No Light in Sight: A Response to “Let There Be Light”
By ~ Seamus
The latest Christian film to dawn the silver screen is the collaboration of B movie actor Kevin Sorbo and Fox News talking head Sean Hannity. The film is what we have learned to expect from these faith- based initiatives of late, full of obvious fear mongering, non-sequitur arguments, poor acting, awful directing and the tired old ‘you hate God’ clichés. Be advised this will not be a full review of this film, but simply a response to it and the narrative it advances.
This project doesn’t just star Kevin Sorbo (who also did a poor job directing it), but also his kids and his wife, who is credited with writing this dumpster fire. Sorbo’s character is referred to as the most famous atheist in the world named Dr. Sol Harkens, author of “Aborting God.” Sorbo’s character’s is clearly a spiteful parody of Dr. Richard Dawkins but only in name. Harkens is portrayed as a drunken angry man who only argues against religion with typical straw man arguments while wearing his hate for the God who took his son on his sleeve. Harkens gets into a DUI related accident, which results in him being ruled dead for 4 minutes. During this near-death experience, Harkens sees his son in what is supposed to be Heaven. This proof of the afterlife is apparently enough for Harkens who starts his transformation from angry unenlightened atheist to evangelical fundamentalist.
So we are supposed to believe that this heralded atheist abandons all skepticism and reason to immediately embrace his visions of Heaven that occurred during his near death experience without any real investigation of scientific explanations? Sure, OK, moving on…
Harkens quickly converts to a God-fearing man with the help of his wife and a spiritual adviser. The spiritual adviser can be described as a Soprano wannabe wise guy pastor with some of the worst gangster dialogue ever. The film only gets worse, but I won’t spoil the final destination of this train wreck for you. What I’d like to talk more about is the continued use of near death experiences by the Evangelicals as so called proof of their God, Heaven and/or at least the afterlife.
I felt compelled to write about this film: a Christian propaganda piece orbiting around the notion that a near death experience (NDE) gave an atheist evidence of the afterlife, having had a near death experience myself. More than 10 years ago, I was working as a law enforcement officer, when I was responding in my patrol vehicle to an emergency call and ended up in a very bad accident. The injuries I sustained from this accident required me to be admitted to the hospital and required surgery. During my stay, I was put on pain medication that was delivered to me via an automated IV machine. Unfortunately, the machine malfunctioned and the pain medication was gravity fed into my system causing an overdose. I was clinically dead for only a few minutes before being resuscitated by the hospital staff. During the time that I was dead, I didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Nor did a voice comfort me. Nor did I experience visions of loved ones that had gone to the grave. Instead I saw a gray horizon of intersecting geometric planes collide with no end in sight. I remember being scared and fearful of never seeing my daughter again.
Now I am not saying that since I didn’t see or hear any of the things that others saw makes them wrong and me right. That’s because I know that what I experienced can be explained by science. I know this now, but at the time I was a church going Christian. Although it was a few years later that I totally walked away from religion, this experience marked the beginning of that journey. So what could explain these experiences shared by those who experience NDE? What have scientific studies learned about NDE? Well we know that lack of oxygen to the brain can cause hallucinations. Isn’t it more likely that since respiratory failure often leads to these events, that oxygen deprivation would be the likely cause of such visions?
Also, another issue is that when the brain is deprived of oxygen, it gets too much carbon dioxide. This toxin may also add to the hallucinations experienced by the victim. Another claim survivors of NDE claim is that they had an out of body experience. Science tells us that electrical stimulation to the temporoparietal junction of the brain can give a person this sensation. This is also linked with possible epileptic activity in the temporal lobe.
False memories also can play a role in NDE’s. A false memory is a fabricated or distorted recollection of an event. Our ability to remember events accurately is very prone to fallacy. People can feel completely confident that their memory is accurate, but this confidence is no guarantee that a particular memory is correct. Studies have shown that those who experience NDE’s and other traumatic events are often prone to false memories. As we are pattern seeking mammals, our brains will fill in gaps in our memory with such fabrications. This is often a very subjective event that can be clouded by what we may have heard about others experiencing similar trauma when compared to what really occurred.
Wouldn’t a man of science consider these factors when looking objectively at his own NDE? Also, wouldn’t the evidence of him being intoxicated play a role in this as well? Of course, none of this is considered because it doesn’t fit the narrative of these unoriginal Christian Fundamentalist arguments.
This isn’t the first and won’t be the last time these folks try to use NDE’s as proof for something they have no evidence of. Remember “The Boy Who Saw Heaven”? This book was pulled only after the boy recanted his story, yet Evangelicals still push this narrative and cite his story. Evangelicals will continue to recycle the same claims and exhausted arguments and turn them into more films and books as long as those who need their delusions are reassured to buy them.