Do Near-Death Experiences Prove the Soul Exists?

Daylight Atheism examines the research of Sam Parnia, who "carried out a study in which he interviewed all survivors of cardiac arrest at his hospital over one year," and concludes:
Parnia's study...doesn't prove anything about the timing of NDEs or demonstrate that they occur while the brain is nonfunctional. The only conclusive way to prove that they result from the soul leaving the body would be for people in such a state to gain information they couldn't have accessed through ordinary methods - but as I said earlier, aside from unverifiable hearsay and anecdotes, this never happens. Every careful, controlled experiment set up to prove this has turned up empty.


Rodney said...

I used to always hear stories of people who had NDEs and were able to recall conversations that had happened in other rooms and whatnot.

But as Daylight Atheism points out, it is impossible to verify such claims; much in the same way it is impossible to tell if a miracle was behind a given event as you pointed out long ago John.

Anonymous said...

The people who believe they have eliminated all plausible naturalistic explanations before concluding they have uncovered a "miracle" or supernatural event are either 1) lacking in imagination or 2) lacking in scientific background. I guess #3 would be intellectually lazy but I'm trying to be charitable here.

Dr. Gabriel Andrade said...

There is that experiment by Bruce Gryeson, from the University of Virginia, in an emergency room: a laptop is placed on the roof with a random image; should a near death experience take place, the patient could report on the laptop's image. so far, there have been no results.

GearHedEd said...

For me, the sine qua non here is that none of the people who have testified about their experiences ever really died, or we wouldn't be able to talk to them.

Hendy said...

Interesting for sure. These are brought up tons of times by the likes of Habermas during debates as somewhat of a plausible gateway into the existence of the spiritual or supernatural realm... or at least showing that there is something that is not matter in us.

The problem is that we can't verify when these subjective reports occurred even if we know that the brain lost activity for quite some time. Even if the brain terminated activity, it doesn't show that the memories occurred when it was inactive.

Instead, it seems far more plausible that the visions or experiences happened on the way out, just like as happens with dreams. Space and time go out the window when the brain dreams and goes into these states.

@Dr. Gabriel: thanks for bringing that experiment up. I think it's an excellent way to test things out and see if it's a legitimate experience or not.

I am still perplexed by the anecdotal reports of the person who knew a shoe or ball or whatever was on a roof of the person who knew of a car crash occurring while they were out... thought I only hear them reported but have never seen a first hand interview or report of just the facts -- just a story.