Near Death Experiences Part II

It is well documented that NDEs dramatically change people. Van Lommel did two and eight year follow-ups with his control groups and his NDE groups. The NDE group possessed much higher empathy, greater emotive attunement, and tested with higher intuitive capabilities. They overwhelmingly believed in an afterlife, though many had been skeptics before. This certainly can be explained by some rewiring of the brain state, but this is an explanation without proof or evidence. This data is dismissed as not fitting the scientific view. But what fits that view should be accurately collected data, not assumptions.

Morse did a follow-up study focused on elderly people who had NDEs as a child. They almost all showed high self-confidence and a sense of meaning and purpose in their life, a feeling that love was a thread of existence, little fear of death, and took fewer medications. Considering the strong belief in an afterlife, and the transformative character of these experiences, it is irresponsible of science to discount them. It is typical of science to discount subjective experience, but in a very real sense, this is the most objective experience we have about what happens after death. They ignore it because of the belief that death is the end, that the ceasing of brain activity means the mind ceases as well.

Yet here is evidence to the contrary. It is not proof. A true scientist should be all over this, marveling at the implications, wondering what the universe is like. But physicalist assumptions can only make reasons why it must be a physical phenomenon. Virtually every test subject disagrees, but these people’s experience is pronounced wrong. Only science can be right. It would be far better to look with clear senses and with the belief that there are more possibilities in the universe than we can ever know.

 

Newburg and DeKeel, in Why God Won’t go Away, speak of special tomography scans of meditating Buddhists and Franciscan nuns. They found decreases in activity in the parietal lobes in the higher, hind part of the brain. They believe the scans show that meditation or prayer halt the activity within these areas. These are the areas that create a sense of the spatial awareness of the body. When these areas of the brain are shut off, “the brain would have no choice but to perceive that the self is endless and intimately interwoven with everyone and everything the mind senses, and this perception would feel utterly and unquestionably real.”

The implication is clearly that the meditative experience is an hallucination. But it could easily be the opposite. The body’s location in space and that we are confined to the body might be the hallucination and meditation reveals the truth: we are far vaster than we believe. Why is one conclusion presumed? And it always is. For neuroscientists, neurobiololgists, neuro-anything, there is only a brain, never a mind. These scientists have never had an OBE, an NDE, or even a legitimate meditative experience. These scientists have not sat and meditated; they have not had the experiences. They have no authority to judge its truth.

It must be said again and again – a real scientist finds out for themselves. They will examine the subjective experience for themselves and not merely the external data that is less meaningful in any event. Experience can only be meaningfully understood from the inside. This data should be conjoined with the external data. Then they can say something. Until then, the opinion is only one-sided and based on assumptions.

They further claim, probably with good evidence, that ritualistic behaviors such as prayers, meditation, and chanting, switch on and off various areas in the brain. They then proceed with the unwarranted claim that this explains some of the more bewildering OBE experiences, especially those of the pilots feeling they are outside of the plane. But in what way does this explain it? The pilots were totally unconscious. The theory presumes, without a shred of proof, that the mind arises from the brain. It is never considered that they might be two highly integrated, but ultimately separable systems. And that is how it feels to the people who have the experience.

A question at the end of the article reads – “whether these experiences are simply right temporal lobe activity, as many suspect, or as Britton’s work hints, and Morse believes, a whole brain effect, remains an open question.” No third option is even considered and discarded. The crime is that the subjects reported certain experience of being out of the their own body. The research assumes they are mistaken from the outset and is strictly pointed at showing how they are wrong. It gives no credence to the very subjective experiences these people are universally reporting. It is an insistent need to show that this fundamentally transformative experience is false. It is notable that the author of this article never mentions van Lommel’s belief that more is going on than simple physicalism. The author closes on a more open-minded note. “Still Crystal Merzlock remembered events that occurred more than nineteen minutes after her heart stopped. Nobody has a full explanation for this phenomenon…We still don’t have all the answers.”

Thankfully, some scientists have taken up the gauntlet of legitimate, open-minded inquiry. Dr. Sam Parnia of Southhampton University has initiated a three-year study to further research the findings of Van Lommel. According to Parnia, the findings on death experiences in cardiac arrest “lead to scientific paradoxes because it appears that we have consciousness present when there is no activity of the brain.”

 

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