Why Near-Death Experiences Can’t be Explained Away

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Near-death experiences, or NDEs, are a common phenomenon and have been reported by millions of people worldwide who were unconscious or nearly unconscious. Despite this, numerous attempts exist to explain away near-death experiences through materialistic means. Still, the available evidence suggests that such attempts are unrealistic and should be abandoned in favor of what NDErs report about their experiences—namely, that consciousness does not depend on brain activity as we understand it.

experiencing a near-death experience?
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Neurological Explanations

The most popular explanation for NDEs is that they result from the brain shutting down, thus triggering memories of past events. The experiences can also be attributed to out-of-body experiences, where a person’s consciousness leaves their body and enters an altered state. In this state, the person can see things from other perspectives or even hallucinate. These are just two possible explanations for why people have near-death experiences.

Psychological Explanations

There are a number of psychological explanations for NDEs. For example, some experiences may result from a dissociative state, such as sleep paralysis or depersonalization disorder. During these states, the person’s mind might create vivid hallucinations that can include out-of-body experiences. The person might also experience delusions and misinterpret physical sensations (such as an elevated heart rate) as being life-threatening. Another explanation is the REM intrusion hypothesis, which proposes that dreams intrude into wakefulness when they are triggered by strong emotions or external stimuli. However, there is no way to know if this explains all near-death experiences because it has not been studied in detail.

Spiritual/Religious Explanations

Some may argue that NDEs signify one’s soul leaving their body to connect with the world beyond. Those who have had NDEs often recount that they traveled outside of their bodies and could see themselves from an out-of-body perspective. This is sometimes referred to as an out-of-body experience or OBE. The difference between these two phenomena, however, is that people in an OBE cannot feel or sense what happens on earth, and people experiencing an NDE typically can.

Physical Afterlife

In the 1970s, Dr. George Ritchie’s near-death experience (NDE) in a hospital made headlines, and since then, many scientists have tried to produce a different explanation for NDEs. The most popular one is that NDEs result from the brain being starved of oxygen when it is deprived of blood flow and dying. Yet this does not account for how some patients who were successfully resuscitated had experienced NDEs or why people with epilepsy often report similar experiences. It has been suggested that part of the brain, known as the temporal lobe, could be involved in triggering an out-of-body experience, but there is no evidence to support this theory either.

What If We Weren’t Conscious During the NDE?

If a person is unconscious during their NDE, it would seem as though they are not conscious at all. This means that any memories of the event would have to come from somewhere other than the brain, which does not make sense from a medical perspective. When we die, our brain shuts down and, therefore, cannot produce memories. If someone has an out-of-body experience while they are unconscious, then how can they have detailed knowledge of what happened? For example, if someone has a near-death experience where a nurse grabs their wrist and presses hard on the radial artery, then why do some people report feeling pain or pressure in this area while they are unconscious? The questions still arise about NDEs or OBEs, yet there is no definitive proof yet what these experiences could really mean. What do you believe? Please comment below.


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