Near death experiences give people some odd bits of experience and science has yet to pin it down as to what is going on. That part is no surprise. In the track of my mechanical atheism and decidedly dedicated desire to divine the direct dope on near death dreams I decided to devote this ditty to declaring delineated decisions derived from my dunce cap stand.
Near Death Experiences or NDE have increased since we became more successful at resuscitating people. How Stuff Works has a piece on NDE and there are lots of posts on the internets to help you get confused over what is going on with these things. I will approach this from the atheist and anti-theist, monist, materialist, nihilist point of view. Oh, I know, nothing special but I’ve got to give the old college try.
Yes, there are those that think it is a religious experience and I’ll tell you that this idea invalidates their religious experiences as something other than natural phenomena.
Your body is a machine. Sure, it’s organic, but it is a system of interrelated systems working together to support the brain that is you.
I urge you to read “My Stroke Of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor. She describes what happened when she had a major brain haemorrhage that shut down half of her brain. No, it’s not an NDE though it could have been. She is a neuroscientist and took some good notes on what was happening to her. There is a TED talk to make it a short trip.
She talks about how parts of her brain shut down and what experiences she had from that.
In an NDE the body begins to shut down. Lack of oxygen being circulated means that malfunction begins. It will begin in the extremities first. Your body will strive to keep your brain functional for as long as possible. Your brain has the capacity to function for a certain amount of time before shutting down. While those last moments tick along your brain will lose contact with sensory inputs, and various parts of your brain. This will create an unreal world where nothing ‘feels’ right, and things seem to be odd. In this state your brain will continue to process data as fast as it can with whatever sensory data it can find.
You will lose sense of time, sense of position, and sense of synchronized data. That is to say that the sensory data from one source will not match up to other sensory data. It will be out of synch and give us a distorted picture of the world that we believe we are seeing.
As your brain starts shutting down, memories will be what is available for the simulation in your head. Vision will go and only memories will provide visual data. Everyone familiar with ‘stream of consciousness’ thinking will know that given a chance, most people will scream through random thoughts at any given point of the day. We mostly suppress them to ensure that thoughts synchronize to external sensory data.
Jill Bolte Taylor describes what happens when we lose these brain synchronizations.
In cardiac arrest, we go straight to this shutting down state. It is our experiences and memories and simulator rules that define what our brain will be doing to try to make sense of what is happening. Because of this, there is no way to predict what your NDE might be like. What is known is that these general conditions and symptoms express themselves as dream like experiences in the memory of those who experience an NDE.
There is no magic, no spirits, nothing special… it’s what happens when you unplug your brain. Awesome and frightening in one step. It is what you will experience after that last breath.
Are you looking forward to it?