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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Near Death Experiences: A Common Sense Refutation

A lot of people who have been dead for a few seconds or a few minutes before being revived again to life have reported seeing visions of the after-world. They say that they see a tunnel of vision, and they go down this tunnel. They feel love and welcome. Often they see religious imagery. Then they are revived back to life.

Are these people making up these visions? No, these visions are actually true. Plently of people all over the world have reported seeing these similar type of visions when they were dead. So I do not doubt these stories. I know that even skeptics have experienced these visions also.

Does this mean that the religious people are right after all? Does this mean that there really is a God who cares about us and when we die he watches over us to be taken to the place of afterlife? If you do not like spoilers then you might want to stop reading right now, otherwise read on.

Near death experiences offer no proof that there is an afterlife. There have been scientific tests done that refute this notion. Scientists have been able to replicate the same experiences under near death conditions. Pilots who train to fly in jets have seen similar experiences during training when the blood flow stopped going to their brain. The thing with near death experiences is that the brain is not fully shut down, it is still active for a little while before it turns off completely. During that period there is no blood flow going to the brain which induces the same experience that happens under non-death conditions.

The above paragraph is a common refutation a skeptic will use to believe in afterlife through near death experiences. But I realized a much simpler explaination that does not even need to use science, it is just common sense. I am sure I am not the first one to notice this but I never heard anyone every make this point. Let us for a moment assume that near death experiences are indeed truthful indications of an afterlife. Then we have something very interesting going on. Christian people who go through near death experiences have reported seeing images of Christ. Buddhists people may report seeing images of Buddha. And this continues from religion to religion. Each religious person sees an image associated with his religion. So if near death experieces were was real afterlife then it would imply that Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, and so on, are all correct religions. But that cannot be. All these religions cannot be correct. Is it more rational to say that these religions are all correct, or to say that near death experiences are really associated with the images that the person has a care for - and so rather people see images only to which religion they belong to? If all religions saw images of Jesus, then that would be interesting, but no, religions see themselves. This is why I do not buy into the whole afterlife thing through near death experiences.


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  2. I have been an agnostic at least until now. But as I have reviewed the scientific literature no materialistic scientific rational has been given on the causes of this phenomenon. Indeed no one has found a convincing explanation. The overall direction of all experiences even in large cohort of patients had been the same even for atheistic persons. Most of these patients are in so critical condition that they did not have time for the complex process of memory retrieval regarding holisitic or loved beings. You can see all so-called explanations have been rejected in this paper:
    There has been a change for many of persons toward a more holistic life. These also have been reported for the blind and the children without any view of what death is. Evoking such responses do not necessarily mean that they are not proof of afterlife.
    Bottomline: Yes these are not a proof, but to date, nothing against it being a proof has been convincing as well.
    Moreover, most of these have been reported from Christians, but even if some see Muhammad or Moses or Abraham or Whoever else, this do not mean the afterlife does not exist, this means that they will see whoever they like.