Last time you had responded to my question when i forwarded the excerpt from Professor Vic Stenberg on his critic of D’Souza’s book: "Life after Death: The Evidence". I haven’t yet immerged myself into the Near Death experience and out of body experience, I wonder if you would say that he is correct that there is no evidence that the human soul (that immaterial substance) has ever been out of the host body? I know Gary Habbermas spoke about that in the affirmative, saying that there are case where the Near Death Experience have been reported to be conclusive in reporting otherwise unknown information prior the clinical death.


I would say that whether or not there is "evidence" that the human soul has ever left the body is a matter of how one defines evidence. For a materialist/naturalist, they will hold to the view that there is no evidence for the soul or out-of-body experience no matter how much "evidence" you present. For this reason, the statement is really rhetorical rather than a useful statement.

I say this because for a committed naturalist, anything which is not physical, measurable and reproducibly by experiment is, by definition, not real. Therefore, a soul, which I assume is not a physical entity and does not have mass or any other physically measurable properties, does not exist. To the naturalist, the soul does not exist by definition, therefore, obviously they will conclude that there is no evidence for out-of-body experience.

My answer is that out-of-body experience is supported only by indirect evidence or anecdotal evidence. Therefore, despite my skepticism about the statement of Stenberg. it is a defendable one. There is no reliable, reproducible evidence for the human soul, never mind for out-of-body experience.

Now, this does not eliminate what Habermass says or make it a false statement. There is evidence for out-of-body experience, but it is indirect. People have reported having experiences which are rather difficult to explain unless we allow for the possibility for some kind of legitimate near-death experience. I did not read Habermass on this, but have also heard some rather convincing cases, but in every case, a skeptic will be able to contrive some sort of explanation. I can go into more detail if you like. Also, there is the biblical evidence that human beings have a soul. The Bible is inspired by God and it makes this claim. However, like I said, this is great evidence to the Christian but not direct evidence.

I was at a conference this Spring at which a couple of philosophy students gave a great argument for the existence of a human soul, apart from Christian arguments, based on logic and on what is known from philosophy and cognitive science about human beings. This was a really compelling argument, but it was based on logic and reason, but not on experiment. So, I believe it will probably perpetually remain true that materialists will be able to go on saying that there is no "evidence" for out-of-body or near-death experiences, no matter how strong a reasonable case we can make for the existence of the soul. Probably this is one of those unwinnable arguments, and each person will have to ask him or herself what kind of arguments to listen to.

John Oakes

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