On the radio this Sunday, a couple of presenters were discussing a woman’s Near Death Experience. Lynda Cramer claimed that in 2021 she had been clinically dead for 14 minutes when she visited Heaven for five years. You can see her raving about it on YouTube, while the Amazon synopsis of her book, Five Years In Heaven (of course there’s a book; four in fact) reads:
In May 2001, Dr Lynda Cramer died. This is the story of her Near Death Experience, outlining the five years that she spent in Heaven. Starting when she found herself “floating” in the living room for over 45 minutes, she then went on a journey where she entered Heaven, she then processed her Life Review prior to meeting her great-great-great-great grandmother who explained what Life Lessons, Life Contracts and Reincarnation are all about. Backed up by Medical Records as well as diagrams she drew, this is her personal account for anyone intrigued by what happens in the afterlife…
So, is this real? Did Lynda Cramer visit Heaven while she was dead for 14 minutes? She’s a doctor, after all, so superficially at least, she has credible credentials. Until you see that her PhD was obtained researching Near Death Experiences themselves. Vested interest or what?.
But, let’s not be cynical; she has diagrams too, for God’s sake. What more proof could we ask for? We know too, because our resident Christian tells us, that dreams and visions like this are most definitely from God. Lynda’s experience ticks all the boxes, no matter what we sceptics might think.
Except, no. Lynda was not dead for 14 minutes. We have only her word for it that she was declared clinically dead, while she describes her experience as a Near Death Experience. The clue is in the name. If she was near death, she was not dead; her brain was still alive, if only just. Her mind was still active, creating, if this happened at all, a reassuring experience for itself as it came close to shutting down. There is well documented evidence that this is what the brain is capable of doing when it is close to death (but not actually dead).
Significantly, the scenario her mind created was informed by cultural, quasi-Christian images of Heaven, just as believers’ dreams of God are informed by the same images and characters that occupy their waking minds. My own dreams, for example, are populated by people I know and places I’m familiar with (though sometimes only vaguely; my subconscious fills in the details often in bizarrely imaginative ways.)
Nonetheless, Lynda’s life-changing 5 years visit to Heaven (during which she seems to have done nothing except admire mountains and buildings while blue balls, hijacked from science-fiction, danced around her) is just as real, just as divine, just as valid as the God-given dreams and visions Christians claim they sometimes have. Naturally, we sceptics can’t possibly appreciate these until we’ve experienced them for ourselves.
Lynda’s experience was a subjective, emotional experience while she was unconscious. But such ‘spiritual’ inner experiences are ‘real’ according to at least some Christians, and we can’t argue with that which we have not experienced for ourselves.