Chapter

Near-Death Experience from Serpent Bites in Religious Settings

Ralph W. Hood Jr. and W. Paul Williamson

in Them That Believe

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780520231474
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942714 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520231474.003.0010
Near-Death Experience from Serpent Bites in Religious Settings

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This chapter describes the experience of receiving a near fatal bite from a serpent and the anticipation of death. It places near-death experiences by serpent bite (NDBs) in religious settings in the context of what has become known as near-death experiences. This is done for two reasons. First, the conceptual issues in NDEs are directly relevant to the religious beliefs of serpent-handling churches, particularly with respect to human immortality. Second, the claim to prototypical near-death experiences (NDEs) widely reported in the popular literature lacks clear empirical support. It is not, for instance, typical of NDEs from serpent bites to believers who handle in religious settings. Thus it may be that NDEs are influenced by the beliefs of those near death. Beliefs may be a particularly salient determinant of NDEs when they are firmly grounded in a religious worldview and even more so when that worldview includes a ritual that believers know can kill.

Keywords: serpent-handling; serpent bite; near-death experiences; human immortality; religious worldview

Chapter.  6257 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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