The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

near death experiences are a good reason to believe in the afterlife

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/25/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,027 times Debate No: 78110
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




near death experiences, examples

no drugs have been shown to be able to replicate the experience.

sometimes, the expeiencer has an out of body experience and sees things when they are dead that could only be seen out of body.... this is objective evidence that the near death experience is true.

the experiencer feels that the experience was more real than our every day reality.

the most straight forward explanation is that since they did in fact die, and feel they've seen the afterlife, that they actucally have seen it. there may be theories which go against the after life, but they dont have sufficient evidence, and are not the most straight forward explanation.

first round is for debating, not just acceptance.


I would like to thank PRO for instigating this debate. I would now like to dispute every single point of PRO's argument.


The drug Ketamine can be used to induce near death experiences (NDEs) [1].


PRO has claimed that," the expeiencer [sic] has an out of body experience and sees things when they are dead that could only be seen out of body.... this is objective evidence that the near death experience is true." I challenge her to provide verifiable evidence for this. Until she does, it remains a bald assertion. Even if we accept these assertions, it is subjective evidence, not objective.


PRO wrote that, "the experiencer feels that the experience was more real than our every day reality." So what? This is an individual's subjective opinion.


Finally, PRO has claimed that, "the most straight forward explanation is that since they did in fact die... ...they actucally have seen it." No, actually. The most straightforward explanation is that we have an unexplained event. Or, if I might suggest another straightforward explanation, it may just be how brains react to sever damage and/or oxygen deprivation.

Tying it Together

I have demonstrated PRO's claim about drugs to be false, and pointed out that her main source of "evidence" is inadmissible. I have also explained why her suggested explanation is not to be preferred. I look forward to the next round.


Debate Round No. 1


ketamine causes some similar experiences of a NDE, but that's all. it doesn't have things like meeting your relatives, or knowing yourself to have seen God.
and more on the dissimilarities and similarties. "In summary, while ketamine drug trips sometimes have some parallels with near-death experience, the typical experiences of these drug users seems to be something very different from the reports of near-death experiences, without any close similarity.";

here are a number of NDE's that had information verified while being out of body, such as the experience of Pam Reynolds.....;

we will have to agree to disagree about what is most straight forward. i say, they died, they feel they have experienced the after life. any other theory like a dying brain theory or oxygen deprivation etc, is just trying to find an alternative to the most straight forward explanation.


I would like to thank PRO for her comments this round. I will address her points presently.


As PRO notes, ketamine can offer an experience similar to so-called “near-death experiences (NDEs),” however she objects because the drug cannot provide things some claim to have experienced, such as meeting dead relatives, and knowing to have met God. Unless PRO can demonstrate that either of these things actually happens, we only have hearsay to differentiate ketamine from NDEs, which can be disregarded. Therefore, my point about a drug being able to replicate an NDE stands. I would address PRO's source directly, but it is a dead link.

Pam Reynolds

I find PRO's example of Ms. Reynolds interesting, but not compelling. First of all, the things she claimed, such as seeing dead relatives, is subjective, unverifiable, and therefore hearsay. Also, Gerald Woerlee, the anesthesiologist who was in the operating room at the time, suggests that what Ms. Reynolds experienced was something called “anesthesia awareness” [1][2],where the patient is aware of what is going on, despite being under general anesthesia [3]. Also, since the surgeon would have been required to give informed consent to Ms. Reynolds prior to her surgery, she would have been familiar with the procedure [1], so her ability to recall details of the room and the procedure is not inexplicable.

One last point about Ms. Reynolds is that the source provided by PRO claims that her surgery was part of an NDE study, including having a sign near the ceiling that read “You Are Dead” [4]. I cannot verify this claim anywhere else. One might expect Dr. Woerlee, the anesthesiologist on duty turned NDE student, to at least mention this matter; he does not. I do not see this claim as having fulfilled its burden sufficient to warrant belief.


PRO is claiming that the belief that Ms. Reynolds consciousness left her body for a brief time is the most straight-forward explanation given the evidence. This is simply absurd. In order of this claim to be true, there must be consciousness apart from brains, as well as an afterlife; two things that have never been demonstrated. In contrast, I suggest that Ms. Reynold's experience as the result of a malfunctioning brain is a better explanation; we have ample evidence that brains malfunction [5][6][7][8][9][10]. Another possibility I suggested is that we simply have an unexplained event. In which case, PRO's explanation is unwarranted.






[5] htp://






Debate Round No. 2


here is a link to the blog i cited about ketamine. i dont know why it didn't work

con says i can't prove people meet dead relatives and know God. but that is not the point. the point is they do experience these things, putative as they may be, while they dont with ketamine. the burden would be on con to show examples where that they do in fact feel to have met realative on ketamine, and such, because otherwise id have to disprove a negative, show that it doesn't happen, which is not a fair burden to ask.
most experiences by far with ketamine are just freaky hallucinatory occurrences. you have to cherry pick to get to something like NDEs, and even then, it doesn't measure up.

pam reynolds saw instuments that she could only know of when dead. con only offers specualtion that she might have saw the equipment before or after the surgery. con ignores that in the like i provided, there are three other examples of out of body verifications. one includes a woman who read numbers from far away, one is a man who saw a baby in another room and diagnosed a broken arm was making it cry, and one was where a man entered the hospital already dead yet described the room and those who operated on him while he was under, and this experience was documented as part of a study. i am sure that all con can do is offer specualtion that somehow these people saw things before or after they died. if we take them at their word though, their events were verified.

what more does con want to verify after life experiences? people die, they came back and tell us of the afterlife. im sure we could ask for more, such as God coming down to tell us those experiences happen, or that they happen to everyone. but even still, con would find the evidence lacking. we can take what we got, and the most straightforward explanation is there was an after life experience. to act as if it is just unexplainable is putting your head in the sand to what is plaintly occurring.


I would like to thank PRO for correcting the link. I could not see the difference in URL's, but somehow, the one provided in this round worked. The only thing I will say about the source is that I grant it little credibility. It is the personal blog of someone named M. Mahin who claims to have a BS in Philosophy; not someone I would consider an expert in neurochemistry, and how drugs affect brains. I will however, expand on PRO's arguments presently.


PRO has argued that ketamine does not induce a near-death experience because it does not provide individuals with the experience of meeting gods or dead relatives. However, PRO admits that she cannot demonstrate that these things actually occur, while simultaneously allowing that ketamine does have the effect of “freaky hallucinatory occurrences.” Since meeting dead relatives cannot be verified, it may well fit into the category of “ hallucinatory occurrences,” so my point is validated.

Pam Reynolds

I have already explained how Ms. Reynolds may have been able to explain the instruments, that informed consent required that she be informed about the procedure, and I provided a source that contained additional explanations, such as the familiarity of the instruments to that of a familiar dentist's drill, or the fact that she didn't recount the story to anyone for three days, so that she had time to gain the knowledge [1].


PRO has accused me of ignoring her points, but she is mistaken. I addressed every point she made. I did not address additional points made by her source because I was not required to. Sources back up arguments, and I address my opponent’s arguments. It is not my responsibility to comb through all of PRO's sources and debunk every claim made. However, since PRO did bring up additional cases in this round, I will address them here.

PRO's Additional Claims

One of PRO's claims is that a woman allegedly read numbers from far away during an NDE. However, once I wend down the rabbit hold of PRO's source, I found a vague reference to a “young woman” (no name was provided), and a reference to a paper published in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (no title was provided) [2]. The one about the man who diagnosed the broken arm is also questionable as not only could I not verify the story, I found quotes from the man that contradict the account provided by PRO's source. He himself has said that it was a broken hip, not an arm [3], so the whole account is questionable to begin with, let alone being unverifiable. The final case PRO notes is about a man who came into an Emergency Department (allegedly) dead, but somehow recalls events. Again, there is no name provided, and no evidence other than the researcher who supposedly published an article in The Lancet, but again, no title was provided [4].

All of these stories make extraordinary claims, and therefore require extraordinary evidence. As Hume taught us, we need to proportion our belief to the evidence, as there is no evidence provided, we should not believe any of these claims.

What Do I Want?

PRO asks what I want as evidence for the afterlife; my answer is that I would like evidence that is verifiable and repeatable. I'm not exactly sure what form that evidence could take, but it isn't my claim, and therefore, it isn't my problem. As it is the default position to not believe claims until evidence is provided, PRO's failure to provide such evidence is sufficient cause to not believe.

The Resolution

I feel that we have gotten off track here during this debate, so I would like to conclude by revisiting the resolution. The claim made by PRO at the instigation of this debate is that “near death experiences are a good reason to believe in the afterlife.” I have never addressed this claim head on, because I kept waiting for PRO to defend it with argumentation and evidence; but she never did.

Someone who experiences a “near death experience,” is near-death, and therefore, by definition, not dead. As someone who is not dead, they have zero insight on anything after death, and cannot make any reliable claims regarding any “life” after death. Therefore, it cannot be said that “near death experiences are a good reason to believe in the afterlife.” In fact, since those who were near-death cannot have any special insight into anything after death, their experiences are bad reasons to believe in the afterlife.

In Closing

To sum up the debate, PRO made a claim that is, by definition, untenable. I have addressed every single one of her arguments, however, even if I granted them, they do not support the resolution. PRO has failed to support her claim, and I have shown that the opposite is the case.



Debate Round No. 3
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by ax123man 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: The discussion regarding Ketamine was interesting and I thought Con could have done a better job supporting this. But in the end, I didn't find Ketamine arguments convincing either way. For the rest of the debate, I thought Con clearly won. In round 2, Pro just linked to NDE web sites with no backing arguments and Con picked those apart. In round 3, Pro responded to this with more detail. However, this left Con with the final response regarding legitimacy of sources. Con did a good job painting Pros sources as sketchy and Pro didn't respond to this problem. Btw, I ignored Cons statements under "The resolution" in round 3 as Pro had no chance to respond to what was a new argument. (although instigators should be careful to define rules in round 1) Arguments to Con