Near-Death Experience: A Scientific Perspective By Dr. Gary Habermas?

Are Near-Death Experiences Real? According to this website they are:

Laura Wilkinson reports that the “lecture hall was filled”, yet looking at the picture below, it appears it was a near-empty experience.  Maybe it was only 6pm when they took that picture. 

Lecture Reasons With Near-Death Experiences : Dr. Gary Habermas details evidence-based cases with religious twist

By Laura Wilkinson, Life & Style Editor

Published: Tuesday, February 9, 2010

One of Wither’s lecture halls was filled Monday night 7 p.m. with people ready to hear from Dr. Gary Habermas, a philosophy professor at Liberty University, on the subject of near-death experiences and the afterlife.

The event, hosted by Ratio Christi Apologetics and Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship, was intended to answer some tough questions about people who claim to have had an out-of-body experience while they were proclaimed clinically dead.

Habermas said he is mostly interested in near-death cases where evidence has supported the stories of patients who, after being revived, said they experienced sensory phenomena while technically dead.

“I’m not trying to claim there is no conceivable way to explain these things. But after a while, you start to ask why these things happen,” Dr. Habermas said.

Curtis Hrischuk, who helps lead the student club Ratio Christi, said the goal of the lecture was to start a dialogue about the tough questions both Christians and non-Christians have in today’s society.

“Their heart has stopped, their brain has no activity, but they can recount what happens. Things they cannot know about,” Hrischuk said. “This is important because it suggests that naturalisms and atheisms are not truth. Here we have scientific evidence that we are more than our bodies.”

Amanda Vuke, the publicist for Ratio Christi, said they were hoping the event would get students to raise more questions.

“We seek to help find answers and ask the big questions of life. We hope to help students think about their life,” Vuke said. “He went through and gave numerous cases of near death experiences that were evidence based. He showed that there’s more to this life and more to this world than we can see. There’s an immaterial side to this reality.”

Eric Rountree, a sophomore in chemistry, said he liked the lecture because Dr. Habermas was not trying to force religion on people.

“It was a scientific perspective, not really a religious perspective, which makes it easier for a lot of people to believe,” Rountree said.

After the lecture part of the event, Habermas opened up a question and answer session.

Ashley Jones, a senior in communication, said there were many good questions posed about people who had “bad” experiences.

“There were a lot of bad experiences about people who said they had experienced hell. But Dr. Habermas said there was no evidence. He was trying to use a scientific study of it rather than people’s subjective experiences,” Jones said.

Hrischuk said the question and answer session was interesting because people were really challenging Habermas’s position.

“People were pretty skeptical. They were devoted to finding weaknesses in the position,” Hrischuk said. “Dr. Habermas came up with a good rebuttal for them.”

Jones said the lecture reaffirmed what she already believed, but thought non-Christians would get something out of it as well.

“If I had been agnostic it would have caused me to think about the afterlife,” Jones said. Jones also mentioned she had a personal connection to the idea of near-death experiences through her father, who had a seizure and claimed to have spoken to his uncle.

Gary Habermas’ Bio According to his website :

A Brief Biography: Gary R. Habermas was born just outside Detroit, Michigan in 1950. Although he was raised in a Christian home and attended a German Baptist Church, he began having serious doubts about Christianity. For more than ten years, he faced uncertainty about key Christian claims and searched other religious and non-religious systems, especially naturalism. His studies centered chiefly on investigating various world views, occasionally getting close to what he thought might be the proper approach. During this time, as he explains, “The last thing I did at night was recall what I had learned that day to further my search. Early the next morning, it seems that the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Where did I end my studies last night?'” This continued for several agonizing years.

Habermas’ interest in the field of apologetics began early in his search when he realized that some religions made claims that could be either verified or falsified. He searched the various religious systems to ascertain if such claims were verifiable. After several years of study, he concluded that very few religious claims could be substantiated. Habermas concluded that even Christianity suffered in this sense. While certainly having more evidential considerations than other religions, there always seemed to be a reason why the argument could not be finalized. While Habermas conducted detailed studies of creation, fulfilled prophecy, archaeological discoveries, and the general reliability of the Old and New Testaments, he constantly asked if there were any “clinching” arguments.

Habermas especially studied the notion that Eastern metaphysics were confirmed by modern physics, as well as the claims made on behalf of various other holy books. He reached the conclusion that, while religious beliefs could be held by faith, they usually lacked great evidence and could not be “proven” to be true.

Habermas’ search frequently took the form of debating with various adherents of non-Christian as well as Christian views. He told practitioners from both camps that their beliefs were not as grounded as they would like to believe. He especially recalls one encounter where an exasperated Christian told him that he was filled with demons! Once his mother called to see how he was doing, and he announced that he thought he was close to becoming a Buddhist, his latest research interest.

During this time, one subject began to appeal to Habermas more than any other. He realized that if Jesus had been raised from the dead, this would go a long way toward arguing that Christianity was true. He also studied the founders of the major religious traditions, along with some lesser-known figures, to see if there were other claims that someone had been raised from the dead. He was especially interested in whether there was any historical or other evidence for any such teachings. Thirteen hundred note cards later, he was well on the way to a lifetime of being “hooked” on the subject of Jesus’ resurrection. Little did he know that his early years of study on this subject would begin his fascination with the topic that has never lessened.

Academic Pursuits

Habermas continued his search as an undergraduate student at Tyndale College, graduating in 1972 with three majors and three minors. Foremost on his mind was still the question of whether it could be known if there was any basis for answering his religious questions. Habermas went straight to graduate school at the University of Detroit. Studying philosophical theology and the world religions, he earned an M.A. a year later, in 1973. After taking a year off, he pursued a Ph.D. at Michigan State University, graduating two years later (1976), after keeping up a torrid study schedule.

Studying relevant historical, philosophical, and religious questions, Habermas proposed an historical study of Jesus’ resurrection (what else?) for his Ph.D. dissertation. The topic was approved by his committee, but he was told specifically that he could not use the New Testament as evidence, unless the individual passages could be affirmed by ordinary critical standards, apart from faith. During his doctoral study, Habermas developed what he now terms the “minimal facts” approach to the resurrection. According to this method, the chief (if not the only) historical data that could be utilized were those that passed two critical tests: 1) each datum had to be multiply attested by normal critical means, preferably from more than one angle. 2) The vast majority of critical scholars had to concede the probability of this historical fact.

In addition to the data itself, this meant conducting a long, arduous study of most of the critical publications on the subject of the resurrection, in order to ascertain the scholarly “lay of the land.” Habermas concluded that the resurrection could be known according to probability as a normal historical fact. To this day, he marks the conclusion of his study as giving him the conviction that the resurrection had occurred in history and could be evidenced as such. His dissertation was accepted by his committee and he began to pursue a college teaching position.

One response to “Near-Death Experience: A Scientific Perspective By Dr. Gary Habermas?

  1. This man is full of bull. His son sleeps around and his daughter Jennifer is a lesbian. He just wants people to think he’s such a great Christian. His wife lies and tells people her ex-husband is dead when in fact he lives in NC.

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