A new study suggests all those bright lights, tunnels and angels you hear people who have had near death experiences describe are all due to gas, specifically too much C02.
“We found that in those patients who experienced the phenomenon, blood carbon-dioxide levels were significantly higher than in those who did not,” said team member Zalika Klemenc-Ketis, of the University of Maribor in Slovenia.
Now it should be pointed out that this is a correlation, not a definite causation. What’s the difference? Believe it or not, there was a time not that long ago (I think a couple of centuries or less) when people still believed in spontaneous generation. For instance, ever notice how if you leave trash out, pretty soon there will be bugs and vermin? Well it was believed they spontaneously generated from the trash. That’s confusing correlation with causation. Now correlation can point to causation, as with smoking and lung cancer, so it’s not necessarily fallacious to conclude a cause from observing correlation, but supporting evidence is still needed.
An example of such evidence would be previous studies involving C02 as well as the mountains of evidence showing that one’s mind is dependent upon their brain, therefore making any effect to the brain an effect to the mind. In recent decades we’ve seen a rise in the use of medication to alter minds, making them less anxious, less depressed, more focused, and to stave off memory loss such as found with Alzheimers and speaking of which, such diseases of the brain clearly demonstrate that affecting the brain affects the mind. Certainly physical damage to the brain can change a mind (ie – Phineas Gage), and who can forget that wonderful brain scene from one of the Silence of the Lambs sequels. Now the C02 levels may or may not be a cause, but it should be accepted that the mind is dependent upon the brain, probably a function or product of it, but yet despite the evidence, many refuse to accept where the evidence points.
The main alternative is that near-death experiences are “evidence of consciousness becoming separated from the physical substrate of the brain, possibly even a glimpse of an afterlife,” the University of London’s French noted. But for him, at least, “the latest results argue strongly against such a hypothesis.”
I would not even humor such nonsense with the word “hypothesis” when speaking in a scientific sense since it’s pure speculation based on nothing and with no way to seek evidence for or against it (by that I mean you can’t disprove the idea (see falsifiability), but evidence for a rational theory can be evidence against the irrational one). The idea that mind and body are two separate things is called dualism, and one manifestation of this belief is in most religions where some life energy (ie – soul) is believed to exist and within that is the mind, or it is the mind. Not only is there nothing to support such folly, the evidence of affecting brains affects minds at the very least forces such believers to have to account for that. How or why would the brain affect this thing which not only is independent of it, but supposedly survives, intact, after the brain and the rest of the body is dead and gone? I’ve yet to hear that even attempted, but perhaps there are some creative “hypotheses” out there in Jesusland and the rest of the religious world. No, what you usually get are challenges to whatever scientific theories arise which challenge their unsupportable beliefs, as if defeating such theories magically would prove them correct but that’s not how it works. Of course they’re not REALLY concerned with proof. In religion, faith is a virtue afterall, isn’t it? No, what they want is permission to indulge in their belief, like any junkie, alcoholic, or even anyone with a sweet tooth wants permission to indulge their insatiable needs, so objecting to what discounts their belief in an afterlife or divine creation is merely an attempt to retain permission to believe what they want to believe.
So is seeing a glowing light and angels when having a near death experience a sign of an afterlife, or that you have too much gas? Well that’s still unknown, but there’s nothing aside from wishing that suggests the former, and there’s at least some evidence for the latter, so which would you accept?