Over a century ago, William James in “Varieties of Religious Experience” made the case that, “The founders of every church owed their power originally to the fact of their direct personal communication with the Divine.” From the 1960s to the present day, thousands of cases have been recorded that demonstrate religious/spiritual/mystic experiences are quite common.
Numerous social science surveys done over the past 50 years indicate that at least 50% of us have had a Spiritually Transformative Experience. Using the same tools that social scientists and medical researchers employ to study all other facets of human behavior, researchers have gained fresh insights into how humans experience God in the here-and-now and in the hereafter. The results of this research include:
1. God (aka, Ultimate Reality/Great Spirit) is with us and not distant.
2. Judgment is a reality. In the NDE, the experiencer is often brought before a divine judge/being of light for a “life review.” This can be frightening, comforting, or both; nevertheless, it is awesome.
3. Hell is not permanent. Hell is for purification and rehabilitation and not eternal punishment.
4. Religious groups that declare that theirs is the only path to God and salvation are totally wrong. NDE and other religious experiences (e.g., after-death communications, death-bed visions) are replete with stories of people of all faiths and denominations in heaven.
5. “By their fruits you shall know them.” Virtually all of the books on the NDE and other religious experiences mentioned in this book speak to the fact that these events change people for the better.
What is universal is from God; the remainder of religion is cultural.