Jul
9

Why death is not the end.

By: Scott Youngren


Vision of walk into the light
Woman is walking towards glaring light. it May symbolise escape, looking for exit or fredom and even death or clinical death . Psychodelic vision.

“We have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world.”

–Nobel Prize winning neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles.

——————–

If there is no reality beyond the physical world, it stands to reason that our existence as sentient beings ends when our physical bodies die. And denying the existence of anything transcending the physical (or material) plane is the route most often taken by those wishing to do away with notions such as the existence of consciousness outside of the body (i.e. “the soul”).

The perception that there is nothing beyond the physical, material realm is a persistent one in part because our experience would tend to suggest that it is so. After all, I cannot perceive a soul, or God, etc…with my five senses, but I certainly can perceive the chair I am sitting in.

Indeed, the persistence of this deeply seated, culturally situated belief is anchored by its roots in the concepts of reality passed down to modern man from the ancient Greek philosophical tradition known as “atomism” (founded by the ancient Greek philosopher Democritus). This point can be illustrated by an examination of the Greek word “atom:”

“Atom” is constructed from two different words: “a,” meaning “un” and “tomos,” meaning “cut-able“…hence, “un-cut-able.” The ancient Greek “atomist” stance that the atom is irreducible (un-cut-able) betrays the atomists’ belief that the material realm is the most irreducible, and therefore fundamental plane of existence. But modern science (with the help of atom smashers) has shown the atom to be far from irreducible.

One of history’s most prominent apologists for atheism, Bertrand Russell, helped to articulate materialism (the belief that reality is fundamentally material) into a philosophical worldview when he said, “all experience is likely to resemble the experience we know.”  Existence of life after death in eternal realms such as heaven and hell can be easily dismissed as fairy tale using this line of reasoning because such concepts don’t “resemble the experience we know” through our five senses. But Russell would have been well advised to take to heart Hamlet’s reminder that “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

And what Shakespeare knew intuitively when he wrote Hamlet, Nobel Prize winning physicist Anthony Hewish knew logically when he wrote:

“The ghostly presence of virtual particles defies rational common sense and is non-intuitive for those unacquainted with physics. Religious belief in God, and Christian belief that God became Man around two thousand years ago, may seem strange to common-sense thinking. But when the most elementary physical things behave in this way, we should be prepared to accept that the deepest aspects of our existence go beyond our common-sense intuitions.”

“The materialistic base of our age has become so pervasive that it has given people grave doubts about their ability to reach beyond the physical world. Many first-rate scientists have passed beyond such doubts, knowing that we cannot be confined to a space-time box. But the average person is influenced by popular science which is a generation behind the times and is prejudiced against the nonmaterial world.”

In his book Life After Death: The Evidence, Dinesh D’Souza exposes Russell’s very common error of reasoning to the light of modern physics:

“We experience space in three dimensions and time in one dimension; Einstein brought them both together into the new four-dimensional entity of spacetime. Scientists [post-Einstein] tell us that reality is divided not into four but rather eleven dimensions, ten of space and one of time. So where are the other dimensions? Well, string theorists say they are hidden dimensions, somehow positioned so that they are invisible and inaccessible to us. As physicist Lisa Randall puts it, ‘We are in this three-dimensional flatland…Our world is stuck in this three-dimensional universe, although extra dimensions exist. So we live in a three-dimensional slice of a higher-dimensional world.'”

Indeed, using his flawed reasoning as a guide, Bertrand Russell became a purveyor of what George Gilder called “the Materialist Superstition.”  Gilder poignantly states that “the central fact of the 20th century…is the overthrow of matter.” He goes on to say that “scientists no longer see the foundation of all matter as inert, blind, impenetrable particles. Rather, physicists now agree that matter derives from waves, fields, and probabilities. To comprehend nature, we need to stop thinking of the world as basically material and begin imagining it as a manifestation of consciousness…”

Einstein knew this, and that was what led him to comment,

“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe–a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”

So did the Nobel Prize winning physicist Max Planck (who made the crucial scientific contribution of founding quantum theory), which is why he said,

“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”

Planck also said, “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

Similarly, the knighted physicist Sir James Jeans said:

“The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a machine.  Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we ought rather hail it as the governor of the realm of matter.”

Jeffrey M. Schwartz, a Research Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, writes: “The shift in understanding inspired by neuroplasticity and the power of mind to shape brain undermines the claim of materialist determinism that humans are essentially nothing more than fleshy computers spiting out the behavioral results of some inescapable neurogenetic program …Modern physics and contemporary neuroscience reply that they are wrong. The teachings of faith have long railed against the perils of the materialist mindset. Now neuroscience and physics have joined them at the barricades.”

Much as the science of Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo dismantled the illusion that the earth is the center of the universe, modern physics has dismantled the illusion that our reality is fundamentally material. Richard Foster makes this point in his book Celebration of Discipline:

“The materialistic base of our age has become so pervasive that it has given people grave doubts about their ability to reach beyond the physical world.  Many first-rate scientists have passed beyond such doubts, knowing that we cannot be confined to a space-time box.  But the average person is influenced by popular science which is a generation behind the times and is prejudiced against the nonmaterial world.”

And if nature is a manifestation of consciousness, and not matter; then our existence too is grounded in consciousness rather than matter. Consciousness preceded matter, and matter arose from consciousness, not vice versa. The claim that consciousness cannot exist beyond our physical bodies does not hold water because our physical bodies are themselves manifestations of consciousness. Believing that a person’s consciousness dies with their body is dependent upon the assumption that consciousness exists only as a product of physical (brain) processes. Jeffrey M. Schwartz, a Research Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, however, reveals this assumption to be discredited in his book The Mind and the Brain:

“The shift in understanding inspired by neuroplasticity and the power of mind to shape brain undermines the claim of materialist determinism that humans are essentially nothing more than fleshy computers spiting out the behavioral results of some inescapable neurogenetic program. ‘The brain is going to do what the brain was always going to do,’ say the materialists. But modern physics and contemporary neuroscience reply that they are wrong. The teachings of faith have long railed against the perils of the materialist mindset. Now neuroscience and physics have joined them at the barricades.”

In a fascinating documentary entitled The Day I Died, the BBC explores this understanding of the mind and brain as separate in light of what are known as near-death experiences. In the annals of near-death experiences are documented cases in which conscious awareness appears to continue past the complete cessation of brain activity. (The best places for a more detailed exploration of NDEs are iands.org and nderf.org ).

Researchers featured in this documentary propose the theory that the brain can better be understood as a sort of radio receiver for consciousness, rather than the producer of consciousness (as in the popular brain-as-computer model). In this theory, consciousness emanates from another realm, but is anchored to the physical realm by the brain.  (Please view this brief video from the Today Show featuring NDE researcher Dr. Jeffrey Long and and NDE experiencer.  Please also view this NDE that occurred to a Harvard University neuroscientist).

 

 

 

Please click here to read and view videos about the NDE experienced by a Harvard University neuroscientist, in which he encountered God.

[As an aside, it should be noted that atheists experiencing NDEs often return to traditional religion after their experience. Several such fascinating cases are documented by the following videos:  atheist NDE 1 , atheist NDE 2 , atheist NDE 3 , NDE: Man Visits Heaven and Hell]  Additionally, please visit this website for further NDE testimonies regarding the existence of heaven and hell.

The brain-as-computer model does not hold water philosophically, either. In his book The Devil’s Delusion, philosophy and mathematics professor David Berlinski reminds us that “a machine is a material object, a thing, and as such its capacity to do work is determined by the forces governing its nature and by its initial conditions. Before an inclined plane can do work, it must be inclined…An inclined plane cannot incline itself. This pattern, along with its problem, recurs whenever machines are at issue, and it returns with a vengeance whenever computers are invoked as models for the human mind.”

Berlinski’s point becomes more clear when dovetailed with insights from computer science. To this end, we return to George Gilder:

“The usual materialist assumption is that the brain – the hardware – comes first and the mind somehow emerges from it. But the computer offers a contrary example. The computer design is itself a software design and determines the structure of the electronic circuitry that constitutes the computer…It is the human mind that brings meaning to the syntax of the machine, whether hardware, software or wetware. The higher-level languages of software lend significance to the dumb electrons circulating through the system.”

Reduced to its simplest form, Gilder’s argument can be stated as such: The hardware (the brain) is nothing but a physical construct of the software (the mind). It is a flaw of reasoning to suggest that the reverse is true.  Consciousness is not the product of the brain anymore than radio waves are the product of a radio receiver.

—————–

For further reading on this subject, please consult The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul by Montreal Neurologic Institute neuroscientist Mario Beauregard.

Also, please review the article entitled Is Your Brain Really Necessary? by Roger Lewin, M.D.  This article provides strong evidence that consciousness does not reside in the brain.

—————–

Additional quotes relevant to this subject matter appear below:

“The materialist critics argue that insuperable difficulties are encountered by the hypothesis that immaterial mental events can act in any way on material structures such as neurons. Such a presumed action is alleged to be incompatible with the conservation laws of physics, in particular of the first law of thermodynamics. This objection would certainly be sustained by nineteenth century physicists, and by neuroscientists and philosophers who are still ideologically in the physics of the nineteenth century, not recognizing the revolution wrought by quantum physicists in the twentieth century.”

Nobel Prize winning neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles.

.

“The human brain cannot account for the yawning chasm between [the] utterly unique characteristics of humans and the repetitive instincts of animals. Therefore, a non-physical addition must unite with the human brain, converting it into the human mind.”

“. . . The human brain cannot explain the human mind—there must be a non-physical ingredient, beyond our microscopes, test tubes, electrodes and computers. To the truly open-minded individual, it is fruitless to physically rationalize the uniqueness of mind. There must be a non-physical essence—a ‘spirit’—in man.”

“. . . Evolutionary theorists point to the similarity among human and ape brains to corroborate their views. It is ironic that, in reality, they have stumbled on to the most significant scientific observation in history, irrefutably attesting to the non-physical component which converts the output of the human brain into mind. Without this non-physical factor, man could be nothing more than a super-ape, more intelligent than the chimp to the same degree that the chimp is more intelligent than a less complex mammal.”

–Brain researcher Robert L. Kuhn, who holds a PhD in anatomy and brain research from UCLA.

.

“Although the content of consciousness depends in large measure on neuronal activity, awareness itself does not…  To me, it seems more and more reasonable to suggest that the mind may be a distinct and different essence.”

–Famed neurosurgeon and brain researcher Wilder Penfield.

.

“Descartes founded the image of the human mind as a sort of nebulous substance that exists independently of the body.  Much later, in the 1930’s, Gilbert Ryle derided this dualism in a pithy reference to the mind part as ‘the ghost in the machine.’  Ryle articulated his criticism during the triumphal phase of materialism and mechanism.  The ‘machine’ he referred to was the human body and the human brain, themselves just parts of the larger cosmic machine.  But already, when he coined that pithy expression, the new physics was at work, undermining the world view on which Ryle’s philosophy was based.  Today, on the brink of the twenty-first century, we can see that Ryle was right to dismiss the notion of the ghost in the machine—not because there is no ghost, but because there is no machine.”  [Italics added]

–Physicists John Gribbin and Paul Davies, from their book The Matter Myth.

.

“Cognitive scientists talk about neurons, for example. But ‘neuron’ itself is an abstract concept that arose from the researches of biologists. For the materialist, then, even this concept of ‘neuron’ is nothing but a neurological creation; it also is a pattern of neurons firing in someone’s brain. If this sounds like a vicious circle, it is. We explain certain biological phenomena using the abstract concept ‘neuron,’ and then we proceed to explain the abstract concept ‘neuron’ as a biological phenomenon—indeed, a biological phenomenon produced by the activity of neurons. What we are observing here is the snake eating its own tail, or rather its own head. The very theory which says that theories are neurons firing is itself naught but neurons firing.”

“…Why should anyone believe the materialist, then? If ideas are just patterns of nerve impulses, then how can one say that any idea (including the idea of materialism itself) is superior to any other? One pattern of nerve impulses cannot be truer or less true than any other pattern, any more than a toothache can be truer or less true than another toothache.”

–Physicist Stephen Barr commenting on the materialist belief that consciousness is the result of brain activity, as quoted in his book Modern Physics and Ancient Faith.

47 thoughts on Why death is not the end.

  1. I know it’s no where near as good as you interesting posts here but let me at least give you a smile as a form of thanks for your hard work writing this stuff?
    Quantum mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of. :)

  2. You are making it hard for me not to believe in God anymore and for that I thank you. I think its easier not to believe than it is to. I’ve been told that God won’t but anything on your shoulders that you couldnt carry. I don’t know about that. was that even in the Bible or someone trying to make us feel better? I’m getting to the point where I’m getting tired of living. I’m not talkins about killing myself. I’m just tired of doing good and getting knocked down for it. while there is people who go around cutting heads off and being praised for it. maybe thats a little far fetched but I think you get the picture I’m paiting. I will be glad to leave this plane of existence. I’m ready to go be with my God. thanks for your work you are helping with some of my confussion,Eric.

      • Eric, God put us on this Earth for a purpose. To share his word, and to be disciples for him. If your being a light for Christ and sharing your faith, and your getting persecuted then that’s not because he doesn’t exist. It’s because in the Bible it say’s that being a Christian is not all easy. You’re going to get questioned, rejected when sharing your faith, and etc. But God praises you for that. Eric, i pray that you stay strong with your faith, and that you never question your faith.

    • Eric
      You say ‘your tired of doing good and getting knocked down for it’. By the sound of it you are looking for a reward for your good deeds and resent the fact that no one is noticing you. You are not doing ‘good’ your just doing something that you resent as your are looking to ‘get something out of it’ – i.e a good feeling for yourself. I say just give and forget that you’ve given. Surely that is the way to properly ‘give’. Sounds like you have low self esteem and need validation of your own worth from everyone. If you dont want to do good then dont, just do things you want to do.

  3. Eleven dimensions,string theory,dark matter,black holes and even the Big Bang are just theories at this present time,imagined and thought up by frustrated scientists and astromers
    to advance further in the study of the universe and beyond.These theories (un-proved as yet)
    are being used and manipulated in a supposedly intelligent way to convince the simple and naive among us to justify the existence of God.

    • Marvin,
      I was convinced of God’s presence in my life long before I did a science degree. There is no more compelling issue than the existence of a personal God, one that has dominated all of recorded human history. Bertrand Russell said it best near death when he confided, “My greatest lament in life is that I never found love or a sense of belonging” (which is likely why he never found God.)
      “He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8

      I suggest u read, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse’s “Hardwired to connect.”
      “There is an intrinsic need (that sets humanity apart from all other creation) to connect to ultimate meaning and to the transcendent (God) It is not merely the result of socio-biological conditioning, but is instead, the deepest aspect of the human experience.”

  4. Marvin, why do you continue to trouble yourself with these questions? if the universe really is as atheists contend (a random and tempory state of matter with no meaning, no purpose and no design) then why are you poking around on this site trying to craft “meaningful” and “purposeful” arguments. The more you contend in a “meaningful” way and vent your “righteous indignation”, the more you give credence to the divine.

    • Ken, you are right, I am wasting my time and raising my blood pressure.
      Scott mentioned that there was a possibility that I may have suffered some sort of a
      trauma for me to ask the questions to what I see as conditions,rules and fear forced fed into my mind as a young man,( no different to what is happening to young moslems in faith schools).I suppose the trauma may well be because since the age of about fifteen I felt strong and brave enough to think, see and believe my own mind through my own observations in life and discover the curse and burden of believing without question.
      In fact Ken, the answers that I have got to my blunt and simple questions give me much comfort in the way I see things.

      • Marvin:

        I will remind you of what the Nobel Prize winning physicist Tony Hewish said about the “things-are-as-I-perceive-them-with-my-five-senses” view of the world:

        “The ghostly presence of virtual particles defies rational common sense and is nonintuitive for those unacquainted with physics. Religious belief in God, and Christian belief that God became Man around two thousand years ago, may seem strange to common-sense thinking. But when the most elementary physical things behave in this way, we should be prepared to accept that the deepest aspects of our existence go beyond our common-sense intuitions.”

        And in case you are inclined to think that Hewish is just one rogue physicist, I will quote another one. Physicist Richard Conn Henry from Johns Hopkins University almost seemed to have you in mind, Marvin, when he said:


        “Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the illusion of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism.”

        The idea that the material world is all that exists (and that reality is as we perceive with our senses) it is a quaint relic of pre-20th century physics and philosophy…something that belongs only in history books. To continue to insist that reality is purely material and exists only as you see it through “my own mind through my own observations in life,” as you put it, flies in the face of the facts. You, sir, are clearly the one who is “believing without question.” Continued forceful repetitions of your stance with a self-assured tone will do nothing to change this.

        Scott

        P.S: Another quote I just adde to the “quotes to consider post:”

        “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

        –Albert Einstein

        • Scott
          By not taking account of your own ability to judge important issues in life by the power of your own senses,hence relying on the hearsay and interpretations of others whom one looks up to is exactly how all religions bamboozle and overwhelm the masses.
          For as long as I can remember,God the father,God the son and God the Holy ghost were the ultimate and the be all and end all.Now all that
          mumba jumbo is being explained by physics and science to bamboozle the same people that have been captive by all this slight of mind.
          The same scenario is going on about the state of the planet.First it was global warming,then when it was scientically proved that the earth has not increased in temperature in the last decade,conveniently they change the phrase to climate change.Britain has been frozen for the last month and more when I was expecting to be golfing in short sleeves.
          I don’t have to try to prove in something I know does not exist, all I am trying to do is make a point that believing in imaginary Gods,theory and myth are just illusions.

          • Marvin:

            When you insert a straight pencil into a glass of water, it appears bent. But you know that the pencil is not really bent and that your senses have deceived you. If you stick your hand in the glass and feel the pencil, you have then gained enough observational data (or sensory input) to make the correct assesment that the pencil is still straight.

            For much of human history, people looked out over the horizon and assumed the earth was flat because it appeared to be so. But additional observational data proved this to be an incorrect observation…such as the observation of other planets through telescopes and satellite photos of the earth.

            Physicists do not base their declaration that reality is not physical (but rather the expression of information, or consciousness) based upon hocus pocus theories. It is actually much more mundane. They merely have a greater wealth of observational data than is provided to you or I through our everyday experience. This includes being able to observe matter, and the way it behaves in experiments, at the subatomic level using things like atom smashers.

            In the case of global warming supposedly caused by man, the observational data is starting to cause serious doubt about the theory…you are correct.

            But in the case of an immaterial world rooted in consciousness, the observational data has supported the theory. To that end, I will rehash a Max Planck (the Nobel Prize physicist who founded quantum physics) quote from one of my essays:

            “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”

            Planck also said:

            “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

            Scott

        • The problem is that the arguments in your quotes do not hold up by themselves. You’ve picked a variety of quotes and strung them together. Then you expect your readers to believe you based on the authority of the original quote’s author, which is just a snippet taken out of context.

          For example, Tony Hewish’s quote could be used to support anything that has no physical evidence for it. With a couple of changes, it could read:

          “The ghostly presence of virtual particles defies rational common sense and is nonintuitive for those unacquainted with physics. Religious belief in Zeus, and Pagan belief that Zeus controls thunder, may seem strange to common-sense thinking. But when the most elementary physical things behave in this way, we should be prepared to accept that the deepest aspects of our existence go beyond our common-sense intuitions.”

          Point is, the first part of the paragraph (virtual particles) is not evidence for supporting christianity any more than it could be evidence for supporting Zeus, ghosts, unicorns, or anything else.

          Here’s another example:

          “The shift in understanding inspired by neuroplasticity and the power of mind to shape brain undermines the claim of materialist determinism that humans are essentially nothing more than fleshy computers spiting out the behavioral results of some inescapable neurogenetic program. “The brain is going to do what the brain was always going to do,” say the materialists. But modern physics and contemporary neuroscience reply that they are wrong. The teachings of faith have long railed against the perils of the materialist mindset. Now neuroscience and physics have joined them at the barricades.”

          I don’t care if he’s a professor in neuropsychiatry or not, this quote is simply wrong. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change based on your experience. It’s entirely a physical phenomenon, like a river carving a canyon into a landscape. I’m actually amazed someone who is a professor actually said this. It’s such an obvious blunder.

          Neuroplasticity has no connection to an immaterial mind or consciousness at all. If anything, it supports the idea of “you” being a simple biological machine, since it explains the “nurture” side of psychology, and why people’s personalities change based on their upbringing and environment.

          Instead of relying on authority, why don’t you take a look for yourself:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity

          The rest of the article was fascinating, but I’d have to read more about these physicist’s views on consciousness before I could put in my say. The biggest issue here is that the term “consciousness” is very fuzzy. Even if quantum theory finds out that consciousness survives outside the material world, who’s to say that that necessarily supports the old human wish to survive beyond physical death. Even if “consciousness” is the underlying foundation of existence instead of matter, it doesn’t support the view of the afterlife most people have.

          It doesn’t mean your memories or personality will survive beyond death. Think about it: if your consciousness is just temporarily using your brain as a “channel,” then why don’t you have memories from before you were born? Basically you’re assuming that just because a scientist says “consciousness” survives outside of matter, it also means “you” will survive after you die. It simply doesn’t hold up.

          Again, “consciousness” is a very loose term really, and unfortunately you’re using this to your advantage to support claims which are unrelated.

          • All claims that a quote is taken out of context necessarily require the person making such a claim to insert the quote into what he/she considers to be the correct context. If I am taking quotes out of context, what then, is the correct context? Were they joking? Assertions that a quote was taken out of context are empty and meaningless unless you provide a convincing case for what the correct context is.

            With regards to Hewish’s quote, he is not saying that physics provides evidence that Jesus Christ is God. Rather, he is saying that we cannot conclusively determine what is real or imaginary based upon our common sense intuitions. Something cannot be dismissed as fairy tale, in other words, simply because it conflicts with our common sense intuitions.

            Neuroplasticity is a “purely physical phenomenon”? Please read Jeffrey Schwartz’s book. Discussing his research into treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Schwartz writes:

            “Explanations based exclusively on materialist causation are both infeasible and inappropriate for conveying to OCD patients the steps they must follow to change their own brain circuitry systematically. In order to work, behavioral medicine absolutely requires the use of the patient’s inner experience, including the directly perceived reality of the causal efficacy of volition. The clinical and psychological results achieved with OCD support the notion that the conscious and willful mind cannot be explained solely and completely by matter, by the material substance of the brain. In other words, the arrow of causation relating brain and mind must be bidirectional. Conscious, volitional decisions and changes in behavior alter the brain. And as we will see, modern quantum physics provides an empirically validated mathematical formalism that can account for the effects of mental processes on brain function.”

            The notion that the brain is a “closed system” that is not affected by nonmaterial influences does not hold up under the light of modern quantum physics. Chris Carter writes in Science and the Near Death Experience:

            “[Physicist John] Von Neumann [among the greatest of the 20th century] argued that the entire physical world is quantum mechanical, so the process that collapses the wave functions [as in the famous double-slit experiment which you can view here on YouTube] into actual facts cannot be a physical process; instead, the intervention of something from outside of physics is required. Something nonphysical, not subject to the laws of quantum mechanics, must account for the collapse of the wave function: the only nonphysical entity in the observation process that Von Neumann could think of was the consciousness of the observer. He reluctantly concluded that this outside entity had to be consciousness…”

            Consciousness is a fuzzy concept? Do you believe that you have consciousness? If not, how is it that you believe this?

            Please also read my post entitled God Is Real…Why modern physics has discredited atheism in order to learn more about the primacy of consciousness over matter.

            Does the existence of consciousness outside of matter prove the existence of life after death by itself? No, but the primary means to discredit the existence of life after death has been the notion that the physical world is all that exists. But this notion (materialism) has in turn been discredited by modern physics.

            Further, the existence of consciousness apart from the body has been documented in several cases (such as that of Pam Reynolds as featured in the BBC documentary “The Day I Died,” to which I provide a link). These cases involve several examples of conscious awareness being documented after all brain function has ceased. In Pam Reynold’s case, she had all of the blood drained from her brain prior to surgery, yet she recalled minute details of the surgery that required her conscious presence in the room.

            You assert that the existence of consciousness outside of the body does not suggest life after death? If consciousness is not dependent upon the brain, then why would consciousness end with the death of the brain?

            Please also provide us with your materialist explanation for the NDE phenomenon (as presented in this post as well as the post entitled “Has anyone ever met God and returned to tell about it?”) When you do this, please keep in mind that the materialism (or “naturalism”) has been discredited by modern physics, so all materialist explanations are a priori insufficient.

            Lastly, please do not cite wikipedia…it is garbage. Read here to see what I mean.

          • Thanks for the reply.

            Your first quote, from Jeffrey Schwartz, does not support your point at all. The first part of the quote (that free will is a useful concept for patients in therapy) does not support the later parts of the quote that the brain is not material. All he said is that, by teaching patients that they have an immaterial volition, willpower, or free will, they can change their brain. This is a very useful concept in cognitive-behavioral treatments, but it does not mean that an immaterial volition outside of the physical brain actually exists. All it means is that it’s an effective teaching tool to treat OCD. That’s a very important distinction.

            I wouldn’t call myself a materialist. But what bothers me is when people make claims about what is immaterial and don’t feel they need any proof to back them up. You already admitted that existence of consciousness outside of the brain does not prove that “you” or “your life” continues after death.

            Even Einstein, who called himself religious (in a sense), and said he was not an atheist, disliked organized religion. Here’s a quote:

            “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends, which are nevertheless pretty childish.” (Source: http://www.newscientist.com/blog/space/2008/05/was-einstein-religious.html)

            And a quote from Stephen Hawking: “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

            I call consciousness a fuzzy concept because people tend to think they know what it means when they don’t. Consciousness simply means your awareness. Consciousness is being an observer, a witness to what happens.

            Consciousness does not include your personality, your thoughts, feelings, desires, wishes, hopes, dreams, etc. So even if “consciousness” survives your death, it means nothing as far as the survival of “you” or me, and our separate egos.

            The idea of consciousness existing outside the physical and manifested world is not a new idea. Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism, and many other eastern religions have been teaching this same concept for thousands of years. They teach meditation as a practice of reconnecting to consciousness, a practice which I find very valuable.

            So it’s not that I’m against claims for the existence of the immaterial. I’m just against the idea that immaterialism gives someone license to support whatever baseless and/or ancient beliefs they have.

          • Schwartz is not claiming that the brain is not material, as you suggest. He is claiming that the mind is immaterial and that the mind and brain are separate entities (hence the title of his book is The Mind and the Brain).

            The following is an excerpt from Schwartz’s book where he quotes the philosopher Joseph Levine in his paper entitled Materialism and Qualia: The Explanatory Gap:

            “Materialism, of course, is the belief that only the physical is ontologically valid and that, going even further, nothing that is not physical–of which mind and consciousness are the paramount examples–can even exist in the sense of being a measurable, real entity. This approach runs into problems long before minds and consciousness enter the picture: time and space are only two of the seemingly real quantities that are difficult to subsume under the materialist umbrella.”

            Existence of consciousness outside of the brain by itself does not provide proof of life after death, but when this insight is coupled with what NDE experiencers commonly report (as I detail in my essay entitled “Has anyone met God and returned to tell about it?”), the conclusion is hard to avoid that life exists after death. How do you explain away the NDE phenomenon in which most experiencers report encounters with deceased loved ones and “a personal God”? Hallucination? Can you cite another example where so many people’s “hallucinations” share so many common elements? As I said before, the content of hallucinations are unique to the individual. One person who is hallucinating may witness a purple leprechaun carrying him off to Never-Never land, but another person will experience something entirely different.

            Regarding your Einstein quote, a physicist’s expertise qualifies him to comment authoritatively on the likelihood of God, but not upon the specific attributes of God (personal vs. non-personal) and certainly not upon biblical matters.

            In New Proofs for the Existence of God, Robert J. Spitzer writes:

            When we speak of a beginning (a point prior to which there is no physical reality), we stand at the threshold of physics and metaphysics (beyond physics). Even though science cannot be validly used to prove a metaphysical [or "supernatual"] claim (such as, “a Creator or God exists”), it can be used to maintain as highly probable a limit to physical reality (such as a beginning). This scientific evidence for a beginning can be combined with a metaphysical premise (such as “from nothing, only nothing comes”) to render a metaphysical conclusion that there must be something beyond physical reality which caused physical reality to exist (i.e., a transcendent cause).

            So, to summarize, Einstein’s expertise in physics did qualify him to make statements about the “probable limit to physical reality” and therefore the probability of a transcendent cause of physical reality (read: God). Since this is merely an example of a scientist pointing to the limit of physical reality (the boundary separating physics from metaphysics), this does not fall under the category of a scientist embarking in philosophy…which Einstein criticized when he said that “the man of science makes a poor philosopher.”

            When it comes to specific attributes of God (personal or non-personal God, etc.), Einstein’s opinions should be taken much more lightly because he does not have any particular qualification to speak authoritatively about such subject matter. His statements regarding the bible should be cited as an example of “the man of science” trying to be a philosopher.

            Further, it is a shame that Einstein did not live a few decades longer in order to witness the evidence supporting the concept of “Anthropic Fine Tuning” (which I present in my “Is There A God…” post). The concept of a personal God is much more feasible in light of the evidence which has emerged since Einstein’s death that the universe was created with us in mind.

            Regarding your Hawking quote: Stephen Hawking is a physicist, but his statements about life after death should be cited as another example of Einstein’s warning that “the man of science makes a poor philosopher.” Roy A. Varghese notes:

            “Leading logicians and philosophers of language such as David Braine (in his book The Human Person–Animal and Spirit) and James F. Ross (see “Immaterial Thought”, The Journal of Philosophy89 (1992)) have shown that conceptual thinking and the use of language cannot be described or explained in terms of physical processes.”

            “Our senses make us aware of the physical world. We then process what we perceive–the percepts if you will–to produce a concept, something that does not refer to a specific physical thing or being. (From dogs we encounter, for example, we can understand the concept of a dog, something that does not refer to a specific animal.) There is no organ that performs ‘understanding.’ Thus, concept generation or the use of symbols to convey meaning cannot be explained in terms of brain states…”

            Hawking’s materialist views of consciousness should be labeled, “a fairy story for those afraid of the concept that a higher authority will judge them when they die.”

            Regarding Taoism, please review this article which states “Taoism upholds the belief in the survival of the spirit after death. Taoist believes birth is not a beginning, and death is not an end. In ancient days a Taoist that had transcended birth and death, achieved Tao, was said to have cut the Thread of Life. In Taoism, the soul or spirit does not die at death. The soul is not reborn; it simply migrates to another life.”

            Buddhism also affirms life after death. Please review this article which states “To Buddhism, however, death is not the end of life, it is merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life, but our spirit will still remain and seek out through the need of attachment, attachment to a new body and new life. Where they will be born is a result of the past and the accumulation of positive and negative action, and the resultant karma (cause and effect) is a result of ones past actions.

            This would lead to the person to be reborn in one of 6 realms which are; heaven, human beings, Asura, hungry ghost, animal and hell.”

            Jainism, too, affirms life after death. Please review this article which states that Jainists believe that, “Depending on one’s karma and level of spiritual development, death may mean being reborn in another physical appearance in the earthly realm, suffering punishment in one of eight hells or joining other liberated souls in the highest level of heaven.”

            Your claim that Taoism, Jainism, and Buddhism teach that there is no soul or sense of self that survives death is completely inaccurate.

            Further, you state “I’m just against the idea that immaterialism gives someone license to support whatever baseless and/or ancient beliefs they have.” The problem with this view is that the vast majority of world religions endorse the concept of a soul which survives death and faces heaven, hell, purgatory, etc. And, compounding this is the fact that the testimonies from NDE accounts are remarkably consistent in supporting this view.

            The burden of proof therefore lies squarely with the individual who contradicts this remarkably consistent picture of a soul that survives bodily death.

          • Thanks for the reply.

            No, the burden of proof lies on the person who is making claims about the supernatural, immaterial, and mystical.

            The fact that many religions repeat the same themes likely says more about human psychology than outer reality. In religions throughout history, there have been dozens and dozens of afterlife myths, creation myths, virgin birth myths, incarnation myths, flood myths, etc, etc…

            And the brutal truth is that most of these throughout history have been myths. MOST of them are completely false, written and invented by humans. Even if you believe in a Christian afterlife, you still must agree that ALL of the other afterlifes in ALL the other religions were not a product of divine revelation, but human imagination.

            Some psychoanalysts believe that all fear can be boiled down to a fear of death. The avoidance of death, and desire for continued survival, is the most important motivator for people. Heaven is simply a mental projection of this survival instinct. It’s a fiction created by human being’s inherent greed for immortality.

            Primitive people created afterlife myths to escape the paralyzing fear of death, at least in their own minds.

            And this mentality is reflected in your title for this post “When I die, is that it?” Is what it? Life? Existence? THe question I’d ask you is “Is it not enough?” The fact you can breathe, be conscious, and look around is such a blessing. What more could you ask for?

            So just because the afterlife (as well as floods, human incarnations of gods, virgin births, etc) is repeated often in many different religions, does not bring the idea any closer to reality. The burden of proof rests on the one making positive claims about the immaterial.

            And so far you have not provided any proof. “Consciousness” does not equal an individual soul, individual memories, an individual ego, etc.

            Taoism, Mahayana Buddhism, and certain parts of Jainism are very interesting in their views of life and death. They aren’t easy to grasp if you come from a Western religious paradigm and are constantly used to seeing things through the filter of heaven/hell/judgement.

            The “soul” in Taoism is not billions of individual human souls and personalities migrating to heaven. It is one “soul”, the Tao. According to Taoism, death doesn’t exist, because everything is one.

            “According to the Tao death is not really a loss, but a transformation, and that what we knew as the person moves on to participate in an endless ever-changing dance of manifestation, existence and de-manifestation that is the Tao. ”

            It doesn’t make sense to compare eastern religions with western religions when it comes to beliefs about the afterlife. Western religions believe in individual “souls”. Eastern religions teach that individuality is an illusion, that everyone is part of one soul/consciousness. There is no self independent of the universe. They believe life is a continuous process, a flow.

            Buddhism and Jainism have both been largely distorted from their original meanings. Religious structure has clouded the deeper truths in them over thousands of years. But the original teachings of the Buddha, Mahavira, Lao Tzu, and others can still be learned through doing Zen and meditation. Without doing meditation, it’s incredibly hard to grasp the true meaning of these eastern teachings.

            Consciousness outside of the body does not mean that a person could look around and “escape” their own body. It means that consciousness is the undercurrent of life, the “ground of being” so to speak.

            As for the “proof” of near death experiences, I wouldn’t be so quick to use them as proof. See here:

            http://www.physorg.com/news189887148.html

            People’s subjective experiences can’t be held as “proof” of anything. Drugs cause people to hallucinate things much crazier than what you wrote in your article. Doesn’t mean they’re real.

            As for the similarity of the NDE accounts? It can be easily explained without an afterlife.

            For example, have you ever noticed how Christian saints only appear in visions to Christian people? And the same is true in every other religion. Buddha never appears in a Christian vision even once, not even by accident. These visions are not glimpses into the transcendental, but projections from the subconscious, created by the content and beliefs that were fed into it from the past. The same applies to near death experiences.

            I mentioned the Einstein and Stephen Hawking quotes because you try to imply through your website that Einstein and other physicists are in favor of immaterialism because of quantum mechanics. In fact, the opposite is the case. The most educated scientists are the least likely to believe in a personal god or the afterlife. Are they qualified to talk about Bible scriptures? No, but they are qualified to dispel any fantasies people may have about new scientific discoveries supporting iron age beliefs people are desperately trying to find evidence for.

            Time and space are immaterial? Time is a mental abstraction. Space is the lack of something material, which means it is measured in material terms.

            You mentioned a quote that says “from nothing, only nothing comes … therefore there must have been a transcendental cause.” This logic is wrong because you’re working with an unquestioned assumption: that existence HAD a beginning in the first place. If nothing comes from nothing, then the logical conclusion is that the universe must have always existed, for infinite time, uncreated. If you can accept that something (God) can exist without being created, then why not existence itself?

            Anthropic fine tuning is terribly illogical. The fact that life has a very slim chance of existing on a planet just shows that earth has satisfied the conditions. If one of the variables had been different, then life would have been different. It would have adapted to a different universe.

            Oops, I meant to say “mind” instead of brain regarding the quote. Regardless, it does not change my point. Just because the idea of an immaterial volition independent from the brain has proved to be a useful working concept, does not provide proof that it actually exists. Neuroplasticity is the brain changing according to outside influences, not the work of an immaterial force.

          • Derek:

            Sorry I took so long to get back to you, I guess I missed your comment….I just noticed it now.

            When people from a variety of different religions and cultures come to the same conclusions about the afterlife, it is evidence for a unifying truth underlying the religious claims. Imagine a defense lawyer argued that the reason multiple witnesses experienced his client shooting a person was that the witnesses share psychological commonalities. Would this work in a court of law? Certainly not, so why should it apply to such phenomena as NDEs?

            Further, your points about psychological explanations for belief in God are a double edged sword. Psychological explanations can also be cited for disbelief in God. Please listen to the audio from psychologist Paul Vitz which I link to at the end of my post entitled “If the evidence for God is so strong, why are so many people unconvinced?” and respond at your leisure.

            Does widespread desire for a relationship with God provide evidence for or against the existence of God? Well, does widespread desire for water (thirst) provide evidence against the existence of water? Desires point to the existence of that which is desired.

            You also continue to assert that “burden of proof rests on the one making positive claims about the immaterial,” but the simple fact is that our reality is immaterial, as I have demonstrated in my post entitled God Is Real…Why modern physics has discredited atheism. The burden of proof clearly lies on the shoulders of the person who clings to pre-20th century conceptions of physics….and materialism is just that.

            Your views relating to eastern religions amount to the understanding of them as “monistic,” which means that there is no difference between the created and the Creator. The opposite of monism is theism, which teaches that God, and what God creates, are separate.

            Roy Varghese writes:

            “Most people associate monism with Hinduism and Hinduism with monism. But this habit of thought is simply mistaken. The Hindu scriptures, says the great Hindu scholar B.N.K. Sharma, are largely theistic. He points to ‘the buoyant realism of the Vedas, the transcendental Theism of the Upanishads and the emotional Theism of the Epics and Purnas.’ Just as important, monism was taught by only a single sub-set of one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy, a sub-set that chronologically appeared only after the first five schools.”

            Irrespective of Varghese’s above points, how can you justify the assertion that Hinduism, Jainism, and Taoism do not believe in the existence of the soul in light of the fact that I have clearly demonstrated in my previous reply that they DO? What, for example, is your reply to the article to which I linked you that states:

            Jainists believe that, “Depending on one’s karma and level of spiritual development, death may mean being reborn in another physical appearance in the earthly realm, suffering punishment in one of eight hells or joining other liberated souls in the highest level of heaven.” ???

            Yes, Taoism may endorse monism. Then, if you believe in monism, your individuality is an illusion. I will not criticize this belief, but then why should we believe that this illusion of individuality will not persist after death, as my article referencing Taoism suggests (in my previous reply)? In short, whether or not individuality is an illusion or not is an entirely separate subject matter than whether or not individuality survives death.

            Regarding your beliefs about NDEs: Please read my post entitled “How to evaluate materialist explanations for the NDE phenomenon,” by clicking on the preceding link or by going to the “snippets” section.

            Next, regarding your point about drugs as they apply to NDEs, I address this topic in my post entitled, “Has anyone met God and returned to tell about it?” Please read and respond.

            Further, the fact that some drugs can create an experience similar to NDE merely shows that there is more than one way to cause a separation of the soul from the body. In truth, it is the body that is the illusion, not the soul. As the physicists Paul Davies and John Gribbin write in their book The Matter Myth:

            “Descartes founded the image of the human mind as a sort of nebulous substance that exists independently of the body. Much later, in the 1930′s, Gilbert Ryle derided this dualism in a pithy reference to the mind part as “the ghost in the machine.” Ryle articulated his criticism during the triumphal phase of materialism and mechanism. The “machine” he referred to was the human body and the human brain, themselves just parts of the larger cosmic machine. But already, when he coined that pithy expression, the new physics was at work, undermining the world view on which Ryle’s philosophy was based. Today, on the brink of the twenty-first century, we can see that Ryle was right to dismiss the notion of the ghost in the machine—not because there is no ghost, but because there is no machine.”

            Next: You question that existence had a beginning? Please read my post entitled, “Isn’t the universe eternal? (Thus doing away with the need for a creator)” and the article which I link to at the end of this post.

            As Janna Levin at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University put it:

            “The universe had a beginning. There was once nothing and now there is something.”

            Next: You assert that anthropic fine tuning is highly illogical because “The fact that life has a very slim chance of existing on a planet just shows that earth has satisfied the conditions. If one of the variables had been different, then life would have been different. It would have adapted to a different universe.”

            You fail to recognize, however, that the question at hand is not how life as it appears in our universe exists. Rather, the question is how any life could exist anywhere. Further, please detail for me what you believe is the causal mechanism behind “life adapting to” a universe.

            Please recall that bare probabilities are causally inert and require a causal mechanism to achieve a cause. Take the statement, “If a person could, hypothetically, live forever, that person would eventually win the lottery.” We know this statement is false because no matter how long a person lives, that person will never win the lottery unless they actually play the lottery. Going to the convenience store to buy lottery tickets on a regular basis is the causal mechanism that allows the bare probability of winning the lottery to result in an actual lottery win.

            In a universe that has no intelligent and conscious cause, there can be no causal mechanisms. Even an infinite amount of time (or an infinite number of cycles of expansion and retraction) cannot produce anything without a causal mechanism. So, I will ask again, what are you proposing is the causal mechanism that allows “life to adapt?” Recall, for example, the following quote:

            “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

            –Cambridge University astrophysicist and mathematician Fred Hoyle commenting on the incredible fine-tuning necessary for life to exist (as quoted in The Creator and the Cosmos by Hugh Ross).

            Next: You assert, “Time is a mental abstraction. Space is the lack of something material, which means it is measured in material terms.” Actually, modern physics says that time and space are very real. According to modern physics, time is a very real category…. hence, Einstein’s theory of time dilation. Click on the preceding link to review. Please cite for me a physicist who supports your assertion that “time is an abstraction.” Hint: you won’t be able to find one.

            Space is the lack of something real? No, actually not. The universe itself (space) is expanding according to modern astronomy. Click here to read an article about this topic. Please also cite an astrophysicist who agrees that “space is the lack of something material” and not a positive astrophysical category. Hint: You won’t be able to do it.

            Next: You assert, “have you ever noticed how Christian saints only appear in visions to Christian people? And the same is true in every other religion. Buddha never appears in a Christian vision even once, not even by accident.” Actually, Jesus appears in the NDEs of many atheists. I provide several examples of such in the “atheist NDE” videos I link to in my post entitled “When I die, is that it?”

            Many NDEs also feature an encounter with a “being of light,” which, incidentally, is completely compatible with the bible, which says that “God is light.”

            Buddha never appears in a Christian vision? Actually, Buddha never appears in any NDE from anyone of any faith. The same with Mohammed. Please link me to a single NDE account which features an NDE encounter with Buddha or Mohammed. Please recall that neither of these figures made any claims to divinity.

            Additionally, Jesus appears to people of other faiths. As an example, please see this NDE account from a former Buddhist monk.

            Next: You state that physicists tend to support materialism. I have listed physicist after physicist who denies materialism. Please again read my post entitled “What it all boils down to.” Also, please list even a single physicist who believes that matter is the ultimate reality. Please recall what Max Planck (the founder of quantum theory) said about matter:

            “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”

            Lastly, you state “The most educated scientists are the least likely to believe in a personal god or the afterlife.” However, my posts entitled “What it all boils down to” and “Some quotes to consider…if you think science leads to atheism” reply to this assertion. Please also read this article which cites Rice University sociologist Elaine H. Ecklund. You may find studies from the media that disagree (maybe, I’m not sure). But if you can, please recall that journalists are not qualified to compile sociological stats (as a sociologist IS). Roughly 2/3 of scientists believe in God.

            The belief that science leads to atheism is basically “bar-stool wisdom” or “urban legend” without any factual basis.

            Scott

  5. I hope you are right. I’ve gone through stages of atheism and agnosticism after being raised with the basic thoughts of christianity. I’m not going to go to church though, I don’t feel like it helps me at all….but I live my life trying hard to help people, trying to make those around me have better lives, and to generally help the health of those around me and prolong their lives.

    But I’m still so scared…I really don’t want there to be no point to life. I want to see stars in another solar system, life on another planet, and I want to see time itself….I think we can live forever and if there is a god, maybe that is what heaven is, something we have to make, with our own work and effort. Hell is if we fail and destroy the world.

    • Michael:

      I want to strongly recommend that you view my post entitled “Has anyone met God and returned to tell about it?” After you read the essay, view the videos to which I provide links. This will require some time investment but I am confident that you will find it well worth it.

      If you grasp the implications of the post, your fears that there is no point to life should be greatly, if not totally, diminished. The video you may want to start with is called “The Day I Died.” It is a fascinating documentary produced by the BBC. When you have done this, spend some time viewing the NDE video links at the bottom of the essay.

      The “point to life,” you should realize from this stuff, is to develop a realationship with your Creator, and to grow in love.

      Scott

  6. Scott
    The above quote “We must assume the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind”
    This is again my point.Are string theories,quantum physics,the big bang,life on other planets
    and a Creator of all these things not theories and assumptions at this present time.
    I was watching a programme on the Discovery Channel,and quite a few scientists and physisists had written up what appeared to be a mathematical equation on a black board which
    was about four feet high and twenty feet long.The equation to me looked like a load of figures,
    squiggles and lines all along the board.I cannot remember what this theory was about,but I
    thought to myself that if one figure,squiggle or line was out of place or wrong.Then their theory was completely futile and WRONG.
    So in my simple world,no matter how intelligent,well read,articulate and acclaimed one is,
    even their thoughts and statements ARE their own interpretations of anything.

  7. Scott,

    I would agree that the NDE case of Pam Reynolds would be an open and shut case, possible for theism itself. I also think her observations during the NDE, which turned out to be accurate, are remarkable. However, how does one answer the claims that there is no way of knowing whether any part of her NDE occurred during the time of her “brain death?” You can find a very useful timeline here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pam_Reynolds_%28singer%29

    Pay special attention to the last paragraph under “Critical Analysis.” Now I understand the point you’ve made elsewhere that a skeptic will try any argument they can that will stick other than something supposedly supernatural, but I find it hard to answer that criticism. And, if Reynolds did experience a brief lapse of unconsciousness and complete nothingness while her brain shut down, then experienced the second part of the NDE when it “was back online” nothing would distinguish this NDE from every other NDE out there.

    I’ve posted this here rather than on the more appropriate article “Has anyone met God….” because I have to confess something less scientific and more personal: I’ve never in my semi-short life felt anything beyond my own body my own brain – I’ve never felt as if there is another part of me being anchored by the brain. When I am asleep – sometimes I have dreams, but most of the time, I close my eyes and the next moment I wake up the next morning, having no recollection or experienced consciousness during a dreamless sleep. I have been put on anesthesia once and it was the same experience. It seems logical and even reasonable to assume that our “essence of being” is really our bodies and our brain-produced “minds” which, admittedly, it seems are yet to be fully explained.

    Something else that just occurred to me that I have questioned – if our brain is a receiver for some sort of spirit or soul, how does that spirit or soul control the brain, which in turn controls our body? How does the non-material control and cause the material to react?

    I appreciate your response.

    • Daniel:

      How do you answer the claims that there is no way of knowing whether any part of her NDE occured during the time of “brain death?” I have cut and pasted a relevant excerpt below from an article on her experience:

      “When all of Pam’s vital signs were stopped, the doctor turned on a surgical saw and began to cut through Pam’s skull. While this was going on, Pam reported that she felt herself “pop” outside her body and hover above the operating table. Then she watched the doctors working on her lifeless body for awhile. From her out-of-body position, she observed the doctor sawing into her skull with what looked to her like an electric toothbrush. Pam heard and reported later what the nurses in the operating room had said and exactly what was happening during the operation. At this time, every monitor attached to Pam’s body registered “no life” whatsoever.”

      Pam would not have been able to describe this tool or detail the nurse’s conversations if she had not been conscious in the room. Remember that, at this point, all blood had been drained from her brain. Please also note that Pam Reynold’s case is not the only one like this…it is just the most highly analyzed.

      Please also read my related essay entitled: “When I die, is that it?… or do I have an existence beyond my physical body?”

      You ask, “How does the non-material control and cause the material to react?” I think the best way to answer this question is to first point out that, according to physics, the “material world” is basically an illusion. You will find more detail in the above mentioned post.

      Scott

      P.S: This subject matter is fascinating and I can’t recommend strongly enough that you read some of the books that I mention. I would start with The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientists Case for the Existence of the Soul by Montreal Neurologic Institute neuroscientist Mario Beauregard and The Mind and Brain by UCLA professor of research psychiatry Jeffrey Schwartz.

      • “I think the best way to answer this question is to first point out that, according to physics, the “material world” is basically an illusion.”

        If the material world is an illusion, then we are all suffering the same illusion/s at the same time? If a bomb explodes and many people are watching the bomb explode, or hundreds of people watch a plane take off, and if these things aren’t really happening in the real world but in an illusory world our mind is creating, then we are all intrinsically linked at the same time to be able to experience these illusions at the same time.

        While I have read the above post, nothing in the post seems to elude to the world as being nothing more than illusory. If anything, the quotes, especially the quote by Planck that states “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together,” seem to point to a natural and material world that may be affected by a different, energetic and perhaps spiritual world.

        I am not sure denying that we are physical beings is the first step in discovering if there is something beyond the physical realm.

  8. Elephants love and grieve. Is it possible that man evolved to a level of intelligence that we, a primate species, now civilized, spends much time thinking about where we came from, why we are here, and where we might be going, perhaps in fear of the worst, hence a plethora of gods and their religions throughout history?

    • How did love and grief evolve? How did the ability to think about “where we came from, why we are here, and where we might be going” evolve? What survival advantage did this provide? How does this ability provide a “survival machine” with a greater ability to pass on his genes? How about the ability to comprehend higher mathematics? Or the ability to appreciate the beauty in nature, such as in a sunset?

      Was our primitive ancestor who was able to think and perceive in these ways less likely to be eaten by a predator than our primitive ancestor who was not? The burden of proof lies with the person presenting such a concept as that of “survival machines.”

      Scott

      • Amazing. You’re not driven by ideology, are you? You don’t dispute evolution, right? …which includes humans sharing a common ancestor with the chimpanzee only 6 million years ago, and shrew-like mammals circa 200 million years ago; before that, jawless fish (500 million years ago), and but a cell 3.9 billion years ago. We didn’t always have the ability to appreciate a sunset or a civilization that allowed for extra-curricular activities such as solving complex equations.

        Then yes, life/nature is intrinsically beautiful. Passing your genes (sex) often requires courtship, and loyalty, usually incited passion for what makes you a man or her woman. A sunset is nice on the eyes, like a gruesome murder isn’t. Love, grief, and beauty are intrinsic to life. Pain and the feeling of loss are universal to the sentient. Out-running a lion…that is beneficial to survival.

        Survival machines? Only in the wild, Scott. Well, most of the time since we interfere with the success of so many. We stopped evolving when science and technology (particularly medicine) replaced the need to “survive.” We now aim to thrive, given the accessibility of grocery stores, doctors’ offices, and dating services. Now, nearly everybody gets a shot at reproduction.

        With an advanced intellect, you and I can squabble over things like this. At least most of our ancestors could not. Elephants can love and grieve, among other advanced-mind like t’ings and such, because they are a highly-evolved species… like us. If it weren’t for the mass extinctions, including the one about 70,000 years ago that nearly wiped out humans, all the way back to the Oxygen Holocaust circa 2.5 billion years ago…no calculus interval parties.

        Note: These are not religious statements or convictions.

  9. The only existence we have after we die is in the hearts and minds of others. Evolving love and grief gives added incentive to protect others in your group.
    P.S. I’d like to just say, most of the animals capable of love and grief, also enjoy killing like us (dolphins, for example). It’s a double sided coin.

    • Sann,

      What evidence do you have for your assertion that “the only existence we have after we die is in the hearts and minds of others?”

      I’d prefer not to believe in something without evidence.

  10. Scott,

    I must ask – I am finding it hard to imagine that matter is the product of the mind. How can this be so? Practically speaking, I only know matter, and what matter I perceive through my mind. But when I close my eyes, does that matter not still exist? If two people are staring at rock on the ground and one has a heart attack and dies, the rock is still there and still be perceived by the person who remains alive – therefore, the matter, the rock in this instance, still exists even though one mind no longer perceives it.

    Perhaps you mean that matter is the product of THE MIND – or, God. Is this the case? If so, this post is irrelevant to our own minds existing after death.

    “Consciousness preceded matter, and matter arose from consciousness, not vice versa. The claim that consciousness cannot exist beyond our physical bodies does not hold water because our physical bodies are themselves manifestations of consciousness.”

    Not to repeat myself, but I have posted a quote of yours to ask how is this possible? How can our physical bodies be manifestations of consciousness? Do you mean to say that I only exist to because I perceive myself existing?

    • Daniel:

      To answer this question, I will rehash a quote from the essay (by Nobel Prize winning physicist Tony Hewish):

      “The ghostly presence of virtual particles defies rational common sense and is non-intuitive for those unacquainted with physics. Religious belief in God, and Christian belief that God became Man around two thousand years ago, may seem strange to common-sense thinking. But when the most elementary physical things behave in this way, we should be prepared to accept that the deepest aspects of our existence go beyond our common-sense intuitions.”

      What Hewish and many others are saying is that physics is demonstrating that reality is in many ways nothing like we perceive it. Remember that we perceive that the sun “rises” in the east and “sets” in the west. But since the time of Galileo, we have known that our perception does not in this case represent reality. Rather, the earth revolves around the sun and we perceive the sun to rise and set.

      Our physical bodies are manifiestations of consciousness because everything is a manifestation of consciousness. I will rehash one of the Max Planck quotes from the essay:

      “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

      The fundamental point here is that matter is produced by consciousness…without consciousness, there is no matter. Another way to put it is that matter is basically an illusion (much like in the movie The Matrix).

      It might be hard to imagine that matter is the product of mind, but is it any easier to imagine that mind might be the product of matter? If so, it is only because the culture in which we live says so.

      Think about it, how could matter produce mind? If our consciousness is the result of chemical and electrical processes in the brain, then we are basically saying that chemicals and electricity are have consciousness.

      • Matter…an illusion, like Matrix? When something/someone dies, their matter decays. Seen it. Believers that matter is real are delusionists?

        • The great physicist Sir Arthur Eddington once famously said, “Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.”

          Our perception of the physical world is often misleading. We perceive that the sun “rises” and “sets,” but we know that this is not really the case.

          Another example: When you stick a straight pencil in a glass of water, the pencil appears bent…but you know that your perception misleads you.

          • No imagination necessary when science explains why the sun rises and sets, the earth is spinning on its axis. No mystery there.

            No imagination necessary when science explains why the pencil appears bent, refraction causes light to bend when it passes from one substance into another. No mystery there.

            You need a supernatural example that science can’t explain.

            “Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.” So? A speculative assertion (no facts).

    • Daniel:

      I have decided to post our email discussion here so everyone can benefit from it.

      There are several reasons why NDEs cannot be classified as dreams. First of all, please recall that, in my “Has Anyone Met God?” post, that as Patrick Glynn declares in God: The Evidence, “the majority of researchers who have investigated the phenomenon, generally professionals with medical, psychological, or other scientific training—many of whom started out as skeptics—have concluded that these experiences are authentic.”

      How have they concluded that the NDE experiences are authenitc? Please review my post entitled “How to Evaluate NDE Skeptic’s Materialist Explanations for the phenomenon.” If you would like to investigate this subject further, I highly recommend the book Science and the Near Death Experience by Chris Carter.

      You say that “the only way to prove this would be if the mind was incapable of operating at the time the NDE was experienced.” Keep in mind that Pam Reynolds was able to describe minute details of what occured during her surgery despite the fact that all of the blood had been drained from her brain. And Pam Reynolds is not the only example of consciousness being demonstrated after cessation of brain activity.

      Below is a cut and paste from my “How to Evalute” post (extracted from Evidence for the Afterlife by Jeffrey Long, MD):

      Lucid Death: NDErs report highly lucid experiences while clinically unconscious or clinically dead. Such experiences often include witnessing an emergency room crew working on one’s own body after the heart has stopped and brain activity has ceased. Many conscious experiences have also been reported while an individual was under carefully monitored general anesthesia, which is intended to bring about loss of consciousness.

      And there is a very common sense reason that NDEs cannot be classified as dreams. Have you ever had a dream that shared several common elements with thousands and thousands of other people? Some of these common elements include 1) meeting God, Jesus, angels 2) meeting deceased loved ones 3) A review of ALL of the events of ones life (often from a 3D panoramic view and from the perspective of other people involved in the life events). 4) Out of body experiences.

      Ask yourself, if NDEs are dreams, why would it be that they share so many remarkably common elements? (The number of common elements increases with the “depth” of the experience). If NDEs are “dreams,” shouldn’t we expect that people would have radically diverse experiences (such as is the case with dreams) when they lie unconscious on the operating table?

      When I say that the material world is an illusion, I do not mean to imply that there is not an external reality common to everyone. Rather, I mean that the conception of matter presented by classical physics, which portrayed it as “causally closed,” or existent independent of consciousness has been shown to be false.

      The book Science and the Near Death Experience (by Chris Carter) cites mathemetician Jon Von Neumann (one of the most important intellecutal figures of the 20th century):

      “Von Neumann argued that the entire physical world is quantum mechanical, so the process that collapses the wave functions into actual events cannot be a physical process; instead, the interention of something from outside physics is required. Something nonphysical, not subject to the laws of quantum mechanics, must account for the collapse of the wave function: the only nonphysical entity in the observation process that Von Neumann could think of was the consciousness of the observer.”

      We share a common reality, but that reality is rooted in consciousness, not in matter as conceived by classical physics (which saw physical reality as basically a bunch of irreducilbe little balls of matter).

      Scott

  11. i do believe in GOD and i do believe in after life.i too started my search for the truth about 3-4 yrs ago.im at peace with my findings pitty the rest of the world isnt the same.to find something you must want to search..there is more to the bible than its seems but once you know what your looking at it is so clear..LOOK SEE AND UNDERSTAND …it is so simple…

    • dazzauk, I recommend reading “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why” by Bart Ehrman before saying that looking at the bible makes it so clear (and simple) so that you can keep the bible in context. This book simply discusses how the bible came about; not a theory of how it was formed, but conclusive evidence derived from passionately extensive research by a then devout Christian.

      • danno,

        For what its worth, I have a friend who has been studying in seminary at Duke for the past 3 years. As you may or may not know, Ehrman is a theological professor at UNC. As I understand from my friend, though Ehrman is respected as an academic, his findings and conclusions are not very well thought of at either school and few agree with them. Apparently, his biggest mistake (and a sin in the academic world) is that he published many of his books and papers without adequate peer-review, including the Misquoting Jesus book. The reason he published it so quickly?

        I will leave you to guess that one (although a quick trip to his website might be a hint.)

  12. Why have you removed the post from yesterday? Hiding the post and not replying to it just affirms that youre just spouting bullcrap!

  13. Scott: Researchers featured in this documentary propose the theory that the brain can better be understood as a sort of radio receiver for consciousness, rather than the producer of consciousness (as in the popular brain-as-computer model). In this theory, consciousness emanates from another realm, but is anchored to the physical realm by the brain.

    Terry: That must be it. Aliens from another dimension created us to gather data. We record things all of our life and at the end they download all of our information for the supercomputer to digest on their home world. The mother of all Data Bases. LOL

    NDEs and OBEs are not evidence of the supernatural. NDEs and OBEs are dreams. In fact, the dream the guy had in NDE1 is called a night terror. Where the dream actually affects the physical body. You don’t have to be near death to experience them. I used to have them back in my younger days. Also keep in mind they were not dead. Nothing living that has died has ever come back to life, EVER. Not man, plant, insect or animal. But desperate theists like Scott like to believe this kind of thing somehow supports their imaginary friends.

    The body is an organic machine animated by a chemical process. Nothing more. It only goes to reason that when the body is under the stress of near death the brain chemistry and the body chemistry are a bit out of whack. Working hard and diverting resources in an attempt to correct the problem. When it is going thru this chemical imbalance vivid dreams seem to be a part of the result.

    We are the same as any other living thing. Just in a different shape and configuration. All you need to do is look around to see how diverse the shape and functions of life can be. All living things have the same spark of live and when that spark ends, it never gets up again. The raising of Jesus (never happened). The raising of Lazarus (never happened).

    • Terry,

      If NDEs are just dreams, don’t you think it is a little surprising that thousands of people have had remarkably similar “dreams”? Read my post entitled, “How to evaluate an NDE skeptic’s materialist explanations for the phenomenon” by clicking on the preceding link or by going to the “snippets” section. Here you will see a list of the common elements of these “dreams.” Can you provide for me another example of a “dream” that has this many common elements and has been experienced by thousands of people?

      Also, please explain for me how it can be that there are documented cases of consciousness after complete cessation of brain activity (such as in the case of Pam Reynolds…and there are plenty of others) if NDEs are nothing more than dreams.

      A copy and paste from my essay:

      “In 1991, Reynolds was found to have a basilar artery aneurysm in the brain that could not be operated on with conventional neurosurgical methods without imminent risk of death. She was taken to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix where the neurologist Robert Spetzler had pioneered a new type of surgery called hypothermic cardiac arrest, nicknamed “Standstill.” What the patient first had to undergo included clinical death, which would mean that the brain EEG would come to a stop (no cerebral cortex activity), there would be no response from the brainstem (hence no brain function), and bloodflow to the brain would cease. Reynold’s body temperature was brought down to 60 degrees, her heartbeat and breathing stopped, her brainwaves flattened with no electrical activity in the brain, and the blood drained from her head. Just when she was brought to this state and before the surgery commenced, Reynolds felt herself “pop” out of her body. She gave remarkably accurate descriptions of the unusual instruments used in the surgery, as well as the activities taking place in the operating room. This was followed by her encounter with her deceased relatives.”

      Terry, also please explain for me the cases where people who were born blind are able to see during an NDE (as featured in the BBC documentary The Day I Died).

      If your mind is nothing but chemical activity in your brain, then who is experiencing the experiences that you have? Is it the chemicals? To be taken seriously, a theory such as the one you propose must explain the relevant data…not ignore it. If you deny that there is a trans-physical self (soul), then you must explain how it is that people have consciousness. Are you proposing that the chemicals in a person’s brain have consciousness?

      Further, declaring that the human mind is nothing more than chemical activity in the brain is like saying that a novel such as War and Peace is nothing but some ink marks on some paper. This is what philosophers call a “category error.”

      Please also read my post entitled, “Has anyone met God and returned to tell about it?”

      No, aliens from another dimension did not create us. God created us. The view that aliens created life is an atheist view. Recall that atheist numero uno Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion) proposed this hypothesis (click heree to see the video), as did several other prominent atheists such as the atheist biologist Francis Crick (in his book Life Itself).

      Terry, if I have already asked you, I will ask you again: Do you agree with several of your fellow atheists that aliens from outer space provide the best explanation for life on earth? If so, what planet do you think that the aliens came from? How do you suppose that alien life originated?

  14. I think God makes it obvious to us all that he exists so I hope every sceptic finds that one definitive piece of evidence that the will beleave in God.

    God bless all

  15. i find it hilarious that the same guy is on a site about the existence of God and is trying to bash any idea that is brought forward. should he be on a site that is all about the non-existence of God *some atheist site*? Is it only me who finds this odd?

  16. Deh… (Grumbling) Some of what I just read in the comments is not worth the cyberspace it occupies. I came to expect that of course, but its depressing that so much of it shows a failure to pay attention to what you read.

    I would like to reiterate my preferred argument against materialism. I hope to invite criticism this time (as I have brought it forward a number of times, with only one person who attempted to refute it), to see if any atheist can produce a good argument, rather than just make weird assertions that prove their low attention-spans.
    Star Trek Refutes Star Trek
    Thought Experiment: Suppose we take Marvin Jones, and we teleport him, like in Star Trek; instead of sending his atoms to the destination, we use material from the destination to reconstruct his body. At the other end, Marvin Jones is alive and well, and is the exact same person as he was before.Argument: 1. If Marvin is a purely material entity, then he is identical to a particular set of atoms.
    2. We have already proven (thought experiment) that Marvin is NOT identical to any set of atoms.
    3. Therefore, we have proven that Marvin is NOT a purely material entity.
    The only way to refute this argument against materialism is to assert that Marvin ceased to exist when we deconstructed his body at one end, and was never revived at the destination. To accept this thesis is to accept that you are not the same person as you were seven years ago (because your entire brain gets new matter to replace it every seven years). As nobody accepts this proposition, we should not accept that Marvin was killed and is now gone forever.
    The only other option is for you to say that your brain is not identical to any particular set of atoms. Fine then, but that means that your BRAIN is not purely material, either. Hylomorphism is confirmed, and materialism is refuted.

    Any criticisms for me?

Subscribe to Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Arrow Down God Evidence