My near-death experience (NDE) greatly changed me. For the most part, people go through their entire lives and don’t change significantly in any way. And this included me until I said goodbye to my life and hello to God, as I lay dying. This essay (#3) is still part of the backstory to the events leading up to my near-death encounter with God. Essay # 4 will begin with how my NDE impacted my ability to “communicate” with the deceased.
In my last essay (# 2) I ended the post with an account. It was an account of my past wife, Carol, visiting a new psychic (Janet) and returning home with a picture of Eric (drawn by Janet) along with a message from him to me.
As mentioned prior, it was a shock to my system to learn that Eric contacted Carol via a medium with the intent of communicating to me that (1) – he was still alive and doing well (alive in some capacity, that is) and (2) – he could/can observe my behavior on Earth. Think about that for a moment. I’m going to assume that if Eric can witness my behavior on Earth, then so can my dead parents, aunts, uncles, etc. But it also implies that your deceased parents and friends can view your actions. If this is the case then wow-what an eye-opener, hey?
I also mentioned in Essay # 2 that this new and utterly unbelievable course of events upset me. And it upset me because I didn’t possess the mindset or worldview to process this new information as it rolled in, hot off the press.
I was an atheist at the time of Carol’s reading. Prior to my decision to embrace atheism, I practiced agnosticism for decades. Being an agnostic gave me some wiggle room. If someone asked me if I believed God was real, I would respond by noting that I didn’t know. In other words, I was agnostic about it. I thought perhaps maybe a God existed, but it was more likely that he did not.
Saying I didn’t know if God was real allowed me to hedge my bets but as time passed, my agnostic views evolved into full-blown atheism. Atheism is similar to religious belief in that both require some measure of faith. A believer has faith in the notion that God exists. A non-believer has faith in the idea that God does not exist, and since neither can be proven, both require faith.
So why would I bother to move my belief status from agnosticism to atheism? Why didn’t I just stay the course of telling others I didn’t know if God was real? I changed course because after two decades of agnosticism, I became more and more convinced that God was a fantasy. I basically saw no evidence (I’m a big evidence guy) of God’s existence.
The problem with atheism is that it boldly claims that God does not exist but how exactly does an atheist prove this? Well, he doesn’t because he can’t. He can’t logically assert this notion because to prove such, he would need to search the four corners of the Universe looking for God in every conceivable nook and cranny where God may dwell and then after concluding his exhaustive and thorough search, he could confidently say that God was literally nowhere to be found.
However, even though I could not conduct the exhaustive search mentioned above, I still, nevertheless, by faith, embraced atheism. And I did so out of pragmatism.
The world is a mess and there are a lot of people in need of something, most, actually. I’ve been a humanist much of my adult life. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work over the last forty years, and I’ve run across people during this time period who were willing to pray for people in need but not actively doing anything else to help them.
Since most of me did not believe God was real, I considered prayers for others a waste of time and energy. If someone needed their electric bill paid in order to have their heat turned back on then I’d give them the money to do so, for example. I would do the practical part and leave the inconsequential praying to others.
I didn’t cram my atheistic beliefs down anyone else’s throat. However, I did tell others that if they wanted to leave this place better than they found it then skip the prayer part and open your friggin wallet.
I was quite comfortable in my atheistic beliefs and there was no part of me that could assimilate the new information (which I could not refute to my own satisfaction) that Eric was somehow still alive.
The mental gymnastics I suffered through at the time cost me several night’s sleep. I was totally knocked off balance by Eric’s unscheduled and, at the time, unwelcome intrusion into my life. I reasoned that if Eric was still alive in some form or shape then eternal existence was back on the table for my consideration.
I asked myself the following question – if eternal existence is a possibility, then what does that imply? Does it suggest that there is a creator? Did something make us, did something make me? And if a creator does exist, then which world religion would best capture this idea?
The above question led me to explore in more detail the world’s major religions. I studied theology along with philosophy when I was younger and I researched the world’s major religious teachings, while in college, but I decided to revisit those earlier studies by looking for traces of theology that could explain what I had recently experienced, especially with regards to my NDE where I ran headlong into God even though I was a card-carrying atheist at the time of our encounter.
Concurrent with my approach above, I also attacked the problem by scheduling an appointment with Janet. I have an investigative background, so I scheduled a ninety-minute session with Carol’s new psychic with one purpose in mind. I wanted to discredit her. I’m a skeptic at heart and I thought perhaps she was a fraud in some sense of the word.
When I pulled up to Janet’s house for my appointment, I couldn’t help but notice that she lived in a large, beautiful house in the most exclusive neighborhood (Oakwood) in Dayton. This was not some poor little grifter living in a hovel trying to make a living by passing out false hope to grieving parents or children who lost their loved ones. No, this was a highly successful woman in her late thirties living the American dream.
Janet met me at the door and since it was a warm summer day, she invited me to join her on her outdoor patio for my session. She offered me a glass of tea which I accepted, and we sat down for the interview.
Intermission – I need to say two things before ending this essay. (1) – This post was originally part of a 2,500-word essay that I broke into two parts, thus, it may seem incomplete, (2) The back half of this essay gets into the meat and potatoes of this post. I will discuss in essay # 4 how my NDE changed my relationship with the deceased.
I almost posted this essay in its entirety but was afraid that its length would scare many people off. In other words, I wasn’t sure that my readership was ready to consume a 2,500-word essay so I split it into two equal parts.
My first two essays regarding my crossover experience with death, received around 500 eyeglasses, an indication, of sorts, on how well the essay is/was received. And I will keep the keep this series alive if you good folks keep reading my posts about my close encounter with the other side.