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Austin Cline

Weekly Poll: Are Near-Death Experiences Evidence of Life After Death?

By June 13, 2013

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Proponents of the existence of souls and an afterlife like to claim that their ideas are supported, in part, by an absence of scientific explanations for near-death experiences. Is it really the case, though, that there are no natural explanations for these experiences and, if so, that an absence of any natural explanations right now mean that supernatural explanations are made more reasonable, plausible, or credible?

The truth is that there are lots of potential causes of these experiences, all of them natural. Before people start insisting on supernatural causes they should eliminate the natural options first. Moreover, the absence of a natural explanation right now doesn't suddenly validate supernatural beliefs.

 

Life & Death:

Comments
April 3, 2009 at 3:07 pm
(1) John Hanks says:

Near death experiences are usually psychosis. They may be part of the recovery process however even though they are not evidence for an after life.

April 3, 2009 at 3:31 pm
(2) Alberto says:

Or maybe there is a “natural” life after death.

April 3, 2009 at 7:20 pm
(3) Drew says:

Or, humans fear death and will cling to anything that justifies or rationalises this wishful thinking.

Every living thing dies eventually.

April 5, 2009 at 12:58 am
(4) Beatnik Bob says:

Why would you call it a “psychosis”? Near-death experiences and mystical experiences may involve brain chemistry and so may psycosis, but if you survive a near-death experience, you are in much different shape than someone with paranoid schizophrenia.

To this list, you could also add mind-altering drugs, sensory deprivation, and extreme fasting – all cause changes in the brain and sometimes life-altering experiences, but they aren’t psychosis.

April 5, 2009 at 2:34 am
(5) Tom Edgar says:

Been close a few times. No experiences.

If anyone can replicate the experience claimed there could be a little weight.

A very prominent Australian multi millionaire Kerry Packer came back after A CLINICALLY DEAD EPISODE DURING A MAJOR OPERATION. His observation? “There was nothing out there.”

Strangely those who have these episodes only have ones that coincide with their particular religious beliefs. Packer didn’t have a belief.

July 9, 2009 at 4:26 am
(6) telson says:

Most people are probably curious about what lies ahead after death, beyond the border of death. This may be a reason why they seek knowledge from spiritism sessions or books that discuss this issue. Many have also had personal close-to-death experiences – i.e., experiences when their heart has stopped in the hospital or in connection with an accident and when they may have seen themselves as if from the outside; they may have seen the operations done to them or the entire operating room. Some may have also seen in connection with their experiences a being of light that seems to be full of ‘love and compassion’.

The major topic as comes to this conversation is indeed generally connected with the question of whether all near death experiences are positive and will everybody end up fine beyond the border in spite of the way they have lived on the Earth. Many researchers want to believe this but is it true?

http://koti.phnet.fi/elohim/Border_of_death_experiences

June 13, 2013 at 11:24 am
(7) TJOzzie says:

My daughter informed me a few days ago of a study she read where 25 hospitals recently installed signs in their emergency / operating rooms that can only be seen from above. So far, nothing from the out-of-body crowd.

June 14, 2013 at 3:24 pm
(8) Borsia says:

Ahh the great near death.
I’ve been knocked unconscious two times in my life.
The first time my cousin accidentally hit me with a baseball bat.
I saw a bright light that seemed so pure and otherworldly I can still picture it.
The second time I was in an auto accident, again unconscious, I saw the same bright light. I also seemed to be floating above myself looking down at the scene.
Neither time was I anywhere near death, or even seriously injured.

June 14, 2013 at 5:10 pm
(9) Jeanne says:

Austin: I had a strange experience when I was 6 years old. I was very sick with rheumatic fever and one night, I felt as if I was floating and then landing again very softly. Another night I felt as if I was floating above my body, only I didn’t know that it was my body, just that I had to go there. I woke up very confused. Both times, I had experiences a very high fever. I do attribute both experiences to the fever and not anything supernatural, but I can understand how someone would think that they had an out-of-body experience.

Many people who are ill report strange experiences, and most, if not all can be rationally explained, However, many people prefer to believe that they “went to heaven” and came back, or saw Jesus, or dead relatives. The problem is, the preferred beliefs are probably not correct. Comforting, yes, but not real.

June 14, 2013 at 6:11 pm
(10) Edmund Berven says:

July 2, 2010 I suffered cardiac arrest during an outpatient procedure and, after ten surgeries since, I’ve told the attending staff in the operating room: ” I saw no light or beckoning hand to indicate an afterlife, and you’d think I would have at least seen a light considering these bays of lights above the operating table.” The response from numerous individuals I’ve shared this story with has been: “That’s ’cause you don’t believe!” No, I don’t believe and am comfortable with that.

June 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm
(11) Luo says:

What possible physical causes could you hypothesise for NDEs where there are veridical elements, such for example as being able to accurately report conversations or other events in other rooms, away from where the person’s body is lying? Or being surprised at meeting a friend or relative on the other side that the person did not yet know had died? Or for the phenomenon, frequently reported, that one’s thoughts and perceptions are so much clearer during the NDE than they are in everyday reality? Or for shared NDEs, where a healthy loved one sitting with the person gets caught up in the NDE and has the same experiences?

NDEs are a natural phenomenon, and so the cause will be natural. But some people, apparently, want to limit the word “natural” to mean only “physical”.

June 18, 2013 at 9:52 pm
(12) Michael Talley says:

Near-death experiences are not evidence of life after death. Why do I say this? Because people who claim to have had these experiences were not dead. They may have been close to dying but they did not die. Their brains did not die. They are alive and talking to us.

Real evidence for life after death could only came from a truly dead person.
But we all know that is impossible. Dead people tell no tales. Once a person’s brain cells have died all body functions cease, personality, memory–all that was the individual are gone–never to be retrieved.

Michael

June 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm
(13) VIKI says:

i completely agree with the writer who says that all these ‘experiences’ are always in accord with one’s beleifs. so if one has none,like the rich man of the writer’s example,and as it happens as i myself have none,then there are never any unnatural experiences. so the rich man’s and my experience is that there is nothing after death,as is his and my beleif. yes,people see what they want to see and what they believe there is,and in case they don’t believe in anything,there will be nothing to see. simple as that. wishful thinking. shame for HOMO SAPIENS. i mean these people are homos but not sapient. i feel sorry for them.

June 24, 2013 at 10:58 am
(14) Marvin says:

(11) Luo says: NDEs are a natural phenomenon, and so the cause will be natural. But some people, apparently, want to limit the word “natural” to mean only “physical”.

What could possibly be natural but not physical?

June 30, 2013 at 9:31 pm
(15) Luo says:

In response to Marvin (14), are electric or gravitational fields physical? If so, then what are they made of? What about the auras that some people from all around the world report seeing?

There is no real physically-based theory of consciousness, apart from the somewhat feeble and totally unexplained “metaphenomenon” idea. There seems to be no plausible physical basis for it. How can physical matter appreciate a piece of Bach music?

What about the Big Bang? What caused that? Presumably, as the physical universe did not exist before then, the cause must have been non-physical.

There is no empirical or theoretical imperative to insist that there is nothing outside the physical realm, just as even several centuries ago there was no empirical or theoretical imperative to insist that there was no such thing as radio waves.

To the writers who insist that NDEs must accord with one’s pre-existing beliefs, I would suggest that they read the actual evidence. The evidence does not support that proposition. It is extremely rare, for example, for an NDE experiencer to report pearly gates, or angels with harps, even though these ideas are common in popular culture. NDE reports of atheists (and those whose NDE marked the end of their atheism) can be particularly illuminating in this regard.

July 3, 2013 at 7:43 pm
(16) Marvin says:

Luo, it cannot be denied that there are many things that can’t be explained yet. There were many more such things a century ago, and it was assumed by some that explanations were impossible.

As to appreciating Bach music, perhaps you’re not aware, but not everyone does. It may be a part of maturation for some, but others’ cultural training will cause them to find it strange and possibly even unpleasant.

I’m afraid I don’t really understand your Big Bang reference. While it may be said that the universe as we know it did not exist previously, does anyone actually suggest there was nothing?

July 10, 2013 at 8:17 pm
(17) Marvin says:

My comment to Luo in #15 hasn’t been posted yet, and I don’t remember whether I responded to “are electric or gravitational fields physical? If so, then what are they made of?”

I have no doubt electric and gravitational fields are physically generated, but the specifics go beyond my knowledge. Whether scientists are still studying these phenomena or the facts are well known, I don’t know, but I find no reason to believe there is some kind of spiritual mystery hiding here. If they aren’t understood as yet, they will be eventually if our race survives.

“What about the auras that some people from all around the world report seeing?”

All kinds of things are reported by some people and from all around the world. If auras really exist and can be detected by some people, they will someday be understood. I personally doubt they’re any more than wishful thinking used to dupe the gullible, but I’m open to evidence — that does not include anecdotes and hearsay, I hasten to add.

August 8, 2013 at 6:58 pm
(18) George Gauthier says:

All reports of near death experience are memories of what these people experienced during the NDEs, memories transcribed onto their brain circuitry during the NDE which means their brains were functioning at the time. This has nothing to do with a state where the brain not only is not functioning but may have decay via corruption to a biochemical goo.

Hence NDE’s cannot possibly tell us anything about what happens after death, only what happens during a state of extreme oxygen deprivation while we are still alive. In other words NDE are not evidence of anything of what happens after we die. Now PDE’s would be, that is post death experiences of which so far there are none in the scientific literature.
People should just ignore NDEs. It’s like astrology or ouija board.

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