What If There Is a Heaven?
r. Maurice Rawlings, formerly a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Chattanooga, and his colleagues are constantly treating emergency patients, many of whom have had near-death experiences. A study of these cases by Dr. Rawlings was reported in Omni magazine.
It is no longer unusual to hear about people who have almost died who speak of seeing a bright light, lush green meadows, rows of smiling relatives and experiencing a deep sense of peace. However, Dr. Rawlings obtains additional information from his patients by interviewing them immediately following resuscitation while they are very much in touch with their experience.
Dr. Rawlings says that nearly fifty percent of the 300 people that he has interviewed have reported lakes of fire, devil-like figures and other sights reflecting the darkness of hell. Rawlings says that these people later change their story because they don't want to admit where they've been, not even to their families.
"Just listening to these patients has changed my whole life," claims Dr. Rawlings. "There is a life after death, and if I don't know where I'm going, it's not safe to die."
But do these experiences prove that there is a heaven or a hell?
We don't really know because these particular people didn't quite make it to the other side. Even if they did and came back, we probably wouldn't believe them because most of us tend to believe only what we have seen or experienced for ourselves. Furthermore, we tend to see and believe only what we want to see and believe—often in spite of the evidence.
One can only present what evidence there is and then it is up to each individual to either accept or reject that evidence.
And what evidence do we have as to whether there is a heaven and a hell or life after death?
First, there is the evidence from scores of cases mentioned by Dr. Rawlings and others who have written about near-death experiences and explained what they saw and experienced.
Second, we have the evidence from the testimonials of famous people who share their last words.
It is reported that Professor J.H. Huxley, the famous agnostic, as he lay dying suddenly looked up at some sight invisible to mortal eyes, and staring awhile, whispered at last, "So it is true."
Sir Francis Newport, head of the English Infidel Club, said to those gathered around his death bed, "Do not tell me there is no God for I know there is one, and that I am in his angry presence! You need not tell me there is no hell, for I already feel my soul slipping into its fires! Wretches, cease your idle talk about there being hope for me! I know that I am lost forever."
Dwight L. Moody, the famous Christian preacher, awakening from sleep shortly before he died had just the opposite to say: "Earth recedes. Heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go."
"No, no, Father," said Moody's son, "You are dreaming." "I am not dreaming," replied Moody. "I have been within the gates. I have seen the children's faces." His last words were, "This is my triumph; this is my coronation day! It is glorious!"
Thomas Edison, the great scientific genius who was not given to idle words, in his dying moments, said to his wife and doctor, "It is beautiful over there."
5. All articles on the ACTS International website are by Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise noted.
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