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Neuroscientist: Near-Death Experiences Are “Utterly Incompatible” with Materialism

Photo credit: Peter E, via Flickr (cropped).

Twitter atheist “Doc Science!” responded to Wesley Smith’s article here on near-death experiences (NDE) with a tweet highlighting an article at Salon. The headline — “Near death, explained” — sounds like it’s going to be promising for someone interested in knocking down NDEs as indicative of anything transcendent. Did Doc Science! forget to read through to the end? Perhaps. The author, University of Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, co-wrote a book, The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul, with our colleague Denyse O’Leary.

Professor Beauregard concludes:

The scientific NDE studies performed over the past decades indicate that heightened mental functions can be experienced independently of the body at a time when brain activity is greatly impaired or seemingly absent (such as during cardiac arrest). Some of these studies demonstrate that blind people can have veridical perceptions during OBEs associated with an NDE. Other investigations show that NDEs often result in deep psychological and spiritual changes.

These findings strongly challenge the mainstream neuroscientific view that mind and consciousness result solely from brain activity. As we have seen, such a view fails to account for how NDErs can experience — while their hearts are stopped — vivid and complex thoughts and acquire veridical information about objects or events remote from their bodies.

NDE studies also suggest that after physical death, mind and consciousness may continue in a transcendent level of reality that normally is not accessible to our senses and awareness. Needless to say, this view is utterly incompatible with the belief of many materialists that the material world is the only reality. [Emphasis added.]

Thanks for the tip, Doc Science! I might have missed this interesting article with its provocative conclusion.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



atheistsblindnessbrain activitycardiac arrestconsciousnessdeathDoc Science!heartMario BeauregardmaterialismmaterialistsmindneuroscienceSalontranscendent realityTwitterUniversity of MontrealWesley Smith