During the last month and a half, I have taken my readers through a relatively superficial but as all-encompassing as I could ride exploring the science of Near-Death Experiences. Those who have been following me since the beginning of this mini-series will remember that I set out to “build as a systematic, logical and compelling case as I can to argue that NDEs are fundamentally incompatible with the brain-generates-the-mind paradigm”.
I did not set out to build a case for the fact that NDEs provide further evidence of the survival of human consciousness to bodily death. I am personally convinced of that, but that was not the point. The survival hypothesis is the next logical step, and would raise the bar of criticism and skeptic fury even higher.
I simply set out to demonstrate that what we are constantly told to be a fact (the brain-generates-mind paradigm) is simply not true. Please review with me the five statements I have formulated throughout these articles:
- According to the prevailing theories in neuroscience, any conscious experience – notably including a highly complex experience such an NDE, involving the formation of detailed, long-lasting memories and resulting in significant psychological and behavioural changes – requires the full functionality and coordination of several anatomical functional unites of the brain, most of which are located in the cerebral cortex.
- Immediately following a cardiac arrest, the “full functionality and coordination of several anatomical functional units of the brain, mostly located in the cerebral cortex” which is commonly believed to support the emergence of consciousness, awareness, cognition and the formation of memories cease to exist.
- Each and every one of the mechanisms proposed so far to explain Near-Death Experiences (fantasy, projections, hallucinations, hypoxia, hypercarbia and temporal lobe seizures) is incompatible with empirical data. More fundamentally, all of them would require a functioning brain in order to produce the experience.
- The most basic phenomenological aspects of the NDE (including the continuity of experience, the patient’s lucidity and orientation during the experience and the formation of long-lasting, detailed memories) are incompatible with the hypothesis that the experience is had immediately before or immediately after the period of unconsciousness caused by cardiac arrest.
- Although conclusive experimental proof is still missing, both a vast body of anecdotal evidence and in-depth investigations carried out by trained scientists indicate that NDErs do perceive veridical details (and form long-lasting memories about them) as they are undergoing resuscitation, i.e. when all the cerebral functions commonly believed to support consciousness and memory formation are absent.
The prevailing theories in neuroscience concerning the emergence of consciousness are therefore wrong. Alternative number one: a “hyper-conscious” experience with its associated detailed memories and life-transforming psychological changes can be produced by the poorly organised activity of groups of neurons which might still be functioning when the rest of the brain is shut down. Alternative number two: consciousness is not generated by the brain – it is a more fundamental component of reality, which a functioning brain “tunes into” but which exists independently.
At the beginning of this mini-series I also said that I was providing this as an “aid” to those who would like to take on skeptics and materialists. In my view, a critical review of the evidence we have leaves only the two alternatives mentioned above, both of which invalidate current theories. I would love to hear from any reader who have actually engaged in a discussion of the basis of the logical argument I have outlined in my five statements.
And now, after this tour de force, I will take a few weeks off my blogging and concentrate on the upcoming launch of the Love Knows No Death initiative with the Forever Family Foundation.
Thank you as ever for your continued attention.