Debate Over the Possibility of an Afterlife to be Streamed Free Online

Walking Through Death's Door

Is there a life beyond death? It's a question that has been asked throughout human existence, but in recent times mainstream science has concluded that answer is a definitive "no". But many of those who have had a near-death experience tell another story, and claim that they have seen a realm in which consciousness persists after the death of our physical body. What is the truth?

An upcoming debate in New York on Wednesday evening seeks to weigh the evidence from both sides in order to get closer to an answer. In support of the statement that "Death is not Final" will be seminal researcher of the NDE, Dr. Raymond Moody, and neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander, who has had an NDE himself and written a book about it (Proof of Heaven). Skeptic Dr. Steven Novella and physicist Sean Carroll will argue against the claim.

The debate is a sell-out, so the host (Intelligence2) are going to expand the audience by streaming the debate live to the internet:

If consciousness is just the workings of neurons and synapses, how do we explain the phenomenon of near-death experience? By some accounts, about 3% of the U.S. population has had one: an out-of-body experience often characterized by remarkable visions and feelings of peace and joy, all while the physical body is close to death. To skeptics, there are more plausible, natural explanations, like oxygen deprivation. Is the prospect of an existence after death “real” and provable by science, or a construct of wishful thinking about our own mortality?

The webpage for the debate has extra information, as well as a poll for viewer's opinions (already split 50-50 with 800 votes cast). I would have liked to see Dr. Bruce Greyson appearing on the 'For' side, given his extensive knowledge and unflappable manner, but it should be an interesting debate regardless - tune in if you get the chance!

(Shameless self-promotion: If you're looking to have some solid background information on your side going into the debate, grab my eBook Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife - only $5.99 - which has a good run-down of the latest research on these topics.)

Link: Intelligence2 Debate - Death is Not Final

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Red-walker's picture
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6 May 2014
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Hi everyone, relatively recent reader, first time commenting.

I felt the need to start now since I've been thinking a lot about this topic of afterlife vs. no afterlife lately. I've been reading Thich Nhat Hanh's "No Death, No Fear" and listening to some Alan Watt's lectures on Youtube. I've also just been pondering the nature of consciousness and "self" and I feel I have approached a middle ground between these two opposing views.

It would take more than a comment to explain my whole thoughts, so I'll just give a brief summary of the few questions I've been thinking about. Please correct or comment on any of them.

1. What is consciousness in the first place? If consciousness is a byproduct of the brain, what does that mean? Is it something physical, like energy? Is it a certain (integrated) pattern of information?

2. If it's something physical, does that mean that it cannot technically be destroyed, just change form? Could consciousness just be another state of matter?

3. What makes consciousness YOUR consciousness or MY consciousness? What makes consciousness individualized? Is it a specific pattern in the brain? If I recreate that pattern, will someone have dual consciousness? Or if I change that pattern, will that someone stop existing?

4. What made you come into existence in the first place (if that is the case)? If the conditions had been different would you be someone else but have the same conscious awareness? Or would you not exist at all?

5. If "death is death", does that mean forever? Is it possible that, over an eternity in an infinite universe (possibly eternal mutliverse), whatever made your awareness exist could do it again?

These are just some of the questions that have perplexed me recently. Why I wanted to bring them up was because I noticed that these kinds of debates seem too polarized and less nuanced to the reality of the universe and our ignorance. Either we have an eternal, corporal soul that is us forever or we (whatever "we" are) cease to exist for all eternity at the moment our brains stops working. I would love to see a "debate" take a more nuanced and humble approach to these topics, rather than the constant skeptic(disbeliever) vs. believer approach.

Question everything.

red pill junkie's picture
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First things first: Welcome (officially) to The Grail :)

Secondly: Kickass 1st comment, vato! ;)

Thirdly, yours are the kind of questions I myself been making for a while; and whereas perhaps some of Those questions might remain unanswered indefinitely, I still think it's important that we keep on making them. If nothing else, the very act of questioning our current assumptions will push us to keep evolving, instead of staying stagnant in our own complacency.

I also liKe the fact that you decided to let us know your way of thinking by phrasing it in form of questions, instead of postulating some 'facts.' I think I speak for many of our members when I say I've grown VERY wary whenever I hear or read someone bragging that they have 'all figured out' --and like John Keel once said: "the hell with the answers! What IS the question?"

So, in closing (for now) let me just state my suspicion --also due to Keel I stay away from the word 'belief' as much as I can-- that Consciousness, whatever definition one wishes to impose upon it, is a fundamental building block of Reality, much more important than energy, and even space/time.

I think you can arrive to that suspicion through many avenues; by pure rationalization, like philosopher Alfred North Whitehead or Carl Jung, or maybe through other more um, colorful methods of investigation --like Terence McKenna & his brother Dennis.

And there's also the happenstance 'accidents' by which everyday folk get to intuit that their everyday lives are just a tiny, tiny fraction of a grander spectrum. Such is the case, IMO, of what we call the near death experience; which is why we should try harder to understand & investigate those experiences.

Saludos,

RPJ

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Red-walker's picture
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Thank you for all your kinds words :)

I phrased my thoughts as questions since that's usually how I think. I try not to get too caught up in believing this or that. I want to remain as skeptically open-minded as I can, but as I lay my head down at night I definitely do fall into the position that there is an "afterlife" (whatever that means) of some sort. I guess that is just my bias.

I agree that you can arrive at this position through many ways. As I mentioned in my previous post, Eastern philosophy has been my recent avenue. But I've also been looking at the more "colorful" methods, as you said, reading some Reality Sandwich and Psychedelic Frontier. Although, reading and experiencing are two different things. Through a happy accident, I came across this blog (broadspeculations.com), which has both challenged and agreed with my assumptions, allowing me to think differently about these topics. Check it out if you are interested.

The NDE phenomenon has been of high interest to me, as well. The accounts by themselves are heartwarming whether or not they give a glimpse of true reality. It's nice to know that my final hours may be the most beautiful and profound moments of my existence. However, what I do wish the science community took more seriously were the veridical OBEs. Explaining how OBE-like states can occur do nothing to answer how someone is able to see and hear things they should not be able to see and hear even with a normal functioning brain (let alone one which is either severely damaged or completely offline). Or how someone who has been blind since birth is able to see and perceive shapes and colors for the first time. I completely agree that we should investigate more.

Question everything.

Greg H.'s picture
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I'll hazard a reply since this is a topic near and dear my thoughts. I find my answers to those questions - as well as they can be answered until our own crossing the life/death divide - by cross referencing as much different research on the matter with my personal experiences.

Reading suggestions that helped me form my opinions include:

Robert Monroe - Journeys Out of Body (and presumably his follow up books I have not yet read). His vibrations preceding his OOBE's were identical to vibrations I began experiencing at the age of 6, but suppressed most of my life out of fear unfortunately –they’ve abandoned me the last 10 years or so… Only one time did I attempt to and did leave my body (assuming it was not an hallucination)...point is his experiences resonate with my own thereby reinforcing my acceptance of his experiences that provide a glimpse into the nature of reality and consciousness beyond our physical senses in "this" material reality.

Edgar Cayce - There is a River, a biography of Edgar Cayce, the world's most documented psychic. His prophecies of future events have more misses than hits, but his medical readings were amazing and much documented giving credence to his abilities. His motives seem sincere and altruistic. His readings provide amazing insights into nature of “God,” consciousness, matter, etc… but from a Christianized biblical approach, though he goes far beyond and contradicts many of the church’s teachings.

Consciousness Beyond Life by Pim Van Lommel a cardiologist who conducted a decades long study on near death experiences from ICU’s across the nation.

The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot. A laymen’s look into the world of quantum mechanics and a holographic metaphor of how the Universe i.e. consciousness may work.

Other readings include Reincarnation studies on children who recall past lives, Biocentrism by Robert Lanza, Supernatural by Graham Hancock, Hypnosis studies with past live regression, and so much more…and of course “Stop Worrying! There probably is an Afterlife!”

In summary, I find the material across these topics helps me to form a comprehensive self-reinforcing view of reality and consciousness/mind as independent of the brain, interconnected to everything else (possibly through interference patterns – as explained in Holographic Universe), part of a universal mind – i.e. “God,” that consciousness does exist beyond death of the physical body and that the “afterlife” is fluid, more of thought forms, where our perceptions are no longer limited by our physical senses. The evidence is overwhelming consciousness is more than meat and matter, but trying to pin it down remains an elusive but invigorating chase.

Greg H.

Red-walker's picture
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Thank you for the suggestions!

As a poor, college student, I unfortunately don't have the money to purchase all these, but I will definitely look them up.

I do try to stay open-minded about all the possibilities, so do you have any suggestions that take a more nuanced approach? Something that takes into account all the data?

(And don't worry, Greg, as soon as I come across the money, I'm getting your book).

Question everything.

Greg's picture
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Red-walker wrote:

These are just some of the questions that have perplexed me recently. Why I wanted to bring them up was because I noticed that these kinds of debates seem too polarized and less nuanced to the reality of the universe and our ignorance. Either we have an eternal, corporal soul that is us forever or we (whatever "we" are) cease to exist for all eternity at the moment our brains stops working. I would love to see a "debate" take a more nuanced and humble approach to these topics, rather than the constant skeptic(disbeliever) vs. believer approach.

Hi Red-Walker! Welcome to the Grail, and I'll second RPJ in saying you've started off commenting in a great way. :D

Your questioning attitude aligns closely with my own, and I covered some similar ground in my book (in the chapter 'Broadening Our Horizons'). Rather than paraphrasing, I'll just cut and paste a relevant section:

----------

Just as we should be wary of assuming that our umwelt encompasses the entirety of ‘reality’, so too should we be careful not to just embrace a few models of consciousness that seem likely based on our current scientific knowledge, simply in an attempt to satiate our appetite for theories. Similarly, we should be careful of falling into the trap of thinking about an afterlife existence based on the religious or cultural models we have been brought up with. Most people who were exposed to some sort of religion in their upbringing are imprinted with the fairly simplistic idea that surviving death means a transparent, ethereal version of you floats ‘up’ to a heaven of fluffy clouds, and lives there for eternity in happiness. Who knows, perhaps elements of this are correct – some of the experiences that we’ve mentioned in this book actually do correlate in some respects with these ideas. But perhaps also these experiences are filtered through an overlay of our own expectations and cultural beliefs, and the ‘true’ experience could be fundamentally different. It’s fun to consider some of these possibilities.

For example, the standard belief is that it is ‘us’ that moves on to the afterlife realm. But perhaps the true self is the mind or consciousness that originates from that other realm, and who we are in the material realm is a transient, modified version, constricted by the requirements of existence in the physical world. This is a more specific aspect of the transmission theory of consciousness, often referred to as ‘filter’ or ‘permission’ theory. Whereas ‘transmission’ suggests “faithful conveyance from one place to another”, these alternative terms represent the possible “selection, narrowing, and loss” that might occur when mind is filtered through the physical brain.[1] As the celebrated writer Aldous Huxley remarked in his classic The Doors of Perception…

…each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet.

Another possibility could be, as the philosopher C.D. Broad suggested, that mind and matter combine to form a third substance with its own intrinsic properties, like the formation of salt from the atoms sodium and chlorine. The compound can at some point be dissolved into its constituent elements again, but while engaged with each other the elements act as one unit with its own unique properties.[2] Alternatively, author Alan Gauld has put forward the analogy of consciousness as possibly being similar to a parasite, attached to a host (the physical brain/body), which suffers when the host gets ill and eventually disengages when it can no longer support it. We think of our identity in terms of our physical body, but is it just something that we – as only a consciousness – simply use as a vehicle? These are interesting ideas, at the very least as thought experiments to help us understand there are more possibilities than we sometimes realize.

The way our view of an external realm ‘beyond reality’ can change is illustrated well by the science fiction blockbuster The Matrix, with Neo taking the red pill and ‘waking up’ into the ‘real’ world, despite having thought until that point that the computer-generated Matrix was the real world. Before the age of computers the idea that we might be inside some sort of virtual reality, with the ‘real us’ residing in another realm, was barely known. Certainly, versions of this idea existed before the computer age, notably in discussions of the strange world of dreams. For example, the ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi once remarked on the difficulty of distinguishing where ‘reality’ lies with the following words: “Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man”.

The influential 17th century philosopher René Descartes also wondered how we could actually know what reality is, given that our senses can be so unreliable, and yet it is only through these senses (and then subsequent interpretation by the brain) that we comprehend the world ‘out there’. Descartes deduced that all we can be sure of about ‘reality’ is just one thing – that if we think, then we must in some way exist, at the very least as just a mind. He summarized this view with his well-known maxim ‘cogito ergo sum’ (‘I think, therefore I am’). Beyond that, for all we know, we could just be a ‘brain in a vat’ – a piece of meat hooked up to sensors that trick our mind into thinking it is undergoing experiences in a virtual world. The fact that all of our sensorial experience of ‘reality’ must necessarily be filtered subjectively through the brain – and thus isn’t ‘reality’ at all (for example, we apprehend the world very differently to an infrared-sensing rattlesnake) – was enunciated in Hindu culture via the term maya (illusion): the idea that we can never identify or comprehend the actual truth or reality of the world, only (at best) a fragment of it.

But in the 21st century, the ‘simulation argument’ – the suggestion that all of what we think of as ‘reality’ is actually a simulation, and that until now we have been unaware of the fact – has gone mainstream. Not only through the popularity of The Matrix, but through first-hand experience: many computer gamers now spend several hours a day immersed in the virtual worlds of first-person shooters. Given the speed of technological development, it no longer seems impossible that one day a computer might be able to be hooked up directly to our brain, and be able to ‘trick’ us into thinking we are in another world. In fact Nick Bostrom, Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University, has said that he feels there is about “a 20 percent chance we’re living in a computer simulation”.[3] Meanwhile, physicist Frank Tipler believes that, through extrapolation of the laws of physics, it is inevitable that the sentient beings of the far distant future will be virtually omnipotent, given the likely scale of information processing at that time. This ‘Omega Point’, as Tipler terms it, will be a time in which such beings will be able to ‘see’ the future, as well as all of history up until that point, which will allow them to ‘resurrect’, within a virtual universe, every being that has lived.[4] Certainly a different type of ‘heaven’ than we normally contemplate…

The small selection of ideas outlined above range all the way from ‘plausible’ to ‘what the hell were they smoking?’. My point in mentioning them, however, is to show that our everyday assumptions about the world – as per the current orthodox scientific and religious views – may be only part of the picture, or perhaps even largely wrong. At any point in history until now, our assumptions about both ourselves, and the cosmos, have often been incorrect. For example, for thousands of years up until the 16th century, most people believed our Sun, the planets and the heavenly sphere rotated around the Earth – and though it now seems silly, it was actually common-sense based on their observations and the knowledge they had available to them at that time; from the human frame of reference, we do indeed appear to remain still, while the heavenly bodies rotate around us across the sky. We should therefore be careful in assuming that any of our current views are correct – from a belief in a God that will resurrect us once dead, through to thinking that we’re simply meat puppets of little to no significance to the cosmos.


[1] Kelly, Edward F., and Emily Williams Kelly. Irreducible mind: Toward a psychology for the 21st century. Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.
[2] Ibid.
[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/14/scienc...
[4] Tipler, Frank J. The physics of immortality: modern cosmology, God and the resurrection of the dead. Random House Digital, Inc., 1994.

---------------

Probably doesn't help answer your questions, and may even add a few more, but a very enjoyable discussion to be had in all of this at least!

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things
@DailyGrail

Red-walker's picture
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Thank you for the warm welcome!

Also, thanks for the excerpt! Definitely some views I had not thought of and another reason I really need to get your book. Seems like we're on the same wavelength and it would definitely be a good introduction for me to all the "afterlife" has to offer. :)

Question everything.

jupiter.enteract's picture
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Marvelous passage, Greg.

Greg H.'s picture
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By the way - excerpts or summaries of much of the research contained in those books I mentioned is available for free on the web through simple Google searches. Have at it. For those with the interest and open-mindedness, it's an enjoyable challenge to wrap your brain around the research and concepts while trying to reconcile them with your own beliefs, experiences and that of mainstream science.

The late Michael Talbot discussing the subjects in his book The Holographic Universe is also on YouTube for free. Enjoy!

Greg H.

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My attempt to specifically address the questions enumerated…

1. What is consciousness in the first place? If consciousness is a byproduct of the brain, what does that mean? Is it something physical, like energy? Is it a certain (integrated) pattern of information?

Answers: from different sources: From Edgar Cayce: Consciousness has 3 levels: Conscious Mind – our thinking mind, Subconcious Mind – the learned behaviors based on all prior experiences working behind the scenes influencing our conscious decisions, Superconscious Mind – our connection to the divine, spirit, God. This is the true source of universal knowledge, nudging us, and in deep mediation providing us clarity and insights. From Michael Talbot’s book Holographic Universe: we and the universe are energy, a pattern of interference patterns like ripples on a pond intersecting when pebbles are thrown into it. All information is stored in the ripples as patterns. This is similar to how holographic film works. The image (of an apple for example) is stored on the film as interference patterns, non-discernable until a laser is shined on it, producing the 3-d hologram of the apple. BUT if you rip the film into pieces, then shine the laser into any piece, that piece will still generate the entire 3-D hologram of the apple. The whole is contained within each piece – interconnected. This model taken to its extreme is a metaphor for God, Who is the film, each of us and all of the universe projections of God, interconnected through God, each of us a piece, yet part of and containing the whole. This provides one possible explanation for NDE past life reviews, where the experiencer not only relives their entire life, but experiences it from not just their perspective, but from all those with whom they interacted, feeling their feelings, etc… and simultaneously sees future events yet to occur within this timeline. Mind is the permanent record recorded on the fabric of reality, subdivided into parts, but each a part of the whole – whatever name is given to that whole – God for some, Nirvana others, etc…

2. If it's something physical, does that mean that it cannot technically be destroyed, just change form? Could consciousness just be another state of matter?

Answers: Biocentrism model believes mind is independent of the body, akin to a television broadcast signal floating in the air. The brain is the receiver like that in your television that receives the signal in your body. When your television breaks, it does not destroy the signal, it merely stops receiving it. If the television is damaged, it may receive the signal but not process it correctly. The signal remains unaffected. If correct, then the mind is independent of the body, the brain acting as a receiver and transmitter facilitating the download and upload of information to the independent mind, but not destroying the mind as it transcends the body and brain. Evidence for this is OOBEs with verifiable information, NDEs with verifiable information, etc…

3. What makes consciousness YOUR consciousness or MY consciousness? What makes consciousness individualized? Is it a specific pattern in the brain? If I recreate that pattern, will someone have dual consciousness? Or if I change that pattern, will that someone stop existing?

Answers: Holographic Universe model explains it as varying interference patterns with infinitely minute variations much like fingerprints. Cayce explains it as God, the universal source projecting souls out from him/itself, then giving them free will, hence their own identity and existence. Independent yet part of the whole.

4. What made you come into existence in the first place (if that is the case)? If the conditions had been different would you be someone else but have the same conscious awareness? Or would you not exist at all?

Answers: Cayce and eastern philosophies, and past-life regression hypnosis all point to an immortal soul that exists independent of our 3rd dimension physical earth and body. The soul following its creation began to incur karmic debts due to selfish appetites and lowered its vibrational resonance (interference patterns again?). The soul while in between physical incarnations chooses a body to incarnate in and plans major events it must endure or experience for its purposeful growth during this incarnation however long or brief. Then it incarnates (reincarnates) in the body and the “veil of forgetfulness” occurs so it can live out its life unburdened by all prior experiences good and bad, but influenced by prior talents, fears, etc. etched in its soul record. The soul then grows or recedes during each lifetime by its actions, choices, etc… either reducing its karmic debts or growing them, while adding to the total soul experience. The goal is for all karmic debt to be cleared and our soul to reach its highest most pure vibrational state – Cayce says this was the Christ soul, who had previously cleared his karmic debt and reunited with God/the source, then chose to reincarnate one more time to provide the model for all of us still on the journey. His life as Jesus who became the Christ, His compassion, His patience, His forgiveness, His suffering, His sacrifice, His resurrection says Cayce is the model we all must follow and strive for whether it takes one lifetime or many in order to free ourselves of our Karmic debt and return home, reunite with our source called God by many.

5. If "death is death", does that mean forever? Is it possible that, over an eternity in an infinite universe (possibly eternal mutliverse), whatever made your awareness exist could do it again?

Answers: Death is the death of the physical body, but the mind, our unique identity, our unique interference pattern, our soul transcends the physical and continues on, the veil of forgetfulness being lifted at death, with our gradual recall of all our prior existence. Death is like birth, a gradual reawakening into the other realm of existence that is beyond our 3-d reality we experience within our very limited senses. In between physical incarnations our soul continues its journey, learning, creating, growing or digressing until it incarnates again here on Earth. What we perceive as physical reality on Earth is really just energy vibrating at different frequencies as shown in quantum physics – all matter is patterns of waves, until observed where they collapse into distinct particles, then revert to wave patterns again. The afterlife is not so different, yet more malleable – so its said in NDE’s and OOBEs where we don’t have physical bodies, until we manifest them by thought. Each of us, acting as the co-creators God intended us to be (according to Cayce) shaping our “afterlife” accordingly. Hell is the afterlife created by those souls who during their lifetimes through selfish motives, actions, destructive behaviors, etc.. only increased and grew their karmic debt progressively lowering their vibrational state, distancing themselves from the source/God, until they became lost, unable to find their way home, forever a victim of their hostilities, selfish desires, self-loathing.

I don’t claim any of these to be truths, but these are some of the “answers” I’ve found that seem to reconcile the different sources and mesh with findings from science. Further they “feel” right and do provide explanations for personal experiences from my life that don’t fit the normal science paradigm. Of course these may be completely wrong, and I expect my opinions to evolve as I come across new information and have new experiences…

Greg H.

Red-walker's picture
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Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! Some of your answers resonated more than others but that could just be my lack of experience. I do, however, remain skeptical of some of the things you said, but maybe that's because I enjoy the question more than the answer. Whatever the case may be, I hope this is a place where I can continue to explore, discuss, and re-evaluate these big questions of existence.

Question everything.

Dan Werner's picture
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Hi all,

I have been following the Grail for many months now and this is also my first comment. After watching this afterlife debate, I was supremely disappointed with the pro side. I attempted to post an opinion on Dr. Novella's blog, but it awaits moderation. This is despite the fact that apparently newer comments were approved. Perhaps he is thinking over a response?

Just wanted to vent a little and express my appreciation for the site. Glad to find a thread where I can get it all out. :-) Below is what I attempted to post at http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index...

Please let me know if you have any constructive criticism, Grailees!

Clearly the skeptics won this debate. Dr. Moody and Dr. Alexander were not strong debaters, though seemed very pleasant and respectful – as were their opponents. Chris Carter and Dr. Stuart Hameroff, both fiery “believers” would have put up a fiercer fight in my opinion. Hameroff is a physicist and could counter Dr. Carroll’s points far more strongly.

The debate itself focused on the near death experience, though apparent past life memories reported by children and mediumship communication were briefly mentioned by Alexander, including Gary Schwartz’s Afterlife Experiments. Dr. Julie Beischel has continued studies with alleged mediums at the Windbridge Institute, tightening protocols and improving the experimental design. It is quite the extraordinary claim, but not something I think is fair to dismiss a priori, which some self identified skeptics are apt to do. Surely I am not convinced that these mediums are communicating with the deceased, but I do consider this to be a possibility and worthy of further investigation.

“But if someone wants to spend their time researching very unlikely ideas, more power to them.”

Dr. Jim Tucker, successor to Dr. Ian Stevenson, continues on researching cases of the reincarnation type at the University of Virginia, focusing not on foreign cases but reports from American children. Below I pasted an article from Jesse Bering, skeptic and atheist.

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beri...

Overall, I notice that both sides can overestimate their cases. As I mentioned on the debate page, Dr. Stephen Braude may have said it best when he remarked that the believers overestimate the evidence and skeptics underestimate it when it comes to the subject of the afterlife.

red pill junkie's picture
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Welcome to the Grail, and thanks for sharing your opinion on the debate. I haven't watched it myself so I'll reserve further judgement, but perhaps Eben Alexander was the weakest link in the 'believer' chain? Maybe they just decided to invite him instead of a far better supporter of the afterlife argument, because he wrote a NYT best-selling book :-/

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Red-walker's picture
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I haven't been able to watch the debate yet, but I expected the "Pro" side would not do as well. Although Dr. Moody has collected many accounts of NDEs and Dr. Alexander had one, neither of them have ever done (that I'm aware of) any published research into the phenomenon of NDE. I also agree that other avenues of evidence should have been looked at. Like I mentioned in my first comment, I would love to see a more open "debate" discussing the nuances of the question, "Is there life after death?"

Also, correction. Hameroff is not a physicist, he is an anesthesiologist. Penrose, however, the man who has co-authored his Orch-Or theory of consciousness, is a physicist. Is that what you meant?

Question everything.

Dan Werner's picture
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Thanks for the welcome!

Oh right - Hameroff is a doctor and not a physicist, but his theory involves quantum physics and seems very well developed. It was debated at the recent consciousness conference in Arizona. Having Penrose with him on the panel would be ideal, though I know Hameroff can talk and debate passionately. The pro side was very limp at the debate.

emlong's picture
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The debates are almost invariably peacock fights and "pose offs" and contribute little to the knowledge. Greg's book "Stop Worrying, There Probably Is An Afterlife" remains for me one of the most convincing assemblages of "pro" stories taken from personal accounts.

http://www.amazon.com/Stop-Worrying-Ther...

Red-walker's picture
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40 weeks 3 days

I'm still poking around on the debate's website, reading the comments, (it's something to do in between classes), and I came across a very interesting comment. I'll quote part of it here:

"As a skeptic I am open minded but this point needs to be stated; extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. You are not being close minded if you investigate rigorously the claims being made, it would be nonsensical to think otherwise. Some advice, a book or three and a YouTube video does not cut it. We (reasonable people awaiting evidence) want you to carry out methodologically sound studies in controlled environments. To provide rigorous analysis of collected data and publish in peer reviewed journals. Then establish a body of research and enhance that by meta-analyses and systematic reviews and so on. Then we can have a serious discussion about the NDE and afterlife claims; until this process has been started, such bald assertions are vapid and intellectually bankrupt. If you do all of that (in fairness even some of evidence would be incredible) we will be convinced and your Nobel prize will be awarded. It shouldn't be too hard should it, we've put men on the moon and placed rovers on Mars, solved Fermat's last theorem and found the Higgs Boson; all you have to do is get someone to see a playing card on top of a cupboard. Maybe that's flippant of me, just stop claiming to know things you do not know and do the work required, ok?"

Grailers might get a little chuckle out of this, older ones may be annoyed. I personally find it funny and the reason why I was so disappointed they did not have any NDE researchers on the pro-side. It seems skeptics like this are just ignorant and it's not really their fault. NDEs are seemingly only discussed in pop-spirituality books and debates like these only further push the idea that no actual research is being done. Would have be lovely to see Sam Parnia up there, but he's to skeptic for the pro-side and too open-minded for the anti-side, that doesn't work well for these debate shows.

Also, wouldn't it be nice if NDE research got a fraction of the funding given to the Apollo missions and the LHC. Maybe we'd be able to crack the case once and for all.

Question everything.

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
12 hours 10 min

One of the most interesting things I recently learned in my travels through the Fortean blogosphere, was how Dr. Ian Stevenson, the guy who made the ground-breaking research on the claims of reincarnation among young children, was able to follow his studies unencumbered largely due to the financial help he was left with by Chester Carlson, the inventor of xerography.

Too bad most of the 2.0 tycoons nowadays are more interested in funding ways to extend their current lifespan, than to probe what's beyond it :-/

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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