Gideon Lichfield replies:
My article did not address the question of how NDE memories might differ from other memories (something Mitch Liester, a psychiatrist mentioned in the article, is currently working on). Rather than doing a detailed review of the many materialist hypotheses about what’s “really” going on during NDEs, which has been done elsewhere, I wanted to focus on the science/spiritualism boundary: how spiritually minded doctors are trying to probe that boundary, and why most NDErs and scientists are on opposite sides of it.
From a materialist point of view, the debate about how a disembodied mind could see and hear is ludicrous, but so is the very idea of a disembodied mind, which makes the debate somewhat moot.
Quite a lot of NDErs weren’t religious believers before they had their experience, or at least claim not to have been. Could they have had some sort of predisposition to religious (or other spiritual) beliefs that they hadn’t previously expressed? Perhaps, but there’s no way of telling. It’s worth noting that some religious NDErs move away from their religion after the experience, because it can lead them to develop spiritual beliefs that conflict with their credos.
When Terror Reigns
In May, David A. Bell reviewed two new histories about the French Revolution, including The Coming of the Terror in the French Revolution, by Timothy Tackett, which examines the power of fear in driving the uprising. Bell wrote that in Tackett’s view, “the perpetrators of the Reign of Terror … had terrors of their own.”
David A. Bell, in criticizing Timothy Tackett’s The Coming of the Terror in the French Revolution, compares the use of terror in the French Revolution to the use of terror-inspiring language in the American Revolution. He cites incendiary language in the Declaration of Independence as an example. This raises an unasked, and almost unthought-of, question: What if our tone of terror had been tamped down and we hadn’t had a revolution? What would have happened? In a short period of time, our growth, strength, and distance would have solved the most egregious problems we had with the mother country, much like a child reaching the age of majority and becoming independent for all intents and purposes.
The United Kingdom passed an anti-slave-trading act in 1807, and completely outlawed the practice in 1833. This could very well have paved a reasonable and rational road to ending slavery in America without “the recent unpleasantness” of brother slaying brother to the tune of hundreds of thousands killed.
We would, of course, have our own democratic government, but would still be connected to the United Kingdom, as Canada is. Would Germany have attacked England during World War I if America had been unquestionably England’s ally from the start? If World War I had not occurred, would World War II have happened?
Just some thoughts to consider when pondering the results of spreading terror today.
Frank G. Crotty
“The Mystery of Columba Bush,” by Hanna Rosin (June), stated that George
H. W. Bush was the vice president in 1979. Bush took office in 1981.