It happens, religion and the thought of afterlife offers existential comfort:
Yet the thought of death scared him. “I was terrified of dying because it meant lights out, the end of the story,” he notes. “It seemed horrible that at 38-years-old, when I felt powerful and successful in my life, it would all come to an end in such a ridiculously pitiful way.”
I wouldn't trust a dying and extremely stressed brain though. Some odd things come up, such as:
Suddenly he heard people outside the room calling for him by name. They spoke English, without a French accent, which seemed strange, because everyone in the hospital either spoke French or heavily accented English.
He then imagines what his fate will be, influenced by what believers say about non believers (nevermind that it makes no sense whatsoever) and then to resolve that uncomfortable feeling:
Then he was surprised by a small voice inside his head that said, ‘Pray to God.’
He thought, ‘I don’t pray. I don’t even believe in God.’
Then he heard the voice a second time, ‘Pray to God.’
He lay there motionless for a few moments, completely spent. Then he was surprised by a small voice inside his head that said, ‘Pray to God.’
He then decides to pray and:
When the people around him heard his attempt to pray, they became enraged. “There is no God and nobody can hear you,” they cried, along with other obscenities. “If you keep praying we will really hurt you.”
This looks like the left hemisphere chiming in...
But Howard noticed something curious. The more he prayed and began to mention God, the more they backed away from him.
Psychologcal discomfort solved.
As he lay there, Howard began to review his life. “I came to the conclusion I led a crummy life and I had gone down the sewer pipe of the universe. I had gone into the septic tank with other human garbage. I was being processed by the garbage people into garbage like them.”
Defense mechanism installed, with a touch of born-again fanaticism. Wants good reasons for staying a theist after conversion because it offers him existential comfort, massively reinforced by the idea that it was god who saved him from death, which he desperately tried to avoid by negotiating (praying).
Feelings of self-loathing and hopelessness filled his mind.
Cultish message which is still very persavive in some religions. Tells people they're filth and offers them a way out of that.
His thoughts floated back again to himself as a nine-year-old in Sunday School, “I remembered myself singing “Jesus Loves Me,” and I could feel it inside me. As a child, I thought Jesus was really cool and he was my buddy and he would take care of me.”
That's just weird coming from an older man. Probably associates his destructive behaviour with the lack of a father figure, which happens to some people, even grown adults, who in the lack of a father figure, become very destructive (pardon the extreme guessing here
Immediately he recognized Jesus, the King of Kings, the Rescuer, the Deliverer. “His arms reached down and touched me and everything healed up and came back together,” he recalls. “He filled me with a love I never knew existed.”
Pity he doesn't mention what this Jesus looked like...like the portrait commonly found of a european white man?
“He could read everything in my mind and put His voice into my head,” Howard recalls. “We had very rapid, instantaneous conversations.”
Psychological simulacrum, which is very
different from actually feeling like there is somebody actually waching.
*edited to add: he posted a picture he drew of Jesus