In terms of studying consciousness, the Near Death Experience or NDE could be giving us valuable evidence indicating that consciousness continues after death. Indeed, the phenomenon of the Near Death Experience leads us to face a fundamental question; does our consciousness exist beyond the brain and body?
The Reductionist view
To the reductionists, this question is an easy ‘no’, as they believe that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the brain, emerging from neurons as a side effect of electrical firings. To them, all humans are simply mechanical apes who have developed a few special faculties to give them an evolutionary advantage. In the reductionist world, the brain and body are machines and the primary agents of life – nothing is animating them. When death occurs, this primary agent of life is destroyed, end of story.
Over the years however, evidence of people having a conscious experience during periods of zero brain activity has accumulated. The concept that consciousness can exist beyond the brain challenges the reductionist belief system that the body is nothing more than its constituent parts.
Beyond the Brain
It is important to note that it is still a belief system though. There is no absolute proof that consciousness emerges from the brain. Professor Gary Schwartz of the University of Arizona gives us a brilliant analogy. He compares the brain to a mobile/cell phone. Just because you can hear a voice coming from a mobile phone does not mean that your friend lives inside the phone.
If the phone gets damaged, you know that your friend is not affected; the phone was just receiving her voice. Schwartz says that the brain could be acting in a similar fashion – it is just a receiver and a conduit for consciousness, rather than the generator of it.
Hidden Science TV Special
As part of the Hidden Science series for The People’s Voice TV, I co-produced, wrote and presented a special on the Near Death Experience featuring guests:-
Dr Penny Sartori, A former intensive care nurse and the author of The Wisdom of the Near Death Experience.
Graham Nicholls who is an expert in out-of-body-experiences and the author of several books including ‘Avenues of the Human Spirit’
And Jazz Rasool a former physicist and molecular biologist who has created the Energy diamond Software.
Watch out for when we discuss black holes and the Near Death Experience. Enjoy!
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
If you would like to know more about the science of The Near Death Experience check out Simply Divine, an Easy Guide to the Science of Spirituality.