Sunday, February 27, 2011
As I Lay Dying
Stories of death bed experiences are something that everyone has been told about during some point in their life. When we hear about it, we either make some comment about how awe-inspiring it would be to experience or ardently deny that it could happen. It is a comforting thought for the grieving to hold on to perhaps, but in this age of science and fact, it is difficult to actually believe that it happens. It was posited in class that these experiences are scientifically unexplainable because they deal with the immaterial, and therefore un-measureable, aspect of the personhood.
Steven Wagner at about.com decided to investigate the records of death bed visions. What he found was that the experience and details of the experience held consistency across nationalities, religions, and cultures. While the details of stories remain the same – visions of angels without wings, being greeted by a dead relative or loved one – the validity of these stories are difficult to confirm since only about 10 percent of dying people experience consciousness in the moments before death when such a vision would take place. Speculation would place around 50 to 60 percent of the dying to have these experiences.
I am still skeptical about the prevalence of death bed visions today. This is not because I do not believe they exist, merely because I believe that our culture, as a whole, has severely removed themselves from being attuned to the spiritual aspect of their personhood. The death bed vision is a spiritual affair. The Bible reports in Acts 7 that Stephen experienced a death “bed” experience and was welcomed into heaven during the final moments of his stoning.
A part of me would like to believe that I am wrong. That in the final moments of a person’s life, they experience the joy that Stephen felt, welcomed into the embrace of a creator. But we must be rational. We live in an age of science, and we cannot exactly poll the dead about their dying experiences, can we?