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BA77’s off topic thread, volume 3 — drug dealers, poker players, and mobsters turning to faith

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Favorite atheist thinkers? Bertrand Russell, Nathaniel Branden, Fred Hoyle, Jack Trevors, TJ Rodgers.

That said, have any of you met anyone who said, “once I stopped believing in God, I cleaned up my life and became a better person”? Yet I know of many who left their old life after becoming Christians. A pastor of church I once attended was an atheist drug dealer. His name was Lon Solomon:

Lon’s life became a relentless search for meaning and purpose. He sought to fill the void he felt on the inside with fraternity life, partying, gambling, and he even developed a serious drinking problem. When all this failed to supply the inner peace he was seeking, Lon became deeply involved in drugs, both as a user and a distributor. He turned to “spiritual” things at this point, diving into psychedelics, Eastern religions and even attempting a return to mainstream Judaism. But all this failed to resolve his inner turmoil, and he decided that suicide was the only reasonable way out. It was at this time that Lon met a street evangelist in Chapel Hill who began to talk to him about Jesus Christ. God worked powerfully through months of interaction with this man, resulting in Lon’s decision to accept Jesus as his personal Savior and Messiah in the spring of 1971.

Lon is a marvelous example of God’s transforming power in action. Subsequent to his decision to accept Christ, Lon was able to quit the drug and alcohol abuse that had plagued his life for years. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Chemistry (1971). He then completed a Th.M. degree in Hebrew and Old Testament at Capital Bible Seminary (1975, summa cum laude). He completed graduate work at Johns Hopkins University, receiving a Masters Degree in Near Eastern Studies in 1979. He taught Hebrew and Old Testament at Capital Bible Seminary from 1975-1980. In 1980, Lon became the senior pastor at McLean Bible Church. He received a Doctorate of Divinity degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in 2005.

http://www.mcleanbible.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=81281

Lon has encouraged many in his congregation, myself included, to reject Darwinism. I attended his church a few years before I began researching ID.

Here is another story, from Wiki on professional poker player Doyle Brunson:

Brunson met his future wife, Louise, in 1960 and married her in August 1962. Louise became pregnant, but later that year, a tumor was discovered in Doyle’s neck. When it was operated on, the surgeons found that the cancer had spread and declared it incurable. They felt that an operation would prolong his life long enough for him to see the birth of the baby, so they went ahead with it. After the operation, no trace of the cancer could be found.[8] The doctors said that his recovery must have been a miracle, and Brunson has attributed his cure to the prayers of friends of his wife and their correspondence with Kathryn Kuhlman, a self-proclaimed Christian faith healer.[9] Louise developed a tumor shortly afterwards and, when she went for surgery, her tumor was also found to have disappeared. In 1975, their daughter Doyla was diagnosed with scoliosis, yet her spine straightened completely within three months.

Doyla died at 18 when she took too much potassium for a heart-valve condition. Over the following year, Brunson read Christian literature and converted to Christianity.

His son, Todd, also plays poker professionally. Todd has won a bracelet in Omaha Hi-Lo at the 2005 WSOP, making the Brunsons the first father-son combination to win World Series bracelets. His daughter Pamela played in the 2007 World Series of Poker and 2009 World Series of Poker main events, outlasting both Doyle and Todd both times.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doyle_Brunson

Miracle or unexplained natural cause for healing in the Brunson family? Suppose God did work a miracle, wouldn’t it be unwise to offend Him by insisting it wasn’t a miracle when it was? I frame theological questions often gambling terms. “If you’re an atheist and you’re wrong, you have more to lose than being a Christian who is wrong.”

And then there is this mobster turned Christian:

Just a few years ago, mafia boss, Michael Franzese was named one of the biggest money earners the mob had seen since Al Capone, by Vanity Fair. At the age of 35, Fortune Magazine listed him as number 18 on its list of the “Fifty Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses”, just 5 behind John Gotti. Avoiding traditional mob domains, Michael masterminded brilliant scams on the edge of the legitimate business world. From auto dealerships and union kickbacks, to financial services and the sports and entertainment industries, to a multi-billion dollar gasoline tax scheme, he earned millions in cash every week at his peak. Not surprisingly, Michael quickly became the target of Manhattan’s famed federal prosecutor, Rudy Guiliani. After promising Michael 100 years behind bars after indicting him on racketeering charges, Rudy only came up empty handed. Escaping four more indictments, it seemed Michael Franzese truly was invincible.

While producing Knights of the City, a break dance movie filmed in Florida, Michael met a beautiful dancer from Anaheim, California, named Camille Garcia, whose innocent beauty turned his world upside down. After falling in love and eventually marrying Cammy, she convinced Michael to take the rap on racketeering charges. Michael pled guilty, accepted a 10 year prison sentence and vowed to do the unthinkable – walk away from the mob. Nobody of Franzese’s rank had ever just walked away – and lived. Until now.

Michael Franzese is the only high ranking official of a major crime family to ever walk away, without protective custodies, and survive.

He is now a man on a mission. Determined to use the compelling experiences of his former life for the benefit of corporate executives, professional and student athletes, at-risk youth, church audiences, and for anyone seeking the inspiration to beat the odds and make positive changes in their lives, he has become a highly regarded motivator and a source of invaluable information. Franzese candidly describes how he survived dozens of grand jury appearances, 5 major racketeering indictments, 5 criminal trials, 7 years in prison and a Mafia death sentence. He tells how he engaged bankers, corporate executives, union officials and professional and student athletes in a wide variety of financial scams. His open and honest presentations are fresh and unique. Audiences are captivated by stories of his personal experiences in organized crime and genuinely affected by his powerful anti-crime messages and eye opening revelations.

His autobiography, Blood Covenant, Michael reveals answers to many mysteries surrounding his incredible journey. Walk the streets with him to find out how he has done what no one else has managed to do.

His newest book, I’ll Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse, was just released by Thomas Nelson, and contains insider business tips from the former mob boss.

http://www.michaelfranzese.com/bio/the-story/

Speaking of mobsters, how about mobster movies? Do I have a favorite? The family friendly version (with all the vulgarity and graphic violence edited out for TV presentation) of the movie Casino starring Robert DiNiro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci.

[youtube t09aGcMjnWM]

Favorite quote from the movie:

When you love someone, you’ve gotta trust them. There’s no other way. You’ve got to give them the key to everything that’s yours. Otherwise, what’s the point? And for a while, I believed, that’s the kind of love I had.

But more than mobster movies, I like documentaries about criminal master minds which I used to see on CNBC. 🙂 One of my favorite episodes was about this drug smuggler:


See:

[youtube yZ6F6rhm58M]

[youtube qXPI9KxQzPA]

[youtube -sJe-2rh89k]

Luytjes was a brilliant aviation mechanic and engineer, and pretty decent pilot. I suppose if I didn’t fear God, and I didn’t fear spending nights in jail with the boys, and if the enterprise were ethical, I’d probably want to be like Rik because he was so ingenious.

Favorite video games? I like an old one known as X-wing vs TIE Fighter flight school.

So, speak your mind but exercise some discretion, keep it family friendly, and try not to start flame wars or launch into attacks against other UD participants. Other than that, talk about what you want. Enjoy!

26 Replies to “BA77’s off topic thread, volume 3 — drug dealers, poker players, and mobsters turning to faith

  1. 1
    Johnnyfarmer says:

    OFF TOPIC:

    I am assuming the Biblical God is the designer. I am wondering how much epigenetical influence He designed into the human genome ?

    I don’t think there is anyway of knowing …. how could you experiment to find out ?

    But interesting to ponder this question !!!!

  2. 2
    Barb says:

    My favorite mobster movie is Goodfellas. Gotta love one of the opening lines by Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta):
    “All my life, I wanted to be a gangster.”

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    I would guess to give an answer (an apologetic) to someone who claims to be ‘scientific’ and who does not yet believe that there is a God, a soul, a mind, heaven or hell, Jesus rising from the dead, and such as that, it would be good to first ‘get very personal, and start with the fact that advances in science have now given us very compelling evidence that there is, in fact, a transcendent component to each and every one of us, a soul, that lives beyond the death of the temporal body:

    To start off, quantum information is now shown to be its own unique physical entity that is separate from matter and energy:

    Quantum Entanglement and Information
    Quantum entanglement is a physical resource, like energy, associated with the peculiar nonclassical correlations that are possible between separated quantum systems. Entanglement can be measured, transformed, and purified. A pair of quantum systems in an entangled state can be used as a quantum information channel to perform computational and cryptographic tasks that are impossible for classical systems. The general study of the information-processing capabilities of quantum systems is the subject of quantum information theory.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-entangle/

    In fact, matter and energy are reducible to quantum information. Theoretically reducing an entire human body to quantum information and ‘teleportating’ it is discussed in the following video:

    New Breakthrough in (Quantum) Teleportation – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xqZI31udJg
    Quote from video:
    “There are 10^28 atoms in the human body.,, The amount of data contained in the whole human,, is 3.02 x 10^32 gigabytes of information. Using a high bandwidth transfer that data would take about 4.5 x 10^18 years to teleport 1 time. That is 350,000 times the age of the universe.”
    for comparison sake:
    “The theoretical (information) density of DNA is you could store the total world information, which is 1.8 zetabytes, at least in 2011, in about 4 grams of DNA.” (a zettabyte is one billion trillion or 10^21 bytes of digital data)
    Sriram Kosuri PhD. – Wyss Institute

    What is interesting in the preceding video is that they talk of having to entangle each and every one of the material particles of the human body, on a one by one basis, in order to teleport a human body successfully. But what they have failed to realize in the video is that we now know that there is already massive quantum entanglement within the human body, in every protein and DNA molecule of the human body:

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Quantum entanglement between the electron clouds of nucleic acids in DNA – Elisabeth Rieper, Janet Anders and Vlatko Vedral – February 2011
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxi.....4053v2.pdf

    Testing quantum entanglement in protein – 2011
    http://www.quantum-mind.co.uk/.....-c288.html

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding – February 22, 2011
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....f-protein/

    It is also very important to note that this quantum entanglement/information in the human body is not reducible to a ‘local’, i.e. within space and time, cause,,

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

    Closing the last Bell-test loophole for photons – Jun 11, 2013
    Excerpt: That combination, the researchers write, was “crucial for achieving a sufficiently high collection efficiency,” resulting in a high-accuracy data set – requiring no assumptions or correction of count rates – that confirmed quantum entanglement to nearly 70 standard deviations.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2013-06-b.....otons.html

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    The following articles give us a small glimpse as to what it truly means for entanglement to be confirmed to an order of ’70 standard deviations’:

    Standard deviation
    Excerpt: Particle physics uses a standard of “5 sigma” for the declaration of a discovery.[3] At five-sigma there is only one chance in nearly two million that a random fluctuation would yield the result.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....le_physics

    SSDD: a 22 sigma event is consistent with the physics of fair coins? – Sal – June 23, 2013
    Excerpt: So 500 coins heads is (500-250)/11 = 22 standard deviations (22 sigma) from expectation! These numbers are so extreme, it’s probably inappropriate to even use the normal distribution’s approximation of the binomial distribution, and hence “22 sigma” just becomes a figure of speech in this extreme case…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....air-coins/

    Moreover, beyond space and time quantum entanglement/ information is also now held to be ‘conserved’,,

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time – March 2011
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed.
    http://phys.org/news/2011-03-q.....tally.html

    Quantum no-deleting theorem
    Excerpt: A stronger version of the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem provide permanence to quantum information. To create a copy one must import the information from some part of the universe and to delete a state one needs to export it to another part of the universe where it will continue to exist.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....onsequence

    Moreover, at the moment of bodily death, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary,,,

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Steve Talbott
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.
    ,,,Rather than becoming progressively disordered in their mutual relations (as indeed happens after death, when the whole dissolves into separate fragments), the processes hold together in a larger unity.
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

    So where does this conserved quantum information/entanglement go upon bodily death? HMMM,,, Anyways that is an overview of the current ‘scientific’ evidence that man has a transcendent component, a soul, to his being that lives past the death of the temporal/material body:

    Also of note, comparing the observational evidence for Near Death Experiences with the observational evidence for Darwinian evolution, IMHO, gives us further compelling evidence that man has a transcendent component to his being, a soul, that lives past the death of his temporal/material body.

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species (or origin of life, or origin of a molecular machine, or origin of a protein), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    “A recent analysis of several hundred cases showed that 48% of near-death experiencers reported seeing their physical bodies from a different visual perspective. Many of them also reported witnessing events going on in the vicinity of their body, such as the attempts of medical personnel to resuscitate them (Kelly et al., 2007).”
    Kelly, E. W., Greyson, B., & Kelly, E. F. (2007). Unusual experiences near death and related phenomena. In E. F. Kelly, E. W. Kelly, A. Crabtree, A. Gauld, M. Grosso, & B. Greyson, Irreducible mind (pp. 367-421). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Verse and music:

    Hebrews 9:27
    And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

    ROYAL TAILOR – HOLD ME TOGETHER – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbpJ2FeeJgw

  5. 5
    Querius says:

    There’s a friend of mine ar church who was recently released from prison after serving over 18 years. He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met! He turned his life over Jesus Christ while in prison, and he’s changed completely from a violent, alcoholic drug dealer to a friendly, enthusiastic Christian who’s grateful for the three “hots” a day that he receives at the mission where he’s staying (a condition of his parole). As a tradesman, he’s delighted at being able to become useful and he’s performing many useful renovations to the place. He also encouarges the other guys staying at the mission, many of whom are trying to overcome drug and alcohol problems.

    I meet with him weekly to talk about his life and how he’s adjusting to his new situation (very well, but it’s a long road). Also, I’ve never seen a Bible that’s so worn and annotated as his! I’m proud to call him my friend.

    While he wasn’t a celebrity criminal, his new life is truly a miracle and a wonderful example of the life-changing power available to anyone in Christ.

    I know that this isn’t scientific, but it’s a wonderful thing nevertheless.

  6. 6
    Axel says:

    That Rik Lutjyes is a dead ringer for a very well-known NDEer, whose name escapes me at present (it’s late). Philip may know who I mean.

  7. 7
    Bruce David says:

    I agree that becoming an atheist seldom if ever has a transformative effect on a person’s life, although there are plenty of atheists who have high ethical standards for themselves as well as being kind, compassionate, loving human beings. Christopher Hitchens comes to mind, along with my brother.

    It is also true that one can find a transformative relationship with God through any spiritual tradition or through none at all. In addition to Christianity, people have transformed themselves through Sufism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Baha’i, est, and near death experiences in which Jesus played no part, for example.

    For myself, I came into adulthood as an atheist materialist. My transformation involved Zen, The Inner Game of Tennis, est, Sufism, and Conversations with God. I was never a smuggler or a member of he Mafia, but my life is so much more loving, joyful, and service oriented now than it ever was when I was an atheist.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Bruce David, there you go again.

    ‘near death experiences in which Jesus played no part,’

    Knowing that extremely positive Near Death Experiences are extremely rare in non-Judeo-Christian cultures, I had challenged you on this before to show a extremely positive Near Death Experience and you referenced one in which the person did not grow up in a Judeo-Christian culture. I believe you had referenced a Hong Kong woman. But when this case was investigated further it turns out she was either educated in a British run school or had grown up in Britain, I forget right now as to which one it was specifically. But be that as it may, you had failed to substantiate your claim that Christianity is not integral to extremely positive NDE’s. Do you want me to once again reference the many studies I have that show foreign cultures are in stark contrast to Judeo-Christian cultures in terms of extremely positive NDE’s? And again my claim is not that foreign cultures will have zero extremely positive NDE’s, my claim is that there is something unique within Christian cultures, i.e. Christ, that makes their occurrence in Christian cultures far more numerous to the point of almost being considered the norm, whereas in foreign cultures they will be far rarer to the point of almost being considered non-existent, which is what I have found. ,,, So once again I challenge you to produce the evidence from these foreign cultures for extremely positive NDE’s if you are convinced ‘everyone goes to heaven’ with no need for Christ. Remember, no cheating with people who grew up in Judeo-Christian cultures!

  9. 9
    Bruce David says:

    BA77, re. #8:

    There you go again. The people in the West (USA, Canada, and Europe) who have positive NDEs come from all belief backgrounds–Christian, Jewish, New Age, atheist, and more. If your contention is correct, then only Christians would have positive experiences, and it wouldn’t matter where they lived. By your belief system, an atheist or a Hindu or a Buddhist should experience Hellish NDEs, period. But they don’t.

    Your logic is faulty, BA, and no amount of repeating it will change that fact.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Bruce David, if you were correct then foreign cultures, without overriding christian influences, should have extremely positive NDE’s, but this is not what we find:

    Near-Death Experiences Among Survivors of the 1976 Tangshan Earthquake (Chinese)
    Excerpt: Our subjects reported NDE phemenological items not mentioned, or rarely mentioned in NDE’s reported from other countries: sensations of the world being exterminated or ceasing to exist, a sense of weightlessness, a feeling of being pulled or squeezed, ambivalence about death, a feeling of being a different person, or a different kind of person and unusual scents. The predominant phemenological features in our series were feeling estranged from the body as if it belonged to someone else, unusually vivid thoughts, loss of emotions, unusual bodily sensations, life seeming like a dream, a feeling of dying,,, These are not the same phemenological features most commonly found by researchers in other countries. Greyson (1983) reported the most common phemenological feature of American NDE’s to be a feeling of peace, joy, time stopping, experiencing an unearthly realm of existence, a feeling of cosmic unity, and a out of body experience.
    http://www.newdualism.org/nde-.....-39-48.pdf

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand:
    Excerpt: The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of `going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves. (Murphy 99)
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Near Death Experience Thailand Asia – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M5J3zWG5g

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand: Discussion of case histories By Todd Murphy, 1999:
    Excerpt: We would suggest that the near-constant comparisons with the most frequently reported types of NDEs tends to blind researchers to the features of NDEs which are absent in these NDEs. Tunnels are rare, if not absent. The panoramic Life Review appears to be absent. Instead, our collection shows people reviewing just a few karmically-significant incidents. Perhaps they symbolize behavioral tendencies, the results of which are then experienced as determinative of their rebirths. These incidents are read out to them from a book. There is no Being of Light in these Thai NDEs, although The Buddha does appear in a symbolic form, in case #6. Yama is present during this truncated Life Review, as is the Being of Light during Western life reviews, but Yama is anything but a being of light. In popular Thai depictions, he is shown as a wrathful being, and is most often remembered in Thai culture for his power to condemn one to hell. Some of the functions of Angels and guides are also filled by Yamatoots. They guide, lead tours of hell, and are even seen to grant requests made by the experient.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    A Comparative view of Tibetan and Western Near-Death Experiences by Lawrence Epstein University of Washington:
    Excerpt: Episode 5: The OBE systematically stresses the ‘das-log’s discomfiture, pain, disappointment, anger and disillusionment with others and with the moral worth of the world at large. The acquisition of a yid-lus and the ability to travel instantaneously are also found here.
    Episode 6: The ‘das-log, usually accompanied by a supernatural guide, tours bar-do, where he witnesses painful scenes and meets others known to him. They give him messages to take back.
    Episode 7: The ‘das-log witnesses trials in and tours hell. The crimes and punishments of others are explained to him. Tortured souls also ask him to take back messages to the living.
    http://www.case.edu/affil/tibe.....4&amp

    Several studies (Pasricha, 1986, Schorer, 1985-86) & Kellehear, 1993) Murphy 1999,2001) have indicated that the phenomenologies of NDEs is culture-bound. (Of Note: Judeo-Christian Culture NDEs are by far the most pleasant “phenomena”)
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindestxt.htm

    India Cross-cultural study by Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia Medical School and Dr. Satwant Pasricha of the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India
    Excerpt: “Suddenly I saw two big pots of boiling water, although there was no fire, no firewood, and no fireplace. Then, the man pushed me with his hand and said, “You’d better hurry up and go back.” When he touched me, I suddenly became aware of how hot his hand was. Then I realised why the pots were boiling. The heat was coming from his hands! When I regained consciousness, I had a severe burning sensation in my left arm.” Mangal still had a mark on his left arm that he claims was a result of the burning. About a quarter of Dr Pasricha’s interviewees reported such marks.
    http://www.rediff.com/news/1999/apr/06pas.htm

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Near-Death Experiences of Hindus Pasricha and Stevenson’s research
    Except: “Two persons caught me and took me with them. I felt tired after walking some distance; they started to drag me. My feet became useless. There was a man sitting up. He looked dreadful and was all black. He was not wearing any clothes. He said in a rage [to the attendants who had brought Vasudev] “I had asked you to bring Vasudev the gardener.,,, In reply to questions about details, Vasudev said that the “black man” had a club and used foul language. Vasudev identified him as Yamraj, the Hindu god of the dead.
    http://www.near-death.com/hindu.html

    The Japanese find death a depressing experience – From an item by Peter Hadfield in the New Scientist (Nov. 30th 1991)
    Excerpt: A study in Japan shows that even in death the Japanese have an original way of looking at things. Instead of seeing ‘tunnels of light’ or having ‘out of body’ experiences, near-dead patients in Japanese hospitals tend to see rather less romantic images, according to researchers at Kyorin University. According to a report in the Mainichi newspaper, a group of doctors from Kyorin has spent the past year documenting the near-death experiences of 17 patients. They had all been resuscitated from comas caused by heart attacks, strokes, asthma or drug poisoning. All had shown minimal signs of life during the coma. Yoshia Hata, who led the team, said that eight of the 17 recalled ‘dreams’, many featuring rivers or ponds. Five of those patients had dreams which involved fear, pain and suffering. One 50-year-old asthmatic man said he had seen himself wade into a reservoir and do a handstand in the shallows. ‘Then I walked out of the water and took some deep breaths. In the dream, I was repeating this over and over.’ Another patient, a 73-year-old woman with cardiac arrest, saw a cloud filled with dead people. ‘It was a dark, gloomy day. I was chanting sutras. I believed they could be saved if they chanted sutras, so that is what I was telling them to do.’ Most of the group said they had never heard of Near-Death Experiences before.
    http://www.pureinsight.org/node/4

    Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in a Melanesian Society by Dorothy E. Counts:
    Excerpt: “When you were in your village you claimed to be an important man. But in this little place you have been eaten up by a knife, a dog, and a pig. And now fire will utterly destroy you.” When the loudspeaker had finished, a fire blazed up and destroyed the remains.
    http://anthropology.uwaterloo......Death.html

    This is of related interest:

    Muslim near death experience sees Jesus (Isa) becomes Christian Pt 1 – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TC-TLFYNCQ
    Part 2
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F70Ray8Mdn4

    Famous Muslim Leader accepts Lord Jesus Christ….Dr Daniel Shayesteh – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-85CJ1fWqT0

    Of note: The Buddhist concept of reality is that nothing in this physical world is real. People consist of a “bundle” of habits, memories, sensations, desires, and so forth, which together delude people into thinking that he or she consists of a stable, lasting self. This false self is what reincarnates body after body. In Buddhism, life in a corporeal body is the source of all suffering. Hence, the goal is to obtain liberation. This means abandoning the false sense of self so that the bundle of memories and impulses disintegrates, leaving nothing to reincarnate and hence nothing to experience pain. “Nirvana” is the Buddhist term for liberation. Nirvana literally means extinction – an extinction that allows a person to become one with all there is – to become “God” (Buddha). To attain Nirvana, one must face and accept the concept that physical reality is not real; true reality comes through self-extinction which results in becoming one with the Clear Light.
    http://www.near-death.com/archetypal.html

    Thus Bruce David, you are stuck for empirical warrant, and no amount of word play will ever change that!

  12. 12
    Bruce David says:

    BA77, re. 11:

    None of your many examples answers my point, which is that if the quality of NDEs were a warrant for the truth of Christianity, then only Christians would experience Heavenly NDEs. Since it is established fact that people of every type of Religious and Spiritual belief including atheism have experienced positive, indeed transformational NDEs, that conclusion (that the quality of NDEs can serve as a warrant for the truth of Christianity) is clearly false.

    The fact that the majority of NDEs in other cultures are not of the same quality as the majority of American and European NDEs is an interesting fact, and certainly begs for an explanation. However, the explanation that this is because Christianity is true is simply not valid, for the reason I gave in the first paragraph.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    I beg to differ since the only common denominator for Judeo-Christian cultures that would explain the difference is the fact that they are Judeo-Christian cultures, there is no other explanation that can explain such dramatic differences between cultures. If your view was correct there should be no difference, but alas there is a dramatic difference. To clear up this discrepancy for what you want to claim to be rigidly true, i.e. that Christ is not necessary for extremely positive NDE’s you must provide a large scale study of a foreign culture that has them. I’ve looked, I found none. Look yourself. I dare you! But this is all old water that we have gone over before and you have been soundly defeated on but you refuse to accept it because of your philosophical bias against Christianity.

  14. 14
    Bruce David says:

    BA77, re. #13:

    I beg to differ since the only common denominator for Judeo-Christian cultures that would explain the difference is the fact that they are Judeo-Christian cultures, there is no other explanation that can explain such dramatic differences between cultures.

    I think your desire to be right has hampered your imagination. Here is another possible explanation for these differences: In each of the cultures that your quotes in number 11 cite, there were apparently strong cultural beliefs regarding what will happen to someone after death that influenced what they actually experienced. In America and Europe, however, people either expect to go to Heaven (if they are Christian), expect to go to the “between lives place” (if they are New Agers) or have no expectation at all (if they are atheists). Also, Western Buddhists or Hindus tend not to carry the baggage of Hellish expectations that bedevil their Eastern counterparts. Thus, in most cases, Americans, whatever their spiritual beliefs may be, do not have the limiting expectations that members of Eastern cultures apparently do regarding what they will experience after death. This enables the true state of affairs to be available to them during an NDE.

    To clear up this discrepancy for what you want to claim to be rigidly true, i.e. that Christ is not necessary for extremely positive NDE’s you must provide a large scale study of a foreign culture that has them.

    Wrong. It is only necessary to note that people of all spiritual and religious beliefs, including atheism, can and have had extremely positive NDEs. This is enough, and you consistently fail to counter this point.

    By the way, your turn of phrase, “Christ is not necessary”, begs the question, do you believe that Christ is present in our culture, regardless of what one believes to be true, and absent in other cultures, again, regardless of what someone living in one of those cultures believes to be true?

    But this is all old water that we have gone over before and you have been soundly defeated on but you refuse to accept it because of your philosophical bias against Christianity.

    Defeat is apparently in the eye of the beholder here.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Bruce David, to prove your point is easy, just find a non-Judeo-Christian culture which have extremely positive NDE’s.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    Shroud Of Turin’s Unique 3 Dimensionality – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041182

    Shroud Of Turin – Photographic Negative – 3D Hologram – The Lamb – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5664213/

    Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 2011
    Excerpt: After years of work trying to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a similar image has been created by the scientists.
    However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax.
    Such technology, say researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have credited with making the famous relic.
    “The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said.
    And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”

    If scientists want to find the source for the supernatural light which made the “3D – photographic negative” image on the Shroud I suggest they look to the thousands of documented Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) in Judeo-Christian cultures. It is in their testimonies that you will find mention of an indescribably bright ‘Light’ or ‘Being of Light’ who is always described as being of a much brighter intensity of light than the people had ever seen before.

    Ask the Experts: What Is a Near-Death Experience (NDE)? – article with video
    Excerpt: “Very often as they’re moving through the tunnel, there’s a very bright mystical light … not like a light we’re used to in our earthly lives. People call this mystical light, brilliant like a million times a million suns…”
    – Jeffery Long M.D. – has studied NDE’s extensively
    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightlin....._gydvW8jbI

    “Suddenly, I was enveloped in this brilliant golden light. The light was more brilliant that the light emanating from the sun, many times more powerful and radiant than the sun itself. Yet, I was not blinded by it nor burned by it. Instead, the light was a source of energy that embraced my being.”
    Ned Dougherty’s – Fast Lane To Heaven – Quoted from “To Heaven and Back” pg. 71 – Mary C. Neal MD

    All people who have been in the presence of ‘The Being of Light’, while having a deep NDE, have no doubt whatsoever that the ‘The Being of Light’ they were in the presence of is none other than ‘The Lord God Almighty’ of heaven and earth.

    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045544

    The Easter Question – Eben Alexander, M.D. – March 2013
    Excerpt: More than ever since my near death experience, I consider myself a Christian -,,,
    Now, I can tell you that if someone had asked me, in the days before my NDE, what I thought of this (Easter) story, I would have said that it was lovely. But it remained just that — a story. To say that the physical body of a man who had been brutally tortured and killed could simply get up and return to the world a few days later is to contradict every fact we know about the universe. It wasn’t simply an unscientific idea. It was a downright anti-scientific one.
    But it is an idea that I now believe. Not in a lip-service way. Not in a dress-up-it’s-Easter kind of way. I believe it with all my heart, and all my soul.,,
    We are, really and truly, made in God’s image. But most of the time we are sadly unaware of this fact. We are unconscious both of our intimate kinship with God, and of His constant presence with us. On the level of our everyday consciousness, this is a world of separation — one where people and objects move about, occasionally interacting with each other, but where essentially we are always alone.
    But this cold dead world of separate objects is an illusion. It’s not the world we actually live in.,,,
    ,,He (God) is right here with each of us right now, seeing what we see, suffering what we suffer… and hoping desperately that we will keep our hope and faith in Him. Because that hope and faith will be triumphant.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....79741.html

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

    “The Light was brighter than hundreds of suns, but it did not hurt my eyes. I had never seen anything as luminous or as golden as this Light, and I immediately understood it was entirely composed of love, all directed at me. This wonderful, vibrant love was very personal, as you might describe secular love, but also sacred.
    Though I had never seen God, I recognized this light as the Light of God. But even the word God seemed too small to describe the magnificence of that presence. I was with my Creator, in holy communication with that presence. The Light was directed at me and through me; it surrounded me and pierced me. It existed just for me.” – testimony taken from Kimberly Clark Sharp’s Near Death Experience
    http://www.near-death.com/sharp.html

    1 John 1:5-7
    “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

    Toby Mac (In The Light)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_MpGRQRrP0

    It should be noted: All foreign, non-Judeo-Christian culture, NDE studies I have looked at have a extreme rarity of encounters with ‘The Being Of Light’ and tend to be very unpleasant NDE’s save for the few pleasant children’s NDEs of those cultures that I’ve seen (It seems there may indeed be an ‘age of accountability’) but the data was too sparse in that regards for me to say for sure.

  17. 17
    Bruce David says:

    BA77, re. #15:

    Bruce David, to prove your point is easy, just find a non-Judeo-Christian culture which have extremely positive NDE’s.

    The burden of proof is not on my shoulders, BA; it’s on yours. You’re the one who claims that the pattern of positive and negative NDEs is only explainable by Christianity being true. I have refuted this twice over—first, by providing an alternative explanation for the phenomenon, and second by pointing out that there are numerous documented cases of non-Christians, even atheists, who have had positive NDEs. You have been unable to counter either of these two defeaters to your claim.

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    No you haven’t. ,,,

  19. 19
    Bruce David says:

    BA77, re. #18

    No you haven’t. ,,,

    Oh, good comeback, BA! You really got me there…

  20. 20
    bornagain77 says:

    Did you feel the love?

  21. 21
    Bruce David says:

    Ok, BA, you obviously don’t wish to continue this discussion. Just do us all a favor in the future and don’t claim that I have been “soundly defeated” on this issue, given that you refuse even to discuss the points that I have made.

  22. 22
    bornagain77 says:

    I never gloat in victory! 🙂 It just sends sore losers like you into a tizzy! Did you feel the love in the smiley face?

  23. 23
    Bruce David says:

    BA77, re. #22:

    I never gloat in victory!

    Perhaps not, but I’ve seen you gloat in defeat often enough.

    It just sends sore losers like you into a tizzy!

    Well, it is rather annoying when someone gloats as if he’s won when in fact he wasn’t even close.

  24. 24
    bornagain77 says:

    But seriously Mr. David, we have been over this several times, (hours and hours and hours), and it always comes down to the fact that you cannot find non-Judeo-Christian cultures that have extremely positive NDE’s as a norm. You are more than willing to accept people within Judeo-Christian cultures, who do not openly profess to believing in Christianity as to confirming your philosophy because you don’t want Christianity to be true, but I always point out that they are raised in a culture that is saturated with Christian imagery. Everything from Christmas, to Thanksgiving to Easter and even our language saturates them as they are growing up:

    The King James Version of the Bible has been enormously influential in the development of the English language. It ranks with the complete works of Shakespeare and the Oxford English Dictionary as one of the cornerstones of the recorded language.
    http://www.phrases.org.uk/mean.....yings.html

    Thus Mr. David, you are wanting for empirical confirmation that extremely positive NDE’s can happen in a culture without Christian influences whereas I can maintain my position quite comfortably without ad hoc rationalizations as you must do. I seriously, and without any undo bias, find my position to be the stronger of the two between us.

    And seeing as I know you will disagree with that as you have always done countless times in the past I will leave the last word to you.

  25. 25
    Bruce David says:

    BA77, re. #24:
    Any statistician will tell you that correlation does not imply causation. So positive NDEs are statistically correlated with cultures “saturated with Christian imagery”. So what? That proves nothing, particularly when I can present you with a perfectly valid explanation in which the presence of Christian imagery is merely coincidental.

    But even if living in a culture “saturated with Christian imagery” were causal in the matter of positive NDEs, again so what? Does that prove that Christianity is valid or that the beliefs common in other cultures were invalid? Hardly. It would simply be an interesting causal relationship that needed to be further understood. But to repeat for clarity, correlation does not imply causation.

    You remind me of the Darwinists who claim that the fossil record demonstrates the truth of Darwinism because it is what you would expect if Darwinism were true (ignoring for now that in fact it isn’t what you would expect). It does nothing of the sort. There are other possible explanations for the evolution of life forms displayed therein, notably that it quite nicely fits patterns of the evolution of designed technology. Similarly, the patterns of the quality of NDEs from culture to culture do not demonstrate that Christianity is true. There are alternative (and in my view better) explanations.

  26. 26
    Bruce David says:

    BA77, re. #24:

    And seeing as I know you will disagree with that as you have always done countless times in the past I will leave the last word to you.

    Ok, BA, exit the discussion if you wish. But if you then claim victory, we’ll know you’re full of it, won’t we.

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