Well-known Liberty University professor and Christian apologist Gary Habermas recently shared his thoughts concerning the validity of near-death experience stories.
Habermas was among a panel of experts on an episode of Dallas Theological Seminary’s “The Table” podcast. During the interview, he asserted that claims about visiting the afterlife not only lack evidence, but cannot be objectively verified.
“A lot of times people don’t want to believe in these Christians because they think they’re going to get [to Heaven], that a Hindu says he’s going to Heaven because an angel or something told him that,” Habermas said.
“That is no different from you living next door to a Hindu fellow and him telling you he thinks he’s going to go to a good place when he dies. That’s his testimony… But I don’t know that he was in Heaven, and I have no evidence to believe that an angel told him anything,” he added.
While Habermas did note there were plenty of examples of people who had reported experiences while their heart and brain weren’t functioning, he didn’t put much stock into them.
“When the guy says I went away to Heaven, blah, blah, blah, I don’t think you can put much stock in that at all because you’re not going to get evidence,” he said.
Mikel Del Rosario, adjunct professor at William Jessup University, has taken a different approach to near-death experiences. While he also agrees that they cannot be fully verified, he claims “there might be something” to them.
“…If people can have reports about things that aren’t just in their head or just in their private mental state, we can actually check up on those,” Del Rosario said.
He explained that there has been “fascinating” accounts of near-death experiences, including testimonies from “blind people who report things that they can see.”
“When they were in their body, they couldn’t see it because they’re blind,” Del Rosario said. “And during the operation they’re reporting the kinds of tools that are being used and procedures, and it’s just amazing stuff.”
In reference to claims of non-Christians saying they visited Heaven, Del Rosario said, “what they’re telling you says a lot more about them and their interpretation than the experience they’re having…”
“I could have a really vivid dream where I was flying over campus and I felt like I was flying. It was a real experience. But the reality is, objectively I was just lying in my bed all night,” he expounded.
“So somebody, whether they’re conditioned by their culture to see Jesus or identify the light as God or if they’re seeing Hindu figures because of their culture, we can’t really adjudicate what’s going on there because again, it’s just private, mental states.”