“ONE VOICE…MANY FACES…”

Question from Kamil:
I have done more research on Jesus NDEs, and found that while he does come up more than other deities from other faiths ex: Muhammad, that it may make some sense. I mean, Christians view Jesus on the same playing field as God, and they feel like they have a relationship with him. That may be why whenever they see a light in their NDEs they assume it is Jesus. Muslims do not feel like they have this kind of relationship with Muhammad, and they don’t worship him. Also there are no pictures of Muhammad, so during an NDE, their brains would be less likely to come up with seeing Muhammad potentially.

However, this leaves me with one question: what about the NDEs where Christians see Jesus, but he doesn’t look exactly like depicted in the paintings. Many report seeing him with dark hair, and some even say olive skin. Different people say he has different physical characteristics, and NDErs argue that he appears to each person differently so that they can understand who he is and so that their souls can learn in the best possible way. So person A may imagine Jesus as being tanned with black hair and brown eyes while person B may imagine him having fair skin with blue eyes, so he will manifest in those images for each person. My question is, does this mean that since he shows up to some people in ways that don’t reflect cultural imagery that NDEs with him are likely to be genuine?

And even though I feel Muslims would be less quick to jump to the idea that seeing a light or having a good “familiar” feeling is the result of Muhammad, it still seems Christian NDEs are much deeper with more life lessons and reinforcement of Jesus than Muslims are of their cultural beliefs. Does this prove Christianity?

Answer by SmartLX:
Kamil, did you start with the final sentence, “Does this prove Christianity?” and work backwards? Because if you read your question from the start up to that point, there is nothing approaching a proof there even if everything you write were true.

Jesus as described in the Gospels was one person, with one physical appearance. Shapeshifting was not one of his documented miracles. If different people who claim to see him are clearly not describing the same individual, this is a glaring inconsistency which contradicts the general claim that the same person is appearing to them all. The idea that Jesus is deliberately appearing to different people in different guises is an excuse for this inconsistency. The existence of an unsupported suggestion as to how the visions of Jesus might be both inconsistent and real is not evidence that they are real; it is at best an argument against utter disproof, which is a very, very long way from proof.

It would make the combined stories a lot more compelling in concert if the images of Jesus were separately verified as consistent AND did not fit the common media images. This would suggest that one person, independent of the cultural meme of Jesus, was reaching out to people. That still wouldn’t be proof, but it would be an interesting phenomenon which warranted further study. The reality is nothing like it.

Shawn Weed’s Adventures Through the Noose

Question from Kamil:
Hello there, thanks for answering all my questions thus far. I keep worrying about hell, and this testimony hasn’t helped, by Shawn Weed. His video can be found on YouTube, and he seems so genuine. He cries in his video, and I can’t imagine how someone could hallucinate absolute knowledge ex: he wants to know the demon’s height, and knows automatically it is 13 feet tall. Then, he claims he saw such a beautiful angel, again, how could he hallucinate that?
Here is his story, as his video is very long winded, but in the video, he tears up a lot.

Here are the details about Shawn:

-Was in the marine corps. Had a choice to chill with other broke comrades, go to Disney Land in CA w/ comrades, or Vegas w/ comrades. Lacking funds so he chilled with three others.
-One dude wants to take a picture of him in a noose.
-One other dude sneaks up and while in the noose actually gets Shawn Weed in the noose and it tightens.
-Loses consciousness and eventually dies; his soul leaves his body.
-Describes his soul as himself exactly except he is not physical. Shawn tried to enter his body while he was dead, sort of like matching a the last puzzle piece into the last spot. Didn’t work.
-Ends up in a dark parallel plane that extended forever. Complete darkness. He described it as a “darkness you can feel” and the only light was the dim glow of his own soul or essence. There was a ceiling that he could touch but no walls or doors. Just a never ending chasm dividing Heaven and Hell basically.
-(^^^) He would later describe that place as the doorstep of Hell.
-A demon grabbed him by the shoulders and he describes the demon and the pain he went through.
-Demon: 13 feet high, either blackish red skin or redish black skin, fingers as thick as a wine bottle length little more than a ruler per finger, width of hand was like 8-10 inches, says it’s a fair guess when he estimates the demon weighed 3,000 to 4,000 pounds, built like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime just ripped, grotesque face that scared him terribly (not afraid of no man on the planet will fight anyone no matter how big, etc. but only looked for one second with absolute horror and turned away), the demon was strong and in complete control; there was no fighting this thing.
-Pain: As the demon grabbed him by the shoulder, his legs popped and were kicking up and down rapidly kind of like when you twiddle your index and middle finger up and down quickly, pain in the spiritual is all around according to him meaning if you get pain in your ear you’ll feel it all through your soul all the way down to your feet. He described the pain as electrical current that didn’t stop, he could feel the pain everywhere whereas a cut finger will hurt near the finger an not much further…There are no pain receptors the pain of that finger would flow throughout the entire spirit/soul.

-Sees a light and his hand, almost instinctual, reached for this light that grabbed his hand and it was Archangel Michael. He described him as the most handsome man and the most beautiful woman but shaped like a man. Strong, “not bodybuilder muscle popping out strong but trainer strong” and claims he was definitely there to fight. He says he had the most perfect blue eyes, like flawless perfect blue eyes as if the blue sky were taken and put into his eyes.
-Michael says it is not yet his time, and while the demon still had a strong grip on his shoulder, Michael basically hit the demon like a palm to the neck sort of strike and this demon went flying back like a cartoon bent in half mid-air (hands touching toes) sort of way.
-Michael points a direction and Shawn follows, instantly back in his body alive.

***He claimed that once he knew the demon was taking him from the doorstep of Hell to the actual fire and brimstone part of Hell he kept repeating it in his head like “I’m going to Hell” “He’s taking me to Hell” over and over. Said it was mortal doom basically. And he described the hope he had in him sort of ooze out of him after that realization and he became numb and every bit of energy and will to live was gone drained from his soul.***

He said he was an average guy. Never murdered, stole, etc. Did some drinking and drugs nothing excessive just your average guy. Claims that there are good people in Hell, people who would call themselves Christians. His belief is that God doesn’t want average he wants full devotion and the people who follow Christ and God one foot in one foot out end up in Hell. Full devotion to the best of your ability is what God requires. That was the part that blew me away, to think that good people would be allowed to burn eternally for being lukewarm, spit out into Hell.

Answer by SmartLX:
Found it here.

Weed doesn’t have to be lying to be wrong. His experience can have been entirely real to him and yet not involve any supernatural beings. This is the nature of dreams, hallucinations, and false memories.

Whatever really happened, the more he tells this story the more he reinforces it in his own mind (especially with his emotions engaged), until he may believe it entirely when once he didn’t. All kinds of new and specific details can creep in that way too and become canon, so to speak. This could include not only the height of the demon but his memory of how quickly he knew it, so it actually is possible to fabricate a memory of having certain knowledge. Imagining a beautiful angel is pretty straightforward if you believe in angels.

Much of the story is consistent with him having fabricated the whole thing, consciously or not. It reflects his existing beliefs and even special interests. Besides the obvious Christian imagery, bodybuilder Weed portrays the entities involved as distinct beefcake body types. The bit about spitting out lukewarm people paraphrases Revelations 3:16, and reflects many other Bible verses telling Christians to be active in their faith. (Some evangelicals call it being “on fire for Jesus”.)

Let’s not forget that there isn’t even any obvious support for the non-supernatural parts of the story. We have only Weed’s word that he was in the noose in the first place, let alone accidentally strangled until clinically dead with three close friends present. For this story to be taken as evidence of anything, surely it should be the first pre-requisite to establish that he even had an opportunity to experience the afterlife.

Take note anytime you take “I can’t imagine how” as evidence for something. This is acceptance of an argument from ignorance, unconsciously made to yourself. It may well convince you at the time but it has no right to.

Cornering the Market, Continued: The NDE Niche

Question from Kamil:
After emailing back and forth with a near death experience expert, I got a figure that from the NDEs he collects, about 13% of NDEs that people have include seeing Jesus. There are not too many Islamic NDEs, but there is yet to be one where a person encounters Muhammad. There are a few Hindu NDEs which differ from Christian ones, but again, almost no mention of Krishna. Would you say 13% of NDEs seeing Jesus would give Jesus more of a chance of being real than the other deities? I have heard that Islamic people may be quiet on encounters with Muhammad as it may be seen as taboo to mention a Muhammad encounter. however, I have seen testimonies of people dreaming about Muhammad and mentioning it, so I’m not quite sure how “taboo” it would be. My question is, if there was never a single NDE of Muhammad but NDEs with Jesus, does this mean Christianity has a better chance of being true? Also, I have seen forums on this topic, and no one can seem to figure out why Muhammad never shows up in NDEs. I do know that Christians on the web will proudly point this out and say “We see Jesus, others don’t see their deities, so we are correct!”. I would like to know an atheistic standpoint on this.

Answer by SmartLX:
I concur on two points. All the research done so far has failed to come up with a statistically significant amount of NDE claims involving Muhammad, and as shown here some Christians do point out Jesus’ supposed monopoly on NDE appearances as support for the reality of his divinity.

Firstly, at 13% of all NDE claims it’s not much of a monopoly. Jesus is not a part of the vast majority of NDE claims even by Christians. Even if it’s really Jesus, he’s not making good use of his omnipresence. But more importantly, when all appearances by Jesus in all claims made so far aren’t enough to convince non-believers due to the lack of good evidence any given claim provides, it means little to point out that other religions do not have the same claims. “Oh, your rivals don’t have this same support that isn’t any kind of support anyway? Well whoop-de-do.”

A more likely reason for the discrepancy than the occasional genuine presence of Jesus, expanding on what I wrote here and here, is that this form of NDE is an almost exclusively Christian cultural meme at this point in time. People are aware of prior claims, so if they have an experience that gives them even a fuzzy feeling of a divine presence (often attributable to medical effects) they will subconsciously shape the memory to fit the expectation. And of course if they’re making it up entirely they will custom-tool it to the memetic specifications.

Now if a recognisable Jesus appeared to someone who had never heard of Jesus, that would be something. But it would also be nearly impossible to prove after the fact, as I’m sure we’ll explore if anyone has a claim like that to share.

The Least Verifiable NDE Claim Yet

Question from Ned:
Does this psychic woman prove Jesus?

https://iands.org/ndes/nde-stories/iands-nde-accounts/494-face-to-face-with-jesus-the-christ.html?highlight=WyJqZXN1cyIsImplc3VzJyIsIidqZXN1cyIsIidqZXN1cyciLCJqZXN1cydzIl0=

Answer by SmartLX:
No.

If anything in this story were true, it would be amazing, but there’s no evidence that it is, so that doesn’t begin to approach the criteria of proof that Jesus is alive and curing people. There are no names in the story, not the author, not the doctor, and not the “psychic” woman, so there’s absolutely no way to find out whether any of it happened. Like another recent account the hospital is named – the Veteran Affairs Medical Center – but firstly this may or may not be the one in Portland, Oregon, and secondly hospitals are not forthcoming to the general public on the details of their ex-patients. Just because Forrest Gump went to the White House, which is a real building, does not mean Forrest Gump was a real person.

As it stands, there’s just nothing here.

I Think We’re Good on Near Death Experiences Now, Thanks

Question from Kamil:
Question about Howard Storm: some reasons not to believe, but other reasons it may be true.

1) he is supposedly dead, and in spirit form, yet he has nerves and can feel the cold floor or his hands making fists.

2) his experience takes place in the hospital room and the rest is in the hallway of the hospital. It is just a long dark road. He probably didn’t pay attention to how the hospital looked, so his brain had to fill in the gaps of the way it looked.

3) the demons mock his hospital gown. Why would his “soul” be wearing his hospital clothes?

4) These shadow looking demons are attacking him. Anyone could interpret this as anything. However, Storm assumes he is in hell, therefore he thinks of Jesus, and this makes his experience automatically religious.

The only things I don’t get are:

1) How could his experience be so detailed?
2) he talks about having infinite knowledge, and says everyone’s NDE is different to suit them and their beliefs.
3) He asks detailed questions about the USA economy and future wars and gets answers
4) he sees 80 new primary colours

Usually, I find accounts so detailed like this could be fabrications because the more detailed it is, the less likely it seems to be true. However, in this case, I think he seems genuine. I don’t think he lied about his whole experience. He did become a church reverend. It’s just that his account was so detailed. Is it possible he really believes he had the experience, but that he added stuff to it later to make his story more convincing? I just wonder, maybe he believes he saw demons, Jesus and all, but maybe he added bits about his detailed questions and answers?

Also, what do you think are the odds his story was real?

Answer by SmartLX:
Straight to your “don’t get” list:

1) The detail is unverifiable, in both the sense that we have only his word how detailed it was and the sense that the details themselves cannot be verified. Lots of people can write a detailed story. They’re called writers.
2) This flies in the face of the argument several people have brought here, that NDEs are more believable because they’re consistent. Regardless, it’s an explanation of a fact he would have known beforehand, namely that people’s NDEs do not always line up.
3) He gets answers, but how many have proved correct? If any have, what were the chances? Did he tell the story after any predictions came true, giving him the chance to retcon the predictions? My piece on prophecies may help you analyse this aspect of the story.
4) Another unverifiable claim. Think about this: if you hadn’t been taught as a child which were the primary colours, how would you determine it? How would you recognise a fourth colour as another primary if it showed up?

The event occurred in 1985, so even if it was a complete fabrication to begin with he might believe a lot of it now. I doubt it was a complete fabrication, so a kernel of belief formed in an extremely vulnerable moment can grow and extend to all kinds of ideas. The strength of his belief has many potential sources besides truth, so be careful about letting it inspire belief in you.

NDEs: When Hell Gets Repetitive

Question from Alexia:
Hellish NDE consistency, potential proof:

Here is Timothy LaFond’s depiction of hell after he was electrocuted and had a near death experience: “Besides the screaming of other people in torment, there were also demons. Yes, there really are demons! I could see their grotesque faces. They came up to me and taunted me with indescribable horror and fear — yelling in my face with such intense volume; things like: “We’ve got you now!” Laughing and sneering at me saying, “We fooled you! We got you now!” … followed by hideous, evil laughter. ” “I somehow managed to cry out to God during this time, pleading, “Oh God – help me!” Again, “God – help me!” “He heard my plea. The right hand of the Lord touched me. I felt His fingers and thumb on my shoulder and He pulled me out of hell. He set me free from not only from the torments of hell,”
[URL removed]

Now this testimony by Joe Hadwin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn-PKUPYCg4&t=1002s

also sees demons who say “I’ve got you now” 9:10 in the video

14:06 he cries out to God, and his hand comes and saves him.

These are only 2 of many similar cases. Evil demons mocking people, beating them up, then they call out to God and a hand rescues them, how is this similarity so possible? How can so many people hallucinate this? They also claim to speak telepathically to God always.
Doesn’t this prove hell somewhat?

Answer by SmartLX:
Sorry Alexia, the first link to Timothy LaFond’s testimony threw up malware red flags so I won’t share it. Folks can find it by putting “precious testimonies timothy lafond” into Google without quotes, at their own risk.

It seems that your only argument for the reality of Hell is the similarity between accounts. As I’ve written before, this is not a strong argument because of the other possible reasons for it:

“One, the standard NDE story is by now traditional and very well-known. If someone who’s at least familiar with it has an ordinary dream or hallucination during a life-threatening situation, it is likely to follow the same pattern as it’s what the victim expects on some level. If there is no memory or a fragmented memory of the period, the existence of this very specific expectation for the experience can shape a memory over time until it fits very well. And if someone just makes up an NDE story, they will deliberately follow the pattern to match the expectation of their audience.

“Two, people going through the physical and mental states associated with near or temporary “death” are likely to have similar physiological reasons to experience certain things, even if they’re not fully understood. The white light in the distance, for instance, is consistent with temporary tunnel vision caused by lack of blood or oxygen to the eyes, growing brighter when the supply returns. Scientific American went into this six years ago.”

Search this site for the keyword “nde”. There have been a flood of questions lately, so there’s a lot to read on the topic. I think you’ll find it informative as a whole.

From Hollywood to Hell: “I was on my knees and I was like, ‘God’, I was like…”

Question from Vlad:
I am currently battling with my fear of evil spirits/demonic beings, when I came across this video. It is about a former Victoria secret model who lived in LA, was into hanging out with the wrong crowds, non religious etc. One day, she experiences an episode.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jImC9ixn_70&t=436s

It’s only 7:05 to 13:00.

I just really want some opinions of atheists, this video has given me problems sleeping, because it seems so genuine, and I don’t think the girl is lying. She doesn’t mention any drugs, so it seems nothing could have caused her to have this episode. Please please please leave me your opinions, I need this!

Answer by SmartLX:
Sorry it took so long to get to this in the circumstances, Vlad.

I wouldn’t guarantee she’s not lying, even after she says all those times that she’s not (seriously though, the direct segue into the hard sell for her book doesn’t help her case), but I’m willing to accept that she might believe what she says. The important thing to remember is that people who aren’t lying aren’t necessarily right either.

The woman had a whopper of what you rightly call “an episode”. (The additional word “psychotic” comes to mind, though it may or may not apply.) Others thought so at the time, because she was eventually admitted to hospital, passed out and woke up on a white bed. We hear nothing about what the doctors told her about her physical or mental condition, what drugs she was on and what any drugs were for, etc. (Particularly important point: she doesn’t deny the influence of drugs, she just doesn’t mention them.) All this and it was also nine years ago, which is time enough to convince oneself that just about anything was real, especially if one’s faculties at the time were impaired.

This was, no one would argue, a well-rehearsed story if nothing else. Whatever impact it’s meant to have, it’s been refined to hit that mark squarely, and from what you wrote it sounds like it has. A story about going to Hell while possessed by a demon is going to trigger your imagination to conjure the worst possible images you can of these things, using your own brain against itself. Immerse yourself in something else before considering this again; you cannot reclaim your objectivity while you’re in the depths of this thing. Just try to climb out for a while.

A Hindu Gets A Christian NDE

Question from Kamil:
This is the story of Dr Rajiv Parti. I want to know if this story proves Christainity, as it happened to a Hindu man who was raised in India, yet saw Archangels Michael and Raphael.

Parti had prostate cancer. The operation to remove the cancerous cells left him with complications: impotence, incontinence and chronic, excruciating pain. He became addicted to painkillers, and depression soon followed. Two years passed yet the complications remained. Because he couldn’t control his bodily functions, surgeons implanted an artificial urinary sphincter.

That’s when the real trouble began.

Within 48 hours, Parti’s entire pelvic area turned red and swollen. He developed a 105-degree fever. Sepsis had set in. An ambulance rushed him from Bakersfield to UCLA Medical Center, where doctors administered antibiotics for the infection and morphine for pain.

The next morning, Christmas Day 2010, the medical staff performed emergency surgery. General anesthesia was administered. But 15 minutes later, when they inserted a catheter to drain his urinary bladder, the pain was so intense that it triggered an out-of-body experience.

Parti saw himself floating above the scene. He observed the surgeons cutting him open. The smell was awful, and to counteract it, he was aware of the nurses applying eucalyptus-scented water to their surgical masks. He heard conversations taking place, even a joke told by the anesthesiologist.

Simultaneously, Parti heard a conversation occurring between his mother and sister in India. They were discussing what to prepare for dinner that night: rice, vegetables, yogurt, legumes. He saw them sitting in front of a small electric heater, his mother in a green sari, his sister in a blue sweater and blue jeans.

“I would like to say my awareness then went to a serene, happy place,” Parti says. “But no.” Instead, his mind went to a dark place where a great wild fire was raging. Lightning flashed in black clouds, and entities with crooked teeth and horns scurried around. “I was in a hellish realm.”

There, Parti realized his sins. “I was not kind to my patients. When I met someone, I always asked myself, ‘What can I get from this person?’?” He was especially harsh toward those he perceived to be lower in social or professional status. He saw how many people he’d used, how many toes he’d stepped on to get ahead.

He remembered a former patient, a 75-year-old lady with arthritis. “She wanted to talk to me. She wanted a little touch on the shoulder, because her husband was dying of cancer.” Instead, he dashed off a prescription and walked out of the room. In the hellish realm, he felt deeply sorry. He wished he had done things differently.

Then his father showed up and shepherded him to a tunnel. Crossing the tunnel, the dark hell was replaced by “the light of a thousand suns that did not hurt the eyes.” The light, Parti understood, was pure love, and he was being given a second chance to go back and change his life completely.

Awakening in the recovery room, he wanted to get down on his knees. He verified the joke he’d heard with the anesthesiologist, who reasoned, “You must have been light on anesthesia.” He confirmed facts with his family – back in India, his mom was indeed wearing a green sari that Christmas evening, and yes, she and Parti’s sister did sit around the heater discussing dinner.

In his experience, he met with two archangels, who are Christian, and was shown hell, also very Christian. I am wondering, how does a man raised Hindu see such Christian imagery? Does this demonstrate Christianity to be true?

Answer by SmartLX:
Generally speaking, if you’re hallucinating due to pain or any other medical effect you might see anything that’s in your brain, not just that which is foremost. This was an educated man in pluralistic Indian society, where Christianity is the third largest religion behind Hinduism and Islam (and ahead of Sikhism). He was aware of many elements of Christianity which then figured into his vision. If he’d been from somewhere Christianity is not widely familiar, this would carry a bit more weight.

The evidence he presents for the veracity of his out-of-body experience is the corroboration by his anaesthesiologist and his mother and sister. We have only his word for these corroborations, but even if he did confirm it with them neither claim is unambiguously supernatural. He would know some of his family’s favourite clothes (in particular, if someone likes jeans they wear a lot of them) and typical diet (also typically Indian Hindu vegetarian diet). Hearing the anaesthesiologist’s joke might well have been a failure of the anaesthetic, or else the anaesthesiologist could have told the same joke near Parti before he went under.

It’s worth reading specifically the 3-star reviews of his book about the experience on Amazon. At this level you get comments from people who don’t necessarily reject the NDE claim out of hand, but take issue with differences between Parti’s account and Christian doctrine about what’s actually going on in Heaven and Hell. If you want to accept Parti’s claims as evidence for Christianity, you must also accept them as contradictions of or wholesale additions to certain claims in scripture, such as what becomes of people with specific occupations.

I See Demons!

Question from Alexia:
I would like to know if atheists ever have moments of fear over the idea that they could potentially be wrong, and that there is a nasty afterlife waiting for them? I, as an agnostic theist, do. I feel that if I were to stop believing (the idea has crossed my mind) that I may regret it.

I have had dreams before of seeing hell, and my grandfather had a Near Death Experience where he saw hell and was tortured by evil creatures. I have noticed that in many dreams, near death experiences, and so called revelations, people often report seeing demonic creatures in this so called hell. I would like to get the perspective of atheists. Why is it that if Christians are raised to expect Satan in hell that they never report seeing Satan in these visions, but they commonly report multiple strange beings or creatures attacking them and enjoying it? I read a book from the 1980s about Near Death Experiences by Raymond Moody, and even he says in his research that negative experiencers often report demonic creatures from interviews conducted early on in Near Death research.

What might be the reason for why many of these visions people have involve evil creatures, when the bible says nothing about that? People from the early 1900s have been giving consistent reports with people today in 2017. What would you say, percentage wise, are the odds that a literal hell exists, given the consistency of so many peoples’ “visions” and “revelations” of hell? Is there really going to be multiple reptile looking creatures who enjoy peoples’ misery and torture them forever, swearing at them, taunting them, or is there something else at play here?

Answer by SmartLX:
Atheists do get these moments of fear, but not usually forever. For those like myself who had faith and lost it, the fear of God’s wrath often outlives the belief even though it’s irrational to be afraid of something you no longer believe in. (It’s part of the phenomenon I call “faithdrawal”.) This is to be expected, since emotions can easily defy rationality. I personally avoided this completely by hardly thinking about religion at all for over a decade before realising I was an atheist; my emotional attachment to God and faith had faded away so it didn’t try to reassert itself.

In previous articles like this one I’ve answered the general argument based on the similarity between people’s visions of the afterlife, so read through the link and also just search the site for ‘nde’ to find more on the subject. Here I’ll address the particular question about Satan and lesser demons in Hell. Most Christians get most of their mental images of Hell not from the Bible but from other media, everything from Dante’s Inferno to Constantine to The Simpsons, and sadistic torturer demons have been a fixture in this material for centuries. While you can imagine individual demons looking and behaving any way you like without challenging your theology much, Satan is a major figure on whose appearance the subconscious might be uncomfortable taking a firm position. Thus Satan conveniently does not put in an appearance for people who are just passing through.

And then there are the Christians who do report seeing Satan, which doesn’t really help any argument based on this not happening.

Whence Came Hell?

Question from Vlad:
Hello, I was told that Dante’s Inferno was written well after the 6th century. People say hell stems from there. Why then, did this Pope from the 6th century also report hell in NDEs?
http://www.spiritdaily.org/neardeathgregory.htm

Answer by SmartLX:
“Well after” is certainly correct. Inferno is the first part of Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, and was written in the 14th century. That should tip you off to the fact that the concept of Hell does not originally stem from there; it is not nearly that new.

The first known recognisable concepts of a place like Hell come to us from ancient Greek religion, specifically the regions of Hades and Tartarus. The Christian concept is straight out of the New Testament, written mostly in the 1st century but all well before the 6th. Early translations of it use the names Hades and Tartarus, among others, to mean Hell. The major details like fire, torture and eternity are all stated or implied in the NT (here’s a Christian perspective), and even though some have interpreted it differently the basic imagery was widely accepted before long. Inferno merely built upon that which already permeated Western culture.

To bring it all back to your question: someone in the 6th century, let alone the Pope, would have had plenty of hellish nightmare fuel to draw from without the works of Dante. If his claimed experience is similar to modern claims in ways that go beyond Scripture, the similar physiological effects of the events that brought the claimants near death can go a long way toward explaining this.