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Near Death Experiences

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Penumbra, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    What are your thoughts on them?

    Some people claim they are real, and provide information about the existence of an afterlife. There are some stories of people being able to verify that they were conscious when they should not have been by describing things that occurred while they were out of it.

    Other people claim they are hallucinations of a dying brain, and point to the lack of solid evidence and the fact that they seem to differ by culture.

    Have you ever experienced one? Or alternatively, did you experience near-death with a lack of one?
     
  2. St Giordano Bruno

    St Giordano Bruno Well-Known Member

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    I personally find hard to believe we can live the kind of life which is anything other than carbon based biology, such as in some supernatural state of a discarnate spirit or a ghost. So I just put them down to hallucinations. I have seen no other hard evidence to believe otherwise.
     
  3. arun

    arun Member

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    I think it can happen.From reading www.victorzammit.com what i understood is that The astral-body leaves our physical body and enters the afterlife realms.we are given a choice to go back to the body or begin life in a new reincarnation.It's said that the person can see his future in both the choices and make a decision.After the NDE the person become more spiritual and believe in afterlife.In the case of Out of body experiences also ,the astral body leaves the physical-body.There is a silver-chord connecting the two and death happens when it is broken.

    Go to this forum http://stevebeckow.com/forum-2/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=3.0 and read the post by 'Chuck-Sweet' about his personal experience on NDE.
    evidence for NDE>> http://www.victorzammit.com/book/4thedition/chapter06.html
     
  4. Nepenthe

    Nepenthe Tu Stultus Es

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    I have yet to hear of any convincing mechanism by which any semblance of a consciousness could survive after death; the mind is dependent on the brain. I believe I will be as non-existent at death as I was before my conception. What we call a mind is an emergent property of the brain, consciousness is dependent on physiology and the cessation of its processes means the cessation of what constitutes me.
    I have yet to read any account of NDEs or OBEs that represents anything other than brain trauma and/or hallucinations.
     
  5. Hermit Philosopher

    Hermit Philosopher Selflessly here for you

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    I had one in theatre in 1999, in connection to an overdose of anaesthetics, so I know they certainly occur! I don't know why though and, I'm not sure of what they are. They're not necessarily supernatural, I mean.
    My spiritual experiences did not begin until 2005, so at the time I was an atheist and obviously, I did not interpret it as a religious incident. To me, it seemed cognitive and perhaps medical [caused by the anaesthetic]?
     
  6. St Giordano Bruno

    St Giordano Bruno Well-Known Member

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    I believe people do have them, and many are quite sincere about the experiences even though I think they are deluded in the belief that they enter some afterlife realm where they meet the spirits of their dead folks or see angelic beings dressed in white.

    There is one popular fallacy going around the people who have had attempted suicide have more unpleasant NDE experiences than those people who had an NDE from an unintended trauma. That is an old wive's tale.
     
  7. mohammed_beiruti

    mohammed_beiruti Active Member

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    what is a near death ?

    Who is the one to claim that he is far a way fom death ?
     
  8. EverChanging

    EverChanging Well-Known Member

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    Some of these experiences are very personal, but I think this is an important topic that needs to be discussed by believers and non-believers alike, so I will include at least some of the details. I happen to not believe in a soul, an afterlife, spirits, the supernatural, free will, or an autonomous, essential self, but I have had experiences similar to NDEs and other encounters, and this gives me a unique perspective. If anyone wishes to know more or share similar experiences, I'm always interested, so send me a private message. I will try not to be too personal in these thoughts, but I find these experiences relevant to my search for the truth about the nature of such phenomena.

    I have not had an NDE, but I have read many accounts of them over the years and have studied them. I have also had experiences that included aspects of NDEs, such as out of body experiences, dreams of dying and leaving the body and encountering vivid, beautiful places where I talk with loving people about my life and where I am in relation to it. I've had extremely vivid dreams my entire life, especially in childhood, and I've also encountered telepathic beings full of the most extraordinary love and understanding and compassion I have ever felt. I encountered them when I was struggling with coming to terms with being gay, and I saw my whole life through their eyes and how all love is beautiful, even for someone of the same sex. They knew every imperfection and wrongdoing, but there was no judgment, only complete and total acceptance and love. I've also found myself in the midst of a dream when all of the images melted away and all that was left was a point of consciousness flying in a beautiful, dark void. I felt more conscious in this state than in waking life and it felt like I had existed in this state before, that I had flown and danced that way in the void but had forgotten it. I was immersed in euphoria.

    But I do not believe that NDEs or similar experiences, including my own, or indicative of anything supernatural. Near Death Experiences: In or Out of the Body is one of the best books I've read attempting to provide a scientific theory to explain NDEs. Suggesting a soul that interacts with the brain creates the problem of an immaterial entity interacting with a material one. NDEs do have striking similarities, but the most common seem to be a product of our nervous system and brain structure, which does a fine job of explaining the similarities. For instance, the tunnel and light can be explained by noise in the visual cortex. This has been simulated by Blackmore with a computer model; with gradually increasing noise in the visual cortex, a light in the center will appear to grow, thus creating the simulation of moving through a tunnel.

    Interestingly, Blackmore herself has had an NDE, but it was drug induced. This makes sense if activity in the brain creates the apparent experience. Temporal lobe epilepsy also often results in NDE-like experiences and is associated with heightened religiosity. Some temporal lobe epileptics will become obsessed with religion and practicing it, and they have a heightened response in the brain to religious words and imagery in comparison to control groups.

    Various other triggers exist for NDEs and religious experiences as well, including mental illness, artificial gravity, etc. This site lists various triggers with links to articles. The site embraces a supernatural interpretation of NDEs, but still has much useful information and NDE accounts.

    Some scientific studies suggest that altered temporal lobe functioning might be characteristic of people who have had NDEs, although this may have resulted after the NDEs. It may be that people who experience NDEs are "physiologically distinct from the general population:"

    While accounts abound about those who can see objects during an NDE out of body experience (or astral projection), they are anecdotal and there is no substantial evidence that even people experienced in inducing out of body experiences are able to report sights accurately significantly above chance levels.

    The temporal lobe is involved in religious experience and can be stimulated to create spiritual experiences. There is some evidence suggesting that we all have varying levels of temporal lobe instability. Those with more instability may be more prone to having mystical or religious experiences, which might explain why some people are hyper-religious or have spontaneous mystical experiences.

    These experiences can also occur in relation to schizophrenia and bi polar disorder. I am diagnosed as a schizo-affective and have exhibited symptoms of this disorder since my early childhood and have a history of mental illness in both sides of my family. It is important to recognize that mental illness can in some cases be related to producing these experiences. Just as drugs may sometimes inspire insight -- not always, but in some cases -- mental illness may sometimes do the same. Bi polar disorder, for instance, may be related to creativity.

    However, they shouldn't be brushed away as insignificant. These experiences can provide deep insights and healing for years of pain. In one instantaneous, spontaneous, completely unexpected encounter with the Love all of the self-hatred I had learned from abuse because of my sexual orientation instantly disappeared, and I have never again rejected or shamed myself for loving other men. Shortly afterward, I was outed by someone who found out and rejected by my family, but I have known since that experience that there is nothing wrong with me, and I never hide who I am.

    The evidence suggests that these experiences are natural, physical phenomena, but I think insights can be obtained from these altered states about the nature of consciousness and the way our brains construct reality. They are not by any means proof of spirits, a soul, or an afterlife, but they should not be brushed aside by skeptics as containing no glimmer of truth, either.
     
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  9. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    I agree.

    There is no good explanation for how consciousness can exist independently from the matter that constitutes it, and I have not seen any solid proof of a NDE.

    Typically, near-death in this context is meant to mean that the person was clinically dead but was brought back to life. Sometimes it simply means they were gravely injured, and not necessarily clinically dead, though some people that study it prefer to focus on people that were clinically dead.

    It could mean, for instance, that someone's heart stopped in the hospital, they were no longer breathing, and were resuscitated and claimed that during the time they were dead, their soul was hanging out with Jesus, God, Krishna, new-age conceptions of things, dead relatives, or something else from their religion.
     
  10. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    Thanks for the lengthy discussion on the topic.

    I'm a bit envious, actually, of people that claim to have experienced such wonderful, euphoric experiences. I know an agnostic person that claims to have had a non-theistic experience involving love, euphoria, etc. These experiences often seem to improve the lives of people after they have them.

    My father was clinically dead once, and quite close to death but not technically clinically dead another time. Neither time did he have any sort of hallucination or experience.
     
  11. Man of Faith

    Man of Faith Well-Known Member

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    I believe that they are real and God is giving us the evidence we are asking for, “is there life after death”. It convinced Dr. Maurice Rawlings who was an atheist and a heart surgeon when he witnessed those that he cared for dying and coming back to life. He listened to their stories and saw the change in them, realized they really died and experienced life on the other side. He became a believer and made a movie documentary about it.

    People with no brain activity, or heart beat, come back to life and say they weren’t dead, that they were more alive than they ever were on earth.

    http://spiritlessons.com/Documents/Rawlings/Dr_Rawlings_Near_Death_Experiences.htm
     
  12. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    So what specific things do you think your god wants people to conclude about the afterlife from NDE's?
     
  13. EverChanging

    EverChanging Well-Known Member

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    Yes, this is an important fact about near-death studies I neglected to mention, although it is hinted at in the reference suggesting that NDE'ers have altered temporal lobe functioning. Many people who are brought back from clinical death report no consciousness at all during death, like dreamless sleep. Considering the increasing scientific data suggesting a physical explanation for these experiences, it comes as no surprise to me that most people who are resuscitated report no conscious experience.

    I suspect that when a person does have an NDE while dying, if the person dies without being resuscitated, the NDE will end and consciousness will cease forever. This doesn't bother me. I think the NDE can make dying much easier for a substantial number of people, though it is important to note that a minority of NDE'ers report hellish experiences, especially in other cultures with polytheistic religions.
     
  14. Man of Faith

    Man of Faith Well-Known Member

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    It is just more evidence of God and an afterlife. Most people don't need NDE's to convince them. I certainly didn't. However the evidence stacks up on the theists side.
     
  15. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man.

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    I don't put much stock in NDEs. Near death means just that and is not actual death. There was obviously just enough oxygen and blood pressure to effect an recovery, albeit more often than not with medical assistance.

    It is very comforting however from what is said about NDEs to know that one can possibly engage in a last and intimate personal experience before the lights go out for good.
     
  16. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    Well, as others have stated and I've agreed with, I find the evidence that NDE's are physical experiences rather than supernatural experiences to be far stronger than the reverse.

    And, since some people experience no NDE, and the people that do experience them tend to differ dramatically, I view that as evidence against the argument that such an experience is proof of some objective fact.
     
  17. EverChanging

    EverChanging Well-Known Member

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    And there are also people who experience NDEs and mystical states and don't conclude that there is life after death. In fact, the books An Introduction to Consciousness and Ten Zen Questions by Susan Blackmore, an adamant skeptic, atheist, and NDE'er, record accounts by people who have had mystical experiences that have nothing to do with God or an afterlife. I have come across at least one account in which a man became an atheist because of his mystical experience.

    I have already written at length about some of my own mystical experiences. As I have researched and introspected over time, I do not conclude that they are supernatural or evidence for an afterlife at all. That doesn't make them any less important to study and learn from or I wouldn't have been researching and studying these topics since my adolescence.
     
  18. St Giordano Bruno

    St Giordano Bruno Well-Known Member

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    Then why do some children who have NDE's see visions of Santa Claus? I don't think that a child's anecdote of he/her vision of Santa Claus stacks up evidence on the Santa Claus believer's side.
     
  19. ellenjanuary

    ellenjanuary Well-Known Member

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    It is my opinion that NDEs are valuable observations only to the observer. Presented as "evidence" of anything only adds to the confusion. I've had a couple (or a few somethings) which only add to the story of a life lived - and no one has lived the story of death.
     
  20. St Giordano Bruno

    St Giordano Bruno Well-Known Member

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    I have no problem with people's testimony on near death experiences, I do think they are worthy of much scientific research, but using them as evidence for some supernatural afterlife is just a load of rubbish. Many people claim that they are not only a near death experience but an actual death experience where they meet up with their dead relatives in the next world and are persuaded to go back, and sometimes profit from publishing books on the subject.