Tue, 09 Jul 1996 11:23:15 -0700

This is not really a response to Mr. Burkhead, only some ponderings. Mr.
Burkheads resonse is here because I do make reference to the
physiological/psychological theories he has already mentioned.

david l burkhead wrote:

> However, work has been done (I'll see if I can find the author
> I'm most familiar with--it's been a while and I can't remember her
> name offhand) involving the actual physiology involved. Several of
> the typical phenomena (the "floating above the body" and "moving down
> a long dark tunnel" hallucinations) have been linked to known
> psycological and physiological effects in the brain under conditions
> that include those of "Near Death Experiences." As for visions of
> peole, religious figures, etc., well, when oxygen is cut off to the
> brain, you hallucinate. No great mystery there. What you hallucinate
> will be based on what's already _in_ your brain--memories, religious
> beliefs, etc. There are enough people out there who get into this
> kind of situation that occassionally you'd expect to hit the
> "jackpot." (Somebody hallucinated a living grandmother is ignored
> while somebody who hallucinates a dead grandmother has a "near death
> experience.")

Death is one of those states for which no definition has been agreed
upon. Clinical death is the point where the electroencephalograph
reading is flat, as well as the cessation of circulatory and respiratory
functions. For the physiological/psychological theory above to work, the
experience must take place 'near death' rather than 'after death.' The
argument then is on whether the experience takes place just prior to
clinical death or just after clinical death.

Without 'proof' of the exact moment of experience, any arguments at this
point are theoretical. And theories cannot 'prove' anything. Thus, there
is still no proof for or against 'life after death.' The most we can do
is examine each theory and determine which one is best able to predict
subsequent events. I believe that the physiological/psychological theory
presented above has proven more accurate in predicting 'near death'
experiences than the 'life after death' theories. However, this only
suggests that more work needs to be put into the 'life after death'
theories. Strong theories are often disproven, and weak theories have
been known to resurface with greater strength.

It seems odd though that someone would require 'proof of life after
death' before he/she can accept the validaty of a theory. Much of our
science is based on theory rather than fact. Without a working theory,
how does one even determine what evidence one needs?

Even if we could prove that 'near death' experiences are not evident of
'life after death', this would not disprove 'life after death.' In fact,
I cannot think of any way to prove or disprove 'life after death' short
of personal experience (ie being dead, not 'near death' experiences).
The unfortunate thing here is that once the proof is obtained, how does
one go about sharing it? And even if someone did die and dropped by to
tell me so, how would I know they were real? And if, in a desperate
attempt to prove their reality, they pulled my house down around my
ears, how would I know it wasn't some natural phenomena? *sigh* It seems
as if 'life after death' is doomed to remain a topic of philosophical

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that there is no value in scientific
evaluation of near death experiences regardless of ones theoretical
approach. It just struck me as odd that proof would be required to
support philosophical speculation. Or did someone suggest that there was
'proof of life after death'?