Religion Science

“The New New Atheism” — by Peter Berkowitz

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Berkowitz has an insightful piece on the new new atheists. Here is an excerpt:

. . . But one stunning new development under the sun is that promulgating atheism has become a lucrative business. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, in less than 12 months atheism’s newest champions have sold close to a million books. Some 500,000 hardcover copies are in print of Richard Dawkins’s “The God Delusion” (2006); 296,000 copies of Christopher Hitchens’s “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” (2007); 185,000 copies of Sam Harris’s “Letter to a Christian Nation” (2006); 64,100 copies of Daniel C. Dennett’s “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon”; and 60,000 copies of Victor J. Stenger’s “God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows that God Does not Exist” (2007).

Profitability is not the only feature distinguishing today’s fashionable disbelief from the varieties of atheism that have arisen over the millennia. Unlike the classical atheism of Epicurus and Lucretius, which rejected belief in the gods in the name of pleasure and tranquility, the new new atheism rejects God in the name of natural science, individual freedom and human equality. Unlike the Enlightenment atheism of the 18th century, which arose in a still predominantly religious society and which frequently went to some effort to disguise or mute its disbelief, the new new atheism proclaims its hatred of God and organized religion loudly and proudly from the rooftops. And unlike the anti-modern atheism of Nietzsche and Heidegger, which regarded the death of God as a catastrophe for the human spirit, the new new atheism sees the loss of religious faith in the modern world as an unqualified good, lamenting only the perverse and widespread resistance to shedding once and for all the hopelessly backward belief in a divine presence in history. . . .

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41 Replies to ““The New New Atheism” — by Peter Berkowitz

  1. 1
    Robo says:

    Where the the books, DVDs, MP3s, articles…… refuting these guys? Alister McGrath was an embarrassment in his debate with Dawkins. Where are the Christian scholars who openly challenge these guys to public debate?

  2. 2
    IDist says:

    Where are the Christian scholars who openly challenge these guys to public debate?

    William Lane Craig wanted to debate Dawkins. Dawkins declined.

  3. 3
    Scott says:

    William Lane Craig:

    Books –
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb.....lane+craig

    Site-
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer

    Craig never loses debates, by the way. Atheists tremble in fear of him.

    Also see Ravi Zacharias:

    books –
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=pd.....0zacharias

    site –
    http://www.rzim.org/

  4. 4
    Scott says:

    Here’s a book that is a death-blow to atheism, IMO:

    http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Hav.....038;sr=8-1

    by Norman Geisler

  5. 5
    bork says:

    I wish there were more men like William Lane Craig. Seems like great christians are few and far between- atleast thats my opinion.

  6. 6
    Charlie says:

    Hi Robo,
    I agree that in a battle of rhetoric and personality McGrath probably came up short. But he was not an embarrassment. He was scholarly, Christianly and relevant. His book Dawkins Delusion is a nice critique of the God Delusion, of which Michael Ruse said “The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist, and the McGraths show why.”

    You can also get a decent rebuttal of Dawkins just by reading reviews of his book, many by atheists, which obliterate it.

    Dawkins has a superficial knowledge of the Bible and is intolerant of theists, yet demands tolerance of science

    Shermer is, however, critical of the book’s polemic tone, he “cringed” at the title of the book and “winced” at Dawkins’s derogative references to religious individuals

    Dawkins has insufficient understanding of the religious concepts he is attacking

    Far from being a serious philosophical book, this ill-edited and garrulous diatribe contains just about anything that crosses the author’s mind” with “page after sarcastic page of attacks against any foe Dawkins considers an easy target.” Dawkins avoids the “real question” of “whether one’s explanation terminates with a meaningless cosmos or with a being who provides a reason for things.”

    fails “to engage with religious thought in any serious way” relying instead on “extraneous quotation” and “anecdote after anecdote”. He asserts that Dawkins “suffers from several problems when he tries to reason philosophically” and complains of “exercises in double standards”

    “there is hardly a serious work of philosophy of religion cited in his extensive bibliography, save for Richard Swinburne

    Dawkins’ philosophy is “at best jejune”

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

    Of the reviews I’ve read I’d highly recommend Pete Williams and, of course, Alvin Plantinga (a paraphrase from memory:”to call Dawkins’ philosophizing sophomoric is an insult to sophomores]. I don’t have links, but they were easy to find.

    Here’s another good one:
    http://www.damaris.org/content.....038;id=503
    ===
    Pastor Mark Roberts debated Hitchens on radio and he too, perhaps, did little better than come out even as he graciously refused a battle of rhetoric and soundbytes.
    However, he has a thorough review of Hitchens’ book and a run-down of their debate in this series:
    http://www.markdroberts.com/ht.....tgreat.htm

    To see Hitchens fare rather more poorly when his opponent takes the offensive see this written debate with Doug Wilson.
    http://www.christianitytoday.c.....-12.0.html

  7. 7
    Smidlee says:

    “…in less than 12 months atheism’s newest champions have sold close to a million books. Some 500,000 hardcover copies are in print of Richard Dawkins’s “The God Delusion” (2006); 296,000 copies of Christopher Hitchens’s “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” (2007); 185,000 copies of Sam Harris’s “Letter to a Christian Nation” (2006); 64,100 copies of Daniel C. Dennett’s “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon”; and 60,000 copies of Victor J. Stenger’s “God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows that God Does not Exist” (2007).”

    This is scientific evidence that in spite of all the video games, TV programs , sports, movies, hobbies, etc., there are still people bored out of their mind.

  8. 8
    Mathetes says:

    “William Lane Craig wanted to debate Dawkins. Dawkins declined.”

    I had always heard that it was Mr. Dembski himself that got declined to a debate with Dawkins. Then again, who knows how many debates Dawkins has turned down!

    I prefer a presuppositional approach to apologetics, but Craig is still very good.

    And yes, there are many good refutations of Dawkins’ material out there…my favorite thorough one is here:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com.....usion.html

  9. 9
    PaV says:

    How many here think that this barage of books is a sign that the evolutionists are afraid that ID is making converts of atheists?

  10. 10
    tribune7 says:

    Here’s a book that is a death-blow to atheism, IMO:

    Reason can never beat atheism — at least the kind of which Hitchens and Dawkins are part — because atheism is based solely on blind emotion. It is completely impervious to reason.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Atheism has always been a logically difficult position for me to see. For the person holding this position must assert that he knows everything there is to know in order to rule God out(the atheists is really saying he has infinite and perfect knowledge to rule out One Who is Infinite and Perfect in knowledge) Since it is impossible for man, in his present state, to have infinite and perfect knowledge, then atheism is a blatantly absurd presumption.

    But atheists never were real big on logic. Here is another humerous “just so” story i found on Yahoo that explains that man starting walking upright to free up more energy for reproducing

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200.....tanding_up

  12. 12
    Phinehas says:

    tribune7: Reason can never beat atheism — at least the kind of which Hitchens and Dawkins are part — because atheism is based solely on blind emotion.

    Agreed. I love the way Doug Wilson put it in his written debate with Hitchens (linked above): “[If you were to give your real reason for rejecting God, you] would reveal the two fundamental tenets of true atheism. One: There is no God. Two: I hate Him.”

  13. 13
    shaner74 says:

    “Where the the books, DVDs, MP3s, articles…… refuting these guys?”

    I think it’s just as simple as these guys are big loud mouths so everyone hears them, but when it comes time to debate they pick their opponents very carefully to avoid being embarrassed. These atheists provide nothing we haven’t heard before – they’ve just gotten really good at convincing people it’s science vs. God.

  14. 14
    Collin says:

    Shaner74.
    You’re right. We need to do a good job at showing that God and science are more compatable than atheism and science.

  15. 15
    russ says:

    Debate between Jewish thinker Dennis Prager and Sam Harris:

    http://www.jewcy.com/dialogue/.....sam_harris

  16. 16
    russ says:

    “[If you were to give your real reason for rejecting God, you] would reveal the two fundamental tenets of true atheism. One: There is no God. Two: I hate Him.”

    That’s sure been my experience of self-identified athiests. It’s never seems “I wish there was a God, but I know there isn’t one”. Rather its “God is bad, that’s why I’m glad he doesn’t exist”.

  17. 17
    Jason Rennie says:

    “That’s sure been my experience of self-identified athiests. It’s never seems “I wish there was a God, but I know there isn’t one”. Rather its “God is bad, that’s why I’m glad he doesn’t exist”.”

    Actually Mike Resnick the author is the first sort of atheist and I have met others from time to time that express opinions like the first one.

    I think it is mainly that the loud ones are of the second type, or a third type, “One, There is no God, Two, So I don’t have to be morally responsible and can indulge as I see fit”. I’ve met that sort as well.

  18. 18
    russ says:

    I think it is mainly that the loud ones are of the second type, or a third type,..

    Yes, I agree.

  19. 19
    Collin says:

    I would like to point out that many atheists are very ethical and fine tune their moral standards more than most people. I admire them for that. They don’t always argue logically though.

  20. 20
    GilDodgen says:

    How many here think that this barage of books is a sign that the evolutionists are afraid that ID is making converts of atheists?

    It’s definitely such a sign. I am one such convert (although other factors were involved, of course).

    There is an interesting irony here. Science, which, since Copernicus, had served to demystify nature, has, in the last half-century, made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled theist on the basis of hard, empirical, scientific evidence.

    Dawkins has it backwards.

  21. 21
    Jason Rennie says:

    “I would like to point out that many atheists are very ethical and fine tune their moral standards more than most people.”

    I’m not sure how true this is really. It is the claim that is often made, but in reality most athiests who are “good” decide for themselves what counts as good and bad. But how hard is it to be good when you set the standards yourself ?

    Given most atheists I have encountered generally support profligate sexual behavior, they support abortion, destruction of embryos for research, frequently euthanasia and so on and so on, I don’t actually think they are really very good people at all. The endorse all manner of horrendous moral evils and don’t even blink.

    What is so moral about that ?

    I’m sure it is relativly easy to be moral by your own low standards, a bit harder when you are called to a high moral standard.

  22. 22
    allanius says:

    Here’s a new book that refutes “the new atheism” and the nihilism it reflects. http://www.amazon.com/Essays-E.....038;sr=8-1

  23. 23
    Collin says:

    Jason,
    You are right, but I would clarify: Many atheists are more consistent in their ethics and morals than many of the rest of us because they have built the intellectual foundation for it, while many of us just accept the morals of our friends or parents half-heartedly. They might be great morals, but they won’t hold up in a storm if we do not internalize them.

  24. 24
    jb says:

    russ: “It’s never seems ‘I wish there was a God, but I know there isn’t one’. ”

    You do encounter a few now and again. Like Jason said, the ones who are more like misotheists (i.e., God-haters) are the ones who have an incentive to go out in public and proclaim their hatred of God. In theory, I would think that those who don’t believe in God but who wish they could would tend to keep it to themselves and not be so loud-mouthed about it.

    One example that comes to mind is Bart Ehrman. I see him as a rather tragic figure. He started out as an evangelical Christian, studying textual criticism for the purpose of refining his ability to defend the faith. Somewhere in the process, he lost that faith and became a non-believer (not sure if he now considers himself an Atheist or agnostic–but then, sometimes that line is blurred anyway). In an interview I remember him saying that he wishes he could believe, but finds himself unable to do so. This has got to be one of the saddest things I’ve ever read, and it troubles me deeply as a Christian (for two reasons: one, it stirrs doubts in my own mind, and two: my heart really goes out to him for what must be a terrible case of existential angst [and of course, there’s also his eternal destiny if traditional Christian doctrine is indeed true]). This is, of course, assuming he is being forthright about his feelings; but only he and God can really know that for sure, so I must give him the benefit of that doubt.

    As one who has dabbled with doubt myself, I can see how someone could be led into doubt intellectually, but have their heart turned toward belief. It is a terrible place to be! (Which is, I suppose, why perhaps those non-believers who “want to” believe might tend to self-describe more as agnostics than full-bore Atheists. But like I said, the line between agnosticism and Atheism can sometimes be fuzzy [and fuzzy on the other side, too: I’ve heard of agnostics who almost sound like theists; DaveScot and David Berlinski come to mind]).

  25. 25
    jb says:

    Of course, the problem with what I said above, is that Ehrman has not kept this to himself. He has written several books that have raised doubts in people’s minds, and other equally competent scholars have responded to his writings. So how sincere is his “want to” to believe? It does make one wonder.

  26. 26
    IDist says:

    Bart Ehrman’s is a really sad story. I’ve read some of Ehrman’s books (Misquoting Jesus, Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene) and started to study using his New Testament text-book and audio lectures.

    I have to say that I admire him as a scholar, author and lecturer. I disagree with much of what he says, but it cannot be denied that he is one of the top NT scholars around.

    The problem is that his faith was completely based on biblical inerrancy, and when this was put in doubt, he came to lose his faith. This is sad 🙁

    IMO, Ehrman does tend to exaggerate the case of “corruption of scripture”. I think this is because any tiny trivial change for him was a big deal, and thus reflects this feeling.

    BTW he had a debate with Dr. William Lane Craig on the resurrection of Jesus. I think he was the best opponent Dr. Craig has ever had. He more than out-performed other scholars (e.g. Crossan and Ludemann), Although he was insisting on the Humean argument which wasn’t very strong 😀

  27. 27
    Fross says:

    I think the atheist and the monotheist are in the same logical boat if they both positively state that there is only one God, or there is no God. Both must know everything there is to know in order to positively state that all the thousands of gods that mankind has believed in are not real.

    While I consider myself a non-believer (which could be atheist or agnostic) I think religion is very useful for social creatures with large brains, like ourself. I just think that the beliefs and ideas of religion need to keep up with modern knowledge. Belief in the supernatural isn’t necessary in religion, and my idea of the perfect religion is a mixture of Buddhism and Humanism. 🙂 I also think that Christianity could remain a religion even with the supernatural parts taken out. (special creation, resurrection, anthropomorphic gods) In fact, the core beliefs of a religion are pretty secondary to the actual good qualities that arise from the more enlightened religions. (social gatherings, charities, focus on the underlying meaning of things, minimize suffering etc)
    The more extreme religions that deny broad aspects of reality (scientologists, YEC’s, etc) are going to clash with the cultures they reside in, and at that point, I feel they lose their usefulness and provoke more conflict instead of promoting the advancement of the human species.

  28. 28
    scordova says:

    IDist wrote:

    The problem is that his faith was completely based on biblical inerrancy

    I appreciate learning of this. I couldn’t say I’m an inerrantist today. Would you be willing to tell me more in another venue?

    I think the inerrantist position is pretty tough to maintain. I’d have a hard time insisting on it. People to seminary where there learn of many textual manuscript problems, and there are many. Even my copy of the NASB, so many pages note the manuscript discrepancies.

    A few of my colleagues and I religion discussion forum at:

    Philosphy and Religion (www.YoungCosmosDiscussion.com)

    I would welcome further discusion of the inerrancy topic there.

  29. 29
    tyke says:

    I am an atheist who is quite open to the possibility that life on Earth was designed–but believe that the mostly likely identity for a designer is some form of extra-terrestrial intelligence, not a supernatural being as described in any number of ancient religious texts.

    Anyway, I see that atheists are being branded here as “God-haters”. That is a very common misconception amongst religious people, and hopefully one that can be easily corrected.

    Imagine how you, as a Christian, feel about Allah, the God of the Muslims. Do you hate Allah? Do you fear and loathe Allah? I would be very surprised if any of you answered “Yes”. You may hate the Muslim religion, what it stands for, and despise what some people do in the name of Allah, but you don’t hate Allah — you don’t believe that Allah exists in the first place.

    Strident Christians have written books attacking Islam and its teachings, they have railed against Islamic leaders, and what they are doing to their society. Does that means they hate Allah? I very much doubt it since to them, he’s a figment of the imagination.

    So, in the same way that Christians don’t hate Allah, since they don’t believe such an entity exists, atheists don’t hate the Christian God.

    Many Christians hate the *idea* of Allah, and what it stands for, and it is fair to say that some of the more strident atheists talked about around here think the same about Christianity. Atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris believe that Christianity has done more harm than good in our society, and those points are ones that can be debated. But they don’t hate God any more than a Christian hates Allah, Zeus, Jupiter, or Odin. It would be simply nonsensical to do so.

  30. 30
    shaner74 says:

    Fross wrote:
    “I think the atheist and the monotheist are in the same logical boat if they both positively state that there is only one God, or there is no God. Both must know everything there is to know in order to positively state that all the thousands of gods that mankind has believed in are not real.”

    I don’t know. I think the atheist is in a tough position faced with the remarkable so-called “fine tuning” or “design” of nature, especially the “machines” we find inside living cells. Really, what hardcore atheist would have imagined we’d find molecular machines? All the theist has to do is point to these things and say “I told you so”. I for one don’t believe that “design” in life rules out atheism simply because we don’t know what intelligence did the designing or where it came from, etc… It just makes atheism much more of a gamble, almost bordering on the untenable, but still a possibility. Also, the design we find in life is very odd in that it seems exactly like something we human beings would design – it’s almost eerie in that regard. So the atheist can still grasp at straws by saying no “god” would design things like we do. On the other hand, the monotheist can at least (IMHO) put his mind at ease concerning other “gods” using some of Aquinas’s logic based upon the concept of a “simple” being. This at least can let the monotheist sleep at night without worrying about lighting bolts from Zeus hitting him. I honestly don’t think there will be many atheists around in a hundred years from now – doesn’t mean we’ll all be Christians though either.

  31. 31
    tyke says:

    shaner, believing that we might have been designed doesn’t require a supernatural explanation. We could have been plopped on this planet by a passing ET seed ship or, perhaps as some people have even speculated, we are all just part of one massive simulation running on an alien supercomputer somewhere. Who knows? Even if there was a God, perhaps he is just part of that simulation also. We can never be certain.

    Even if, as an atheist, I decide there must be a supernatural creator, there’s still a massive leap to make before deciding on which religion of the hundreds of options available on this planet, is the right one. Since many are mutually exclusive, I am still more likely to pick the wrong one and remain doomed to an eternity of pain and brutality because I made the wrong choice.

    The odds of the gamble you talk about don’t change much even if you accept the designer is supernatural.

  32. 32
    jb says:

    “Both must know everything there is to know in order to positively state that all the thousands of gods that mankind has believed in are not real.”

    I’m not certain that all Christians assert that the thousands of other gods are not real. I’ve often heard it suggested that the “gods” of other religions and cultures were actually demons who had somehow duped various groups of people into serving them. Of course, a few may be made-up out of men’s imaginations. And in other cases if they aren’t demons or imaginary fantasies, then they are grotesquely distorted concepts of what the true God is like.

    I’m not prepared to argue for or against this view. I simply don’t know enough about the subject. I’m only bringing up the fact that some Christians take this position, and it isn’t necessarily true that “we are all Atheists with regard to the other gods.”

  33. 33
    russ says:

    I think the inerrantist position is pretty tough to maintain.

    Before leaving L.A., I was a member of Grace Community Church, pastored by John McArthur. It’s an evangelical “mega-church” which is very conservative, and McArthur has written a ton of books and a set of commentaries, and broadcasts on the radio. But his position on inerrancy of scripture is that the Bible is inerrant “in the original manuscripts”.

  34. 34
    jb says:

    “But his position on inerrancy of scripture is that the Bible is inerrant ‘in the original manuscripts’.”

    That’s what I’ve always been taught, too.

    What gets someone like Ehrman all tied up, however, is that he thinks that you can no longer ascertain what the original manuscripts said because they’ve been incrementally changed so much down through the ages as to be unrecognizable from their original form. If this is indeed what happened, then its hard to imagine that this is what God intended: if he went to the trouble of inspiring the Bible, why wouldn’t he see to it that its preserved? It’s not such a leap to suggest then that maybe God didn’t inspire it at all. And from there, well… is God even there at all? This is one of the cracks that began to appear in the foundation of Ehrman’s faith.

    There are two reactions to this: 1) take the “KJV-Only” approach and assert that the Bible has been “Perfectly Preserved” (almost a re-inspiration) in one particular translation, or 2) Do a critical examination of Ehrman’s work and discover that he has greatly exaggerated his claims.

    (Well, actually, I guess there’s a third and fourth reaction, too: 3) Accept Ehrman’s assertions and join him in non-belief, or 4) Accept Ehrman’s assertions and adopt a more liberal non-literalist interpretation of the Bible).

    Or… Accept Ehrman’s assertions and say “so what?” If the incremental changes were done under the auspices of “The Church,” then perhaps the changes themselves were also the work of God’s ongoing inspiration (I can’t say this with authority, but I suspect this latter option is closer to the Roman Catholic position).

  35. 35
    jb says:

    Oops, sorry.

    I just realized I’m causing this thread to veer off-course. Perhaps all further Inspiration / Inerrancy discussion should be taken over to Salvador’s forum as he suggested.

  36. 36
    bornagain77 says:

    In Defence of Mono-Theism I submit this:

    There is an interesting point in the origination of the inter-related complexity found, in the anthropic principle, for the universal constants. The universal constants are foundational laws of physics that have not changed since the inception of the universe. Whereas, the anthropic principle is the fact that all the universal constants have to be just as they are in order for advanced carbon-based life to exist. The interesting point is that there is an overriding principle that dictates complexity must originate from a higher cause. That is to say, amazing complexity must be created from a source that is just as, or more complex, than what is being created. Since the universe is now known not to be infinite, this principle is very problematic to Materialism. For, in the strict interpretation of Materialism, there is no pre-existing source of “spiritual wisdom” (God) which can be alluded to that told the material what it could and could not do. For Materialism, the only possible driving force to the amazing interrelated complexity we find for the universal constants, which allows life to be possible in the first place, is blind chance. So, mathematically speaking, blind chance becomes Materialism’s main point of weakness. Materialism must prove that blind chance was the ultimate cause for complexity for each and everything that is in the universe. Yet if materialism appeals to an infinity of other universes, that have tried every other possible combination of universal constants, it then opens itself up to the question; “If an infinity of other possible universe’s are possible then why is it not also infinitely possible for Omnipotent God to exist?” You see if it is infinitely possible for Omnipotent God to exist then He certainly must exist for it is infinity possible for Him to exist. It is a crushing and error in logic for materialist to appeal to a infinite number of other possible universe’s since it also opens itself up to the infinite possibility that an Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Eternal Deity does in fact exist. Materialists can’t have their cake and eat it too in this instance!
    There is also another principle for things that have been caused. Our universe came into being, so it can be said to have been caused. Anything caused has to originate from another “higher” cause. That higher cause would also have to have a higher cause, and so on and so forth ad-infinitum. Until finally you would have to reach the “Most High Eternal Cause” for all realities, or what can be referred to as the “Eternal Uncaused Cause”. This Most High Eternal Uncaused Cause of all spiritual and material reality is called God. In other words, since all reality has to be caused by a higher cause, then eventually a Most High God is required to exist to explain all realities causation. The only option to this logic is to say all that which has been caused had no cause and that would be absurd.
    Isaiah 43:10
    “You are my witnesses,” says the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me

  37. 37
    bornagain77 says:

    In reponse to Fross:

    Here are the major episodes of the Tibetan NDE as given by Lawrence Epstein in his thesis from the University of Washington.

    Episode 1: Generally, the NDEr (das-log’s) is afflicted by an illness, and unlike the Western cases, has some time to contemplate its possible results. Although the onset of the NDE may be peaceful, it is most often characterized as painful and confusing.

    Episode 2: Whether or not the NDEr (das-log’s) recognizes the signs of elemental dissolution as given in the ‘chi-kha ‘i bar-do texts, the excruciating psychic and physical pain of the experience is emphasized. The NDEr usually does not recognize he has “died” for some time, perhaps until he has reached bar-do.

    Episode 3: The NDEr (das-log’s) encounters the primary light, secondary lights colors and sometimes the “dark tunnel” structure. Depending on the state of his knowledge he might recognize these signs for what they are, as he recollects the bar-do teachings. More often, he is confused and frightened by them. A partial life review may appear at this stage, emphasizing the ‘das-log’s remorse at not having led a better life.

    Episode 4: The NDEr (das-log’s) hears the noises associated with the chos-nyid bar-do, such as the roaring of dragons, the shouts of yamas, or the disembodied voices of supernaturals.

    Episode 5: The NDEr (das-log’s) systematically stresses the 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 NDEr, (das-log’s) 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 to the living.

    Episode 7: The NDEr (das-log’s) witnesses trials in and tours hell (it should be noted that the Buddhist concept of hell is of a transitional, temporary, nature, much like purgatory is in Catholic traditions) . The crimes and punishments of others are explained to him. d souls also ask him to take back messages to the living asking for help in obtaining “merit”.

    Episode 8: The Dharmaraja explains matters to the NDEr (das-log’s), exhorting him to lead a moral life and spread the word among the quick. The NDEr is sent back by the Dharmaraja.

    Episode 9: The NDEr (das-log’s) returns to his own body, with the same fear and revulsion with which he left it.

    Needless to say, this is absolutely horrifying. Thank God for the grace we have in God/Christ/Supreme Being if these accounts of Tibetan NDEs turn out to be truly as horrific as these first studies are indicating. The majority of non-Judeo-Christian NDE’s that I have read about in PhD level papers and science magazines are, for the most part, deeply distressing no matter which foreign culture I have read about (Japanese, Tibetan, Indian, Chinese, African, Saudi Arabian and Melanesian). Of the few somewhat pleasant NDEs I have read about from profoundly different cultures they lack the stunning depth of beauty, awe inspiring descriptions of paradise and overwhelming feelings of love and forgiveness from “The Being of Light”, so commonly reported in Judeo-Christian NDEs. Except, of course, for the few children’s NDEs in those foreign cultures I have read about. As a Judeo-Christian society, we should seek to conduct a major study on NDE phenomena throughout the world. It is our sacred duty as decent human beings to do our best to firmly establish the truth, so that we may warn the poor souls of any false religion how to avoid the horror. It is also apparent we should have a rigorous study sanctioned weeding out any false beliefs we may have in our own Judeo-Christian societies contributing to the minority of horrid NDEs we find in our studies, not to mention the fact that 80% of s in Judeo Christian cultures currently have no NDEs at all. Though some complacent individuals may argue that such a study is not that important, I strongly disagree!! I find the fact that we, as a whole, are thoroughly ignorant of such an important matter as our after-life to be very, very problematic to say the least.

    I also find it very interesting that the deep Judeo-Christian NDErs who come back are absolutely adamant about the importance of loving others and are also adamant about having a deep, loving and “spiritual” relationship” with GOD (as opposed to just having the “religious relationship” with God). Every NDEr who has been in the presence of “The Being of Light” will agree that these two following rules are the most important rules you can follow in your life. These two rules also happen to be the basis for Judeo-Christian ethics.

    Matthew 22:37-39
    Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all you soul, and with all your mind. This is the First and Great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Sometimes positive NDErs from a Judeo-Christian culture are also adamant about emphasizing we should be loving and tolerant of all religions from all other cultures. A few even change “religions” from Christianity to what they view is a more “spiritual” eastern religion. But then why do the hard facts of the NDE studies themselves betray this open tolerance of all religions? Do not be deceived by them for they are only searching for a deeper spiritual connection to the true God. They do not know that the true God is only found in Judeo-Christian beliefs. They are right to seek a deeper spiritual connection with God, yet they are very wrong to search through false pagan religions to find it. According to all afterlife studies I’ve seen it does indeed matter in what and in Whom you believe when you die! The NDEs themselves testify to this fact! It is my assertion, from the evidence that I’ve seen so far, that the Judeo/Christian belief system is by far the most desirable belief system one could have when facing imminent and that a purely Eastern philosophy is one of the most dangerous philosophies one could have. Until I see conclusive and rigorous evidence that indicates otherwise, I will not apologize for saying the Eastern religions are false pagan religions that are extremely dangerous to whomever holds their beliefs while facing impending . This may seem harsh but it is honest.
    John 5:24-25
    “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from into life.“

    I also find it extremely interesting, the examination of the Shroud of Turin indicates that it was indeed some type of “Super-natural Light” that scientists are not familiar with, which imprinted the image of the Man on the Shroud of Turin. Not only is the Light that made the image found to be supernatural, the image of the Man on the Shroud was imprinted on the Shroud by “Super-natural Light” that came directly from the body itself! Yes, you read that last sentence right. The “Supernatural Light”, that had to be used to make the image of the man on the Shroud, came directly from the body itself!!!
    This “Being of Bright Brilliant Pure Light” that is always referred to as God and is such a prominent feature of the Judeo-Christian NDE’s and of the Judeo-Christian Bible is, by all reasonable indications and logic, the same omniscient “Being of Bright Brilliant Pure Light” that was responsible for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, as evidenced by detailed scientific examination of the image of the Man on the Shroud of Turin.
    John 10:17-18
    While he was speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him.”
    Sources:

    Life after Life by Raymond Moody

    A Comparative view of Tibetan and Western Near-Death Experiences by Lawrence Epstein University of Washington

    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

    Dr. Satwant Pasricha of the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India, reports findings of another survey of NDEs conducted in a region of southern India. A population of 17,192 persons was surveyed and 2,207 respondents were interviewed for identification of NDE cases. Twenty-six persons were reported to have died and revived; 16 (62%) of these having had NDEs. Thus the prevalence rate of NDEs is found to be less than 1% for the general population of India. Whereas the rate in America is commonly given to be 5% for the general population.

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand: Discussion of case histories By Todd Murphy, 1999: the following is an excepted passage from his paper
    NDEs manifested within certain, special, groups have been studied that reveal typical variations. Pediatric NDEs (Morse, 1985), and those of pre-literate cultures, as well as those of India (Pasricha, 1986), Africa (Morse, 1992) have all been looked at, and patterns have been discerned in each group. However, the most common approach to discussing their typical features has been to compare them to the typical Western NDE; to the pattern shown in the Ring Scale. 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.

    The Gallup poll in 1992 was of U.S. s, and found 5% had NDE: .05 = (number of those surveyed with a prior history of NDE)/(total number surveyed). That equates to 15 million of a population of 300 million

    The Seattle Study; Pediatrics by Dr. Melvin Morse and Kimberly Clark Sharp

    Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in a Melanesian Society by Dorothy E. Counts

    There seem to be great cultural differences in beliefs about NDEs. In an Australian study, 58 percent of participants interpreted an NDE vignette as possible evidence of life after and 15 percent thought they were dreams or hallucinations. (Kellehear & Heaven, 1989). This is in stark contrast to a Chinese study in which 58 percent believed they were dreams or hallucinations and 9 percent believed they were evidence of life after (Kellehear, Heaven, & Gao, 1990)

    Several studies (Pasricha, 1986, Schorer, 1985-86) & Kellehear, 1993) Murphy 1999,2001) have indicated that the phenomenologies of NDEs is culture-bound.

    Researching Muslim NDEs, on the web at the NDERF home page, I find that there are only a handful of Muslim NDE experiences out of the thousands of NDE’s they have listed on their web site. There is only one really deep Muslim NDE in which there is a reference to “the Light”. Not surprisingly, this NDE occurred to a teenage boy. In the handful of somewhat deep Muslim NDEs that I have read about, the Muslim NDES never mentioned “the Light”, “Supreme Being” or a “Being of Light”. If this holds steady for all Muslim NDEs, then this will fall into stark contrast to the majority of deep Judeo/Christian NDE testimonies of s for the western world.

    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 s, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves. (Murphy 99)

    The Holy Bible by various Authors under the inspiration of God

    Greyson and Bush (1996) classified 50 Western reports of distressing NDEs into three types:
    * The most common type included the same features as the pleasurable type such as an out-of-body experience and rapid movement through a tunnel or void toward a light but the NDEr, usually because of feeling out of control of what was happening, experienced the features as frightening.
    * The second, less common type included an acute awareness of nonexistence or of being completely alone forever in an absolute void. Sometimes the person received a totally convincing message that the real world including themselves never really existed. (note* according to one preliminary study , a similar type of this NDE may be common among the Buddhist culture in Chinese NDEs)
    * The third and rarest type included hellish imagery such as an ugly or foreboding landscape; demonic beings; loud, annoying noises; frightening animals; and other beings in extreme distress. Only rarely have such NDErs themselves felt personally tormented.

    The estimated incidence of distressing NDEs (dNDEs) for western cultures has ranged from 1% to 15% of all NDEs (Bonenfant, 2001). The results of prospective studies in which the researchers interviewed everyone who experienced cardiac arrest in one or more hospitals during a period of at least several months are noteworthy. In the four prospective studies conducted between 1984 and 2001 1, 2, 3, 4 involving a total of 130 NDErs, none reported distressing experiences. This finding seems to confirm that the experience is relatively rare in western cultures.

  38. 38
    MatthewTan says:

    scordova,

    If you are troubled about inerrancy and textual criticism problems, read Evidence that Demands a Verdict

  39. 39
    IDist says:

    MatthewTan

    scordova,

    If you are troubled about inerrancy and textual criticism problems, read Evidence that Demands a Verdict

    No offence, but I’m not a big fan of Josh McDowell.

    I’d recommend William Lane Craig on the resurrection, F. F. Bruce and Craig Blomberg on the historical reliability of the gospels.
    Of course if one wishes to study the history of the NT and textual criticism, Prof. Bruce Metzger is a must.

    Still, I think Bart Ehrman is worth reading and studying. 🙂

  40. 40
    EndoplasmicMessenger says:

    Well, since we are spinning off a lot of book references in this tread, has anyone read:

    Jesus of Nazareth

    I’d be interested in hearing impressions.

  41. 41
    tribune7 says:

    So, in the same way that Christians don’t hate Allah, since they don’t believe such an entity exists, atheists don’t hate the Christian God.

    Exactly! It’s a religious dispute!

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