The end of the near-death experience

(134 Posts)
Justshabbynochic Mon 26-Aug-13 06:55:24

I've always sat on the believer/non-believer fence.

One of my strongest beliefs in the after-life was the bafflement of scientists over near-death experiences. I would get into debates with athiests over this: "How could a person who is dead still have mental awareness to have these?!"

Well, scientific evidence has come out this week, here:
m.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23672150

I have to say, the article has really shaken me. I don't know why, because I'm sure it's not that surprising, but it's one of the things that have kept me on this side of believing in God, and now I'm feeling really confused and sad about it.

I'd like to hear from Believers (of any faith!), who can read that and tell me why it's inconsequential to them regarding their faith.

I have a fear of dying, so please be gentle if you're Athiest...reinforcing to me there is nothing after death will make me feel worse.

Thanks x

AGnu Mon 26-Aug-13 07:44:40

There's no real explanation as to why it happens though is there? Yes, there might be a sudden surge in activity which may be linked to some people having near-death experiences but we don't know what causes it. It could be the brain's physical reaction - like it's panicking because it's not getting the oxygen it needs, or it could be that the soul is leaving the body & going to heaven. Heaven sounds like a pretty mind-blowing place! wink

Either way, it's not going to affect my day-to-day faith. I've known too many people be healed from various ailments with no medical explanation after being prayed for to let something as inconsequential as someone noticing what our physical bodies do bother me. They've just made an observation, not given an explanation as to why it happens.

exoticfruits Mon 26-Aug-13 07:57:12

I don't see anything new in that and it ends by saying there is precious little known and that we should be careful about drawing conclusions.
I wasn't near death but have had an out of body experience (not drug induced) so I know that as a person you are separate from the body. I haven't seen many dead bodies but they have been shells- the person has gone.

Justshabbynochic Mon 26-Aug-13 08:54:12

Ah, yes! So even if it's physically what our bodies are doing, it doesn't necessarily explain what our soul might be doing at that point.

Thank you both. I need to ponder on it awhile.

AGnu Mon 26-Aug-13 09:25:09

Yy to what exotic said. I've only seen one dead body in my life - a baby in a hospital - & the second I glanced over I just knew something was very wrong. I don't remember seeing people upset or anything, just the baby on the bed & I instantly felt ill & had to leave the room but I couldn't understand why. It wasn't until I overheard someone coming out that I knew what had happened. There must be a difference between an alive person & a dead body for me to have had such a visceral reaction to a brief glance from the other side of the room!

Gingerdodger Mon 26-Aug-13 09:54:08

I suppose the question is what causes the brain to become so stimulated and react in such a way. This could be interpreted as a physical last hurrah or perhaps the body is responding to something we cannot understand.

I do not really read anything in this that makes the cause one way or another, just information about the behaviour of those animals tested when near death and the question as to whether this is similar for us.

Just my thoughts but hope they help.

Stripedmum Mon 26-Aug-13 17:57:40

Nah this doesn't impress me.

Ooh tell us about your experience exotic (if you feel comfortable).

exoticfruits Mon 26-Aug-13 18:53:34

It was just completely out of the blue-- I have never had one since. I expect I felt a bit faint- it was one of those days that turn out unexpectedly hot so I was wrongly dressed and had been walking very fast, I expect I felt faint. I was about 14 yrs and when I stopped I was suddenly aware that I was floating at the other side of the road- about 10 feet up in the air and looking down at myself. My friend then asked if I was OK- I must have gone pale and then I 'came back' it was very short but quite unnerving.

exoticfruits Mon 26-Aug-13 18:56:43

Not much of an experience really but the memory of it has stayed with me.

Stripedmum Mon 26-Aug-13 19:01:02

Oh God! That's bloody weird!

exoticfruits Mon 26-Aug-13 19:05:34

I am pleased not to have had it since!

exoticfruits Mon 26-Aug-13 19:07:18

I didn't mention it to the friend-I just said I was faint and needed to sit down.

Stripedmum Mon 26-Aug-13 19:09:36

And you were looking at you from above?!

I have had kid of out of body experiences through extreme anxiety. That's a bit different though. It just feels like you're slightly next to yourself or slightly above yourself. Not nice.

Stripedmum Mon 26-Aug-13 19:09:49

* kind of

exoticfruits Mon 26-Aug-13 19:17:24

Definitely from above and a distance.

MostlyLovingLurchers Mon 26-Aug-13 19:17:26

Well, it certainly shows that rats experience an intense period of brain activity following a cardiac arrest. Does it follow that there is no such thing as life after death? Of course not. It doesn't demonstrate that the rats are having a nde, only that they could be. How do we know without subjecting humans to the same treatment (i'm guessing the rats didn't come back to tell us what they were experiencing)?

This piece of research offers a possible explanation - it doesn't provide any proof one way or the other. Since science cannot detect a soul there is unlikely to be any research that explains what happens to it on death! So, if it is your belief that we do continue to exist beyond the death of our bodies (it is mine btw) there is nothing here to categorically disprove that. I would say though, that nde's don't really offer any real proof of life after death anyway - if someone is truly brain dead they tend not to come back and talk about it, and while there is still some brain activity it is always possible that this is responsible for the experience.

Regarding out of body experiences, I remember reading years ago that there was going to be a serious study into this, placing items on top of cabinets in operating theatres etc, to see if the patient could see them during an obe. Does anyone know if this ever happened and what the results were?

Stripedmum Mon 26-Aug-13 19:25:11

Yes! I can remember that study lurchers. Ooh it's on the tip of my tongue what it was called - IANDS?

happybubblebrain Mon 26-Aug-13 19:32:52

I had an out of body experience and I'm still pretty much an athiest. The mind is powerful and there are different states of it that don't confirm one way or another anything beyond this life or higher powers.

My out of body experience felt lonely and terrifying.

As an atheist I don't fear dying. Nothingness is not frightening. If I was religious I'm sure I'd be feeling more worried about the changes and where I might be headed.

exoticfruits Mon 26-Aug-13 19:59:22

Either it is life's next great adventure - or it is the end and you won't know anyway!

MostlyLovingLurchers Mon 26-Aug-13 20:05:06

Found it! Thanks Stripedmum - there was a link on the IANDS site. It is called the AWARE project and is still ongoing. Preliminary results due this autumn.

https://iands.org/news/news/front-page-news/908-aware-study-preliminary-results-due-in-the-fall.html

www.horizonresearch.org/main_page.php?cat_id=38

GingerBeerAndTinnedPeaches Mon 26-Aug-13 20:15:11

I had an NDE when I was in ICU and had a huge haemorrage. I wasn't expecting to die, but I guess the doctors were, otherwise I wouldn't have been there. I remember seeing my DH and DC, being 'pulled' away from them upwards. And then suddenly thinking, very clearly, they'll be OK, and let myself go.

Woke up a few days later, very relieved to be alive, and with no sense of God or anything like an afterlife. It was just the body and ind's way of shutting down, IME.

I am not a believer, but had been very frightened of death until then. Now I am frightened of my death for those I would leave behind - my DH and DC - but not for myself. Death is nothing.

Stripedmum Mon 26-Aug-13 20:53:03

Maybe you did die and coming back to your DH and DC is your heaven smile

headinhands Mon 26-Aug-13 21:21:13

Firstly, what we know from observing people who have had brain injuries suggests that we are our brain.

Also, generally we don't tend to start storing memories until around our 3rd birthday due to developing the necessary cognition.

Lastly, I have no recollection of the millions of years before I had a working brain so I have no reason to assume it will be different afterwards. I just won't be aware of my non existence to care!

Justshabbynochic Mon 26-Aug-13 21:26:38

The idea of nothingness terrifies me more than an afterlife. I don't know why, but I guess it's the idea that everyone has to go it alone, and it's the Great Unknown. I find it comforting that we continue on.

The idea of just stopping existing, blackness forever, really scares me.

happybubblebrain Mon 26-Aug-13 21:59:33

But you wouldn't experience the blackness forever or at all. It's not worth worrying about. Your body becomes something else, part of the earth again, so in a way it goes on living. Your mind stops. I find it hard to believe anything other than this and that's perfectly fine. Make the most of the time you have now, you are very lucky to have it.

headinhands Mon 26-Aug-13 22:28:51

You can't be terrified of something you won't experience. That's in a nutshell. You will never know what it's like to be dead because your brain won't be working. If you're going to start fretting about death you should really be stressing about all the millennia before you were born because you were effectively dead then too. But as previous poster says, make the most of what you have and be kind to the world.

Stripedmum Mon 26-Aug-13 22:32:53

Life is too absurd for it to be 'nothing'. Think about it! Emotions - what are they about?! Certainly not helpful a lot of the time.

headinhands Mon 26-Aug-13 22:55:10

A wiki page outlining one of the possible explanations for the necessity and evolution of emotions in humans

TheSecondComing Mon 26-Aug-13 23:00:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

headinhands Mon 26-Aug-13 23:08:18

Who says life is nothing? It's what anyone makes it to mean. In my case it's family and new experiences and wanting to be a force for good rather than bad.

Justshabbynochic Tue 27-Aug-13 08:01:19

TheSecondComing can I ask what your beliefs are?

bumbleymummy Tue 27-Aug-13 08:32:45

I read a very interesting article about the mind/brain separation thing. It compared it to a radio picking up on radio waves and playing music. If the radio is broken, you can't hear the music but that doesn't mean the waves aren't there. I found it very interesting. I agree with others that this study doesn't really prove anything. I think there is a lot we just don't know/understand yet.

TheSecondComing Tue 27-Aug-13 09:01:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Justshabbynochic Tue 27-Aug-13 09:16:10

Thank you.

I think I really fear the realisation that life is for nothing. There is no purpose.

headinhands Tue 27-Aug-13 09:57:27

The purpose thing, one analogy would be pets. There's no good reason to have pets but we do because its fun and we get a lot out of it so that's the purpose.

Lets ask what would be the big plan/purpose if there was one?

bumbleymummy Tue 27-Aug-13 10:02:51

I like to think we're all here to learn from/experience life. This might sound a bit weird but sometimes I think of it from an alien's point of view. As if they sent people down to earth to learn as much as they can and report back smile

bumbleymummy Tue 27-Aug-13 10:04:50

I don't mean that we are aliens (although you never know with some people!!!!) I just mean as if we are here to learn/experience life on earth and then move on to our next 'mission'.

Ok I sound like a loon! grin

bumbleymummy Tue 27-Aug-13 11:04:36

Did I scare you all away? smile

GrimmaTheNome Tue 27-Aug-13 11:17:50

There are plenty of people who have no supernatural beliefs who find their lives to be full of purpose. Whether there is an afterlife or not, this life is here for sure so make the most of it. smile

Anyway - the research won't make much difference to what most people believe either way, but its yet another of those mysterious 'things science can't explain' which now science is starting to explain.

MostlyLovingLurchers Tue 27-Aug-13 11:21:58

Head in Hands. Bit of a digression but plenty of good reasons to have pets. There is evidence that developing a relationship with dogs gave us an evolutionary advantage over Neanderthals. Cats were/are kept to keep vermin at bay. And as you have already stated, we get a lot out of keeping animals as companions, so it is hardly pointless.

Even though i believe very much in the existence of the soul, I don't think there is any great purpose other than a desire to experience life in the physical - I think of humans as a way of the universe trying to understand itself (think of the first Star Trek film when Vega/Voyager became human in order to understand itself!).

While we are living that is all we see, so understandably we cling to life. If we then exist as non-physical entities I would expect our perspectives and perceptions to be very different, and once the connection with the body is severed that it will cease to matter very much. Most eastern traditions focus on mastering the ego so that the continued existence of the self in the same format is not such an issue as it is in the west. If you practice yoga or meditation you find that the barriers between individuals begin to dissolve and you perceive that we are part of the same whole. Waves in an ocean.

Snorbs Tue 27-Aug-13 11:22:44

Life isn't "for nothing". Life is an opportunity. It's your chance to make of it what you want, to achieve what you wish to achieve, to touch other people's lives in a positive way.

Imagine that, tomorrow, someone hands you a set of wings so that you can fly wherever you want. Up mountains, over seas, along cliffs and through the clouds.

Would you bemoan the fact that when that person handed you those wings she didn't tell you what she thought you should do with them? Or would you be grateful for the astonishing opportunity to fly where you wanted to fly?

headinhands Tue 27-Aug-13 12:08:44

That's exactly what I mean loving. No one thinks there's some big hidden purpose for us to have pets. We don't need to have them but we do because there are very good reasons to have them in the now without needing to think some supernatural force is driving us to have them.

headinhands Tue 27-Aug-13 12:53:41

It's probably a messy analogy but it makes the point that that things don't have to have big driving reasons behind them for them to be very rewarding and satisfying.

fackinell Tue 27-Aug-13 13:08:17

I most definitely believe in life after death. I've had too many visitations not to. What would be the point of all our life experiences if they were for nothing. We came from somewhere, it makes sense that we go to somewhere. And just like Shabby, I'm terrified of anything otherwise. I'm not particularly religious but I am very spiritual.

Justshabbynochic Tue 27-Aug-13 14:02:45

Life is too hard for this to be it. There must be purpose behind all the suffering. That is what I want to believe.

Fackinell can you please elaborate on "visitations"?

GrimmaTheNome Tue 27-Aug-13 14:22:53

>We came from somewhere

We came from stardust. And (if you're lucky) from the love of your parents. That's enough for me. smile

>Life is too hard for this to be it. There must be purpose behind all the suffering. That is what I want to believe

For me, suffering is one of the reasons I don't believe, and don't want to. The idea that suffering is in any way part of a deity's plan strikes me as far worse than it being unplanned chance. Many sources of suffering can be alleviated by mankind's efforts - combatting disease, predicting tsunamis, negotiating peace. Part of the 'reason for being' is to do what one can towards such ends.

fackinell Tue 27-Aug-13 14:37:26

I had a dream in which my DGranda woke me (I was totally hammered and much younger) from a fire. He was screaming in my face that I had to wake up as it wasn't my time. I say bolt upright in bed and the duvet was smouldering from the heater I had stupidly lit at the bottom of the bed.

My DGran also visited me a couple of times. The most prevalent when my Dsis and I were in Bali and there was pan pipe style music on the radio. Mine stopped and Annie's song came on (DGran's fav) I ran to get my Dsis and her room had the same station but pan pipes. We ran to and fro changing channels and we just knew. I called home and discovered even with the time difference she had died at that precise moment. My ExP was like this shock

My DGran was clairvoyant and as a child I used to see Gran's aunt. She was distressed I had inherited this especially when I refused to shake her BIL's hand at Christmas dinner because he 'was going to die.' Freaked her out totally and he died a week later (I think I saw his aura.)

I could go on and on. I have huge respect for individual beliefs, these are just mine. smile

Snorbs Tue 27-Aug-13 14:40:22

Life is too hard for this to be it. There must be purpose behind all the suffering. That is what I want to believe.

Fair enough. What's stopping you from going from "This is what I want to believe" to "this is what I believe"?

MostlyLovingLurchers Tue 27-Aug-13 15:36:01

I think suffering is just part of being part of the natural world - earthquakes, floods, disease (obviously much of it is also of our own making). It is part of the experience of life. I don't think it serves a purpose.

Headinhands. I do see the point you were making. I think you could maybe say something similar about the arts - in many ways they are pointless, but we seem to have a need to express ourselves in ways that have no practical purpose.

I think it is telling that the likes of Buddha and Lao Tzu have very little to say about life after death. Their view was that you cannot know what death is so there is little point on dwelling on it. The important thing was how you live your life - they offer different paths through life but both take you to a place where death is no longer something to fear.

Justshabbynochic Tue 27-Aug-13 18:49:51

Grimma where did the stardust come from?

chickydoo Tue 27-Aug-13 19:11:58

I am a fence sitter
But..... Recently my DM died. She had massive brain damage due to a bleed, and was in a care home.
A day or so before she died I was talking to her ( she could no longer talk, swallow etc) she was on no medication at all.
I told her I knew the " real" mum I had known all my life was in that broken old shell somewhere. She opened her eyes, looked at me. ( she hadn't opened her eyes for days) and squeezed my hand hard ( with the hand that had been totally paralysed for 3 years)
She understood what I was saying ( hearing I think goes last) I think she was telling me the "real" non physical mum was there, & was Ok.
Mum didn't respond again and died 24 hrs later.
I was with her when she died, but I think something had left the room when she squeezed my hand.

I still fence sit, but am open to possibilities. We do need to live each day as if it's our last, but we just don't know for sure what's next if anything.

Justshabbynochic Tue 27-Aug-13 19:26:06

That's a lovely story, thank you for sharing, Chickydoo.

As it so happens I was thinking about all this on the bus today and spontaneously asked God for a sign if He was there. I'm not in the habit of trying to converse with God (unless in a crisis!) so did it only half-seriously.

At that minute I looked up and there was an advert from some Christian group or something with a quote:

"God always keeps his promises."

confused

To be honest, every time I have these big moments of doubt in my life, I seem to get bashed over the head, metaphorically, with reminders that He or She or It is there.

Stripedmum Tue 27-Aug-13 19:57:48

I have weird things like that Shabby. Songs on the radio appearing at apt moments etc. White feathers are a thing with me. I chose DSs nursery recently and just as me and DH were there checking it out with him a white feather floated down and landed in the middle of the toys he was playing with! It felt really special.

I also agree with life being about learning lessons - forgiveness, tolerance, etc etc.

bumbleymummy Tue 27-Aug-13 21:25:05

Grimma, maybe our purpose is to rid the world of suffering? One small bit at a time. smile

GrimmaTheNome Tue 27-Aug-13 21:28:28

>Grimma where did the stardust come from?

Stars. Before which ... that's a question for physics/cosmology, not philosophy/religion/spirituality. Another of those former mysteries yielding to science.

ivykaty44 Tue 27-Aug-13 21:31:51

They have tested rats for brain activity and then drawn some pretty large leaps to switch that to humans and near death experiences.

How do people who have NDE see what is happening in the room they are in with themselves on a table being worked on - even if the brain is at a heightened state how can you explain those cases where people have so many times looked down on themselves being brought back to life?

bumbleymummy Tue 27-Aug-13 21:35:38

I'd like to know that too Ivy. I think people don't like admitting that there are things we don't yet know/can't ex

expatinscotland Tue 27-Aug-13 21:35:48

You're either dead or you're not. Dead people don't come back. Ever.

bumbleymummy Tue 27-Aug-13 21:36:25

Can't explain so they jump to conclusions and try to force things into boxes based on what we do know now...

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 27-Aug-13 22:10:45

First off Just, I am a believer, so bear that in mind when you read my response, although I'm not sure what difference it ultimately makes.

The study that you link shows high brain activity when rats are close to death. This is documented using brain scans. Is this really such a surprise?

Endings are emotional, cognitive and behavioral occurrences. When we end relationships, move house, leave work etc. we are faced with many and conflicting emotions and thoughts. Happiness, sadness, disappointment, joy, excitement and anticipation. Given this, I am not surprised that at end of life the brain lights up. Even when we leave a party we experience a number of thoughts and feelings and demonstrate different complex behaviors. We have developed an entire etiquette system to deal with endings.

What follows death is unknown. There are many theories, religious, spiritual and scientific. The religious and spiritual beliefs are pretty well known: heaven, hell, reincarnation, purgatory etc. The basic scientific belief is that the atoms that make up your body are broken down and re-used until the universe (which started), ends.

Apart from the hell thing, spiritual, religious and (most) scientific theories agree that All Will Be One Again. We started as one in god or Big Bang and we will end as one.

You say Just, that you fear "nothingness". What is nothingness? Does it even exist?smile

fackinell Tue 27-Aug-13 22:15:33

Exactly, Ivy. So many people repeat complex procedures and what was said in the room. Nobody will ever convince me otherwise and if I die and there is nothing, then I won't know any difference.

Each to their own but I am a believer in the afterlife and it's a huge comfort.

headinhands Tue 27-Aug-13 22:37:47

Can't explain so they jump to conclusions and try to force things into boxes based on what we do know now

It's not about jumping to conclusions. It's about saying 'as far as we know there is nothing to suggest that any part of us survives after the brain dies". We're not denying any evidence to the contrary, it just isn't there to begin with.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 27-Aug-13 22:52:51

That's not quite true Head, there is definitely life after death. Quite a bit of us survives, even in ash form. The question is if consciousness exists after the death of the body.

That, like String Theory, is open to discussion and debate. It is a belief. Something that seeks to explain what we don't know in relation to what we do know. Some beliefs have more credence than others but in the end it all comes down to belief, not knowledge.

bumbleymummy Tue 27-Aug-13 23:05:02

Actually there are a few things to suggest that consciousness survives deaths - suggest not prove but I'm happy enough with that for now smile

headinhands Tue 27-Aug-13 23:23:23

I should have been more specific when I said life. I guess I meant personal conscious. Obviously I agree that many of my atoms have probably been part of another human prior to them being part of me, probably even within my own lifetime seeing how we are renewed approximately every 7 years via cell regenration. I quite like that.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 27-Aug-13 23:33:49

So do I Head.smile

When it comes down to it though, the question is "does consciousness exist after body death?". The answer is No one knows. We all have our beliefs, but the truth is we just don't know. And I like that.grin

What I don't like so much is when people state belief as fact.sad

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 08:49:15

I wouldn't say my position was a belief. My position on life after death is the same as my position on dragons or similar. I don't have any evidence that either are true. Until I am presented with some then it is logical to assume that it's not true. If I told you I could fly would your rejection of my claim be a belief in itself or just a logical position based on the evidence around you.

LongGoneBeforeDaylight Wed 28-Aug-13 09:00:09

Shabby I feel just the same as you about death and the aloneness of it.

Justshabbynochic Wed 28-Aug-13 09:04:20

LongGone smile, I'm glad I'm not the only one. Are you a Believer?

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 09:11:14

To feel alone you'd need to have a functioning brain though. Did you feel alone for the millions of years before you existed?

Justshabbynochic Wed 28-Aug-13 09:41:36

headinhands with all due respect, you're not getting it. It's not that I am afraid of feeling alone for forever, it's the fact that as a human being who loves, feels, and is conscious of impending death, unlike other animals, I fear the idea of shutting my eyes some day and that's it.

My memories are gone, my loved ones are gone (to me), the meaning of life is gone.

That makes me sad and fearful of dying.

I would like to believe that life here is a learning experience for something greater and that when I close my eyes I'll be welcomed there. It's a lot more comforting than to think I will just go away forever. The idea of that is scary to me.

Nowhere have I said I believe I will exist in blackness or nothingness. I know I won't be aware then, but I am aware NOW.

LongGoneBeforeDaylight Wed 28-Aug-13 09:42:45

I worry about the moment before I die when I may know I'm dying and leaving everybody hmm

LongGoneBeforeDaylight Wed 28-Aug-13 09:43:34

I'm an atheist I think, but I would love to believe in god and heaven - sadly I just don't...

Justshabbynochic Wed 28-Aug-13 09:51:11

Dione thank you for the above post on Endings. Something to think about. "All will be One Again."

I like that.

Justshabbynochic Wed 28-Aug-13 10:33:16

The Golden Girls episode this morning was all about this "is there life after death?" debate. Another sign??

Haha!

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 11:11:20

No worries Just. I was addressing the fear you have now when I explained about the brain etc. sorry for any misunderstanding.

Justshabbynochic Wed 28-Aug-13 11:36:55

It's a stupid thing to worry about, I know, especially if this truly is it.

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 11:47:49

It's thanks to our HUGE brains that we have the luxury of worrying about death and the meaning of life. Forget death though, wasps are where it's at if you want to taste fear. I totally ruined a picnic with friends yesterday with my relentless. 'OMFG get it OFF me, is it ON me???, is there something in my HAIR???, has it gone???'. Even the kids were looking at me like confused.

Pachacuti Wed 28-Aug-13 11:59:57

ivykaty44, no one having an out of body experience has ever been able to report back on something they would be able to see from their elevated "out of body" position but not from their actual "in body" position.

Under some circumstance the brain processing sensory inputs differently and producing a subjective "out of body" feeling -- yes, absolutely, plenty of evidence. An actual independent existence outside the body -- none at all.

bumbleymummy Wed 28-Aug-13 12:04:59

I've read a few accounts where people have seen things out of their bodies that they couldn't have seen otherwise.

Stripedmum Wed 28-Aug-13 13:09:05

Read up on Anita Moorjani for 'evidence'. Her story is fascinating.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 28-Aug-13 13:09:34

>"does consciousness exist after body death?".

At some point, I don't doubt science will explain how consciousness arises as a physical/chemical phenomenon. So effectively knocking dualism on the head - no 'ghost in the machine', just the 'machine'. Of course people may still choose to believe in consciousness after death, but without the machine how would that be possible?

ivykaty44 Wed 28-Aug-13 13:14:44

pachacuti - thats interesting,

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 14:23:09

Head, you may not consider it a belief, but that's exactly what it is. The difference is while most people share your beliefs regarding dragons, when it comes to life after death, people (including you) believe many different things. You believe that nothing happens, others believe that something happens.

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 14:39:35

It's not a belief. It's a rejection of claims that have no evidence. As for more people believing LAD theories than dragons. It doesn't matter wether 1 or 1 million people believe something If it has no evidence. It's still groundless.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 28-Aug-13 14:41:21

Dione - yes, but its a belief of the orbiting teapot type.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 15:10:07

But that's the thing about beliefs, they don't need evidence. If there was evidence, they would be seen as facts, not beliefs. Also, when it comes to beliefs, one person's evidence may not be seen as such by others. For example there are psychic investigators out there looking into ghosts, evidence of reincarnation etc. They will tell you that they have evidence and some publish their findings. Essentially it will come down to the beliefs of the reader whether or not to accept the findings as "evidence".

Head, I may be mistaken here, but you approach such questions as the OP posted here, not with an open mind (it's possible but we don't know) but one that is influenced by your belief that there is no LAD.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 15:13:54

Grimma, I don't know anyone who has claimed experience of an orbiting teapot. I have encountered people who claim to have experienced, what for them, is evidence of LAD. Indeed history and literature is full of them.

Justshabbynochic Wed 28-Aug-13 15:20:23

Also, your fear of being stung by a wasp...it's because it might sting you. My fear trumps your fear cos there's no might to death. grin

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 15:33:51

I don't have a belief that there is no afterlife. I just don't accept the claims because there isn't any evidence for it. And by evidence I mean repeatable and testable yada yada. For me to believe something there needs to be evidence for it. I just find that works best for me and gives me confidence that I'm not believing stuff just because I want to, or because other people do or whatever.

If I say to myself 'ooh that persons recount of their experience is enough for me to think that xyz could really be true' then the floodgates open and I have no intellectual reason to reject anyone's personal testimony about anything at any time. And then it all gets a bit silly. So I like to have a system to work our what is likely and that system is hard evidence.

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 15:34:40

But wasps are really stingy! They're like flying scorpions. <quivers>

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 15:41:58

Head, what you seem to be saying is that you require scientific proof. You do know that you're probably not going to find it on a Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality board don't you?grin

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 15:43:31

So Dione your threshold for credibility is personal testimony. So you've got someone claiming to have had an NDE/OBE and another who says there is a half man/half moth type creature living in the woods behind his house and another claiming to have fairies in their garden. Would you feel all claims equally credible?

How would you determine plausibility? And remember numbers of testimony is nether here nor there, a thing doesn't become more true depending on numbers of believers and vice versa.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 28-Aug-13 15:45:11

Discussing the nature of evidence and scientific proof surely can fit under philosophy.

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 15:46:44

You never know, someone might point me in the direction of new evidence although I suspect it would be all over the news if there were a new discovery.

And besides, philosophy is about debating the nature of reality which is what we're doing.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 15:47:48

Also, I am not saying that you should believe anything that someone else tells you. We have reasoning and judgement and should use them. What I am saying is that you do not approach the questions with an open mind and then decide based on evidence and testimony given at the time. You approach it with your belief foremost in your mind.

JemimaPuddle Wed 28-Aug-13 16:11:19

I completely understand OP.
I have a fear of dying which only came about after having my DCs and losing my dad.
I do believe but worry about blackness & particularly those moments before you actually die. How terrifying sad

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 16:15:28

I can't say that there is no life after death. What I can say is that I don't have any reason to believe it at this point. Until I am presented with some testable evidence I am unable to change my position. I can't think of a better way to approach reality.

Justshabbynochic Wed 28-Aug-13 16:17:33

Jemima my first feelings like this came when my grandmother died when I was 16. I was actually put om anti-anxiety meds due to developing panic attacks over it.

I was then cured for years and came off the meds when I was 19 or 20, and didn't have any problems until recently. I have a 6 month old DD so I think, like you, having children is what's changed for me.

I don't panic over it but in the darkness of night when everyones asleep I sometimes get this overwhelming frightened feeling when it dawns on me that I will leave my kids some day.

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 16:27:54

Dione can you talk me through the reason and logic you use when you wish to determine the credibility of something which there is no evidence for?

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 16:31:28

Exactly Head, it's your belief and why should you change it? Just as I have mine, Ghandi had his and the OP has hers.smile

JemimaPuddle Wed 28-Aug-13 16:31:58

Shabby leaving my kids really scares me too and brings home just how scared my dad must've been knowing he was leaving me and my db sad

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 16:51:51

Jemima, I understand that fear, indeed it is one that is shared by many. When my aunt was dying she seemed to be in so much distress. But her sons and husband held her and told her that they loved her, that they would be ok and that it was time for her to go. She relaxed momentarily and then died.

Sometimes the living have to be brave in order to let the dying person die in peace. So perhaps you and the OP might find solace in creating strong, brave children who will naturally mourn your passing, but who will ultimately be ok because of the lessons you taught them. They in turn will teach their children the same and whether or not there is an afterlife, your ideas and your love will continue long after your body has gone.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 28-Aug-13 17:32:58

Couldn't agree more with that, Dione - beautifully put! smile

JemimaPuddle Wed 28-Aug-13 17:52:49

Thanks Dione that's a lovely way to think of it.

I guess I am more scared of leaving them when they are so young (3&1) than as adults.

bumbleymummy Wed 28-Aug-13 18:16:46

Grimma, do you believe that radio waves cease to exist when you turn the radio off?

GrimmaTheNome Wed 28-Aug-13 18:18:50

>Grimma, do you believe that radio waves cease to exist when you turn the radio off?

No, of course not. I believe they cease to be created if you turn the transmitter off.

bumbleymummy Wed 28-Aug-13 18:20:17

Ah, but that assumes that the body is the transmitter wink

GrimmaTheNome Wed 28-Aug-13 18:24:35

Per my 13:09:34 post my expectation is that there will be proof for this assumption (there already is, to some extent - changes to the brain's physical and chemical makeup certainly alter consciousness). Is there a shred of evidence to the contrary?

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 18:43:48

Oh Head, I missed your 16:27 post. Apologies blush. I tend to use my knowledge of the person who is telling me. As long as they are not asking me to change my beliefs or being superior or preachy about it, I don't need proof. I don't need to believe what they do in order to believe that they had whatever experience they're telling me about. I'm ok with the diversity of the human experience. It's one of the things I live about my species.

For example, my sister and my brother go to dinner. Sis says says the food was awful. Bro says that the food was great. Who do I believe? I believe both, but personally I will not be eating there. If my Bro wishes to prove his point, he can take me there and buy me lunch.grin.

bumbleymummy Wed 28-Aug-13 18:49:15

I believe there is actually Grimma, I remember reading some very interesting stuff a while ago. Must try to dig it up again.

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 18:54:53

Thanks for the reply. I don't doubt that some have experiences that make them think they are out of their body and so on, indeed there are explanations for why someone might think they are having an OBE or NDE or seeing a ghost but they involve psychology, physiology and physics, not the supernatural. I'm not saying 'you say you had an OBE/saw a ghost/witnessed a miracle but I think you're lying' I'm saying 'there is an explanation for your experience that doesn't require anything paranormal'. That said there are even people who greatly embellish or even totally fabricate a story for any number of reasons. All that aside I've yet to hear of an experience that can't be explained

Justshabbynochic Wed 28-Aug-13 18:54:57

Please do, bumble smile

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 19:03:47

Remember the Essex Lion? The witnesses were so convinced that the police called in a big cat expert I think? Turned out to be a large moggy. I suspect the heat rising off the stubble of the corn field caused a distorting/magnifying affect that made the cat seem much much larger. The witnesses didn't lie but their interpretation was wrong.

bumbleymummy Wed 28-Aug-13 19:12:36

There may be a possible explanation that doesn't involve the paranormal but that doesn't mean it's the only one - or the correct one for that matter smile If we only based our beliefs on what we know to be true at the time we would never discover anything new...

Snorbs Wed 28-Aug-13 21:05:33

True. On the other hand, if you have one possible explanation that is broadly in agreement with generally accepted laws of physics, psychology, medicine etc and another that would require a top-to-bottom rewrite of pretty much all of physics, psychology, medicine etc then the one that fits in with existing knowledge is more likely to be the correct one.

It's important to keep an open mind but one needs to be careful that it's not so open that ones brains fall out.

bumbleymummy Wed 28-Aug-13 21:30:29

Iirc there is currently a bit of a rethink going ok around some ideas in physics - apparently some new discoveries aren't tying in with what we currently know to be true.

Snorbs Wed 28-Aug-13 22:12:25

There's always rethinks going around all sorts of ideas in science. That's how science works. New ideas come up all the time. What matters is evidence. If the evidence supports a new theory better than an old one then great. The new theory might be solid enough to stand by itself or you might get new some experiments to find out for sure one way or another.

But you need a lot of solid evidence to throw out the huge amounts of science that would need to be discarded if NDEs turn out to be caused by people's spirits literally leaving their bodies and roaming around before returning. By contrast, no science would need to be discarded if NDEs turn out to be caused by more prosaic reasons such as dreaming.

So far all the serious scientific research into NDEs tend to suggest that they're purely psychological and have no basis in reality.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 22:19:20

Don't worry Snorbs, there is little risk that my brain will fall out. I am still in possession of all the critical faculties and skepticism that I had when I was an Athiest. I absolutely still support scientific exploration into unexplained occurrences. It's just that now I have an awareness of something else as well. If anything, my faith has increased my thirst for knowledge and understanding.smile

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 22:22:06

Snorbs, are you saying that evidence for NDE would be present if there was no discernible psychological reaction in the brain?confused

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 10:04:39

Sometimes scientists do explore paranormal claims which is obviously a contentious area. I read about a large number of hospitals being involved in a NDE/OBE experiment where researchers had placed pictures on shelves that were too high to be seen by someone moving about normally but could be seen by someone floating higher up. The plan being that someone recounting an OBE could be asked to recall details of the room from above.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 29-Aug-13 10:28:49

HeadinHands - that is the study I linked to earlier:

www.horizonresearch.org/main_page.php?cat_id=38

It is still ongoing but I think the basic conclusion was that more research was needed! I think studies in this area are always going to be flawed to an extent because of the unpredictability of when an event will occur and of course the opportunity for fraud.

If someone has an experience spontaneously then it is virtually impossible to verify. If they have one as part of an experiment there is still always going to be room for other explanations. The patient having the experiment may have other things on their mind (so to speak) than looking for pictures or word cards on top of cabinets, so they may have genuinely had an experience but not noticed the props. If you brief the patient beforehand there is the problem of the patient being influenced by the expectation of something happening (not to mention the fear that their hcp's think they are going to nearly die). You could also argue that hospital staff who knew of the experiment had talked to the patient beforehand or after.

All the cases of NDE that I have read have the same fundamental problem. They are, by definition, nearly dead not actually dead. While there is any brain activity whatsoever it is always possible that the brain is responsible for the experience. I am certainly not saying that people do not have the experience - I have had an OBE myself that I posted about on here recently. I just don't think the evidence is there to use this as proof for life after death. The results of the above study are out in the next few months.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 29-Aug-13 10:29:26
headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 10:57:51

The ethics council are very stringent and reckon that the researchers looked at all the potential issues you outlined and worked on safeguards. Dd designed a small questionnaire for part of her dissertation and even that had to be approved so think they're super hot on this sort of thing or it invalidates any findings.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 12:43:07

Dead people don't come back. Ever.

Tell that to him expat

He was pronounced dead at the scene. Tarpaulin was put over the car by the emergency services.

yy you could put it down to brain waves/whatever - but which is the chicken and which is the egg?

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 29-Aug-13 12:50:46

I hope so. I think they will still have the problem that the patient may not notice the trigger objects despite having an experience. I can imagine that your attention would be elsewhere! When i had my OBE i noticed some things in great detail but was completely oblivious to some fairly major things - i couldn't have told you anything about the car that hit me for example, not until afterwards, but it didn't mean that I wasn't hit by a car. However, you would expect at least some subjects to notice the objects - if even one person did and all other explanations could be ruled out, and all scans showed that the person met the criteria for clinical death, then that would be quite profound.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 29-Aug-13 12:57:46

Springy - he had his pulse taken at the scene of the accident. That is not sufficient to confirm someone is clinically dead and has no brain activity.

expatinscotland Thu 29-Aug-13 13:58:21

Exactly, Mostly.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 14:17:33

This is why they aren't just testing one person in one hospital. There will be lots of opportunities for the images to be seen. Iirc many OBEees do mention lots of objects they could see which I suspect is why the researchers have chosen this method because its a feature of OBEs, that is, the recalling of non consequential details.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 29-Aug-13 15:34:36

Apparently in a US radio interview January last year Dr Sam Parnia, who is leading the study, said the following about the results so far:

In the AWARE study, Parnia says only 10% (400 or so) actually survived their cardiac arrest. One case for sure (veridical evidence) strongly suggests consciousness continues to exist after death. He states only about 7% in his study – those people who were truly DEAD, not nearly dead – who survived could recall their actual-death-experience. And the percentage who had the OBE component – able to perceive their physical surroundings out-of-body – was much lower (about 1% according to his NPR interview). Work/the study is still continuing, and they are adapting the experiment as they learn more along the way.

However careful the methodology, I don't think it will satisfy the skeptics. Have a read of this:

www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=54&t=19749&sid=8a9694e174c65bbb39732fc425a01344&start=40

GrimmaTheNome Thu 29-Aug-13 15:44:22

Begs the question how you define 'truly dead'.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 16:13:50

If the data shows clear testable and repeatable evidence that our mind can exist outside our brain in the same way evidence shows that, say asbestos damages our lungs then it would be difficult to deny it.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 29-Aug-13 16:18:09

I think that is the biggest stumbling block. Brain death is defined as the irreversible loss of all functions of the brain, including the brainstem. With NDE the process is reversible, so by definition the patient cannot be brain dead. Surely?

Stripedmum Sat 31-Aug-13 08:31:11

Marking place. Want to come back later and read through everyone's responses.

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