Consider this an Ask an Atheist post (and we might talk about this on the PAP as well). Recently, a facebook friend asked me what I thought of this video:
My response to her is below, linkified for your convenience. Although, thinking about it, she probably meant this as a joke and knows how embarrassingly fake it is. All the same…
This is a hoax. I suspected it was a hoax the minute I heard it, and a good tip when anyone shows you something like this would be to ALWAYS assume a natural explanation. It literally took me less than a minute to find the truth behind this lie.
The story has taken a few different forms over the years, but it always takes place in the Siberian region and the audio never changes. The fact is the story isn’t true. It may have been based on the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russia, which is a scientific drilling project designed to get a better understanding of the rock types present below the earth’s crust, and at one point they put some temperature measuring devices down there and found temperatures of close to 180-degrees. That’s it. No screaming voices. No two-to-three-thousand degree temperatures.
Some hoaxster took this story, changed the facts completely and soon enough the story appeared in tabloids all over the country. Before long it was on TBN and other Christian TV networks. Since Christians generally aren’t very good at fact-checking, it’s still touted out by extremists as “proof” of the literal existence of hell. There are more amusing details of this story, which you can read on Snopes, Truth or Fiction, andWikipedia. Snopes is a great website for tracking bogus claims that you might see on youtube or read in those annoying forwarded e-mails. Truthorfiction.com is good as well. They do a great job of checking the facts and they always cite their references.
Dr. Maurice Rawlings IS an actual person, who did write a book about experiences similar to the one described by the text of this video. The problem is, this is a KNOWN phenomenon, called Near Death Experience(or NDE). You can read more about NDEs here. They’ve even been reproduced in experimental conditions. The person making the video doesn’t seem to acknowledge that, does he? NDEs are psychosomatic hallucinations that occur when blood leaves the brain (which happens when a person is about to die). The problem is, these NDE’s aren’t very consistent, and anyone trying to use one person’s NDE to support their particular religion will find that there are plenty more NDEs out there that would support a different religion. Can you guess which people tend to have NDEs wherein they see Allah and Mohammed? That’s right… Muslims. Can you also guess which people have NDEs where they catch a glimpse of their next reincarnation? Yep… it’s Hindus. The truth is, they’re most likely hallucinations. Nothing more. And it’s sad and pathetic to try to see people use another person’s dying hallucinations as “rational” justification for what they believe.
As far as the rest of the “science”… the earth’s molten core, Riftia pachyptila, and so on… one can only come to believe that the bible “predicts” these things through a wild strech of the imagination. A Christian will read something in a science magazine or textbook, look for a bible passage that can be construed (barely) as confirmation for what they read, and then tout it as “evidence” that the bible is serious when it claims that hell is in the center of the earth. The rest of the science goes completely out the window. Examples: how are we supposed to “burn” without physical bodies for flame to act on; how does a core of LIQUID magma and molten rock equate to a “lake of fire”; the list goes on. That’s not how science works. You start with the evidence first. Not with some book of fairy tales that can be interpreted any which way.
I’ve already written about hell in my blog, so you can check out my thoughts on the impossibility of hell if you want to. But in truth, anything I say is pretty much moot to a believer. If someone believes enough in something supernatural, they’ll be willing to use ANYTHING to justify their beliefs, even if that means not checking the facts, making wild assumptions, and stretching what the bible says to a ridiculous degree. Me? I assume natural explanations, and reach conclusions only after the evidence has been examined. Only one of these methods has provided consistent results, time and time again. Guess which one…