict…
It seems simplistic, because by the same measure we would also have to say that those who see aliens could possibly be telling the truth. And those who are in non-Christian religions who have similar experiences have to be taken at face-value.
I am prepared to consider their cases in the same way. And in the same way, I would measure their words against the Bible’s presentation of the supernatural/natural world connection.
Case in point–
“The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven”
This best seller about a boy who “saw heaven” had a lot of rubbish, inaccurate according to the Bible. It came out later that the boy and his father were lying. The boy fessed up, but the father keeps reaping the royalties.
Unfortunately, the “afterlife travelogue” presented above is firstly questionable because it has dangerous implications. If we believe he went to actual hell, he would be disproving the existence of hell.
What I mean is, we understand hell, and the power of the name of Jesus, from Scripture.
The Bible says,“man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.” [biblegateway passage=”Hebrews 9:27″ display=”Heb 9:27″]
If his experience was actually hell,
one man’s experience would be disproving the book of Hebrews.
And if he disproves Hebrews, all of Scripture is suspect. And if Scripture is suspect, his being saved by the name of Jesus is suspect. Meaning that if he were actually in the hell Christ spoke of, he was not where he thought he was, and he could not have been rescued by the one he thought rescued him. It’s self-contradicting.
Experience must bow to Scripture. If your experience tells you something contrary to the Bible, your INTERPRETATION of your experience is wrong.
It [the afterlife-story phenomena] is not harmless. It denigrates the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. It confounds faith with superstition. It subtly elevates human experience to a higher level than the Word of God. It purports to reveal things about God and the heavenly realm that are not taught in Scripture. And it repeatedly insinuates that the testimony of someone who has been mystically enlightened can be a more effective stimulant to faith than Scripture alone…
Thus says John MacArthur. He continues…
This is just one example of a large and growing subgenre of afterlife travelogues popular today—a genre that includes at least two mega-best-selling titles from evangelical publishers. The authors of these stories—and evidently millions of readers as well—regard these testimonies as authoritative, reliable, and full of superior insights that can take readers to a higher level of understanding and enlightenment beyond what we can get from the Bible.
In other words, all of these books take a similarly protognostic stance on heaven and the afterlife. All of them are dangerous and misleading. That includes the ones that seem fairly benign as well as the ones that are clearly steeped in occult superstition. All of them stand as reminders to us that Scripture and Scripture alone is the only safe place for Christians to learn anything about the immortality of human souls, what happens to a person after death, what heaven is like, what awaits the unrighteous in hell, and what we can expect in the judgment to come.
So my final conclusion (after testing his life/mental state) might be that he saw something. Maybe a dream or something dream-like. But he did see something.
But he did not go to hell.
Because his life changed drastically, 180*, I know a frightening experience happened to him. He had a supernatural, near-death experience that shook his foundations. But according to Scripture, he did not die and he did not go to hell. He got a chance to make things right. Good for him.
Comments: What do you think?