Deeper Waters Podcast 1/9/2016: J. Steve Miller

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out!

Death. It’s said to be the great equalizer and the question often comes up of what happens when we die. Does anything really happen? Is there any evidence that there could be something that happens to people when they die that is more than just becoming worm food? Over the past few decades, there has been a lot of interest in an area of study known as near-death experiences. What are these? Is there any reason to give them any credibility whatsoever? Could these not just be hallucinations or incredibly vivid dreams? If they are real, what can we learn about our world from them? To talk about these, I’m inviting on my friend J. Steve Miller. Who is he?

steve miller pic

J. Steve Miller studied at three diverse colleges and two graduate schools, primarily seeking truth about God and religion. He studied philosophy, apologetics, Psychology of religion, deductive logic, comparative religions, Greek, Hebrew, hermeneutics, exegesis, and many other subjects relevant to his quest. Since then, he has taught both here and abroad (including Slovakia, Austria, Holland, and Russia). His writing includes books on critical thinking, the new atheism, near-death experiences, writing, and publishing. He teaches religion and “Tomorrow’s World Today” at Kennesaw State University, using techniques that seek to engage students by maximizing critical thinking in the classroom. He currently lives in metro Atlanta.

Steve and I will be talking about near-death experiences and what they say about reality. Can we get anything from them about what we would call the furniture of Heaven? If not, then how seriously should we take them? What about the character change that comes from near-death experiences in some cases? What about naturalistic theories that are meant to explain near-death experiences such as ideas of the birth tunnel?

We can also talk about the cases of NDEs that are evidential. What about stories such as those of Pam Reynolds where someone sees things that they could not normally see if they were in a state where they were for all intents and purposes unresponsive in their brains? What does this say about the idea that man has an immaterial aspect to himself, such as a soul? What are we to think about many modern accounts that seem to sell well at bookstores but bring a lot of suspicion to them as well, such as the case of Heaven is for Real, which is a case that I in fact am suspicious of also?

We should also discuss some Christian concerns. What about the possibility that some people could get involved in the occult because of this? Aren’t there some people who study NDEs who are heavily involved in the New Age movement? Do Christians need to have any concerns here?

While I do think some NDE accounts are not accurate, I think some of them are and I find it a fascinating area of study. I hope you’ll be listening to the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast as we talk about near-death experiences and how we can use them in our apologetics. Please consider leaving a positive review of the show on ITunes also.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Near-Death Experiences

What do I think of J. Steve Miller’s book published by Wisdom Creek Press on Near-Death Experiences? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out!

Near-Death experiences are one of those interesting things to talk about. There really is something going on. There are people really convinced that they are having an experience and it would be hard to deny that the experiences are often life-changing. Some people have had their entire worldview altered by having a near-death experience. (NDE from here on) Some people have also claimed to see things going on that they would have no way of knowing about and when compared to people who did not have NDEs but just went by whatever they saw from TV shows and things of that sort, the people with NDEs were far more accurate.

In this book, Miller has gathered testimonies from many researchers of NDEs, including those who started out originally skeptical and decides to also go all over the world for them rather than stick to NDEs in a Western Christian context. Miller’s main point that he wishes to highlight is how the experience is different from what people who went in would expect and how there are so many similarities to the experience. In doing so, he also looks at naturalistic explanations of what goes on, including looking at Blackmore, and decides that ultimately these fall short to explain the data.

The emphasis on subjective experiences is interesting, but I would have liked to have seen more accounts of people who see items and events that can be verified when we have all reason to believe that they were “dead” at the time. The case of Pam Reynolds is one such case. There are also cases of people who come back and report seeing people on the other side who had died before they entered a state where they were subjected to an NDE and that they would have had no way of knowing. Many of these have too many perfectly timed events to just chalk up every time to coincidence.

Also included are looks at studies of people who are deaf, color-blind, and blind, and how they are able to see and hear and experience things that they had no place for prior to that in their life. If people want more, the authors suggests trying to talk to people in your area to see if any of them have had NDEs or if they know someone who has had an NDE. Miller tells us that here in America, about 1 in 25 could be expected to have an NDE and many people are hesitant to talk about an NDE to a doctor lest they be identified as crazy. Hopefully such a stigma is starting to be removed from our culture.

Miller’s book is interesting and also I think he would agree that it is a starting place. That’s why he gives further references at the end for people to do further research and that includes both sides. If you are interested in NDEs, this is something worth checking out.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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