So the Archbishop of Canterbury would like everyone to read the King James Bible “in order to get the Big Picture”.
If he were encouraging everyone to read the Bible (version not specified), I would be in wholehearted agreement. But why the King James Bible? It’s true that the translation commissioned by James I of England 400 years ago has been enormously influential over British culture. And any book that is still being read 400 years after its first publication must have something going for it. The problem is that it is, well, 400 years old. And although it still has a vociferous fan club in the higher strata of the Church of England, the rest of the church (not to mention the other denominations) has moved on – and for good reason. For one thing, although the translation was the best that could be done at the time, many more (and older) New Testament manuscripts have been discovered since – so the modern Bible versions are much closer to what was originally written. (Admittedly, there haven’t been very many changes; and the vast majority are trivial)
More importantly, Read more…
Recent scientific evidence suggests that what are popularly called “near death experiences” are not anything of the kind, but rather a product of high carbon dioxide levels in the blood.
Personally, I’ve always been sceptical about the religious interpretation of these experiences, for two reasons. One is that my mother had several “near death experiences” as a child – every time she had an anaesthetic at the dentist’s surgery. The other is that people who have these experiences always explain them in terms of their pre-existing beliefs: Protestants for example will say they have met Jesus, while Catholics seem more likely to meet Mary. Presumably this is because the brain tries to “make sense” of what it perceives, and it does so by drawing on its previous “knowledge”. But nobody ever changes their beliefs as a result: atheists remain atheists, even after what would appear to be a pretty close encounter with the Almighty. Which suggests to me that they haven’t actually come anywhere near Him at all.
(this post has also been published on MyT)