Q: Do you believe that near-death experiences of going to heaven and hell are real?

A: Thanks so much for writing to us here at Truthbook with your question about near death experiences.

First of all, I think that there is no question that near-death experiences (NDEs) are very real to those who have had them. People who have these experiences report many things – mostly I have read of heavenly experiences, but now and then there are “hellish” ones, too. Does this mean that what these people see is real? That what they experience is what others will experience?

I am no psychologist, so am not really qualified to answer definitively, but in my opinion any NDE is a purely subjective experience; in other words, it is based on the person’s beliefs and expectations, and is meaningful for them alone. We may find their visions inspiring or scary, but that is all that they are – personal visions whilst in a state of deep unconsciousness. I can’t explain them. Again speaking personally…I do not believe in hell, nor any other place of eternal punishment or damnation. So for me, the idea of NDEs being purely subjective is reinforced when I hear of someone who has reported experiences of hell.

It would be great if someone – anyone – had been able to go into the great beyond and then return to tell the rest of us what we can expect. The closest we have ever come to that is our Lord and Savior Jesus, who DID die and who DID rise again to let us know that there will be a life after this one.

Jesus spoke of the “many mansions” of the Father where we will go after death, so we can be assured that there is something wonderful ahead for us. And those teachings are fully explained in The Urantia Book. We also have the accounts of Lazarus who Jesus raised from the dead; however, Lazarus brought back no recollection from his 4 days in the tomb; in fact, he was totally confused as to what had happened to him, and reported no visions, according to The Urantia Book.

So, while it may be interesting, or it may be inspiring and hopeful, a near-death experience is not something that I would believe as truth. Maybe if it happened to ME, I might have a different view, but since the variety of experiences is so different, I prefer to just have faith that we can expect something wonderful. The Urantia Book teachings on life after death are a wonderful place to start in learning what is in store for us. Eventually, we’ll all find out for ourselves.

Thanks again for writing…