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God and the Afterlife- Supplemental Material

by Jeffrey Long

Welcome!

This section of the NDERF website contains material that is supplemental to the book God and the Afterlife: The Groundbreaking New Evidence for God and Near-Death Experience.  Comments about the book are welcome- please feel to email me at:
nderf@nderf.org.

Click on the underlined headings to read about the area of interest.

PAGE INDEX:

The NDERF Study Methodology: A Closer Look
Additional comments about the NDERF study methodology.

The God Study Methodology: A Closer Look
Additional comments about the God Study methodology.

Bibliography
Information about near-death experiences and related topics.

FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions

How are NDEs shared with NDERF assessed for reliability? Could some be false?

What are the major God Study findings about God?

What evidence is there that God in NDEs is not caused by pre-existing or cultural beliefs?

Are NDERF's NDEs Typical of All NDEs?  

Updated NDERF Research Findings
This section will be updated as new research findings from the NDERF investigations become available.

Religion and Near-Death Experiencers
Additional comments from the God and Religion chapter of God and the Afterlife.

The Top 7 Current Religious Affiliations of Near-Death Experiencers Who Encountered God
Additional material supplemental to the God and Religion chapter of God and the Afterlife.

Changes in the Religious/Spiritual Life of Near-Death Experiencers who Encountered God
Additional material supplemental to the God and Religion chapter of God and the Afterlife.

Near-Death Experiences and Religion: God in Non-Western NDEs
Additional material supplemental to the God and Religion chapter of God and the Afterlife.

Policy for Paraphrasing Experiences Quoted in God and the Afterlife
Additional comments about the NDEs quoted in God and the Afterlife
.

Errata
If any significant errors are identified in God and the Afterlife they will be posted here.

http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/EvidenceAfterlife/evidence/

1. p. 15

The NDERF Study Methodology: A Closer Look

To expand on the inclusion criteria for the NDERF studies quoted throughout the book: The experience had to describe a single NDE and be shared in English on the English version of the NDERF survey. Second-person NDE accounts were excluded.  

Survey at: http://www.nderf.org/ShareNDE.html

The current version of the NDERF survey asks all 16 questions that comprise the NDE Scale.  The NDE Scale asks sixteen questions about the content of the experience and is the most validated research method to help distinguish experiences that are near-death experiences from those that are not.  Responses to the 16 questions are each scored on a 0-2 scale.  Those with a total score of 7 or above are considered near-death experiences for research purposes.  For the NDERF studies, there was a requirement that the experiences had to occur at the time of an imminent life-threatening event.  The NDErs in the NDERF studies are generally so physically compromised that they are unconscious or clinically dead with absent heartbeat at the time of the experiences.

REFERENCES:

Greyson, B. (1983). The Near-Death Experience Scale: Construction, reliability, and validity. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 171, 369-375.Greyson, B. (1985). A typology of near-death experiences. American Journal of Psychiatry, 142, 967-969.Greyson, B. (1990). Near-death encounters with and without near-death experiences: Comparative NDE Scale profiles. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 8, 151-161.

2. p. 51

The God Study Methodology: A Closer Look

I reviewed all NDEs shared with the NDERF website from January 16, 2005 to November 7, 2014.  For inclusion, all NDEs had to meet these criteria:

Shared in English

Shared by the person who had the NDE

Describe only one NDE

Have a score of 7 or higher on the NDE Scale

 

Out of all these NDEs, there were 277 that described an awareness or encounter with ‘God’ or ‘G-d’.  Only NDEs that used either of these two terms were included in the God Study.

 

3. p. 43

Bibliography

            http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/EvidenceAfterlife/evidence/Bibliography.htm
            http://iands.org/resources/education/82-books.html

4.

FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions       

4.1     NDERF Survey Methodology Minimizing the Risk of Falsified Accounts.  How are NDEs shared with NDERF assessed for reliability?  Could some be false?

1.  The NDERF survey is very long with over 150 questions that require a response before the survey can be submitted.  The survey length is a substantial disincentive to filling it out falsely as a ‘joke’.
2.  Those who take the NDERF survey receive no payment of any kind.

3.  Experiences are posted anonymously.  There is no personal recognition to incentivize sharing false accounts.

4.  In the 16 year history of NDERF, we have had exactly one person contact us to let us know that they shared a falsified account, and that we posted it.

5.  The fact that the NDERF website has 60,000-70,000 unique visitors a month from all around the world greatly reduces the risk that any accounts posted are plagiarized.  With so many readers, any plagiarized account would likely be recognized by NDERF readers and we would be notified.  This happened once in the history of NDERF.  The plagiarized NDE was not shared on the NDERF survey but by an interview (which we no longer do).

6.  My background as a physician helps me to identify NDEs that describe medical events that seem implausible.

7.  It is rare that experiences are submitted as a ‘joke’ on the NDERF survey, and they can be easily identified.  Years ago there were two NDEs shared sequentially that described, among other fanciful things, encountering Pamela Anderson in their “experiences”.  These are recognized as ‘joke’ accounts when submitted to NDERF as quickly as they would be recognized as ‘joke’ accounts that are shared personally.  Such “joke” submissions to NDERF average about one every few years.8.  My experience in reviewing nearly 4000 NDEs and about 10,000 experiences of all types helps me to recognize which experiences may be falsified.  In my experience, the experiences at higher risk of being falsified are those where the contributors have a financial incentive in their experience.  This includes those who have written books about their experiences.  It also includes those whose vocation, such as channelers or alternative medical healers, may benefit in gaining credibility in the view of their clients if they had a particular experience (especially an NDE).

Finally, a rare falsified NDE that slips through the filters does no real harm unless it changes our understanding of NDEs as a whole.  It is almost inconceivable that enough falsified NDEs would be shared that we end up with a false understanding about NDE.  After all, what is real is consistently observed.

4.2    What are the major God Study findings about God?    What are the major God Study findings about God?

The God Study found that God in near-death experiences:

            Loves us all for who we are and what we are

            Is often associated with overwhelming unearthly feelings of love

            Is often associated with a magnificent unearthly light with variable appearance

            NDErs become aware that everyone and everything seems connected and one with God

            God is often found to be beyond description in human words

            God is not judgmental/condemning

            God is generally not angry/wrathful

            God does not communicate a requirement that God be worshiped

            God generally does not give specific commandments about what the NDErs should in their earthly lives

            God does not specify any earthly religion as the “chosen religion” or the “one true religion.”   There is a sense that all religions may be a path toward the same destination.

            In the view of many people, if an afterlife exists, then God exists. In his new book he goes further, revealing evidence that indeed God is real. At the Near Death Experience Research Foundation, Dr. Long studied the stories of thousands of people who have journeyed to the afterlife. Over 200 near-death experiences describe an encounter with God during a close brush with death. Those having these NDEs come from all walks of life, including physicians, scientists, and people all around the world. Remarkably, regardless of their prior cultural or religious or beliefs, there was exceptional consistency in their descriptions of God. The evidence from near-death experiences is that God loves us all. NDE accounts repeatedly share that God loves everyone for who they are and what they are regardless of their religious belief, lack of religious belief, age, gender, sexual preference, social status, education, and wherever in the world they live.

            These insights occurred while people were generally unconscious or clinically dead.  The consistency of what was observed at a time that they should have no possibility of a conscious memory is strong evidence that these insights are real.

            Just the knowledge that we are loved by a God and that there is an afterlife should be in and of itself be sufficient to help us in our earthly journey in some significant way.  Such awareness would empower us to make decisions based more on love than fear.  This concept awareness, if widely known and believed, could change the world.  This is the one of the most practical uses of this type of spiritual awareness.

     4.3    What evidence is there that God in NDEs is not caused by pre-existing or cultural beliefs?

            Atheists encounter God in their NDEs even though they have no belief in God.

             The religious background of NDErs at the time of their NDEs does not seem to affect the probability that they will encounter God.

             NDErs that encounter God have a dramatic increase in their belief in the reality of God, with almost all accepting that God is definitely real after their NDEs.  For these NDErs, seeing God seems to mean believing God.

             What is described about God in NDEs is so consistent that it fulfills a basic scientific principle: What is real is consistently observed.

             Many aspects of what NDErs describe about God are not widely taught in traditional Western/Abrahamic religious beliefs.  Such as:

                         God’s love of everyone for who they are and what they are regardless of their religious belief, lack of religious belief, age, gender, sexual preference, social status, education, and wherever in the world they live.

                         The awareness of NDErs in the unearthly realm that God is connected/united with everyone and everything.  This is not commonly taught by conventional Western religions.

                         The NDErs awareness that God is not judgmental/condemning

                         The NDErs awareness that God is generally not angry/wrathful

                         God does not communicate a requirement that God be worshiped

                         God generally does not give specific commandments about what the NDErs should in their earthly lives

                         God does not specify any earthly religion as the “chosen religion” or the “one true religion.”   There is a sense that all religions may be a path toward the same destination.

                         When NDErs encounter God it is often emphasized that it had unworldly elements.  These include an unearthly love from God that is outside their life experience, an unearthly light associated with God, and the finding that God is often beyond description in human words.      

4.4    Are NDERF's NDEs Typical of All NDEs?  

5.

Updated NDERF Research Findings

          This section will be updated as new research findings from the NDERF investigations become available.

6.  p. 214

Religion and Near-Death Experiencers  reference 249

The older version of the NDERF survey asked near-death experiencers to give their religious background at the time of the NDE and also at the time they shared their experiences. For both questions, the three options were “liberal,” “moderate,” and “conservative/fundamentalist.” Of 1,122 NDErs who completed this version of the NDERF survey, there were 144 NDErs who encountered or were aware of God and 978 NDErs who did not encounter God. The religious background of the NDErs at the time of their experiences was:

 

NDErs Encountering God

NDErs Not Encountering God

Liberal

47 (32.7 percent)

341 (34.9 percent)

Moderate

56 (38.9)

423 (43.3)

Conservative/fundamentalist

41 (28.5)

214 (21.9)

 

Using chi-square statistics, there is no significant difference in religious self-categorization between NDErs who did and NDErs who did not encounter God. Here are the detailed chi-square statistics:

 

OBSERVED Data 1: NDErs that encountered God.  Data 2: NDErs that did not encounter God                        

Religious background pre experience                                         

                                                                        Data 1   Data 2          Total

            Liberal                                                47          341               388

            Moderate                                           56          423               479

            Conservative/fundamentalist         41          214               255

            Total:                                                  144       978               1122

                                               

EXPECTED  Data 1: NDErs that encountered God.  Data 2: NDErs that did not encounter God                        

Religious background pre experience                                         

                                                                        Data 1                        Data 2                        Total

            Liberal                                                49.79679144             338.2032086             388

            Moderate                                           61.47593583             417.5240642             479

            Conservative/fundamentalist         32.72727273             222.2727273             255

            Total:                                                  144                             978                             1122

                                               

            0.208164371 =CHITEST, not statistically significantly different

 

The same group of 1,122 near-death experiencers was asked about their religious background at the time that they shared their NDEs, which was an average interval of about twenty years from the time they had their NDEs. The results using chi-square statistics were:

OBSERVED Data 1: NDErs that encountered God.  Data 2: NDErs that did not encounter God                        

Religious background now                                    

                                                                        Data 1 Data 2            Total

            Liberal                                                60        405                 465

            Moderate                                           46        385                 431

            Conservative/fundamentalist         38        188                 226

            Total:                                                  144     978                 1122

                                               

EXPECTED  Data 1: NDErs that encountered God.  Data 2: NDErs that did not encounter God                        

Religious background now                                    

                                                                        Data 1                         Data 2                        Total

            Liberal                                                59.67914439             405.3208556             465

            Moderate                                           55.31550802             375.684492               431

            Conservative/fundamentalist         29.00534759             196.9946524             226

            Total:                                                  144                             978                             1122

                                   

            0.082014301 =CHITEST, not statistically significantly different               

 

             

7. p. 216

The Top 7 Current Religious Affiliations of Near-Death Experiencers Who Encountered God

Christian- Protestant 27
Other or several faiths 27
Christian- Catholic 19
Christian- Other Christian 19
Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Religious unaffiliated 8
Other faiths- New age 7
Do not know 6

 

 

 

8.  p. 221

Changes in the Religious/Spiritual Life of Near-Death Experiencers who Encountered God

In reviewing the responses to this question from NDErs who encountered God, it was striking how, over time, their belief in the importance of their religious/spiritual life increased:

 

Before my experience, my religious/spiritual life was:

At the current time, my religious/spiritual life is:

Greatly important to me

29

110

Moderately important to me

29

12

Slightly important to me

37

4

Not important to me

29

4

Unknown

9

3

 

For the purists who want chi-square statistical analysis of this data, the p value is essentially zero:

 

 

9. p. 44

Near-Death Experiences and Religion: God in Non-Western NDEs

NDERF has received scores of near-death experiences from non-Western countries. I consider a "non-Western country" to include areas of the world that are predominantly not of Jewish or Christian heritage. I am impressed with the striking similarity of the content between Western and non-Western NDEs. Non-Western NDEs are relatively uncommon, and those including encounters with God are even less common.

One example of a non-Western NDE that included an encounter with God was from Grace. Grace was a physician in India, and a Hindu at the time of her NDE. She had surgery for appendicitis, and after recovering she asked the other doctors what happened. Grace shares that "one of the doctors said hesitantly that I was like dead during the last stage of surgery". When she was asked directly in the survey "During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that God or a supreme being either does (or does not) exist?" her response was "Yes". Here is her NDE:

I started to notice that I was in complete consciousness but felt 'body less' kind of lightness. Experienced getting lifted above the cot… Felt "Bright", and saw myself moving effortlessly inside a self-illuminated tube which had brightness I have never witnessed. It was a divine brightness & pleasurable experience…. It was a structurally transparent tunnel with curvatures appearing to allow me to move as I move my body even slightly. Completely glowing on its own. I didn't see its end, as even its end was as bright as it was. It was like there was no separate entities like body, tunnel, surrounding, end, but everything was merged in one brightness… I felt I was on my most awaited 'home come' as I am returning back to my own home… When I opened my eyes, I saw they had a fresh sign of relief over their faces.

Grace had lots of changes in her life after the near-death experience:

I have noticed a significant influence of my experience in my practice. I have even compared my approach with that of my fellow practitioners. I seem to understand my patients pain more easily, am able to be more compassionate & reach out to them, in a way which would be more easily understood by them. Otherwise I admit that I use philosophy, & spirituality also (unofficial!?) along with my medical knowledge. And I have confidence of letting you know that, it has always worked fantastic for them. I thank God for that experience. I have more faith in God. Trust in his plans. And more joyful.

Another Hindu from India was Udaya who slipped on the floor and lost consciousness at age 16. When he responded to the survey question "During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that God or a supreme being either does (or does not) exist?" his response was "Yes, I had the strong feeling that the command was coming from God". Here is Udaya’s NDE:

While floating through the black tunnel, all I felt was the joy of going some where I wanted to go.  I was heading to my destination. I could feel the presence of my grandmother who had passed away several years before when I was in elementary class.  I could feel the presence of other souls too. All of a sudden, I heard a strong command to open my eyes. I heard it three times; the command was so strong. I felt like I was back in my body.  After the third time I heard the command, I opened my eyes.

Following his near-death experience, Udaya went on to share:

The experience definitely helped me to answer my question of, 'Who am I?' Once I became spiritual, every time when I try to find an answer to this question, the experience would come back to me. I could clearly feel that I am the consciousness that has no gender, race, religion and the whole world is in me. This experience has helped me a lot to feel this oneness.

Kathryn was a Buddhist at the time of her near-death experience. She lives in the United States, but her NDE was in Indonesia. She was walking along a rice paddy and slipped. Her head hit a concrete bridge, was knocked unconscious, and fell into the water. Her NDE, and what she learned from her NDE included:

I had the awareness that a spiritual force exists that is all of us combined, not separate. If the word God is used, then God is all of us… When I was unconscious, I felt a sense of being welcomed home. Golden light, a sense of peace and quiet, and joy. Happiness at being so light and bodiless and merging with all other beings into an interconnectedness and non-differentiation. I was aware that what is most important is that we see that we are all part of one Being. We are not separate, but make things seem separate in order to play out this reality. By finding our oneness, we can make true connections with each other. All the rest is head games and false reality. I am meant to be here for some reason. I am here on this worldly plane to live longer for a period of time. Now I must take care of my body, mind and spirit and to share it with others in the way that I am meant to. However, I do not feel nearly as afraid of death. It seems like death will be an opportunity to be joined again with all Beings in a state of merging our individual selves. No need to fear that. It is wonderful!

Sadaf was five years old in Iran when she received a blow to her body so hard that she became unconscious and required mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She was too young to know much about religion at the time, but is currently Muslim. Here is what she shared:

As I was looking down on my body from the ceiling, I was feeling a special peace. I could perceive all details, even the particular ways my family members were sitting while surrounding me, and that one of my family members was giving me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation… with much clarity I could feel the presence of God although I could not see him.

These are some examples of God in non-Western near-death experiences. These are difficult to investigate due to the small numbers of non-Western NDEs that describe encounters with God. A non-Western NDE researcher from Iran told me that it might be culturally taboo for a Muslim to describe encountering God.

10.  p. 17

Policy for Paraphrasing Experiences Quoted in God and the Afterlife

NDEs quoted throughout this book are generally paraphrased for clarity. The original source of the quoted NDEs is referenced on the NDERF website.  The referenced NDE on the NDERF website contains the original quote and entire associated NDE.  It was important that the God Study be transparent. I wanted to be sure that any who wanted to could go to the NDERF website and read for themselves the hundreds of near-death experiences that describe encountering God.  My goal was to make it possible for any who were interested or skeptical to review the entire NDE account, including the complete details before, during, and after the NDE encounter with God. This is a unique and important strength of the God Study. 

The overriding concern in paraphrasing NDE quotes was accuracy.  In Evidence of the Afterlife copyediting changed the quoted NDEs to make them clearer.  We contacted NDErs to confirm that copyedited quote was as accurate as or more so than the original quote.  Scores of NDErs accepted the copyedited quote as accurate.  There were only one or two NDErs that wanted only minor changes to their copyedited quotes.  Given this, we felt confident that we had the experience and track record to paraphrase NDEs and maintain their accuracy. 

11.

Errata

If any significant errors are identified in God and the Afterlife: The Groundbreaking New Evidence for God and Near-Death Experience they will be posted here.