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Medicine Science

Science Attempts To Explain Heaven 692

Posted by kdawson
from the what-gene-codes-for-the-harps dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Lisa Miller writes in Newsweek about the thesis that heaven is not a real place, or even a process or a supernatural event, but rather something that happens in your brain as you die. The thesis is based, in part, on a growing body of research around near-death experience. According to a 2000 article by Bruce Greyson in The Lancet, between 9 and 18 percent of people who have been demonstrably near death report having had an NDE. Surveys of NDE accounts show great similarities in the details, describing: a tunnel, a light, a gate or a door, a sense of being out of the body, meeting people they know or have heard about, finding themselves in the presence of God, and then returning, changed. Scientists have theorized that NDEs occur as a kind of physiological self-defense mechanism when, in order to guard against damage during trauma, the brain releases protective chemicals that also happen to trigger intense hallucinations. This theory has gained traction after scientists realized that virtually all the features of an NDE can be reproduced with a stiff dose of ketamine, a short-acting, hallucinogenic, dissociative anesthetic. 'I came out into a golden Light. I rose into the Light and found myself having an unspoken interchange with the Light, which I believed to be God,' wrote one user of his experience under ketamine. 'Dante said it better,' writes Miller, 'but the vision is astonishingly the same.'"
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Science Attempts To Explain Heaven

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  • Hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by trifish (826353)

    How did they explain the out-of-body visions experienced by people who were born blind (and then actually saw things when their heart stopped beating)?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 04, 2010 @05:41AM (#31722614)

      Blind people still "see." Brain pathways have simply been remapped so that the "vision" parts of the brain are now associated with other senses.

      If you blindfold yourself, and navigate the world by touch, you will still instinctively build a "picture" of the world around you. The spatial cognitive portions of your brain that are usually excited by vision, will come to be associated with touch, or other senses. After years, your neural pathways will remap themselves.

      In people who are born blind, those spatial picture generating portions of their brain are still functional, but more closely attuned to nonvisual senses. So they can still "see" in that they generate a spatial impression of the world around them.

      They've done experiments with artificial vision systems based on the receptors in your tongue, remapping and training the brain to "see" via your tongue's tactile receptors rather than your eyes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sznupi (719324)

      Since blindess from birth might be caused by mutliple factors, optic nerve or eye abnormalities among them, it's rather safe to say that larger areas of the brain might still experience those effects, don't you think?

      Anyway, describing such experiences as plain "seeing" by those people is probably a stretch. Especially considering that in many of them visual cortex does process some information, just not from the eyes; or that supposedly some might experience similar things to when you close and push your e

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by buttersnout (832768) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @05:45AM (#31722636)
      I'm also curious about people who see hell which none of the articles mention. I've read accounts of people feeling that they move to hell when they die and experience either eternal loneliness or demons eating them, etc. Apparently a small minority of NDEs are negative. None of the articles linked mention negative NDEs. I wonder if hell may be the effect ketamine has on some people just like some drugs have different effects on different minds. Or perhaps a different chemical is produced entirely maybe hell is part of the trauma that occurs if ketamine is not released. I've noticed an apparent similarity between waking and NDE. In both circumstances a small amount of time can seem feel very long. It would be very interesting to learn how a defensive chemical interacts with the activity in the brain that occurs as one is dying and comparing to other psychological phenomena
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sznupi (719324)

        Bad trip is bad.

      • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

        by trajik2600 (944364) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @08:46AM (#31723334)
        Most important to any psychedelic trip are set and setting. If you lead a mostly positive life and don't carry emotional baggage, your psychedelic trips should be mostly beautiful and non-threatening. If you have a lot of negative baggage built up or are in an unfamiliar or potentially threatening setting, you are more likely to have a bad trip.

        As an experienced ket tripper, I've been in a lot of mindsets going into a trip. I've had beautiful experiences that have changed me for the better, and I've had some trips to hell that have been ugly and scary. The connections to archetypes are always pretty pronounced on this drug. I've never had that happen consistently on other psychedelics like mushies.

        I think the researchers should look specifically at 5-MeO-DMT, since that is actually produced by the body and is a potent psychedelic. I believe it has a direct connection to these NDEs.
    • by kestasjk (933987) *
      [Citation needed]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by w0mprat (1317953)

      How did they explain the out-of-body visions experienced by people who were born blind (and then actually saw things when their heart stopped beating)?

      Blind people are quite capable of 'seeing' things. A blind persons brain may be more re-wired to take input from the other senses but indeed the visual parts of their brains are still intact.

      I have a family member, blind from birth, who believes what she 'sees' in her imagination to be what sight would be like. Indeed she thinks she sees colors in her dreams, and can give a good verbal description of colors and what objects would be that color. Usually quite to the surprise of a sighted person assuming a

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday April 04, 2010 @06:39AM (#31722796) Homepage Journal

      How did they explain the out-of-body visions experienced by people who were born blind (and then actually saw things when their heart stopped beating)?

      They "saw" things? What is "saw"? You mean their eyes were open when their heart stopped beating and they actually responded to visual stimulus? They were shown pictures of the 1933 Yankees and recognized Babe Ruth? What is "saw"?

      Am I "seeing" when I dream? Is that heaven I'm seeing? I mean it could be, but last night I had monsters chasing me in my dreams and I hope there are no monsters in heaven or there's been some false advertising going on. The dream I had where I was banging Izabel Goulart, now that might have been heaven. (Go ahead, google Izabel Goulart, I'll wait...Seriously. It's worth it.)

      Let's take your question again:

      How did they explain the out-of-body visions experienced by people who were born blind (and then actually saw things when their heart stopped beating)?

      Perhaps you should write to the researchers who are mentioned in the article above and ask them why their theory doesn't explain every single thing in the world that the superstitions might want to present as evidence for an afterlife?

      Please understand, it's possible these researchers were not actually trying to spoil your Easter by disproving the existence of God, OK? So don't get your eternal soul in a twist.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sznupi (719324)

        (Go ahead, google Izabel Goulart, I'll wait...Seriously. It's worth it.)

        It appear to be just a random "super" model...

    • Question (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Blue Stone (582566)

      What I want to know is how do they deal with the inherent bias of materialistic western science (I suggest there is one).

      I'm not saying that Western science is wrong, or invalid (not at all) but that it is inherently materialistic in it's outlook and in the tools it uses to measure things and test them. Is it EVER possible that the methodologies of science (as it now is) could ever validate 'spiritual' experience if it WERE true as a thing in itself, or is there an inherent bias that makes the metho

      • Re:Question (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LordVader717 (888547) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @08:43AM (#31723316)

        Well your first mistake is the term "materialistic western science". There is no other "science". Science is development of knowledge based on empirical evidence. Everything else is religion, fantasy or just plain bullshit.
        Science starts with nothing and develops theories around observations.

        So as long as nobody can define what "spiritual experiences" actually are and how they differ from the common hallucinations and fantasies of the human mind they don't really exist as a valid phenomenon.

    • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by moniker127 (1290002) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @07:15AM (#31722934)
      Science isnt about "explaining" things, it is about trying to understand things. Theres a difference.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @08:08AM (#31723128) Homepage
      Same way you'd explain that you can call someone a Christian when the vast majority by far don't follow the bible and most of their ideals are the exact opposite of Jesus' ideals.
      • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

        by GreatDrok (684119) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @03:17PM (#31726194) Journal

        "Same way you'd explain that you can call someone a Christian when the vast majority by far don't follow the bible and most of their ideals are the exact opposite of Jesus' ideals"

        Indeed. This is precisely why I don't believe in Christians. I've never met one. I've met plenty of people who claim to be Christians but since they all selectively believe bits of the bible and not other parts I just don't see how they can claim to be Christian. It reminds me of someone I studied Geology with. She was a 'Young Earther' who didn't believe the world was more than 6000 years old but she was studying a field which explicitly disagrees with her. In the end she got a degree in Geology despite her disagreement with its basic ideas and thus I don't consider her a geologist.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          The thing is if their god exist I can't honestly see that he wants people wasting their lives arguing about evolution, dinosaurs and the age of the earth because none of that stuff should really matter to them especially when there are so many people that are in poverty, starving or physically handicapped and would love to have these people putting their energy into helping them rather than trying to convince themselves that their beliefs are the best.

          I think it's a sign their faith isn't that strong whi
  • Damn You, Science! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bottles (1672000) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @05:33AM (#31722578)

    Next you'll be trying to tell us God doesn't exist.

    And we all 'evolved from apes'.

    And the iPad is a game-changer.

  • This doesn't state anything about what happens when you're dead (probably not much), just what happens when you're on the point of death. It doesn't "explain heaven" at all.

    All we've discovered here is what cats have known all along: it's comforting to purr when you're dying.

    • by sznupi (719324) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @05:54AM (#31722668) Homepage

      This does explain the prevalence of concept though.

      It's safe to assume people were experiencing various NDEs for a looong time, especially in more dangerous times - remember they didn't have to survive their injuries for long, just long enough to tell somebody. This even fits as one of the factors why people were so much more fixated on religion in brutal times.

      • by Puff_Of_Hot_Air (995689) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @06:48AM (#31722832)
        This research is probably accurate in explaining near death experiences, however I think that's as far as it goes. If you study religions, the concept of an afterlife varies quite a bit. In non of them is the "white light that is God" mentioned (to my knowledge). If you look at these near death experiences; all the cases appear in relation to where modern medicine has literally brought the person "back from the brink" (that is to say that they were very near to death indeed by modern standards) Certainly, they were not conscious during the experience. How then could primitive man regale his story when it would have lead to actual death while unconscious? More damning to the idea, though, is simply that these depictions are not represented in any of the religions.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sznupi (719324)

          What? You supposedly study religions and missed the prevalence of "good light"/etc., reunification with ancestors, a path and border point (remember, they can have differing forms depending on the culture) imagery?...

          How then could primitive man regale his story when it would have lead to actual death while unconscious?
          Well, religions themself claim that all it takes is one prophet...

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            What? You supposedly study religions and missed the prevalence of "good light"/etc., reunification with ancestors, a path and border point (remember, they can have differing forms depending on the culture) imagery?...

            (1) "Light is good" needs no religion to explain. But it's clear that something so valuable would attain religious significance, without the need to consider NDEs. (Sun)light, well, sheds light on things - it gives you warmth, it makes your plants grow, it comforts you by allowing you to see danger, it allows you to substitute knowledge for ignorance.

            (2) "I'd like to reunite with my dead ancestors" needs no religion to explain. But it's clear that a feeling of loss so strong would attain religious significa

  • Now we know what Michael Hutchence was going for.

  • Not just with drugs (Score:4, Informative)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @05:35AM (#31722590)
    I remember that Robert J. Sawyer's Neanderthal Paralax books mentioned that religious experiences can be triggered by electrical fields as well, kind of a reverse MRI i think? I'm pretty sure that part was based on actual research.

    Hmmm, a quick google search turns up this article on reading such experiences with an MRI [guardian.co.uk], but i think there was a way to trigger them too.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @05:43AM (#31722628)

    This theory has gained traction after scientists realized that virtually all the features of an NDE can be reproduced with a stiff dose of ketamine, a short-acting, hallucinogenic, dissociative anesthetic.

    . . . by taking stiff doses of ketamine. You don't want to enter such a difficult level as death without enough experience.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      This theory has gained traction after scientists realized that virtually all the features of an NDE can be reproduced with a stiff dose of ketamine, a short-acting, hallucinogenic, dissociative anesthetic.

      . . . by taking stiff doses of ketamine. You don't want to enter such a difficult level as death without enough experience.

      Speaking from experience Ketamine may have been isolating the part of my brain which records long term memories from other parts of the brain, so that the recording from that period was largely noise. The normal clocking which gives us a feeling of time passing was missing so I had no real sense of time but time definitely had an arrow. My visual field was filled with surging fields of coloured dots. I heard a roaring in my ears. I don't want to go back there, but I am not typically a drug user, either.

      I di

  • Life imitates art (Score:3, Informative)

    by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @05:58AM (#31722682) Journal

    Connie Willis wrote a novel "Passage" about scientific investigation of NDEs. I rate it as the second best book by the best author I know. (Warning: Willis's books generally fall into the categories of 'comedy' or 'tragedy'. Which do you suppose a book about what you experience when you die is going to be?)

    In Passage, the protagonists are following a two pronged strategy of interviewing patients who have had NDEs naturally, and simulating them in volunteers by using a drug, while the volunteer is in a brain scanner.

    To say more would stray into spoiler territory, so just go out and buy the book and read it.

    (For what it is worth, the book which beats "Passage" is "To Say Nothing Of The Dog", a time-travel Victorian farce.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mellon (7048)

      Huh, I thought the Domesday Book was better. But yeah, Passages wasn't bad. Willis points out one of the key problems with this kind of research, though--there's actually no reason at all to assume that the "near-death" experiences people report has anything to do with dying. You can't ask someone who has actually died what it was like, because they are dead. If they've gone to heaven, or to a new body, or just vanished like the data on your hard drive after a head crash, there's no way to definitiv

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @06:01AM (#31722690) Journal

    I think real scientists should stay well away from this kinda crap, if you got to research what happens when people die, don't link it to heaven.

    It is like "scientist" trying to explain Bible myths. How could Moses have parted the seas, what could have caused the plagues etc.

    That is like a bad episode of myth-busters where they test movie stunts. What they do first is try to convince people that a scene in the movie is somehow real and has to follow real world physics and then disprove it... learn to seperate fantasy from reality for Christ damn, for god's sake oh fuck it.

    All the happenings in the Bible can be explained very simply if you think of it as a bunch of Fantasy written by people who wanted to create a religion. There is even clear evidence that the Bible is fabricated. Even its followed accept that the New Testament was created from seperate books, edited with some parts and books left out completely. So we know that it is edited. No truly religious person would dare to edit the word of god, so what made the person who edited the new testament decide to think he could do this?

    And low and behold, if you think of it as a bad hack job, then suddenly it all makes sense. And we know religions can be entirely fabricated. Scientology anyone?

    It is amusing to see a program on trying to explain the story around Moses, when nothing in the historical record mentions this at all. Explain the parting of the red seas, but not why an exodus of slaves was not mentioned in Egyptian records. Now that is science. Up next, myth-busters and the geographic channel examine how a grandmother and a little girl can fit in a wolves stomach whole. Leave your brain at the door.

    • by professionalfurryele (877225) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @06:16AM (#31722720)

      The widespread belief (well, perhaps better described as a delusion) that there exists an afterlife is a legitimate scientific phenomena.

      "If there is precisely zero evidence for heaven, why do people believe it exists?" - This is a legitimate scientific question that isn't satisfyingly answered at present.

      This kind of research strengthens the case for disbelief and I therefore consider it very valuable. Next time someone describes how their great aunt saw God just before she died I can now point out that their aunt was probably confusing God with special K.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by nospam007 (722110) *

        ""If there is precisely zero evidence for heaven, why do people believe it exists?" - This is a legitimate scientific question that isn't satisfyingly answered at present."

        People are just afraid to die.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ultranova (717540)

        "If there is precisely zero evidence for heaven, why do people believe it exists?" - This is a legitimate scientific question that isn't satisfyingly answered at present.

        Obviously, if someone believes something, then that someone thinks there is sufficient evidence for that something.

        The question, then, becomes: on what evidence do people who believe in heaven (or afterlife in general) do so, and is that evidence valid (as in, make sense without engaging in doublethink)? Posing the question this way not on

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dorre (1731288)
      I'm with you. I dont understand how anyone can believe that god's word are supposed to be passed from person to person and that you are supposed to find the right chain of delivery to be accepted into heaven.

      I like a concept I've chosen to call 'Contamination by free will'. When you recieve a bible or coran or whatever, some human being (with free will) have written it to the format it is distributed in.

      There is no way a human being can be able to recognize the difference by words of god and man. And as
    • Interestingly, one of the study authors at least is taking this the other way. Rather than taking the similarity between NDEs and ketamine experiences as evidence that NDEs aren't spiritual, he's taking it as evidence that ketamine experiences are spiritual, just like NDEs. It's not clear as a whole that explaining NDEs was even the goal: for at least one of them, it seems that explaining ketamine experiences was the goal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by glitch23 (557124)

      All the happenings in the Bible can be explained very simply if you think of it as a bunch of Fantasy written by people who wanted to create a religion. There is even clear evidence that the Bible is fabricated. Even its followed accept that the New Testament was created from seperate [sic] books, edited with some parts and books left out completely. So we know that it is edited. No truly religious person would dare to edit the word of god, so what made the person who edited the new testament decide to think he could do this?

      Care to provide said evidence that the Bible is fabricated? By the way, history text books are edited often (at the behest of many people's agendas) to remove events that make certain groups of people look bad to the rest of the world and for many other reasons. Would you doubt everything you learned about history after knowing that Boards of Education decide what to have in the history text books? There are other history books to read as well but, *sarcasm* can you really trust anyone who writes a book *sa

  • How I faced my death (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sciencewatcher (1699186) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @06:08AM (#31722712)
    I was in bed in the early morning, I just awoke a couple of minutes before. Without prior warning it felt like all my internal organs started to move up through my trachea. I sensed I was paralyzed, unable to stop it and immediately I felt something like a heart stroke. I thought I had only a few seconds left. In those few seconds everything I had done, still had wanted to do, the implications for my family members went through my head. The brain has an enormous extra capacity when it is needed. I never felt the urge to resist or panicked, just to accept the inevitable. It later turned out my diaphragm had ruptured and my stomach had gone through that hole, collapsing my left lung and displacing my heart by 10 centimeter. It took five years to diagnose correctly.
  • by LS (57954) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @06:18AM (#31722724) Homepage

    heaven is not a real place, or even a process or a supernatural event, but rather something that happens in your brain as you die

    I challenge anyone create a testable hypothesis on whether there is a soul or life after death or heaven etc. What this experiment is testing for is a correlation between chemical processes in the brain when a person nears death and the subjective experience of said person. Where does the existence of heaven or supernatural events even come into this? Those are questions that shouldn't come into play when speaking of science. Whether an objective explanation of a subjective experience nullifies the "reality" of it or not is philosophical has nothing to do with the experiment in question. This is a bunch of horseshit.

    LS

    • by LS (57954) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @06:25AM (#31722744) Homepage

      Sorry about replying to myself, but the following quote of a statement made by the researcher referred to in the article that conducted the ketamine experiments is relevant to this discussion:

      Dr. Jansen has the following to say about the journal article that follows:
      'I am no longer as opposed to spritual explanations of these phenomena as this article would appear to suggest. Over the past two years (it is quite some time since I wrote it) I have moved more towards the views put forward by John Lilly and Stan Grof. Namely, that drugs and psychological disciplines such as meditation and yoga may render certain 'states' more accessible. The complication then becomes in defining just what we mean by 'states' and where they are located, if indeed location is an appropriate term at all. But the apparent emphasis on matter over mind contained within this particular article no longer accurately represents my attitudes. My forthcoming book 'Ketamine' will consider mystical issues from quite a different perspective, and will give a much stronger voice to those who see drugs as just another door to a space, and not as actually producing that space'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by erroneus (253617)

      Far from it being horseshit. This line of study is taking shots at the "horseshit" that is the evidence for there being a god and a soul/spirit. For many people, these near-death experiences are their primary evidence of the existence of a god and that they have an eternal spirit/soul. By explaining yet another "supernatural phenomenon" with science, we continue to chip away at the god myth. Birds once flew because it was god's will. The sun travelled around the earth because it was god's will. Animal

  • by mrcalire (1734480) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @06:36AM (#31722780)
    I've heard about these type of studies for years, and the explanations they pose. The problem is, most of the time when people experience NDE, they, are, um... dead. They have no brain waves and no heart beat. The key item being is NO BRAIN ELECTRICAL ACTIVITY. Science, I love you, but dead men dream no dreams, including about the after life. So please explain to me how a brain that is flat line on the monitor is producing, and i quote you "intense hallucinations"
    • Simple, the "electrical waves" to which you refer are the propagation of ion current flows, esp. Na+ and K+ along the neurons in the brain. Just because one cannot detect such propagation of local charge differentials does *not* mean that all chemical activity, esp. the pumping of Na+/K+ due to local ATP pools has ceased. Indeed if one's brain is not *FROZEN* there is going to be chemical activity (there is probably even some chemical activity above liquid nitrogen temperatures) -- which may be a reason why one can get better brain recovery even with no heartbeat and no electrical activity if one cools it down before attempting a reboot. (Brain rebooting is a complex interaction of proper chemical reactions and improper (harmful) chemical reactions.)

      The problem is with the current definition of "DEAD" [1]. You are not DEAD until the information content (organization) of ones brain has been damaged beyond the capability of any technology to recover. Currently the two most probable (frequent) methods for making one really dead are disassembly by incineration (cremation) and disassembly by consumption (allowing fungi/bacteria to consume a body). The next most common methods probably involves brain crushing injuries such as in earthquakes, industrial accidents, etc.

      So long as proper brain (neuronal) organization exists and most of the proper cellular structure is in place YOU ARE NOT DEAD -- you are simply "shut-down". I've got a 10+ year old 8086 based computer sitting downstairs. It runs either Windows 98 or Linux depending on how I boot it. It isn't normally "dead", its simply "off". You should read a bit more about brain/neuron physiology and cell biology to understand this. Also education regarding cryonic preservation and the future capabilities offered by robust molecular nanotechnology would be useful.

      1. The current definition of "dead" and therefore "NDE" is based on the very limited definition roughly equal to "beyond the probable restoration of significant levels of functioning using *currently* known medical technologies" [2].
      2. If one is cynical about it one might consider how prevalent the trend is to promote declaring people with fully organized brains as "dead" so as to enable the harvesting of organs for organ transplants (which surgeons and hospitals do make money from). In contrast an alternative would be to have both the supposedly "dead" individual as well as the individual(s) likely to die should they not receive an organ transplant undergo cryonic suspension [3].
      3. A third nearer term alternative, which is currently unapproved, would be hydrogen sulfide "anesthetic" preservation which appears to have certain "suspended animation" properties (may retard overall metabolic rate) and thus give people an increased opportunity for technology to "catch up" with their condition(s).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by roman_mir (125474)

      Who are these MDs, that moderated the above comment?

      The flat line you see on the machinery during NDE is the heart that stops pulsing.

      Brain activity stops within 3 minutes after clinical death but it is still possible to revive the brain tissues up to around 10-20 minutes after the blood stops oxygen flow to the brain, though most likely it will be completely damaged.

      To say that there is no electrical activity in the brain is to make a statement that the brain is dead. Once the brain is dead it cannot be b

  • Don't these researchers at least look at trip reports from the Internet? Going further one has to question their credentials, their lack of first hand experience with hallucinogenic drugs implies they never really went to university.

    If drugs can induce NDEs and indeed some even more fantastical experiences than your basic Im-dead-tunnel-of-light-OMG-aw-crap-im-back fare, this kind of shuts down any proof of a afterlife possibly presented in NDEs. It's at once depressing - oblivion after all - and kind o
  • Fortnately (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dausha (546002) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @09:06AM (#31723454) Homepage

    Fortunately, "Heaven" is not a wee bright light that occurs the instant before you die. Read through the Bible, you'll note that God exists outside his Creation. So, you're not going to be able to measure him or prove him by scientific observation.

    Furthermore, "[w]e cannot determine the character or nature of a system within itself. Efforts to do so will only generate confusion and disorder." John Boyd

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ph0rk (118461)
      Luckily that sky man living outside his creation is effectively irrelevant to those of us living in it, so we can just ignore him and go about our day.
  • by voss (52565) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @09:29AM (#31723554)

    What evolutionary advantage do NDE's serve?

    How does reducing trauma in the brains of those who are dying aid survival?

  • The ability to record an actual death experience is the centerpiece of Brainstorm [imdb.com], a classic science fiction movie from the 80s, starring Natalie Wood (in her last screen role, I believe) as the user experience designer, Christopher Walken and Louise Fletcher as the idealistic genius scientists, and Cliff Robertson as the entrepreneur. They invent a way to record brain activity, and then play back the experience so the user feels he or she has actually done it themselves. They make a "demo tape" of riding a roller coaster, hang-gliding, riding on horseback, eating great food, having sex, etc. When the chief scientist has a heart attack, she records her slow, agonizing death in an unforgettable scene. Whenever anyone plays it back, the shock starts to kill them, too.

  • by maxfresh (1435479) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @11:59AM (#31724584)
    Regardless of one's views on supernatural experiences, religion, or life after death, the arguments presented in the linked article must be rejected, because they are illogical, and very embarrasingly so for their authors, and also for their publishers.

    In essence, they argue from the premise that the mere fact that a perception of having an experience can be triggered by an artificial stimulus to the brain, implies that the experience itself is never caused by anything in objective reality, and is entirely a product of subjective internal biochemical processes. But that conclusion doesn't follow logically, at all.

    For example, we know that visual hallucinations can be triggered by artificial stimuli, but from that observation, it does not follow that light does not exist, and that those of us who claim to see things, such as this text on the screen, must be imagining it.

    We also know from experiments conducted by electrically stimulating the brains of patients undergoing brain surgery, that vivid memories of childhood experiences can be evoked, having such clarity and vividness that they seem to the patient as if they were happening right then and there on the operating table, at the time of the experiment. But from these observations it does not follow that those experiences never really took place at all, or that the persons claiming to have had those childhood experiences were merely hallucinating when they were four years old, and thought that they were playing with their father.
  • by Seth Kriticos (1227934) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @12:30PM (#31724844)

    Though not for religious purposes, but to aggregate the orgasm at jacking off while strangling them selves:

    "When the brain is deprived of oxygen, it induces a lucid, semi-hallucinogenic state called hypoxia. Combined with orgasm, the rush is said to be no less powerful than cocaine, and highly addictive" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erotic_asphyxiation [wikipedia.org]

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