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"There's life in the eye."

When psychic impressions rise to the level of consciousness there is often this type of distortion.

In "Remote Viewing - The Real Story" by Ingo Swann, which you can download from the internet, Ingo Swann desicribes, in Chapter 16, how during OBE's his conscious mind did not process his perceptions in a normal fashion. In one experiment he psychically percieves something that looks like UT but was really the number 5. Both have a similar pattern of lines and curves. Somehow OBE perceptiosn don't get processed by the conscious mind or, they do but not effectively the way they do during normal consciousnness.

Swann writes in his uniquely idiosyncratic style

"Think of this as follows:
(1) A hidden extrasensory perceptual SYSTEM that functions with rules and a logic of its own;
(2) How the cognitive, conscious mind interfaces (or does not) with that hidden system; and
(3) Can the INTERFACING be improved?

Without considering the implications contained in the two trios above, you will never understand what remote viewing is.
And, as well, you will never understand the basis for anything which goes under the heading of INTUITION."

This phenomena may also explain some of the oddities that occur in spirit communications that come through mediums.

Similarly when the NDE'er says "I could say it was Jesus, I could say it was God, but who am I to know that?"

It may simply be his mind's way of representing a highly evolved entity.

On the other hand, there are suggestions that spirits can multi task and put their attention in many places at once, as well as split and rejoin aspects of their identity. So it may be possible that all these reports of Jesus might really be Jesus.


The fact that there are theories to explain NDE's miss the point completely. If coming close to dying causes an NDE then any factor occuring near death might cause them. Anoxia can cause an NDE if it goes on long enough because anoxia can kill a person. How can saying anoxia does or doesn't cause NDE's prove or mean anything? What proves an NDE to be paranormal is verified information the experiencers bring back that they could not have obtained with their normal senses even if the were conscious, or information percieved when they are verifiably brain dead, or when NDE's are experienced by multiple people who verify each other's accounts.


In this experiment where hidden symbols are put in the operating rooms, how will the NDE'rs know to look for the symbols? Will the doctors tell every patient in the hospital that if they have an NDE to look for the symbols? I doubt they do that. This might be a flaw in their experiment.

I find it all too easy to imagine that, were I to encounter the same experience, looking around for symbols or words in hidden places would probably not be foremost in my thoughts. Being able to look down and see yourself, coupled with the realization that the experience was NOT a dream, would most likely be extremely amazing, more than enough to disturb your "presence of mind" (if I may use that phrase). The addition of the other factors (light effects, seeing deceased family and friends, etc.) would probably command the attention to the extent that seeking previously secreted words or images would be accidental or unintended. Still in all, I agree that the testimony adds to the already substantial body of NDE reportage. You're right, Michael: as comedian Steven Wright (no relation) observes, we "can't have everything. Where would we put it?"

Sartori recently published The Near-Death Experiences of Hospitalized Intensive Care Patients: A Five Year Clinical Study, which includes this case.

The book is pricey (north of $100), but Ulrich Mohrhoff has a positive review available at AntiMatters. He specifically mentions this case in respect to the anomaly regarding the damaged arm.

Speaking of Mohroff’s review of Sartori’s book, an excerpt he selected for the review is thought-provoking. Emphasis is mine:

“It is time to once again acknowledge these experiences and learn from the spiritual insights. Advances in consciousness studies, which are currently in their infancy, will develop rapidly and rejuvenate a spiritually depleted society. According to the materialistic view of the world, life after death cannot be possible. This research suggests that the materialistic beliefs are no longer valid and require revision and expansion. If it is confirmed with future research that NDEs and OBEs are evidential of a future life then it appears that the religious perspective of life has been correct. This research appears to corroborate what Christianity and other religions of the world have promoted with regard to life after death. However, in view of the theory advanced by this book, the belief of life after death is far too simplistic a notion. The religious perspective suggests that a soul leaves the physical body and continues its existence independently in another realm experienced in accordance with one’s culture. This viewpoint is dependent on the soul leaving the body. This research suggests that the soul does not leave the body because it has always existed, and it existed before the body came into being. It is the body which leaves the soul and the soul then returns to its source of consciousness, what the religious-minded may refer to as God. (313–314)”

"The patient reported some, but not all, of these symptoms. Hypercarbia seems to produce a dreamlike experience, while the patient insisted that his experience was not a dream"

Perception in an Advanced Lucid Dreaming or "Out of body experience" state can in a limited sense feel as real as a waking consious experience.

His opinion if it's a dream or not is not relevant,the dreamworld seems to be like the upgrade of hallucinations as during dream "out of body" experiences Especially During Sleep paralysis u are viable to experience freightening Hallucinations or the opposite,Exquisite freedom and Joyful feelings as well as see things which obviously are not there while the room u are in seems about 75% similar to the room during waking life.

This is a theory of mine but I think dreams are influenced by the feelings/experiences of the body which are stored in a particular part of the brain.During a near Death experience at least in those convincing ones that part of the brain might be temporarily not working as it would during sleep,thus the "Feelings that influence dreams are not able to influence your perceptions while floating above your body or meeting a relative.

In some cases people reported seeying Living Relatives while near death,this offcourse does not seem logical.During a Sleep Out of body experience this is just the same because ->dreaming/hallucination state influences the Sleep "Out of body experience"

When the body/brain can't influence the near death experience state people like Pam Reynolds or the above case will be able to perceive more realistic spiritualistic encounters.

Though as I'm no biologist I still have to research which parts of the brain play the part and as such my theory is merely one to investigate further.

"In this experiment where hidden symbols are put in the operating rooms, how will the NDE'rs know to look for the symbols? Will the doctors tell every patient in the hospital that if they have an NDE to look for the symbols? I doubt they do that. This might be a flaw in their experiment."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

No one wants to come back! Why would they be looking for symbols? They are hoping like heck that the experience never ends. People only come back because they are made to or they have left little children behind or children don't want their parents to suffer. Pam Reynold's Uncle had to push her into her body as she viewed it with disgust. When people leave the body they feel very little attachment to it. They are floating up by the ceiling and leave the body with barely a backward glance. They say things like "the real me was up there floating by the ceiling!" The soul uses the body to learn about the physical universe and then discards it like a pair of worn out tennis shoes. Looking for symbols is the furthest thing from their consciousness, they are immersed in the experience and only leave heaven under duress. There is a guy from our Church, Todd, that had a near death experience at age 8 and he said he saw the light and felt overwhelming love. He was angry that he wasn't allowed to stay and spent his early youth trying to get back to where he was. He is now married with two beautiful sons and sort of sees the reason he had to come back, but he is still looking forward to going back into that Light.

New study (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0903/09031204) suggests that memories are stored in the brain - somehow this contradicts that the mind can work independently of the brain. Taking all evidence into consideration doesn't support that the mind works when the brain is dead but rather that an NDE is some special state of consciouness when the brain is under pressure. This also fits with the Pam Reynolds case whose Near Death experience occured before she was actually flatlined.

" Taking all evidence into consideration doesn't support that the mind works when the brain is dead but rather that an NDE is some special state of consciouness when the brain is under pressure"

The last part I can somewhat agree with as I believe that many NDE'ers experience some sort of Hallucination/Dreamform.However "taken as a whole" u'd also have to explain how Pam Reynolds could've "Seen" what instruments were being used on her or the case above and everything that she saw in the condition she and he were in.
It doesn't make sense to just say oh it was a "special state of the brain as it doesn't explain away those details.

Besides I believe that memory is also stored in the brain in a limited sense and if you make it a habit to think in a specific way it's not so strange at all.As Rupert Sheldrake would say:"Are the laws of nature more like habits?"

I'd say that pretty much counts for the brain and our way of thinking.It still doesn't say anything about the possibility of a seperate mind so I don't know where you're getting at.


If memories are stored in the brain I don't see how this leaves room for a seperate mind. I would assume that consciouness itself then also is a brain process.

If memories are stored in the brain, how do they explain "transplanted memories" i.e. cases of organ transplant patients that recall memories from the donor? All this reductionist neurophysiology reminds of the old concept of “phrenology” (which curiously enough today phrenology is disregarded and considered pseudo-science). IMHO neuroscientists today have a great confusion between the hardware (brain) and the software (mind) of that computer we call human consciousness.

Oh memories may be stored in the brain. Problem is, you have to show that they are ONLY stored in the brain.

A computer analogy: Opening a program on your hard drive puts it in your RAM. But it does not follow that is is ONLY in your RAM.

P.S. My above comment was in response to Steen and the article he posted that was published today.

New study (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0903/09031204) suggests that memories are stored in the brain - somehow this contradicts that the mind can work independently of the brain

Ther is not a contradiction. From a logical point of view, if memories are stored in the brain, it doesn't logically implies that memories are produced by a brain, or that they only can be stored there.

I can store my keys in my pocket, but it doesn't implies that my keys were produced by my pocket, or that they can't be stored in other places (e.g. in a box)

If memories were "only" stored in a brain, then we could conclude that they can't be stored in other places. But afterlife evidence suggest otherwise (e.g. In Joan Sloan's séances, the "etherians" can remember specific facts when they lived on earth, even thought their physical bodies, including their brains, have dissapeared or been destroyed, functionally and structurally, by after-death corruption)

According to the study "the researchers show that our memories are recorded in regular patterns, a finding which challenges current scientific thinking", and it's consistent with dualist interactionism.

If I record my voice in a CD, it doesn't implies that my voice is produced (in a ontological sense) by the CD, or that my voice can't exist without a CD (or be stored in other instruments, like a cassette). The CD only reproduces a copy of my voice, but not produce my original voice (i.e. my voice doesn't depend of a CD to exist).

Let's suppose that (for whatever philosophical reasons) someone can't understand the above analogy, and he wants to argue that my voice is actually produced by the CD, and that without a CD, my voice doesn't exist (which is what materialism entails).

To prove it, he argues "If a press "play", your voice is produced (you can hear it, etc); I a press "stop", your voice dissapears. Thus, the conclusion is obvious: your voice is produced by the CD technology, and it entails that your voice can't exist without it (if you don't believe me, then you can destroy the CD and see of the voices can be heard when your press again "play". You wont', because your voice can't exist without a CD as a material base)"

The fallacy of the above argument is obvious, because it assumes that constant correlations (pressing the "play" button = hearing of the voice in a CD player) implies original (ontological) production. In fact, constant correlations is what materialists use to support their argument! (ommitting that correlations don't implies causation, and less production; or that correlations are granted by the dualist too)

Actually, the CD player "reproduces a copy" of my original voice; but my orginal voice can exist after the CD has been destroyed. Granted, if you destroys the CD Player (or the CD) you can't hear the "copy of my voice" anymore. But my original voice hasn't been affected at all (in fact, it can be stored in other CD or in other player).

That explains that, in Stevenson's research, the memories of the deceased didn't dissapear when the person died; these memories were stored in the person's brain, but they survived the person's death, and are now stored in a new brain: the brain of the children remember them

So, taking all evidence into consideration (that includes afterlife evidence) we have support to the idea that the mind works when the brain is dead.

For the record, in my above comment, when I said "which is what materialism entails", I was refering to the mind-body problem. I should have wrote "which is what materialism entails regarding the mind (and memories)"

It's to avoid misunderstandings of my argument.

"In this experiment where hidden symbols are put in the operating rooms, how will the NDE'rs know to look for the symbols? Will the doctors tell every patient in the hospital that if they have an NDE to look for the symbols? I doubt they do that. This might be a flaw in their experiment."

Right. It is a problem. I suggested in an earlier similar thread on this blog that they would actually need someone prepared to hold a PADDLE with a number or picture facing the ceiling, and it would have to be held OVER the body of the person who is dying.

Since so many NDEs have the feature that the experiencer is seeing his body from above, a numbered or pictured paddle facing the ceiling and held OVER the body is the only way you could be sure that a disembodied spirit SHOULD see it if they are really disembodied.

I hope the people devising the NDE study are smart enough to figure that out by themselves.

This comment is mainly toward Steen

Read this article if you have time- Is the Brain Really Necessary.

http://www.unexplainable.net/artman/publish/article_1740.shtml

The study you used how would it explain these cases of memory?

Also take a look at this Alzheimer case.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1580392,00.html

How would this study explain this man's memory?

To Dmduncan

With the symbols we just need one person to nail it to prove that consciousness is separate from the brain, so wish for it :)

>>Taking all evidence into consideration doesn't support that the mind works when the brain is dead but rather that an NDE is some special state of consciouness when the brain is under pressure.<<

The problem with this is that veridical perception has also been documented in demonstrably clinically dead patients, see Fenwick's and Lommel's respective papers and follow up commentaries.

As for smoking gun evidence, the funding finally came through and the largest ever study of near-death experiences in history is currently underway in various hospitals in the US, UK and Austria. Double-blinded symbol/shape displays have been set up above eye-level in the ER's in the hope that somebody will eventually bite, the greater the number of these set ups the better the odds of a hit.

http://www.livescience.com/health/080912-near-death.html

Because if veridical perception is indeed real then it's only a matter of time until somebody glances in the right direction.

“So, taking all evidence into consideration (that includes afterlife evidence) we have support to the idea that the mind works when the brain is dead.”

This is what my research indicates that the mind and even an astral body work without a physical body. This is why I have used a cross validation approach to try and make sense of all this paranormal phenomena, which can get confusing. Near death experiences gives us a snapshot of the after life experience but the ability of souls to come through a medium and knows things that would be impossible for the medium or the sitter to know for me anyhow is more convincing than a near death experience.

I have never found anyone that came back from a near death experience with all knowledge. Many come back with a whole new outlook on life and wanting to be a service to others and most of all most come back losing their fear of death.

I even have a picture of a soul leaving the body shot by a professional photographer as medics are working on the body. I have shown this picture to several professional photographers and they have no explanation for this misty looking human size cloud hovering above the body. Also the fire chief that was the medic at that time working on that person has it hanging in his office and has shown it to several photographers and none have come up with an explanation for this picture.

“With the symbols we just need one person to nail it to prove that consciousness is separate from the brain, so wish for it :)”

I doubt this is true, as it appears that one has to experience the phenomena or some type of enlightened realization to remove all doubt. There are exceptions of course as Findlay worked with Sloan the medium for 12 years and that experience with Sloan convinced Findlay of the ability of the soul to survive death and indeed communicate with relatives through Sloan after they had crossed over.

If one person “nails it” there will be all kinds of explanations as to why that person knew those numbers. Although I do believe that at some point we merge with this pure or absolute awareness it appears that we have many experiences and much to learn and many transitions to accomplish before this occurs. Of course many of these advanced spirits claim that individuality always remains.

william can you take a photo of this picture showing the soul leaving the body and upload it to imageshack.us website or some other image hosting site and then post the link please?

I would like to see it cause I remember seeing a photo on the net like this a few years ago but not entirely sure if it is the same one, my memory isn't as good as it use to be.

if I can find it. a couple of years ago someone asked to see it and I was unable to find it then.

I meant to have it framed but never got around to it. my wife has promised to help me look this weekend and she is much better at finding things in our house than me.

the fire chief or assistant fire chief of sun lakes az has it in his office hanging to show his fire fighters why not to discuss the condition of the person they are applying medical care to. ie the person may be listening to every word they say.

the person they were applying medical help to in this photo did not recover.

Michael,
I tripped across your blog in a Google search. Excellent! I don't view too many blogs, save for Instapundit, but I'll be back!
I especially liked your post on November 8th about the new age flakes like P.M.H. Atwater. For a while there I was afraid that I might be alone in that assessment.
Again, thank you for this reasonable and intelligent blog. It is what the internet is all about.

Micheal H-
"This research suggests that the soul does not leave the body because it has always existed, and it existed before the body came into being. It is the body which leaves the soul ..."
Some might say, "I'm in my body."
Perhaps it is more accurate to say, "My body is in me."

Perhaps it is more accurate to say, "My body is in me."

It's certainly an expanded view of the self isn't it? It's also supported by other forms of mystical testimony (I am That).

I thought of Jill Bolte Taylor a couple of times while reading the review of Sartori's study at Antimatters. The following comment from the transcript of her presentation at the http://blog.ted.com/2008/03/jill_bolte_tayl.php#more>TED conference last March lends support to this hypothesis:

When I awoke later that afternoon I was shocked to discover that I was still alive. When I felt my spirit surrender, I said goodbye to my life, and my mind is now suspended between two very opposite planes of reality. Stimulation coming in through my sensory systems felt like pure pain. Light burned my brain like wildfire and sounds were so loud and chaotic that I could not pick a voice out from the background noise and I just wanted to escape. Because I could not identify the position of my body in space, I felt enormous and expensive, like a genie just liberated from her bottle. And my spirit soared free like a great whale gliding through the sea of silent euphoria. Harmonic. I remember thinking there's no way I would ever be able to squeeze the enormousness of myself back inside this tiny little body.

Taylor also spends a great deal of time attempting to express that she sees the right brain as that which connects us to the larger Self, while it is our analytically-inclined left brain that constructs our limited sense of self - and that it is the latter which most of us spend our lives identifying with. Consider her position in the context of the following from the AntiMatters review:

The specific area that facilitates anomalous experience appears to be the limbic system in the right temporal lobe. It has been suggested that it is the underlying factor in NDEs, OBEs, psychic powers, and religious and mystical experiences. Considering the inadequacies of reductionistic explanations, it is reasonable to suggest, as Dr Sartori does, that the brain may act as a filter and that its filter action may be correlated with the right temporal lobe and limbic system.

In any case, sonic, if you haven't read the review yet, I thought you might appreciate the following, if I'm properly recalling some of your comments in previous threads.

NDEs can be very effective in the spiritual counselling of dying patients and in supporting their relatives. From a nursing perspective, the author observes, it is helpful for the NDEr to be given the opportunity to discuss their experience, thus helping them to integrate it into their life, giving them a greater understanding of their NDE. Hearing about the NDEs of other patients and talking to other patients is also beneficial for patients who survive the ITU and are having difficulty reintegrating into their previous lifestyle.

Off-topic, but relevant to ZC's comment in the "Anecdotal" thread, the recently released American Religious Identification Survey (54,000 participants) is consistent in many respects with the Pew US Religious Landscape Survey that was released last year. Both surveys reported that those identifying with atheism represent 1.6% of the population - but there are some subtleties involved:

"Only 1.6 percent of Americans call themselves atheist or agnostic. But based on stated beliefs, 12 percent are atheist (no God) or agnostic (unsure), while 12 percent more are deistic (believe in a higher power but not a personal God). The number of outright atheists has nearly doubled since 2001, from 900 thousand to 1.6 million. Twenty-seven percent of Americans do not expect a religious funeral at their death."

The home page of the more recent survey follows and the full results are available in PDF from the home page:

http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/

Thanks for that survey, Michael H. I have to read it carefully, but I'd like to do a a comment based on a superficial and fast look on it:

"The challenge to Christianity in the U.S. does not come from other religions but rather from a rejection of all forms of organized religion"

A rejection of "all forms of organized religion" is precisely what organized atheism/pseudo-skepticism is all about. Is that caused by the aggresive and clever media and literary propaganda of organized "new" atheism (Dawkins et al.)?

If the answer is "yes", then I'm seriously concerned (not because Christianity is being rejected; but because the atheist propaganda, and its underlying materialist and anti-spiritual metaphysics, is effective, at least to undermine other people spiritual beliefs, including christian beliefs).

If the answer is "no", then we should to ask why Americans are rejecting organized religion (many responses could be given that question).

My provisional opinion (as an "outsider" non-US citizen) is this: the propaganda of atheists is convincing in certain circles (academy, young intellectuals, some internet freaks, etc.) but not for most common americans or US citizens (at least, not as serious alternative to religion). This explains the low porcentage of self-proclaimed "atheists" (consistently below 5% in almost all the surveys, and less of 2% in this survey)

Other people (The “Nones”, no stated religious preference, atheist, or agnostic) probably includes the spiritual seekers (e.g. buddhists and others like me or many of you) not related with organized religion. But they could have been influenced by other factors different to the atheist propaganda.

A fact slightly (and partially) supporting my hypothesis is in Table 4 (page 10), when asked Regarding the existence of God, do you think . . . ?.

Only a 2,3% responded "There is no such thing" (This is the "hard" philosophical materialistic-atheist pseudo-skeptical position on God.) The other options ("There is no way to know" and "I’m not sure" reflects the non-materialistic "soft" atheism or agnosticism)

So, we could assume that ideological atheists (i.e. the materialistic, organized and apologetic ones ) are consistently below 3%, they keep being a very small minority in U.S. Socially, and for all practical purposes, they are almost non-existent (i.e. non influential).

Obviously, the data is open to other interpretations, I've given my opinion based on a superficial reading of that survey.

Your alternative interpretations are welcome.



If the answer is "yes", then I'm seriously concerned (not because Christianity is being rejected; but because the atheist propaganda, and its underlying materialist and anti-spiritual metaphysics, is effective, at least to undermine other people spiritual beliefs, including christian beliefs).

If the answer is "no", then we should to ask why Americans are rejecting organized religion (many responses could be given that question).

The http://religions.pewforum.org/reports#>Pew survey had an interesting take on this question. It appears that spirituality is held in high regard, while dogmatism is on the wane. If we accept this premise, then we may already be past the heyday of dogmatic atheism:

"Most Americans agree with the statement that many religions – not just their own – can lead to eternal life. Among those who are affiliated with a religious tradition, seven-in-ten say many religions can lead to eternal life. This view is shared by a majority of adherents in nearly all religious traditions, including more than half of members of evangelical Protestant churches (57%). Only among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Mormon groups (57%) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (80%), which together comprise roughly 2.4% of the U.S. adult population, do majorities say that their own religion is the one true faith leading to eternal life.

"Most Americans also have a non-dogmatic approach when it comes to interpreting the tenets of their own religion. For instance, more than two-thirds of adults affiliated with a religious tradition agree that there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their faith, a pattern that occurs in nearly all traditions. The exceptions are Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, 54% and 77% of whom, respectively, say there is only one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion."

The above quote is found on the tab labeled "Report 2: Religious Beliefs & Practices / Social & Political Views".

I've often thought that virtually everyone has had - at some point - at least some measure of personal experience that is suggestive of a larger purpose and meaning to existence. I'd further guess that the shifting perspectives on, and affiliations with, any given religion arise in no small part from a sense that no one faith has all of the answers - not from a sense that we're living in a cold, mechanistic universe that arose accidentally (as the materialists would have us believe).

That's the only thing that makes sense to me in the context of another observation in the Pew survey - "If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether."

It appears that many, many people are seeking answers, while very few are willing to accept the utter arrogance of atheism as even remotely approaching the truth. And if the earlier Pew observation has validity, the arrogance inherent in other dogmatic tenets isn’t held in particularly high regard either. For what it’s worth, I’d consider all of these as very positive indicators.

I wouldn't worry that atheism will conquer the world. For all the killing and indoctrination that they did, the materialist-communists failed to even conquer the religious tendencies of their own populations.

And I have yet to see, hear of, or meet an atheist about whom I could say "I would like to be like THAT guy." They always seem to be pulled too tight like a guitar string ready to pop; condescending, arrogant, easily provoked; in short, they do not exhibit the kinds of characteristics I would emulate if I wanted my life to be a good one.

And that may be why they exist in so few numbers. They seem to be walking, talking advertisements for general unpleasantness.

“For what it’s worth, I’d consider all of these as very positive indicators.”

I agree but we tend to think that spiritual movement will be faster than what it really is. The spiritualists as a religion made many mistakes and one of them was thinking spiritual awaking would be faster than what it has been. Findlay who did research on john Sloan felt spiritualism was the next big wave of awaking and it did not occur. He has since come through a direct voice medium and appeared to be a bit upset with this failure of spiritualism as a religious movement.

“They seem to be walking, talking advertisements for general unpleasantness.”

My experiences with the atheists support this statement. We humans even our children tend to evaluate us but what they see rather than what we say. What I find fascinating about the atheists is they appear to think they are the only ones that have an open mind. The always attack religious dogma and seldom take on consciousness.

just found this article online today, I myself think it's a load of rubbish...

'God-spot' research finds faith hard-wired in the brain

A belief in God is deeply embedded in the human brain, which is programmed for religious experiences, according to a United States study.

Scientists searching for the neural "God spot", which is supposed to control religious belief, believe several areas of the brain form the biological foundations of religious belief.

The researchers said their findings supported the idea that the brain had evolved to be sensitive to any form of belief that improved the chances of survival, which could explain why a belief in God and the supernatural became so widespread in human evolutionary history.

"Religious belief and behaviour are a hallmark of human life, with no accepted animal equivalent, and found in all cultures," said Professor Jordan Grafman, from the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, near Washington.

"Our results are unique in demonstrating that specific components of religious belief are mediated by well-known brain networks and they support contemporary psychological theories that ground religious belief within evolutionary-adaptive cognitive functions."

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Scientists are divided on whether religious belief has a biological basis.

Some evolutionary theorists have suggested that Darwinian natural selection may have put a premium on individuals if they were able to use religious belief to survive hardships that may have overwhelmed those with no religious convictions.

Others have suggested that religious belief is a side effect of a wider trait in the human brain to search for coherent beliefs about the outside world. Religion and belief in God, they argue, are just a manifestation of this intrinsic, biological phenomenon that makes the human brain so intelligent and adaptable.

The latest study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved analysing the brains of volunteers, who had been asked to think about religious and moral problems and questions. For the analysis, researchers used a functional MRI machine, which can identify the most active regions of the brain.

They found that people of different religious persuasions and beliefs, including atheists, tended to use the same electrical circuits in the brain when solving a moral conundrum as well as when dealing with issues related to God.

The study found that several areas of the brain were involved in religious belief, one within the frontal lobes of the cortex - which are unique to humans - and another in the more evolutionary-ancient regions deeper inside the brain, which humans share with apes and other primates, Professor Grafman said.

"There is nothing unique about religious belief in these brain structures. Religion doesn't have a 'God spot' as such, instead it's embedded in a whole range of other belief systems in the brain that we use every day," Professor Grafman said.

The human mind is a fascinating phenomenon. It can prove just about anything it wants and it is very quick to reject anything that does not fit into its system of beliefs. As a former professor I know all too well how research can be used to prove just about anything you want it to prove. Throw in some statistics and one can prove that black is white and white is black and that atheists are the smartest people on the planet.

Of course being smart has little to do with universal or divine intelligence. I suspect this professor has done zero research into paranormal phenomena.

“For the analysis, researchers used a functional MRI machine, which can identify the most active regions of the brain.”

Any question you ask a person there is going to be an active region of the brain. You could ask a person how they feel about the devil and yes there would be active region of the brain show up with a brain scan. Shall we call this the devil spot of the brain? It is amazing to me that people with PhD’s and professors cannot figure this one out.

“A belief in God is deeply embedded in the human brain, which is programmed for religious experiences, according to a United States study.”

Well apparently with some brains a belief in god is not hard wired and embedded in the human brain and programmed for religious experiences and these folks are called atheists. I guess the natural selection part has not caught up with them yet which means their species may be destined for extinction.

... we tend to think that spiritual movement will be faster than what it really is.

Maybe. I think there's a general awakening underway, and I think it's generational. The Pew survey included this observation:

"People not affiliated with any particular religion stand out for their relative youth compared with other religious traditions. Among the unaffiliated, 31% are under age 30 and 71% are under age 50. Comparable numbers for the overall adult population are 20% and 59%, respectively."

The religious-minded might consider this disheartening, but I think it's indicative of a growing interest in the nature of spirit in general - and more specifically, an interest in knowing directly, rather than accepting any particular interpretation as truth.

I was speaking to a friend of mine recently, who teaches eighth-graders. He thinks that kids today seem to have an organic view of existence, although they may not necessarily articulate it that way. Kids today have issues for sure, but he thinks that they tend to see themselves as a part of a greater whole, despite the materialist indoctrination provided by the educational system in general.

"Kids today have issues for sure, but he thinks that they tend to see themselves as a part of a greater whole, despite the materialist indoctrination .."

Presumably, Michael H, your conversation ruled out the simple idea that they feel part of the greater whole of the planet because it is perceived by them to be under threat (eg based on carbon guilt, deforestation guilt, habitat destruction guilt, other-species elimination guilt)?

Actually, Pete, we were discussing how the emphasis placed on those topics by well-meaning educators tends to contribute to a sense of hopelessness that manifests in numerous undesirable behaviors in many kids today.

I see it as unquestionably important to nurture and encourage a sense of responsibility in our youth, but the real art is to do so without the implication that humanity is a scourge on the earth. I think where we're heading is towards an organic view of existence. When it finally arrives, mankind will not only regard the planet and cosmos as sacred, but will view themselves in the same light.

"When it finally arrives, mankind will not only regard the planet and cosmos as sacred, but will view themselves in the same light." Michael H

Hmmmmm. Not next week, then...

"Eventually, I felt myself coming slowly back into my body. I went in my body on the bed and I was in terrible pain; the pain was worse then than it had ever been before."

"During the NDE he had felt no pain, only a sense of peace. He told Sartori, 'Pen, if that’s death, it’s wonderful, there’s no pain at all.'"

What's interesting to me about this is that while he was conscious throughout the experience he felt no pain, but that when he felt himself going back to his body he THEN started to feel pain again.

What accounts for this? If it is ALL just an internal experience, why is one part of it, the disembodied part, completely painless, while another part, the part where he begins to associate with his body again, full of pain? He seems to show consciousness through the full range of the experience, but only the part where he feels himself returning to his body again shows any consciousness of pain.

Doesn't anyone else find that interesting???

Well look at Charles Tart Experiments with Miss Z. But even that experiment which critized by skeptics to be poorly controlled unless she was able to see that 5 digit number.

“But even that experiment which critized by skeptics to be poorly controlled unless she was able to see that 5 digit number.”

Does anyone that comments on this blog really believe that even if a person that claims to have had an NDE and comes back and is able to identify the five-digit number that an ultra skeptic will believe that their consciousness has left the body.

They will say she was told ahead of time the number, or she saw it in a mirror, or everyone is lying to prove NDE’s are real or whatever. The list is long I suspect. If you are a confirmed ultra skeptic you must find an out or else your whole system of beliefs comes tumbling down a very slippery slope.

This is the power of paradigms. Hey just try stating that guilt is of the ego and there is no such thing as healthy guilt and see how far that flies. I am not suggesting here that guilt is “bad” as in my view it is a necessary phase of soul development. We are conditioned far beyond our imagination but we are capable of seeing anew. If we were not capable of seeing anew we would be robots and there would be no such thing as the evolution of the soul.

("When it finally arrives, mankind will not only regard the planet and cosmos as sacred, but will view themselves in the same light." Michael H)

I would not hold my breath on that one. It appears that we humans almost always think change is coming faster than it really does. But maybe it does look at the last elections who could have predicted just ten years ago the outcome of the 2008 presidential elections.

“Maybe. I think there's a general awakening underway, and I think it's generational”

We need to know in the past at what ages did adults identify with a religion. As we get older we tend to become more religious. At least that has been my observation. We need to compare these numbers stated with past decades to see if a change is occurring in my view.

Let me put it like this: If the person having the NDE is embodied the whole time, and the NDE is merely a brain phenomenon, then why does the experience of pain occur only with the patient's feeling of returning to his body? If the experience is entirely within the brain, why isn't the consciousness of pain constant throughout the whole experience instead of only being there when he feels he has returned to his body?

If the patient remains unconscious throughout the entire experience, then we cannot attribute the return of pain to his waking up. So that would seem to indicate yet another interesting little mystery in need of explanation.

If it is ALL just an internal experience, why is one part of it, the disembodied part, completely painless, while another part, the part where he begins to associate with his body again, full of pain?

It is interesting, and Jill Bolte Taylor relates a similar experience - or at least an experience of a duality - where she describes going back and forth between identification with the higher self and the body: pain happening in the latter, bliss in the former, and confusion in regards to which to relate to.

I suspect the answer has to do with what the consciousness is identifying with. When the mind is quiet enough, the consciousness expands well beyond the physical body. This is frequently reported in other forms of mystical experience as well. A mind that’s clinically dead is necessarily quiet. The real hurdle involves recognizing that it’s entirely possible to live with a perfectly quiet mind – and then doing it.

Hmmmmm. Not next week, then... (Barbara)

I would not hold my breath on that one. (William)

Perhaps - and likely true. Still, what’s required is individual awakening, and I have almost zero doubt that with close to seven billion people on earth, somewhere, someplace, somebody is experiencing a realization of one degree or another nearly every moment. None of us can say with certainty what someone else might experience at any given time. It’s quite possible that a moment will arrive when huge numbers of people realize the same thing simultaneously. Maybe it happens five centuries from now, or tomorrow morning, or right now.

Dismissing the thought as hopeless idealism requires abandoning hope, and hope is something that the global society is in need of at the moment.

What I'm suggesting is that if true, it's a problem for the materialist, not the dualist.

If you are a materialist and you think mind is brain, then it's somewhat of a mystery as to why, throughout the conscious experience of the NDE, the patient feels pain ONLY upon returning to his body.

If you are a mind-is-brain materialist, then the question should become, why doesn't the experience of pain run through the entire NDE experience? If the person is at no time outside of his body, and the NDE is merely some internal experience, why isn't the experience of pain current throughout the NDE?

Of course, if the mind separates, the detachment explains the loss of physical pain, and the reattachment explains the sudden reappearance of pain.

But how, if you are a materialist, do you explain the inconsistent experience of pain, where it reappears with the patient's feeling of returning to his body?

I haven't looked at the cases in detail; it's something that just occurred to me, and it might be a question worth following.

I mean:

1. If you never do leave your body, and
2. You are having a conscious experience, and
3. There is pain in the body, then:

Why don't you feel pain throughout the entire NDE, since you have never left your body, according to the materialist, and there is genuine pain to feel in it? Why only when you feel yourself returning?

The feeling of pain returning when you reenter seems consistent with what dualism would predict if it is true.

Sorry I'm being so repetitive, but I'm not sure I'm getting the idea across clearly enough.

And there may be an explanation. I don't know. It just occurred to me so I thought I'd put it out there.

And there may be an explanation.

Of course there's an explanation, dm: the materialists are wrong.

:)

I understand what you are taking about, dm. I remember the pain of coming back. And I was so dumb about it. I didn’t understand what had happened to my body. I quickly found out that this existence could sometimes hurt like hell. I missed that other place immediately, and I still do. But in an odd way it was worth coming back. This place is important too.

“Dismissing the thought as hopeless idealism requires abandoning hope, and hope is something that the global society is in need of at the moment.”

I don’t think anyone dismissed the idea of hopeless idealism. It was just a comment that many in the past have thought the world was ready to awaken. The earth may be a huge incubator for the manifestation and creation of souls and soul development so we would have new souls being birthed on earth continuously. Maybe souls choose to awaken in degrees in other dimensions. Or not.

I do agree that hope, faith, trust, and most of all love are very much needed to better navigate this physical existence with all of its fears and unknowns.

“I missed that other place immediately, and I still do. But in an odd way it was worth coming back. This place is important too.”

Spoken like a true NDEer.

“Why don't you feel pain throughout the entire NDE, since you have never left your body, according to the materialist, and there is genuine pain to feel in it?”

Never underestimate the ability of a materialist to explain how this could occur. There could be several possible explanations for the lack of or no pain phenomena. What they never have been able to explain is how a person can know something that happened in the next room or down the hall or in some cases in another state.

In many ways I consider myself a materialist as this world look and feels so solid and permanent but the evidence just keeps coming in (18 years worth) that there is an underlying reality to all appearances. Also I have had several things happen to me that I have no materialistic explanation for.

Being here by chance seems to me as far fetched as an old man god with a beard passing judgment on zillions of people marching by one by one.

A couple of benefits of a person that has had an NDE is that most lose their fear of death and many come back and work towards being a beneficial presence in the world like being of service to others. Many have written that the human fear of death, the unknown, nothingness, or whatever causes much of our neurotic or psychotic behaviors.

I have always felt that a psychologist that believes in the spiritual aspect of humans could do a better job of helping people with mental problems.

Micheal H-
I do appriciate the comment about allowing people to discuss their NDE. In the situation where people were attempting to say things that I later learned were called NDE, I was always amazed that the other nurses and the doctors present had not heard anything, or had heard 'gibberish'.

ZC-
Some people in the US today seem to be going away from established religion (I go to church on Sunday) and more towards a spirituality of experience. In my current work I have to explain certain things to the people I'm working with. I can explain these things in terms of brains or spirits. I ask people, "Which would you prefer?, or Are you a spiritual being?..."
100% so far are spiritual beings. (Oddly this includes an atheist)!!
The atheists here in the US are becoming more organized and militant, however.

. . . many in the past have thought the world was ready to awaken.

This is true, but when I look at history it appears to me that there's been a huge awakening that's been underway for several centuries now. Beliefs and the associated behaviors that were accepted with little question just a century or two ago are today largely regarded as unacceptable and unconscionable. This is true even for those who themselves had experiences of the underlying reality. An excellent example of this is Richard Bucke, especially in regards to his comments on race.

I do think that the majority of us still tend to think that we need everyone else to wake up before we can arrive at heaven on earth. Yet, spiritual masters of all traditions continually remind us that heaven on earth is right here and right now, and is realized through living in harmony with how things are.

As Ramana Maharshi put it: Imagine a dreamer saying, "May all of these dream people wake up before I do."

I have always felt that a psychologist that believes in the spiritual aspect of humans could do a better job of helping people with mental problems.

The psychologists who are truly in a position to help others with mental problems are those who understand the spiritual aspect of humanity, experientially, themselves. Once someone has realized their own mental health, they may then be able to lead others to do the same. Otherwise, it’s just the blind leading the blind.

"There could be several possible explanations for the lack of or no pain phenomena."

Okay, then I'm interested to hear what they might be. The first step to take after you get a little mystery like this is to start putting out possible (materialist) explanations and then to evaluate them for their coherency to see if they really make sense.

Putting up any materialist explanation also compels one to contribute the hard data that supports that explanation.

It's a no lose situation. Either way, we'll learn something new.

"What they never have been able to explain is how a person can know something that happened in the next room or down the hall or in some cases in another state."

Not according to them. There was a piece in SKEPTIC this past year (online) which boldly claimed that there wasn't a SINGLE legitimate case of veridical perception in all the NDEs that have been reported.

And anyway, I'm not interested in what the committed hard skeptics think. There are plenty of genuinely open minded scientists and thinking people out there who don't let fear of a certain conclusion predetermine their approach to a given phenomenon.

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One way skeptics try to explain the pain issue is to say that the traumatized patient is temporarily high on endorphins, which dull pain and produce euphoria. (The release of endorphins produces the "runner's high" known to joggers.)

The problem with this explanation is that there's no evidence that endorphins are released when a patient is flatlining. And it takes a while for endorphins to build up in the body, and also takes a while for their effects to dissipate. NDErs, on the other hand, report an instantaneous cessation of pain as they leave their body, and an instantaneous resumption of pain when they return. If endorphins were at work, we would expect a gradual change, not a sudden change.

So it's not a very good explanation, but it's one that I've come across from time to time.

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