What does consciousness studies have to do with research about the afterlife?
Before I continue my rant on the glaring problems of material science’s unsupported hypothesis of brain-based consciousness and the abhorrent suggestion that free will is an illusion (are we simply robots, or what?), I’d like to give you all the heads up that a free viewing of a new documentary on consciousness, called ‘The Deeper You Go’ is available from the Skeptiko blog. Please follow this link to the article on Skeptiko where you will find the Vimeo password and a link to the documentary. Also, see the very end of this post for links to videos and sites that relate to several of the experts in the documentary.
Consciousness studies are incredibly important to afterlife studies because our personality can only survive death if our consciousness is not the direct product of our brain matter. There is a reason why it’s called “the hard problem”. No one really knows how or why we have this feeling of being self-aware. Who is the ‘I’ that thinks thoughts and can analyze them subjectively? Who is the person who stares through our eyes? Scientists say this feeling is an illusion, and we are simply clever computers following pre-programmed instructions with no say in the matter. But is this really true?
With the mind=brain theory of consciousness, neuroscience has put forward the idea that we are simply ‘lumbering robots’, to quote Richard Dawkins. The fact is, neuroscience doesn’t have much to go on in which to declare that the brain creates consciousness. They insist it must be true, however, for if there reverse were proven science would have to concede that human beings have a soul – something scientists don’t want to touch with a ten foot pole, I assure you.
Material science believes that consciousness arises from your brain matter and is dependent on the normal functioning of said brain matter for “you” or what you perceive as “you” to exist. Ergo, when you die and your brain ceases to function, “you” are gone. Your memories, loves, personality, passion – gone.
In addition and by extension, they also believe that free will must be an illusion, as an extension of a matter-created consciousness. As distasteful as it sounds, it is a necessary consequence of the material reductionist view: The illusion of free will is simply the consequence of a sequence of decisions that your brain is automatically programmed to make, based on the configuration of your neurons. If they are right, they should turn in their degrees because ‘they’ didn’t earn them and had no choice in the matter anyway.
Free will – or personal choice- supposedly doesn’t exist in the consciousness-is-an-illusion science worldview because it would be impossible to have a ‘mind’ that directs a ‘brain’ to act. If all activity originates in the brain, then the brain must be the actor, and the mind simply an illusory ghost that decides nothing and has no real input. Although we live by the assumption that our ‘mind’ decides things, according to materialists, you never made the decision to love the person you married, nor did you decide to pick that particular college, or to take up knitting, or running, or decide to run for public office. All of these choices, according to material neuroscience, has been decided for you before you even became aware of it, as neurons are blindly following a path shaped by genetics and environmental exposure.
There is no room in their theory for a mind that decides, and a brain that acts in accordance afterward. Free-will; everything that makes us human and unique, is the sad casualty of a brain-first model. But consider what that would mean for our legal system. Our legal system supposes that we have a choice; if science says that we don’t, then are any of us responsible for our actions? I digress.
Consider the opposite theory. The brain is a receiver and interpreter of consciousness, which exists apart from the brain and is filtered through the brain in order to interact with the physical body. Think of it like the way a radio functions. The radio is not the originator of the broadcast, it is simply a tool that allows us to translate an invisible electromagnetic signal into something that we can physically hear.
Skeptics like to point to diseases like Alzheimer’s as proof that because consciousness is affected by diseases of the brain, then consciousness must be created by it. It’s a feeble argument. All it proves is that consciousness is affected by the operation of the brain, which would be the result in either theory. When a radio is broken, the broadcast may be static, but it doesn’t mean the electromagnetic signal is also distorted or damaged in any way. In a brain damaged individual, their consciousness may be undamaged, but the brain- the interface and receiver may still “broadcast” a distorted signal through the damaged ‘receiver’.
Consider the phenomena of terminal lucidity, where a patient who is severely compromised mentally due to advanced neurological diseases, many times for years, suddenly regains their full faculties prior to death. Astonished families have the opportunity to speak with their loved one with clarity and lucidity one last time before they pass away. There is no scientific explanation for this, but if the brain acts as a receiver then the person preparing to exit the body has already begun the disconnection process, allowing the consciousness to briefly bypass the circuitry, so to speak. Material science has no answer for this phenomenon, even as they are reported by hospitals, families and hospice nurses worldwide and throughout history.
Even quantum physicists are starting to investigate the possibility that our personality and memories can exist after death as a collection of entangled particles. If you aren’t familiar with particle entanglement and all of the reality-bending facets of the quantum reality, I highly suggest watching this video for a basic overview. I truly believe that any theory of the afterlife must agree with real, observed science (even science we haven’t explored or explained yet) therefore I believe quantum physics may hold the key to a future scientific theory of the afterlife. I’m not alone in that assessment either. Considered one of the ‘three greatest living scientists’ for his research in stem cells, biologist Dr. Robert Lanza agrees in his groundbreaking book Biocentrism. Dr. Lanza has put his academic reputation on the line by proposing that consciousness is the basis of all matter. His book is well-worth a read and I highly recommend it, but if you want a basic overview, here’s a video of Dr. Lanza explaining the theory himself.
Materialism has such a stranglehold on science that most scientists can’t risk their academic reputation and funding by exploring the fringes of science, even if they believe there is merit in these explorations. There are some brave, intrepid scientists out there that have pushed back against the materialist worldview, and predictably they are attacked by the establishment in really nasty, ugly ways.
Aside from Dr. Robert Lanza, please check out the works of Dean Radin and Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, both who are featured in the documentary “The Deeper We Go” linked in the opening paragraph [see my post on Dr. Sheldrake’s proof of telepathy studies here]. Dr. Sheldrake has published an absolutely excellent book called “Science Set Free” or “The Science Delusion” in the UK. In the book, he questions 10 tenants of science that are supposedly immutable, but upon closer inspection, not really scientifically validated. Although we think science is an immovable bedrock in our society, it’s eye-opening to discover that politics and peer pressure have meant that many things that have great scientific value remain unexplored to the detriment of human progress.
If you have bravely read to the end of my rant, take this one thing with you: Consciousness is still a complete mystery to science. There is no proof that it is created by the brain or an ’emergent property’ of brain processes. Although popular articles read like the matter has been decided, it decidedly has not. Always keep an open mind and don’t believe everything you read, especially in Wikipedia which has a known skeptical bias. The truth is a rare and precious commodity that is rarely given freely – even in science.
After watching the video, please check out these resources relating to several of the experts featured in the documentary:
Listen as Dr. Patricia Churchland is
embarrassed interviewed by Alex Tsakiris from Skeptiko on NDE science here
Read this excellent critique/rebuttal of Susan Blackmore’s “Dying Brain Theory” here.
Check out Dr. Eben Alexander’s excellent book about his life-changing NDE, Proof of Heaven.
View Dr. Sheldrake’s excellent banned TED talk on the Science Delusion
Watch Dean Radin’s Presentation on “Entangled Minds”