Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Waking up in heaven

This is a lot like Heaven Is For Real, although that book was written by a Christian pastor to describe the experiences of his four-year-old child - experiences the father did not experience himself.

In Waking Up in Heaven, though, Crystal McVea (with the help of a more experienced author) describes her own experiences after a drug overdose.

Apparently, these near-death experiences - if that's what this was - are incredible events. From all I've heard, they're quite vivid and really leave people shaken afterwards. Then again, these stories all seem to come from people trying to sell books, so who's going to write about anything that's less than sensational? (And if they did, who would publish it?)

Still, I can understand how such an event might be life-altering - especially if you really, really wanted to change your life. People like Crystal McVea don't surprise me much. It's the people who believe she actually went to heaven who really surprise me.

Listen to what she says. She'd felt shame her entire life. "I'd lived my entire life, from the age of probably three, until the day I died, with horrible secrets, shame - I call them 'chains'."

Jebus! Think of what those good Christians in her life must have done to her, to make her feel shame from the age of three! If that's true - even if it's just mostly true - that's absolutely horrible.

Now, this woman is a celebrity, at least in Christian circles (down there in Southern Oklahoma, that means just about everyone). Heck, she's been on Fox 'News' - just like Sarah Palin! She's making money from a book where she's the star. She's getting a lot of attention, and loving every bit of it, I'm sure.

And why shouldn't she? I think it's wonderful that she no longer feels shame. I think it's great that she's turned her life around. I really hope that everything works out well for her, now. And I can understand how she really wants to believe all of this.

But why anyone else would believe it, that I can't understand. She took an overdose of drugs! I don't know if it was deliberate or not, but vivid hallucinations should be expected, don't you think? And if it really was a near-death experience, is it any wonder that you'd experience hallucinations when your brain is dying?

Frankly, as a hallucination, this wasn't even one of the better ones. I mean, according to her, she just felt stuff. And she claims that a lot more happened that she can't remember. Uh, haven't you ever had a dream? That describes dreams perfectly, don't you think?

I really like Cenk Uygur's comments here (it's good news for us atheists, huh?), and I'm laughing right along with him. But I'm not laughing at this poor woman. Indeed, I'm happy for her. And if she needs to believe this in order to feel better about herself, fine.

But Gretchen Carlson, and everyone else who believes this stuff (or, in Carlson's case, pushes this stuff for ratings)? I'm definitely laughing at them.


Anonymous said... you go through so much trouble writing this blog and all and poking fun of her and others that may well believe her well as have maybe experienced similar events in their lives...why bother to be so negative..if you really don't understand this...and say "if she really needs to believe this in order to feel better about herself,fine"??!! Why bother at all?! What are your motives?? Your totally contradicting yourself here...ummm....get a life and leave these happy people be who they must be jealous of her ability to sell her book and make money?! Kinda looks that way....just saying.

WCG said...

Anonymous, check out my Non-Belief series. I used to think this was relatively harmless - in my childhood, certainly. But eventually, I learned how important standing up for reality really is.

Believing things that aren't true is a problem, for individuals and for society. More importantly, if you decide what's true and what isn't by just what you want to believe, where will you draw the line? We've got the entire Republican Party these days using faith-based, rather than evidence-based, thinking.

The evidence for global warming is overwhelming - certainly, the consensus of climatologists is overwhelming - yet these people just believe what they want to believe, so nothing gets done. We waste money on abstinence-only sex education programs which are proven failures, because that's what faith-based thinkers want to believe works.

I can give you example after example of such things. Evidence-based people can disagree, of course, and anyone can be wrong. But when you believe in pleasant fantasies just because you want to believe in them, you're almost guaranteed to be wrong.

We human beings have brains, and we need to use them. There are real-world issues crying out for real-world solutions. We can't afford primitive superstition anymore, no matter how pleasant it might seem to believe that stuff.

I used to shrug it off as none of my business. But not anymore. Heck, we're currently fighting faith-based terrorists! If nothing else, that should show us the danger of faith-based thinking, shouldn't it? The 9/11 hijackers were men of faith. That's what's so scary about them. How do you reason with people who just believe whatever they want to believe?

Jennifer Rivas said...

She didn't over dose on drugs. She literally died.

WCG said...

I haven't read the book, so I can't say for sure, Jennifer, but I've seen an article online which says that she was in a hospital being treated for pancreatitis. Is that what the book says? Thanks for the correction!

But "she literally died"? It's harder than you might think to determine when someone is actually dead. And since she was in a hospital, with trained medical personnel trying to keep her alive - not to mention the fact that she's alive now - I think it's pretty clear that she didn't, actually, die.

No, this was a near-death experience. Those do happen, when a brain is under severe stress. They happen to people of all religious persuasions and to non-believers, too, and they're all interpreted differently, depending on the person's culture and their existing beliefs.

This book is popular because it's a feel-good story for Christians. That's my opinion, at least. You probably feel differently, and I appreciate your views, but do you have no comment on the rest of my post?

This woman says that she lived with horrible shame from the age of three. From the age of three! What did those good Christians do to her to make her feel like that? (You know that she was brought up Christian, because otherwise she would have thought she'd seen Allah in Paradise, or whatever else she'd been raised to believe.)

It's no wonder that she wants to believe this, even leaving aside the financial incentive and the attention she's getting. But why would anyone else believe it? That's what I don't understand.

Perhaps you can answer that?

Anyway, thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

I have actually taken lots and lots of drugs in my time and no experience I've had even comes close to what this woman describes. I challenge you to take lots and lots of drugs. Until you do that the this whole 'She was hallucinating on drugs man or dreaming it's so obvious' banter is 100% irrelevant

WCG said...

You didn't even read my post, did you, Anonymous? Why bother commenting if you're not going to reply to what I actually said?

Apparently, those "lots and lots" of drugs you've taken have killed off a few too many brain cells. Maybe this will help:

1) She's supposed to have had a near-death experience, not a drug hallucination. Admittedly, a drug addict doesn't make a very reliable witness.

We know that dreams happen. We know that hallucinations happen (not just drug-related, but those, too). And we know that:

2) Memory is unreliable - very unreliable. Memory from a stress-out brain is particularly unreliable, but it's also likely that her memories got better and better over time. She may remember it this way now, but she has many good reasons to:

3) She says she felt shame from the age of three! Now, she's a celebrity in her Christian circles, and she's making money from this book. And, of course, she really, really, really wants to believe in Heaven.

Those are all very good reasons to be skeptical - unless you really, really, really want to believe, yourself. And think about it. Is this the best an omniscient, omnipotent god can do?

If 'God' actually existed - and wanted human beings to know that he existed - we wouldn't be having this argument. Right now, even Christians can't agree on... well, anything - even using the same 'holy book.' (And even that - which book is the holy one - isn't a majority belief in the world, let alone a consensus.)

If your god exists, he must be the world's worst communicator.

servant said...

First, her shame may have initially stemmed from her molestation beginning at the age of three (just an educated guess here). I question who she experienced this stuff with though because there is stuff that is not Biblical and the devil and his angels do parade around as angels of the light.

If there is one thing I have learned it is how easy we are deceived by darkness especially when it appears as light. Sorry but she would drop like a rock in the presence of Christ...all knees shall bow. ALL the prophets dropped in His presence.

Second, God is an excellent communicator we are just poor listeners, also, God says without faith you cannot please Him so if you have no faith He will turn from you and communication will appear to be nil-this does not mean He will not turn toward you later if you gain faith for He does not wish that any should perish.

Also, it is His good pleasure to make foolish the wise of the world (those completely denying Him and doing all they are able to disprove His existence through things like science, philosophy, psychology etc.) for His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.

To be simply put...He does not cater to us but we are to cater to Him because He is above us as Creator to creation and He only desires those whose hearts are after His own, meaning their walks have Him in them whether they are aware of it or not.

Not one of His sheep are lost, whether they are drawn from false religions, non-belief, criminal...there is no racial, cultural, gender specific sheep He will not find and draw to Him that is His, not ONE is lost.

Third, I have read much about NDE's after having had one.

I was a science major in college and about to be a math major as well not seeking God but had faith that He would take care of me in times of trouble-God was a distant back thought in my mind that came forward when I was in trouble and I practiced NO religion but studied many other religions that were not Christian because I had terrible experiences with Christianity in youth so I rejected it but kept God as a back thought (mind you He calls His people not the other way around for none seek Him). The studies of other religions happened before the NDE and I was quite fond of Buddhism right before this.

I have read many accounts that sound 'cookie cutter' in experience and across the world they have been, the majority of them, based on the individuals preconceived notions of faith and life experiences.

I cannot say the same for my own which is why I sought other stories in the first place. I fervently searched the Internet for at least a year looking for one similar to my own.

I saw things I did not expect to see nor had I ever seen them before either in my mind or person. My visual expectations were never present in my NDE.

Three years later I get 'urged' is the best way to put it to read the Bible (something I had never read before this-yes Christians usually have not read their own holy book but learn through selected scriptures through devotionals or pastors etc. and the denomination I grew up in is filled with hypocrisy and false doctrine; I learned very little biblical truth from them-hence running from it as soon as I was able).

The two places I went to when I died were in the Bible. I discovered this 3 years after the experience itself; these were not places previously recollected for said NDE...continued...

Unknown said...

There was no light (unless you count fire-light), or angels (unless you count fallen angels who looked NOTHING like I would have pictured) or anything like that for feelings, but no fear either, telepathy yes-that was the means of communication. I had a knowing that I should be terrified of one place I almost walked into blindly (Hades-which, again, looked nothing like what I would envision it to look like).

I do not have a book nor do I share this with many people but I will tell you this, there is a Father God, Jesus the Son of God/Man is the ONLY way (but not because of what so many people think-think of Him more as a conduit and He is the only path that leads to the light source while all others lead to dead ends of darkness-incomplete circuits). The Holy Spirit DOES indwell believers and does do good work in them (they truly become new creations or new men) and the devil and his demons are very much real and disgustingly wicked. Hating God with the deepest and darkest seething hatred and hating us in like manner because God loves us, doing anything to set us on a path of destruction that leads away from God...this includes making your worldly life here 'seem' pleasant through wealth, fame, intellectual recognition, lying signs and wonders, deceptive powers... anything to puff up an ego.

This is coming from someone who never thought much about this stuff until this happened...Science was my religion. I still thoroughly enjoy it; it being my second favorite study now, God being my first-something I would not have said even two years ago. Faith opens the most amazing doors.

Also, if I ever wrote a book (which there truly is no desire here even though, like McVea, was 'nudged' to do so but it was not God nudging) I would not charge money for people to read it because it sends a wrong message and my book would glorify God only because there is no good but God and He deserves ALL glory not His servants. Also the name would be a pen name to maintain humility. I only mention these 3 things because within the Christian world of authors these are rarely done although they should be because, as God says, freely you received-freely give.

I realize you are atheist and am not looking to dispute such. You are given free will to choose. I merely feel a need to share a bite of my own experience with a hope that something might spark in you now or at a later time when it could be much needed. These are very trying times we are living in, many difficult problems we face...yes including our earth...I did read your article. Take care.

Bill Garthright said...

Thanks for the comment, Servant, but you made a lot of claims about 'God' - a lot of claims - without a single bit of evidence.

You know all about 'God,' apparently, because you had a near-death experience? It must have been quite extensive to get all that out of it. Did you spend years dead or something?

And how did you rule out delusion and wishful-thinking? How did you rule out false memories, due to the stress on a failing ("near-death," remember) brain? We know that all of those things are real. Those things do exist. So how did you rule them out?

And note that you actually question another person's account of what she supposedly experienced, because it doesn't completely match up to your own religious beliefs. So why don't you question your own?

Sorry, but your story isn't even slightly convincing to me. No doubt you believe it, but I wonder why. Three years afterwards, you discovered that the "places you went to" were in the Bible? That's like remembering a dream three years later.

Memory is notoriously unreliable, especially in a situation like that. If you really are interested in science, you should investigate the research which shows how unreliable memory really is. There's actual evidence of that.

You were raised Christian as a child, so you went back to it as an adult. That's usually how it goes. And you had an NDE, apparently, which you interpret according to what you were taught as a child (and, of course, what you really want to believe).

And out of that brief experience, you know exactly what 'God' wants and thinks, about what "devils and his angels" do or don't do, about Jesus, about the 'Holy Spirit,' and on and on.

Just as you question that woman's account, I question yours. Can you imagine a God which would only communicate to people when they're unconscious, with their brains under immense stress,... and then leave them with differing memories, to boot? What kind of jokester god is this?

Thanks for the comment, Servant, but there's only one part of it I can fully accept: "Faith opens the most amazing doors." That's because, with faith, you can believe anything you want to believe, whether it's true or not.

You may like science, but you clearly don't understand why it works. And why faith doesn't.