Package Deal: NDE (claim) + Miracle Cure (claim)

Question from Halil:
Do you think this proves miracles?
http://orthodoxinfo.com/death/miracle_russia.aspx

Answer by SmartLX:
If you’re going to give me nothing but a link, Halil, I will respond in kind with a nice in-depth thread on the Skeptics Society forum dedicated to this particular claim. Many, many problems with it. Respond to the criticisms from the other page if you want to advocate this as a miracle.

A Dump From Skeptiko

Question from Mirek:
for a long time, people have thought that Near Death Experiences are just a result of the brain, I have found some recent cold hard facts which may prove it is in fact a soul at work:
http://skeptiko.com/94-jeffrey-long-near-death-experience-research/
http://skeptiko.com/jeffrey_long_takes_on_critics_of_evidence_of_the_afterlife/
http://skeptiko.com/118-jeffrey-long-responds-to-parnia/

Here is a really good one which totally debunks the oxygen theory:
http://skeptiko.com/critique-of-skeptics-guide-249/

Dr. Long has done so much research which shows that a lack of oxygen only causes confused hallucinations, while NDEs make sense, and are not only fragments of memory. There are also tons of verified out of body experiences, which took place while a person’s brain had no measurable activity. People have been able to travel far distances, hear conversations, and explain exactly what happened while they were out, only later to be verified. Skeptics, how would you respond to all these lines of proof that it cannot be a brain?
1) doctors have debunked oxygen/hypoxia theory
2) drugs also cause weird hallucinations
3) Dr. Long’s recorded out of body experiences which took place in operating rooms came back with 97.5% accuracy
4) Dr. Penny Sartori has tested people who have never been in a hospital setting, asking them to guess what procedures may go on, and they all fail, yet these NDErs can report everything with close to 100% accuracy
5) There are no cultural differences, and all NDEs are very very similar

How could anyone think they are not the spirit leaving the body? So many have been verified, some people even report floating to other rooms and hearing exact conversations.

Skeptics, enlighten me.

Answer by SmartLX:
The conversation on Jeffrey Long, and the NDE material on Skeptiko in general, is already in progress here and here. The hypoxia issue is specifically addressed in the latter so it’s worth checking out what’s already here.

The crux of the issue is that these experiences have not been verified, only supported by their claimants with assertions and occasionally circumstantial evidence. If they had been verified, there would be no serious doubt that they were really NDEs. The evidence presented is good enough for the faithful, and they think this constitutes verification, but it can’t be that subjective.

If this is the best apologetics Islam has to offer…

Question from Abu (“Muslim until death”, as he wrote in the name field):
I always feel pity for the stubbornness (to believe in Allah/God/Elohim/Ubangiji) of/by Atheists.

Thus I have a lot of questions to harden your brain (and if Allah wills for you goodness; you may take heed).

1) First of all: Why do you deny the existence of Allah [the Almighty God] ?

2) Second of all: Do you go with your life (here I purposely mean) for breathing, able to motionize, able to so likes of ?

3) Third of all: Do you think that everything goes freely by its power of nature ?

4) Fourth of all: If you think that Allah doesn’t exist, how all things came to existence ?

5) Fifth of last: I do argue to prepare for yourselves the last destination, there is a world to come after this, don’t let yourself be loser in Hereafter.

Bye !

Answer by SmartLX:
Interesting idea for you while I’m answering these: if none of the preaching has any effect on me, does that mean Allah wills me to reject him? The Bible talks about God hardening people’s hearts so that they’ll reject him; maybe some people just aren’t meant to be saved.

1) I deny that Allah exists (or at least I say that it seems very unlikely) because I do not believe that Allah exists, and I have decided to be honest about it. Even a genuine lack of belief is difficult for some believers to accept. Sorry folks, but there are people who truly disagree with you.

2) This one was honestly difficult to interpret, so tell me if I’m on the wrong track. I don’t think I need help to breathe, move and so on because there are mechanisms in my body which make these things happen for me. Even if Allah is real he doesn’t necessarily have to run everything manually.

3) I think everything obeys natural laws, only some of which we understand well enough to predict behaviour. An interventionist god like Allah would influence our lives by violating these laws, and I don’t think there’s good evidence that this is happening.

4) I don’t know how everything came to exist. To say that this lack of knowledge supports an assertion that a being with an equally mysterious origin must exist is an argument from ignorance. (It’s no accident that this is the most common hyperlink on this site besides the one for my Twitter.)

5) This is not a question.

Molecules Say The Darnedest Things

Question from ‘name’:
My question is, really, why would an atheist care to talk or explain his ‘atheism’, if we are just molecules and will vanish one day?

Answer by SmartLX:
Because all matter is atoms and molecules. Molecules differ from atoms in that they are more complex, being made up of multiple atom types (elements) and thus able to act and interact in a potentially unlimited number of ways. To the point, enough molecules of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen (and traces of many other elements) can form a brain, an organic computer which can in principle do the following:
– Understand the general concept of a god.
– Make a judgement that it’s unlikely or impossible that such a thing exists.
– Make a further judgement that belief in a god is ultimately harmful, or at least that lack of belief is preferable, based primarily on empathy for other beings with brains.
– Formulate arguments against the concept and find ways to spread them.

Even if you think God created the brain, you have to admit it’s capable of doing all this. Which of course means God created atheists, which is something Christians must explain for themselves.

Might Be Talking To The Wrong Guy

Question from Jesse:
Where did the gravity come from Mr Hawkins? I’m just curious.

Answer by SmartLX:
I’m going to assume this is a question to Stephen Hawking by proxy. It’s the right question as it turns out, as Hawking’s position in A Brief History of Time is that gravity essentially caused the universe. As for its own origin, notwithstanding the limitations of language when describing different workings of time, it was always there, just as you might assume God always was.

If you have a problem with this I suggest you read A Brief History of Time, check any articles which might indicate that Hawking has changed his position since 1988, and address any further correspondence to him.

If Questions Came By Instant Messaging, Only Longer

Question from Rachael:
so u think that god is stupid well i have a few words for u i was like that at one time screw god but i learned the hard way that u need to rethink that god is real as real as the sun and the stars how do u think that u made in this earth i know from ur mom but how do u explain the 1st person on earth theres a hell and a heaven and ur going to be in hell if u don’t get ur act right or some day gods gonna strike u dead all those problems u have in your life could be resolved in just going to a church and praying u will find that that will help u

Answer by SmartLX:
Went to church and prayed, rather a lot. Many atheists started out religious simply because of their upbringing. If you believe, you can convince yourself God is talking back to you, but if not there is usually silence and that’s fine.

Regarding the “ur mom” argument, the line of ancestry goes back past the first humans to the first primates, to the first mammals, to the first tetrapods, to the first vertebrates, to the first multi-celled organisms, to the very first life, and at that point if you look practically anywhere on the site right now you’ll see the same argument raging over whether natural abiogenesis is possible. If there’s no god then it happened, no question, and if there is a god it still might have happened, but whether it’s more unlikely than the existence of a god is so subjective it’s an argument not worth having between a believer and a non-believer. Probabilities get us nowhere unless they’re 0 or 1.

If you’re still around, do comment and let us know how you “learned the hard way”.

Go Where The Science Leads

Question from “Not an atheist”:
Why do you atheists believe you know better than actual scientists that figured all this shit out? Science doesn’t lead to atheism, it refuted atheism a long time ago.

Answer by SmartLX:
Science is a process, and it has definitely led many to atheism by helping them discover natural explanations for phenomena previously thought to be the work of gods. Everyone thinks of evolution as an example, but it goes all the way back to things like the existence and movement of the sun. Others simply attribute the new mechanisms to God as well and are awed by the wondrous ways in which He apparently works, so science does end up leading some farther from atheism than they started. Overall, where science “leads” in this sense is highly subjective and therefore varies wildly.

As for your last point, have a quick search of the site to see if the specific refutation of atheism you’re thinking of is already addressed. If not, we’d love to hear about it. If so, drop a comment on the article you find and we’ll pick up from there.

Breaking Down NDEs by Cause

Question from Marcus:
Does this disprove the hypoxia theory for NDEs?
http://skeptiko.com/critique-of-skeptics-guide-249/

Answer by SmartLX:
A quick search on this topic makes it apparent we’ve wandered into a battlefield. The hypoxia hypothesis has been viciously attacked elsewhere as well, always with the express purpose of legitimising claims of near death experiences.

The core issue is that the link has four separate lists of the effects of hypoxia (lack of oxygen), and “hallucinations” isn’t in any of them. This contradicts (for example) the common trope of mountain climbers hallucinating at high altitudes, which has been properly researched but remains largely an anecdotal claim. More widely accepted is that hallucinations, especially auditory, can be an after-effect of brain damage as a result of hypoxia, so potentially it could trigger as soon as the life-threatening event has caused enough damage.

So no, hypoxia is not eliminated as a cause of the kind of hallucinations that can be mistaken for NDEs, but it’s only one of many possible causes anyway. The link attempts to cover some of these but not with nearly as much rigor; one point is dismissed solely on the basis of Occam’s Razor for instance. The other major problem is that it considers each potential cause individually, taking as counter-examples instances of patients only experiencing one (e.g. hypoxia or a seizure). People near death are often experiencing several of these at once: reduced oxygen, harmful CO2 levels, minor seizures or similar convulsions, powerful drugs administered by medical staff, high levels of various hormones and all kinds of issues with blood flow. The consistent cause of the “classic” NDE may lie in a combination.

Help me pin this one down, please.

Question from Halil:
Found a new OBE [out of body experience] which sounds very compelling. Apparently this man was able to identify targets during his OBE:
https://awareofaware.co/welcome/resourc … esearcher/

Does this prove the soul? It seems quite scientific, although it has never been published in a scientific journal. That aside, what do you think of it?

Answer by SmartLX:
Normally I’m able to trace this sort of thing myself, but the break in the middle of the URL in your question (as I received it) makes it hard to tell which OBE story on AwareofAware you’re referring to. Feel free to post the full link in a comment, either Halil or anyone else who can work it out.

In the meantime there’s a basic statement I can make about NDE and OBE claims in general. They’re proof of something supernatural if all alternatives can be eliminated, both to the source of whatever information was received and to the story of what physically happened. That’s not just a contest between supernatural action and sheer luck, as we’ve seen in previous cases when other explanations and inconvenient details emerge, but even sheer luck cannot be discounted, especially if you’re literally looking for proof as opposed to merely internal justification for your own belief.

Why Israel Is

Question from Jonathan:
So tell me, how do you explain Israel’s continued victory over its neighbors despite being heavily outnumbered?

Answer by SmartLX:
A lot of faith and a lot of help. Many of its inhabitants, and importantly many others around the world, believe they are fulfilling a Biblical prophecy just by having it there. For one instance, the incredible amount of military aid it receives from the United States is due at least in part to a parade of religious American politicians who have accepted its importance in that respect. Thus I’ve previously referred to it as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

To look at it another way, none of this is lost in the mists of time. You can go back through the entire history of the state of Israel since its declaration in 1948 and research exactly how and why it survived each individual or ongoing conflict. You’ll find that it just had the right resources and political goodwill at the right times. (Sometimes it literally came down to Israeli heavy artillery versus Palestinians throwing stones.) It didn’t need any miracles, or else some actual miracles would have happened on the world stage and been hard to ignore.