Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An Explanation for Near-Death Experiences

Doctor Jeffrey Long, in his new book Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences, claims that near-death experiences cannot be culturally determined, because they transcend age and culture.

From this he concludes that they must be evidence of an afterlife.

Many years ago, I read a great deal about accounts of near-death experiences. The common elements (the ones which transcend age and culture) are a moving through a dark tunnel toward a bright light, being surrounded by (usually deceased) family members and (according to some sources), a vague buzzing noise that suddenly ceases.

I am amazed that no one seems to conclude that these experiences are influenced by long-buried memories of our birth. We start in a dark place, surrounded by the sound of our mother's heartbeat and intestinal gurglings. We move through a dark tunnel and emerge into a bright light, surrounded by family members.

Of course the images transcend culture and age. Being born is a universal human experience.


Tim Morrissey said...

In 1993 I was "clinically dead" at UW Hospital when my lungs shut down (pneumonia). I had the bright-light experience, but it was hovering above me as I lay on the gurney in the ER. I experienced a "floating" sensation of being above my body, looking down at the docs and nurses, but headed up toward the light. No real tunnel effect; just a hazing around the edges. I blacked out, and awoke with paddle-burns on my chest from the jump-start and a bunch of docs peering down at me.

Didn't "see God" or travel through the tunnel; just the bright light and "floating above my body, looking down" sensation. The center of my "vision" was clear but the edges hazy; and I heard the voices of the medical folks sounded distant, but the sensation of the intense white light above was unforgettable.

When I mentioned it to one of the docs, later, he said "we get a lot of that".

Ordinary Jill said...

They actually identified the specific region of the brain responsible for that "floating above your body" sensation. Scientists were able to induce the experience by zapping an electrode implanted in that region. It's the part of the brain related to our perception of our body and its relative location in space. I believe the research was published a year or two ago (maybe three at the most).

As sensory deprivation experiments have shown, when the brain is (fully or partly) cut off from normal stimuli, it starts firing randomly and creates its own stimuli. This leads to all sorts of interesting experiences for those who live to tell the tale.

It doesn't mean that there is no afterlife, simply that we cannot know that there is one based on the evidence of these brain-caused experiences.