Saturday, February 16, 2008

Near Death Experiences

I've always been a tad skeptical about near death experiences, but it seems to me that there has to be something to the phenomena. There are just too many cases to write them off as hallucinations.

Dr. Egnor and Dr. Novella have been debating the mind/brain correlation. Dr. Novella is a materialist who believes that the brain controls the mind...I guess he thinks there is really no difference between them. Dr. Egnor seems to take the stance that the brain and the mind are separate.

Of course, I have no background in that field, so I'm just reading along for kicks, but something that Dr. Novella said got me thinking...

For example, if the brain causes the mind then: there will be no documented mental function in the absence of brain function; altering the brain biologically will alter the mind functionally; mental development will correlate with brain development; and mental activity will correlate with brain activity (this holds up no matter what method we use to look at brain activity - EEG to look at electrical activity, PET scanning to look at metabolic activity, SPECT scanning to look at blood flow, and functional MRI to look at metabolic and neuronal activity).

One of the commenters responded:

“For example, if the brain causes the mind then: there will be no documented mental function in the absence of brain function…”

Wow. I had never thought about the issue quite this way. I already disbelieved in the soul, based on the weakness of evidence in favor of it, but evidence in favor of the non-existence of the soul is new to me. You’ve really expressed this clearly. Thanks, Dr. Novella.

I was thinking that perhaps this is something that we can only speculate about because who's to know whether there is "mind" activity that is not detectable after the physical death of a person?

I could be off my rocker here, but wouldn't near death experiences lend some support to mind function after the brain is dead?

Some scientists write these experiences off by saying that NDEs are just hallucinations from a brain under tremendous stress from injury and trauma. But what they are helpless to explain is how these people who experiences a NDE can re-call and describe in vivid details what they saw and heard while laying dead in the hospital. They shock the doctors with exact details of what the monitoring machines displayed while connected to their body! Many people who have had NDEs are able to accurately describe what family members were wearing and talking about even though they were not allowed in the room where the body was being given electrical shock to try and restart the heart and breathing.

The thing that I found interesting was the similarity of events of those people who had a Near Death Experience. People who never met each other from different parts of the world all sharing the same testimony of floating out of body, entering a tunnel and seeing a white light filled with total love, or others having a hell-like experience.

Here's an example of a young child recalling amazing details about her experience.

Here's one with a gentlemen who experiences both the sensations of heaven and hell.

There are endless examples of these experiences...must be something to it.

Just a side note: I've mentioned that my Grandfather turned 100 this past November. When his wife died, which was about 15 years ago, he had an interesting experience. He's a farmer here in Kansas, and about 3 months after my Grandmother's death, he was out in the pasture doing chores, and he experienced a very strange phenomena. Out of no where he had a vision of his wife and his mother both right in front him. They were only there for a moment, but it was as if they were letting him know they were at peace. These type of experiences happen to people all the time. I know many write them off as hallucinations caused by grief, fear or drug induced, but it's difficult to write off every one of these experiences.