What atheists and Jehovah’s Witnesses have in common

I’m thinking that the next time a Jehovah’s Witness knocks on Sam Parnia’s door, he needs to invite him in.

Now of course I myself have never done this, being a person who’s so theologically irascible I get irritated even when people say they’re going to pray for me (which I guess they’d better, if they’re right and I’m wrong). But the other day was, as I told my hospice volunteer coordinator at the end of our monthly “Faith and the End of Life” series, the first time I voluntarily took handouts from a Jehovah’s Witness.

It’s pretty interesting, what they believe. When you die, you’re dead (Yes! says my true-atheist friend). You just lie there in your coffin, waiting, to the extent that a dead person can be said to wait, that is.

Then along comes Jesus, and everybody, good and bad, gets resurrected. But here’s the rub: only 144,000 of them get to go with him back up to heaven. And what happens to all the rest of the billions of people? They stay here, on Earth, except that Earth is now a paradise and there is no death.

So it seems like we’d all better try really really hard to become one of those 144,000; because we’re going to be awfully crowded on Earth, not to mention all those bad people rubbing up against us.

But what does all of this have to do with Sam Parnia? Well, I suspect the Jehovah’s Witness will tell him his experiment, to see whether clinically dead people can report back what they saw when they were floating on the operating room ceiling, is a waste of time.

Dead is dead, until…

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