Agreed, not science, which is why I stated they did not prove what they set out to. I see a lot of pseudo science articles trying to prove such things, and it is unfortunate. I think people like Chopra co-opt modern science to try prove what they feel intuitively. That is their perrogative though, just as it is for scientists to want to say that science is the be all and end all.
On the flip side though, I dont feel that the brain as a possible receiver model of consciousness has been disproved either. I have taken quantum mechanics at the graduate level so am no stranger to science, and I can truly say I love it, but personally I recognize that is is merely the new kid on the block as a way of knowing, only about 500 years of history at the most. It is but a blip on the history of our species, albeit a compellingly convincing blip.
Science is the best method we have with which to study reality. It is about inquiry, not dogmas and belief. Scientists are often the humblest people you will meet as they are honest enough to say, about certain characteristics of reality, "We don't know, we don't have an answer yet, but we are working towards a solution using experimentation and observation." You will find that pious zealots and spiritualists are quite the opposite as they say, "We know this to be the case, we are certain of this, our instinct is strong and tells us that this is real..." and go on attempting, very badly and clumsily, to make scientific discovery fit their beloved worldviews. It is no different to the religious zealot changing his exegesis in order to make it compatible with the newfound knowledge that science has provided, so, he might say, "I know the good book says the earth does not move and is the centre of the universe but it is not to be taken literally, you see..."
This is very suspect, and, if not deliberately knavish, it is a statement that might reinforce delusion out of desperation. The comfortable "belief" is under threat. Deepak will not recant his position like a scientist would. Scientists follow evidence while men like Deepak prefer to hold on to fantasies and delusions. Deepak is not a quantum physicist, yet he appears to claim to know more about that level of reality than the expert, and attempts to convince the layman to join him with his garbled mumbo-jumbo that centres around metaphor. Religion in general is the same. There is nothing in the Bible about DNA, genes, viruses and germs that can make people ill. Instead, you find the ramblings of superstitious Iron Age peasants. Even the so-called moral values in the Bible are inferior compared to what today's secular humanism can propose. The Bible is hardly practical and you will find more use in a book with a few cooking recipes.
Nothing in the brain has been identified as the essence of consciousness. For all we know, it is a strong illusion like the wetness of water (nothing about water molecules, let alone its atoms, is "wet"). Note that illusion does not equate with non-existent. It just means that it is not what it seems. I'd also like to point out that, when someone makes tall claims in scientific circles, the onus is on them to prove what they claim - not the other way around! The same principle applies in our courts: If you say that princess Diana was assassinated by prince Philip, the onus is on you to supply evidence to the jury to back up your claim. You cannot just make the claim without any evidence and tell the opposition, "Disprove what I've just said." This would not make sense and it could not be done in the first place. Even if Philip provided an alibi, it could be surmised that he conspired with others and put hitmen to it. If he sworn by the Bible or provided an affidavit, he could be accused of lying. You see how speculation has no power and should not be given any power when establishing facts?
I have been pondering over the afterlife concept for a long time now, and, if someone was to ask me if there is one, my answer would be: let’s review the evidence to date. I can’t be sure of anything solely on a strong feeling which could, without my awareness, be fundamentally illusory and experiencing the phase state is no reason to start believing. I suspect that, when we die, we go back to being in the same state that we were before we were born, whether existent or non-existent.
Many people fantasise about an afterlife of otherworldly exploration, contact with other beings and the eventuation of their wishes. The phase state is often surmised to be a glimpse of the immediate afterlife even though it is very much a condition of being alive in which the brain is active - more so than the delta waves of deep dreamless sleep - and the cerebral areas associated with waking states are often found to be functional during lucidity. If death really is the cessation of being - and thus the end of experience and cognition - then it is also the end of suffering. You won’t know that you are dead, you won’t know that you are not suffering, you won’t know that you do not perceive, and you won’t know anything. In conclusion: there is no “I”!
People find this hard to imagine and some even go as far as to say that such notion is more incredible than the idea of an afterlife in the spirit realms. Some even say that non-existence makes no sense and put forth all sorts of non sequiturs - which usually derive from overlooking or underestimating cerebral complexity and potential - in their desperate struggle to reimpose vitalism. But the truth is that we were dead before we were born, ergo, we should have a good idea of what death entails and common sense tells us that it is the absolute opposite of life. This could mean that death is simply going back to the pre-birth state. The fact that all our mental properties can be destroyed with the expunction of specific brain parts favours the abnegation of a spiritual, and thus conscious, afterlife. Either there is no afterlife or this one is fraught with deceased individuals possessing all the brain deficits.
Hypothetically speaking, what constitutes us becomes something else which gives rise to the possibility of rebirth. I’ll use the computer analogy in that, if death means deletion of a file (sentient being), the information it contains goes in the recycle bin, where, overtime, the data that constitutes it gets reconfigured. Being absent from life or any sort of interaction is a notion that can convey a sense of much needed rest from the living perspective, but, in death, you are not even resting - you are beyond that! When something as important as the cerebral cortex is damaged, for example, one may very easily slip into a long-term coma. Individuals who have woken up from these have often been oblivious to how much time had passed due to their lapse in consciousness. Because they were unaware of the time that passed while unconscious, the coma state from their perspective was losing their senses in one moment and regaining awareness the next. Confusion manifests as soon as they become conscious. Suffering usually begins when they realise how much time has passed, how much they’ve missed, and how things have changed. Their nightmare begins in consciousness and effort is required to get used to their newfound status of loss and overcome their problems.
If death is the cessation of being, then it is also the end of all problems. One should not, however, see death as an escape from an apparently harsh reality and commit suicide, as this could be psychologically detrimental to loved ones and one should make the most of life and be the best person one can be. On the other hand, consciousness could survive death if we consider the possibility that the existence of “I” is not dependent upon brain or bodily functions, and that thoughts may operate on another frequency of reality - however, there is no evidence for this and the solid evidence available seems to point in the opposite direction. An afterlife then, would perpetuate experience and bring everything that comes with it. Do we tap into this hypothetical frequency of reality when we enter the phase, or is it all an illusion produced by electrochemical functions of the brain?
Another theory, which seems somewhat more feasible to me, is one which completely discards esoteric cosmology, or the existence of a soul for that matter, but holds the twist that we can return to consciousness after death as a different life form. This does not involve a spirit reincarnating, but rather, the natural revival of our awareness if the universe stumbles upon the right coordinates in space. In this theory, the universe intrinsically holds us in a pristine unconscious state (at death we go back to being zero) until the chance presents itself for us to become something else. But, am I a fatalist if I feel that, considering all the evidence available, we die and that’s it? Not necessarily.
Science could one day render us immortal in our present physical condition, which, in my opinion, is the only possible condition to be in as a living human being. But I also think death is a blessing in disguise. Would you really want to live forever? Think about the mental torture as you run out of things to do and think and gradually become bored of repeating the same experiences an infinite number of times. Soon you’d be saying, “Get me out of here before I lose my mind!” If you don’t think life can become boring after living for a long time spare a thought for those centenary folks who are pretty fed up. If the stream of experience in a posthumous eternal life is different to the earthly one to the extent that tedium doesn’t enter the equation then I assume that we’d have bad memories preventing the death of novelty. And I don’t think it’s a matter of choice to not get bored either. Everyone has a threshold and everybody breaks. Like I said, living forever would plague one to ask the same question an infinite number of times: “What haven’t I done yet?” If you don’t feel the need to ask such question and are quite happy with repetition, if you don’t feel like you are wasting your time by not bothering to find novelty as you struggle to stretch your imagination beyond what you have already been exposed to, then hats off to you. When it comes to the hereafter, here and now is all I know and the only thing I can be sure of.
The limitations in the realm of the living are real enough. I don’t want to be a naysayer, but, even if there is an afterlife, there is no reason to assume that it will be good. We can’t even rule out a version of extreme boredom or one that is similar to earthly experience just as there is no good reason to rule out real death (unconsciousness/non-existence). I’ve made my peace with the last strong possibility. If I am as unconscious at death as I think I was before birth, I am no longer susceptible to worry, fear, desperation, ego-preservation, bad thoughts, and death itself. I no longer feel the need to chase my needs and wants in order to survive and be happy simultaneously. If I am completely absent from the realm of experience, I am completely free even from myself. Ergo, there is no “I” anymore. I think it’s the best scenario, because, if dead means dead then the deceased are immune to any further mishaps.
I don’t think consciousness can survive physical death when we observe a real dichotomy in cerebral activity indicative of a spectrum where sharp consciousness lies at one end, unconsciousness the other, and death appearing to be the point of no return right at the latter’s end. (Not to mention the degenerate cerebral illnesses that can take away so much from the living.) To claim, without evidence, that the physical universe is localised somewhere in reference to someplace “non-local” (as some dualist mumbo jumbo goes), or lying outside of it, and assuming such hypothetical realm to be the land where the dead consciously dwell, is a temerarious statement to make. Such claim is the equivalent of proposing that a perspective outside space and time is possible. Think about this proposal for a minute. How can one acquire such perspective when there is no time, let alone space, to house the observer?
Space and time are properties of the universe itself and thus a coherent outside perspective is undoable. Unless, of course, there is space and time outside (or beyond) the universe - in which case it wouldn’t be outside it, but rather, an extension of physical reality (and since the dead have expired their conscious living existence in such reality, as one only gets one shot in physicality, they cannot exist anywhere else). Let’s not forget that space itself, even as the purest of vacuums, is still something physical and containing energy: it’s abuzz with quantum particles. Thus, something outside of the universe with the same properties would be an extension of physical reality itself, if not a continuation of our observable universe, and therefore, a part of all there is. We’d be forced to define “universe” as “observable universe” and the word “outside” almost loses its application when we see that the acquired perspective is still encompassed by the tangible structure that constitutes everything. The very essence of space and time, it seems, is what defines us as illusory selves and observers. If the “outsider” perspective (meaning outside “all there is”) could be attained, we would be able to see, within a little portion of the universal structure, our birth at one end and our corpse at the other. This implies that time, as something that passes, is an illusion, and that past, present, and future (or any point within the space-time structure) is equally real.
From the impossible outside-of-it-all perspective, one would be able to see all the frames of space (with all their objects) that are not synchronised (as we say, “occurring at different times”). Within the universe, time is like a river that flows one way. Hypothetically outside of it, however, one must assume that such illusion is shattered. Nothing flows, it is all static. Perspective and perception is everything when arriving at conclusions. In a similar vein, memory most likely helps to produce the illusion of a continuous self. What seems intuitively real to us may not be so objectively. Hence the need to think outside the box sometimes.
It is largely anecdotal at present, but the reports of people with no EEG brain waves who report NDEs on operating tables who still manage to record the events that transpire during that time is hard for me to ignore. Conciousness is the "big" problem, has been since the beginning ;-) As such, I personally just keep an open mind...
I know what you mean and those people are not necessarily lying. But we must be careful with a number of things: First, how the media likes to sensationalise events (so many scientists have complained about distortion or exaggeration of facts by those in the limelight who are not qualified to make sound judgements); secondly, religion likes to take advantage of what, at first, seems to be amazing - and often like to claim numinous experiences as "proof" of what they preach; thirdly, and equally important I might add, hospitals are often ill-equipped to dig as deep as science labs when it comes to the living human brain. You will often hear doctors say, "no measurable brain activity" while someone of the likes of Michael Persinger can tell us that in the lab they can detect deep reverberations in cerebral activity with special equipment not available in hospitals. Fourth, it is sometimes argued that, the NDE may be a product of a brain coming out of the trauma-induced inert state and bursts of "REM" activity caused by low blood pressure can generate phase states - which infers that nothing was really experienced when the brain was largely inert.
If you think about it, some NDEs could even be the product of false memory, something that the brain concocted at the threshold of consciousness as an explanation for what might have happened when it was out. Similar to what it does in those moments when we use a "separation-from-the-body" technique while entering the phase, and, the illusion of moving away from the perceived physical stencil forces the brain to concoct a hallucination that resembles the immediate physical surrounding, i.e. an inaccurate bedroom replica.
It should also be mentioned that NDErs are people who were well enough to recuperate from their trauma and their accounts are, therefore, from a living perspective. Near-death does not mean dead. They have been alive all along. Moreover, it should be noted that only 10-20% of individuals who have approached clinical death recall conscious experiences. This is something that should make NDE enthusiasts and afterlife believers very uncomfortable.
If new evidence proving the reality of the afterlife beyond all doubt emerges, I shall recant my sceptical position. So far, however, evidence weighs strongly against it and it seems that it will continue to do so permanently. Meanwhile, pseudoscientists, parapsychologists, and the religious, continue to make a mockery of themselves as they strive against science and reason.