Just face the facts, there is no soul, there is no afterlife. It’s your wishful thinking that deceives you.

In the autumn of 2014 Dr. Sam Parnia’s long awaited AWARE study about the authenticity of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) as evidence of a surviving soul was published.

Dr. Parnia’s study can, at best, be described as very disheartening and depressing for those believing that NDEs are evidence of a soul that survives the bodily (physical) death.

Almost exactly a year ago I posted this blog focusing that interesting subject, see: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/as-i-said-before/

Now, a year later, I think it’s about time to have a new look at the NDE phenomena and how they can be explained without involving religious bullshit concepts like god(s), soul(s) or afterlife.

Let me start by asking you this question: Are you acquainted with a blog named “Imperfect Cognitions”?
Anyhow, it’s a site where all kinds of delusional beliefs, hallucinations and distorted memories are discussed:
In today’s newsletter from “Imperfect Cognitions” I found this blog post, written by Hayley Dewe, a PhD student from the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham. The title is: “Debunking Dualist Notions of Near-Death Experiences”.  You find her article here:  http://imperfectcognitions.blogspot.se/2015/09/debunking-dualist-notions-of-near-death.html .
Hayley Dewe’s research is based in The Selective Attention and Awareness laboratory, directed by Jason Braithwaite. Her research focuses on the neurocognitive correlates of anomalous (for example hallucinatory) experience, specifically pertaining to the ‘self’, embodiment, and consciousness.She explains NDEs in the following way:

NDEs are striking experiences that typically occur when one is close to death or exposed to life-threatening situations of intense physical and/or emotional danger (first coined by Moody 1975, Life after Life. New York: Bantam Books). This unusual experience includes a variety of aberrant components such as: sensations of peace and vivid imagery, bright flashes of light, the sensation of travelling through a dark tunnel towards a bright light, a disconnection from the physical body (a shift in perspective: the Out-of-Body Experience), and the sensation of entering a light / visions of an ‘afterlife’ etc.

And she continues:

From a parapsychological (or survivalist / supernatural) perspective, NDEs are understood as mystical and spiritual experiences that expose the individual to another world (or afterlife). This is taken as evidence for the survival of bodily death (i.e. dualism); that the mind/consciousness is not dependent on the brain.

In stark contrast is the scientific/neuroscience perspective. Here, it is argued that NDEs are hallucinatory phenomena, generated by a disinhibited and highly confused, dying brain (known as the ‘dying brain account’).

After this introduction she argues that:

#1: There are a host of logical fallacies and methodological discrepancies within the parapsychological literature.
#2: There appears to be no objective study validating the presence of an entirely inactive human brain with the simultaneous occurrence of an NDE!
#3: Even if there were evidence of a completely inactive brain, and subsequent recollection of an NDE, how could one pinpoint the precise time frame during which the NDE components occurred? That is, the NDE itself may well have occurred before levels of brain activity became ‘inactive’ (or ‘flattened’), or even experienced and recalled afterwards, during recovery.
#4: No component of the NDE is actually unique to the ‘near-death’ experience.
#5: As a matter of fact, you needn’t necessarily be ‘near to death’ to experience NDE phenomena.
So the only reasonable and likely conclusion seems to be: Dualist / Survivalist arguments of NDEs are, at the very best, flawed.
And I myself want to add here: They are not only flawed. They are completely wrong, built as they seem to be on wishful magical and religious bullshit thinking .
In short: THERE IS NO SOUL! Forget what you’ve read or heard about that religious bullshit concept.
And if souls don’t exist, the corollary must be: YOU’D BETTER FORGET ABOUT THE BELIEF IN AN AFTERLIFE, TOO.
For more details, see: https://www.skeptic.org.uk/magazine/onlinearticles/497-braithwaite-dying-brain (Towards a Cognitive Neuroscience of the Dying Brain), and:  https://www.academia.edu/10060970/Occams_Chainsaw_Neuroscientific_Nails_in_the_coffin_of_dualist_notions_of_the_Near-death_experience_NDE_  (Occam’s Chainsaw: Neuroscientific Nails in the Coffin of Dualist Notions of the Near-death Experience [NDE]).
In the coming weeks or months I hope to have time to blog about the non-existent soul and non-existent afterlife.
But for the time being I have to confine myself to recommend all (true) soul believers – that is those who refuse to abandon their bullshit ideas of soul and afterlife – to study the contents in blog posts like these: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/sean-carroll-we-dont-have-immortal-souls/ , http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2011/05/23/physics-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/#.Vgrou3qqqko , and http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/there-is-no-life-after-death-sorry.html .
Need I say more? Yes, I think I also need to say that true believers are not so easily convinced that soul and afterlife are typical religious bullshit concepts. Sacrosanct beliefs, anchored in religious faith, are unfortunately extremely difficult to eradicate. For more details, see: https://victorianeuronotes.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/are-brainwashing-techniques-in-the-bible-and-strategically-used-in-churches/ .
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12 Comments

Filed under Atheism, Christianity, Cognitive flaws, Consciousness, Delusions, Gods, Hallucinations, Islam, Jesus, Judaism, Mind, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, Science vs. pseudoscience, Soul, Theological bullshit, Woo, Woo-Personality

12 responses to “Just face the facts, there is no soul, there is no afterlife. It’s your wishful thinking that deceives you.

  1. Brain injury proves there is no soul. If the soul is the person then the person’s personality should not change (and change dramatically in many cases) with brain trauma.

  2. @john zande: I totally agree with you. Very good evidence of a non-existing soul.

    BTW, have you seen this video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFJPtVRlI64 ?

    The neurologist VS Ramachandran explains the case of a split-brain patient with one (the left) hemisphere without a belief in (a) god, and the other (the right hemisphere) with a belief in (a) god.

    So where will that split-brain patient end up? In Heaven or in Hell?

    What do you think, john zande?

    Maybe his body (brain included) can be split in two halves, so that both God and the Devil can feel content?

    Also see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-f-gilbert/countering-republican-claims-embryos_b_8152028.html .

    In that article the embryologist Scott F. Gilbert explains, among other things, that the human embryo reaches a stage of development, called gastrulation (a.k.a. individuation) about 12-14 days into human foetal development,

    Before gastrulation takes place, an embryo has an ability to form twins and triplets (or more). If for example triplets, does that mean the soul is split in three parts – or what happens? And are those soul parts exactly the same size? What happens if one of the triplets seizes, say, 50% of the soul “volume”?

    Does that mean the other foetuses will have to share the other half (50%) of the soul? Let’s then hope they share that half “brotherly”, i.e. in a fair and just way. Otherwise at least one of the triplets is likely to face a rather dark future.

    Anyhow, after the gastrulation phase in foetal development, an embryo can become only one adult.

    • Maybe his body (brain included) can be split in two halves, so that both God and the Devil can feel content?

      That’d make judgment really, really, really hard! 🙂 Hey, i think we just found the stone so heavy God can’t lift it!

  3. KK was here. 2015/09/29 19:06 EDT

    • KK? I thought it was Kilroy who payed me a visit. 🙂

      • I almost wrote in Kilroy was here, but I thought you might not have known that WWII phenomenon !

      • I have a question for you as editor of MDakaM&R. Some people who believe in some kind of deity are inspired to work very hard and produce things which almost everyone admires: Michaelangio, Handel, Bach. ? If one believes that there is absolutely NOTHING other than random molecular events running our lives, why bother to write, or paint or compose, or consume those “futile ” struggles? Why not just “eat, drink and be merry” and screw the rest of it? KK

  4. Hi bb, thanks so much for the shout-out. You wrote:

    “#3: Even if there were evidence of a completely inactive brain, and subsequent recollection of an NDE, how could one pinpoint the precise time frame during which the NDE components occurred? That is, the NDE itself may well have occurred before levels of brain activity became ‘inactive’ (or ‘flattened’), or even experienced and recalled afterwards, during recovery.”

    Exactly, and we cannot presume that we have the most advanced technology in measuring brain wave activity. We don’t. Ken Wilber, who is an experienced meditator, hooked himself up to an EEG and flatlined. He recorded the experiment and published a video on Youtube, which I have watched.

    I also agree with John that brain injuries pretty much prove the idea of a soul. Behavioral neuroscientist Todd Murphy has studied NDEs worldwide, and interviewed people on location, such as places in Southeast Asia. Published in the Journal of Near-Death Studies, Volume 19, Issue 3, Murphy states that the simplest explanation is that, in general, the phenomenology of NDEs fulfills the individuals’ expectations of what they will experience at death. He further states: “These expectations are most often derived from the experiencer’s culture, subculture, or mix of cultures. Culture-bound expectations are, in turn, most often derived from religion.”

    • Many thanks, Victoria, for sharing new information in your interesting comment!

      Jason Braithwaite and Haylew Dewe draw the same conclusions as you (and john zande) do.

      There is, today, a growing number of scientific papers pointing at the fact that conscious perceptions can take place during the stage of flat electroencephalogram (EEG).

      Also, many trustworthy counter-hypotheses for a survivalist interpretation of these near-death experiences have been launched lately.

      One very good example of this is the research done by Dr. Jimo Borjigin at the University of Michigan. Her research team has found, in animal studies, that high electrical activity in the brain takes place after what is considered, in the the world of medicine, to be clinical death.

      See for instance: http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201308/electrical-signatures-consciousness-dying-brain .

      Not only did Jimo Borjigin find remarkable and clear signs of conscious activity in the brain (of the rats used in the experiment) during cardiac arrest, but she also noted that, at this induced near-death state of consciousness, many known electrical signatures of consciousness EXCEEDED levels found in the waking state, thus suggesting that the brain is capable of well-organized electrical activity during the early stage of clinical death.­­­

      Changed electrical signatures of consciousness is just another way of saying that hallucinations are likely to follow/occur because this opens up for new connectivity pathways/circuits in the brain.

      The neurons in a rat’s brain are, in principle, the same as the neurons in a human brain (or any other [mammal] brain). A fact that’s hard for true god believers to accept.

  5. @KK: Very good question to ponder!

    I don’t know the correct answer(s). But I think higher cognitive activities are a spin-off effect emanating from what our emotions do to our brains. In short, without emotion no motion, and without motion no “real” life (you become a vegetable like patients in coma).

    In sum, we need change and variation, otherwise we turn to “zombies”, just using the brain’s automatic pilot system, that is the information processing system I call IPS 1; see: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/the-two-information-processing-systems-ipss-in-your-brain-one-is-woo-ish-the-other-is-rational/ .
    Cf. sensory adaptation. If you don’t move – or make changes in your life, for instance by adopting new views and throw old views overboard – then you sooner or later will fall asleep (which is the same as being unconscious).

    We are “created”, by evolution, to move in order to survive – or at least to be moved (also in a symbolic way) by someone/something else. (Thus I can be moved by both you and your beautiful blog/homepage, KK.)

    BTW, what’s your take on this interesting question? Maybe this should be a topic to discuss on your own homepage, KK?

  6. “Mass Delusions a.k.a Magical & & Religious Woo-Bullshit Thinking”.
    There is nothing like an intelligent, scientific and impartial approach to these serious questions !!!!!!!

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