Arguments for the Existence of God
by Metacrock - edited by JMT
Used with Permission
XXVIII. Argument from Near Death Experience
British study suggests there is life after brain death.
Near-death episodes: Researchers rule out drugs as cause of experiences.
A. Near Death experience would seem to confirm life after death.
Everyone has heard of near death experiences. People who died and revived in the Emergency room or on the operating table report having seen a bright light, going through a tunnel and often emerging into a wonderful place where they are met by Jesus, or angels and sometimes departed loved ones. These kinds of experiences have never really proven anything because of the possibility that this is just what goes through the mind as one is dying. Skeptics thought they had put the whole issue to rest when they argued that oxygen deprivation to the brain would cause such hallucinations. But a new study now dispels this answer and offer amazing new proof for the veracity of the experience.
B. New Study Rules out old skeptical rebuttal.
The Sunday Telegraph
LONDON - Oct 24, 2000
"The first scientific study of near-death experiences has found new evidence to suggest consciousness or "the soul" can continue to exist after the brain has ceased to function. The findings by two eminent doctors, based on a year-long study of heart-attack survivors, could provoke fresh controversy over one of the world's most enduring enigmas: Is there life after death? Reports of near-death experiences -- in which people close to death report vivid encounters with bright lights and heavenly beings -- date back centuries, but the phenomena have been treated with skepticism by most academics."
1) NDE after brain death.
"The new study concludes, however, that a number of people have almost certainly had these experiences after they were pronounced clinically dead. This would suggest the mind or consciousness can survive the death of the brain. Based on interviews with survivors of heart attacks at Southampton General Hospital's cardiac unit, the new study is to be published in the respected medical journal Resuscitation next year."[Petre Sunday Telegraph]
This Study doesn't say Brain death it says "clinical death." But, there is evidence of brain death in many NDE Cases.
Death and Dying
"This one you need to take up with the American Medical Association. Their definition of death is no brain activity. Many people who have NDEs are connected to EEG machines that are flat-lined. There is no brain activity and no heart beat. This constitutes physical death. There is also an argument that says the brain continues to function after there is no activity. Mainly from the resuscitation efforts that are being conducted. This argument is questionable and not verifiable. Remember that many patients have been pronounced dead, and the death certificate signed. Some are going to, or are in the morgue, when they revive. The length of time a patient is brain dead varies from a few minutes to several hours in the NDE accounts I have read. In FAQ 05, the patient had been dead for 40 minutes before revival. And brain activity can not account for the new information the patient has when revived, that was not available to him, when he died. Actually the Near Death Experience proves that life continues after death, so no one really dies at all. The longest time someone has been dead (that I know of) goes to Grigorievich Rodonai* a Russian, who was killed by the KGB. He was in the morgue for 3 days in cold storage. During the autopsy, he regained consciousness. He has recovered without permanent injury and is now living somewhere in Texas, USA. He also had a extremely long NDE an promised to write a book about it. Don't know if he did or not."
[I met that guy! He knew my professor in seminary! He seemed very genuine]
2) Study Rules out oxygen argument.
a) post death experience should be impossible.
[Petre Sunday Telegraph]
"The study's authors, Dr. Peter Fenwick, a consultant neuro-psychiatrist at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, and Dr. Sam Parnia, a clinical research fellow and registrar at Southampton hospital, stress more research is needed. "These people were having these experiences when we wouldn't expect them to happen, when the brain shouldn't be able to sustain lucid processes or allow them to form memories that would last,'' Dr. Parnia said. "So it might hold an answer to the question of whether mind or consciousness is actually produced by the brain or whether the brain is a kind of intermediary for the mind, which exists independently."
b) Patients did have post death memories.
'During the study period, 63 cardiac-arrest patients survived and were interviewed within a week. Of those, 56 had no recollection of their period of unconsciousness, a result that might have been expected in all cases. Seven survivors, however, had memories, although only four passed the Grayson scale, the strict medical criteria for assessing near-death experiences. These four recounted feelings of peace and joy, time speeded up, heightened senses, lost awareness of body, seeing a bright light, entering another world, encountering a mystical being and coming to a "point of no return." Three of them described themselves as non-practicing Anglicans while the fourth was a non-practicing Roman Catholic.'[Ibid]
c) Raises questions of the Spiritual.
'Added Dr. Fenwick: "If the mind and brain can be independent, then that raises questions about the continuation of consciousness after death. It also raises the question about a spiritual component to humans and about a meaningful universe with a purpose rather than a random universe."
d) Effects not due to Oxygen deprivation.
'By examining medical records, the researchers said the contention of many critics -- that near-death experiences are the result of a collapse of brain functions caused by lack of oxygen -- are highly unlikely. None of those who had experiences had low levels of oxygen.'[Ibid]
3) Rules out drugs.
C. Study changes Skeptical researchers.
[Petre Sunday Telegraph]
"Researchers were also able to rule out claims that unusual combinations of drugs were to blame, because the resuscitation procedure in the hospital unit was the same in every case."
"I started off as a skeptic," said Dr. Parnia. "But having weighed up all the evidence, I now think that there is something going on." "Essentially, it comes back to the question of whether the mind or consciousness is produced from the brain. "If we can prove that the mind is produced by the brain, I don't think there is anything after we die because essentially, we are conscious beings. "If, on the contrary, the brain is like an intermediary which manifests the mind, like a television will act as an intermediary to manifest waves in the air into a picture or a sound, we can show that the mind is still there after the brain is dead. And that is what I think these near-death experiences indicate."
D. Answer on non-Christian religious experience.
Skeptics also answer that there are many NDE's that contain experiences of other religions, those who see Buddha or Mohamed coming to greet them. Of course Skeptics tend to view this as disproof of the whole thing, how could all the different religions be true in the afterlife. But there are two possible answers.
1) Our NDE’s are better than theirs.
Make the Skeptic go back to the original data and show that the experience happened after actual brain death, when the brain would not be functioning at all. Some NDE’s can be hallucinations caused by oxygen deprivation, of course, and that might be ones involving other religions. But this is not a very good argument. It is quite likely that many of these "pagan" or non-Christian experiences also occur after brain death. In any case it's too self serving.
2) The Experience isn't literal.
Most people are thinking that the NED is the literal experience of the afterlife seen just the way it is in all its glory. This is not very likely. Probably the images in such an experience represent some sort of symbolic reality of the mind. This makes sense because the after life is bound to be so vastly different from anything we know that it would be impossible to process the information, or to remember it accurately, without some sort of symbolic mediation.
The impressive evidence form this study that hints at the existence of God is the possibility of memories, symbolic or otherwise, after the brain is dead and should not be operating. But the content can't be taken too literally.
Death and Dying
"Yes. The proof is simple and straightforward. The individual having the experience dies and then comes back to life. When he comes back to life he has information that was not available to him before he died. The only way this information could be in his possession is that he was alive after his physical death. It is true that not all NDEs produce this kind of information, but hundreds do. FAQ number 5 is an example of this. Skeptics have no explanation for this so they usually argue that the patient was really semi-conscious at the time. This argument fails because the semi-consciousness state would have to go undetected by an array of the most modern monitoring equipment known to man, as well as a number of doctors and other trained personnel. In FAQ number 5,even if such a semi-conscious existed (which it didn't), that would not explain the patient's ability to describe the physical features of the doctors and personnel present while he was dead."
"Another, even weaker argument, is that human error was involved and the patient somehow obtain this information without the knowledge of the doctors and staff. This might have merit in one or two instances, but there are hundreds of accounts with this kind of information. It would not be possible that they all were human error. A strong yes, the Near Death Experiences do prove that life exists after death."
By Metacrock. Used with Permission.
For more articles by the same author, see Doxa.