Our culture’s current approach to death is undergoing a much needed transformation; this is mainly due to a large increase in research regarding the experiences people have surrounding death.
The research is still limited the results that have been collected are interesting, to say the least.
The increase of scientific research has lead to many improvements of how we approach and deal with death as a culture.
However, there is still a lot of room for improvement. There is a frightening epidemic in our society of people living as if they are never going to die, most people don’t even think about it.
As of today western science has placed our consciousness in the brain; the brain stem to be exact. If the brain stem has no activity the person is considered dead and can legally be removed from life support.
We have placed consciousness in the brain stem even though when we open up any part of the brain, including the stem, we have yet to find one single particle which explains where or how consciousness is created.
Trying to fit consciousness into a materialistic, black or white view of reality has not at all been successful. We have not found any proof the brain actually produces consciousness, we only have correlations at best.
A researcher can look at a brain scan and see certain parts of the brain light up to different kinds of stimulus but that does not prove consciousness is created by the brain; it only proves it is correlated with the it.
Most scientists blindly accept that our awareness is produced directly by the brain without recognizing there is plenty of evidence to suggest this is a mistaken hypothesis. I would like to address two phenomena that suggest consciousness can exist while the brain is severely impaired; both of which have been widely documented by researchers during the dying process
Science and Death
The first phenomenon I want to discuss is the ‘near death experience’; a term nearly everyone has heard of. The second finding is what scientists have arbitrarily termed as ‘terminal lucidity’. This term is used to describe a patient who has been neurologically impaired for a significant period of time but becomes extremely lucid shortly before death.
I wanted to address these two topics in particular because there are documented cases in both experiences where people are extremely cognitive and aware without the necessary brain capacity to have this kind of high level functioning.
I do not claim this is proof of life after death or of the existence of a soul. All I know is we are unable to explain these experiences with our current scientific explanations of how the brain works.
Near Death Experience
Near death experiences have been documented for thousands of years and across cultures. A serious scientific effort was put forth to research this phenomena beginning with physician Raymond Moody, Dr. Moody collected thousands of stories from people who had died and been resuscitated.
Through his findings one thing became rapidly apparent, the near death experience is experienced relatively the same all over the world regardless of race, religion, or beliefs.
In the thousands of stories Dr. Moody collected there were several similarities, such as a bright white light, a tunnel, a life review, and being visited from deceased relatives or unknown beings. Most people also report a feeling of absolute peace and total clarity of thought.
It is not only the similarities across cultures that is intriguing, it’s the fact modern medical science would tell us the brain of someone who is dying or dead would not be capable of producing such vivid and lucid imagery; nor should they have such accurate memories at the time of trauma.
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Even more interesting is the occurrence of ‘terminal lucidity’. This term is used to describe a person who was severely neurologically impaired but regains full cognitive functioning in the hours before their death. Their brain is still damaged yet they are able to function as well as you and I do on our best day.
Modern scientists give it a name as if they know what it is. The truth is there is no known explanation for this experience that some people have right before death. One thing is clear, it is possible to be fully aware and cognitive without the brain tissue we thought was necessary.
Every medical book will suggest this is impossible. Still there are many documented cases reported by respected physicians, care takers, researchers, and scientists alike.
Research, Research, Research
At the very least these findings merit further scientific investigation. We must face the truth that our reality cannot always be explained in materialistic and objective terms.
Neitzche once claimed “God is dead” because our intellectual prowess had outgrown the need to depend on unreliable and irrational stories found in religion. Now we need to ask ourselves if Science is dead; at least science as it is currently defined.
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