NDE argument con
There is no scientific evidence to even suspect that anything exists outside of nature. There has never been any verifiable proof of any supernatural claim ever. In contrast, there have been thousands and thousands of observable discoveries about how the world works and operates across a multitude of disciplines. The mind is a product of a physical brain. The mind cannot exist apart from the brain. Consciousness, awareness, thoughts, emotions, memories, personality is all a direct result of brain activity. You can immediately think of many ways that all of those processes can be altered or even destroyed by affecting the brain in some way. Drugs, alcohol, disease, injury...all can effect these processes, and their mechanism of action is a physical effect on the brain. I personally do this everday. I temporarily interfere with all these things by giving my patients drugs. I can produce amnesia while keeping someone awake by giving them versed. I can produce unconsciousness through many different drugs. I can make people have temporary changes in their emotions and personality. I can cause people to hallucinate and see things that are not there. I can make someone feel 'apart' from themsleves (a dissociative state) with a drug like ketamine. I can go for an elevator ride to the wards and see the elderly with alzheimers disease who have no memory, who have nothing remaining to their original personality. I can find patients who for a variety of reasons are confused, delusional , hallucinating. I can find schizophrenic patients who truly see and hear and believe things that have no basis in reality. I can watch someone get an ECT treatment and know that they may have temporary loss of memories for past events. I can go to the ICU and find someone who is brain dead. I can go find one of the many motorcycle traumas we have who have sustained head injuries and who have obviously altered memories and personalities and thinking abilities. I can find kids that have severe developmental delay and severly compromised brain function because of a lack of oxygen at birth. I can find seizure patients whose brain function is completely interuppted by seizure activity. I can give a woman a spinal for a C-section, temporarily drop her blood pressure and have her 'feel funny', have her vision tunnel and cloud out. I can go to our medical library and look at a textbook on functional MRI and read how all our internal experiences can be mapped in terms of brain activity. I can read how electrical stimulation in certain regions of the brain can reproduce out-of-body experices and religious experiences for that matter. I can find all these examples without leaving the building, and they all are the result of physical changes to the brain. This shows us that 'mind' is a physical phenomenon. Our self, our personality, our consciousness...terms that are usually used to define the soul...are not immaterial or spiritual things. If they were they shouldn't be affected by physical changes to the brain. They clearly are. If consciousness, personality, self (our 'soul') is the product of physical processes then they cannot exist outside of the body. There can be no afterlife. Brain death has to result in the end of these things. NDE's cannot be be proof of souls or an afterlife. The content of NDEs varies with culture. Children, who presumably have not developed strongly to one faith, have very limited NDEs like a boy simply remembering talking to his brother. These to me indicate that a NDE is not what Christians want it to be. It's not Jesus meeting you in the afterlife, it's not proof of a universal afterlife...why would children and different cultures have different NDEs? There are some traits to a typical NDE, but it is generally accepted (by the scientific community anyway) that NDEs have a biological basis. A NDE is a symptom of severe brain dysfunction caused by cessation of blood flow to the brain and therefore brain hypoxia and anoxia. Narrowing of the visual field, visual hallucinations, activation of memory structures can be presumed to represent hypoxia in the temporal and occipital lobes (memory and vision). These physical symptoms can then be reprocessed under the influence of a person's cultural and religious viewpoints. An NDE is not proof that human consciousness can exist independent of brain activity. These are NEAR-death experiences. These people survived. Their brains did NOT die. A stopped heart doesn't equal brain death immediately. If it did then why do we do CPR? We do CPR to maintain some brain blood flow, to deliver some oxygen to the brain, enough to permit it's survival while we work to correct the heart rhythm. These people suffered from severly compromised cerebral blood flow, but there was still enough blood flow, enough oxygen present to allow neural activity. 'I died and they were able to bring me back' is a very lay understanding about what really was happening. Resuscitation from a cardiac arrest doesn't work quite that way. NDEs might demonstrate how a severly compromised brain can behave in a certain circumstance, but not that consciousness can function seperate from brain activity. And even if we forget all that tells us otherwise and assume that NDEs are examples of somehow human consciousness existing outside of the body, that still offers no evidence in support of god or an afterlife or anything specific to Christianity. :) that's my off the cuff thoughts on NDEs. My opinion. And it's not dogmatic. I would find honest evidence the other way very interesting and compelling.