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Author Topic: The Immortality Project: $5 million to explore the afterlife  (Read 4247 times)
Kirkland
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« on: August 24, 2012, 19:45:21 »

Could be promising and be a good kick start to help study obe's and nde's. I did find the bit about western nde's being different from eastern nde's. I always thought that they were very similar.

Source:http://www.globaltvedmonton.com/feature/6442698560/story.html
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TORONTO – What happens in your brain during an out-of-body experience? Would an afterlife be boring or would it be worthwhile to live forever? If you’ve ever pondered these questions, a California study dubbed The Immortality Project is looking for the same answers that you are, and more.

A US $5-million grant from the John Templeton Foundation has been awarded to University of California at Riverside philosopher John Martin Fischer to fund research on aspects of immortality.

Fischer is organizing competitions, selecting judges and consulting with potential (and actual) recipients of research grants, though won’t be conducting the research himself. Funding for grants will be distributed as follows: $2.5 million for scientific studies and $1.5 million for theology and philosophy projects.

Participants will consist of carefully selected top scientists, philosophers, and theologians from around the world, though proposals must be submitted in English.

The Immortality Project is officially underway, and advertising for the first competition for science research proposals will begin Sept. 1.

So what kind of ideas is Fischer expecting?

On the phone from Germany, he explained that one possibility is taking past reports of near-death experiences and comparing them across countries like the Canada, the U.S., Japan, India and Africa.

Fischer says in the West, people often report seeing a dark tunnel with a bright light at the end when describing near-death experiences, while people in Japan describe tending a garden.

He points to the fact that in most western cultures we have the saying ‘there’s a light at the end of the tunnel’ while in Japan there’s a story of how to keep in touch with loved ones as you age by buying a garden and tending it together.

“It’s pure speculation, but maybe somehow, psychologically, when there’s a tremendous threat to us and it feels like we’re about to die, we can somehow reach for that comfort zone or that idea that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.” Or a garden with friends, if you’re Japanese.

He says another possibility would be simulating so-called out-of-body experiences to test whether people can really ‘see themselves’ from different viewpoints, as is often reported.

In the realm of neuroscience, studies could test if there are features of the brain that predispose people to believe in an afterlife, or if there are scans that can reveal brain phenomena when people are having out-of-body experiences. All experiments using people would have to be approved by ethics committees.

An additional area of study is cataloguing people’s beliefs about the afterlife and finding links to their behaviour e.g. finding out if people who believe in hell are less likely to commit crimes, as some empirical studies have suggested.

In the philosophy and theology realms, the project would support sabbaticals for winners to write articles and books on topics such as whether the conceptions of heaven, hell and purgatory are philosophically defensible, or whether or not it would even be desirable to live forever.

Fischer believes the project came together now because of increasing interest among scientists in the possibility of increasing the human lifespan, but notes that we’ve always been interested in the possibility of defeating death, as evidenced by stories that began with Adam and Eve.

“Even to the present where we have this fascination with vampire literature – the vampires seek a kind of immortality by taking other people’s blood,” he says. “Throughout religion, science—the history of both Western and Eastern science—and literature, we’ve been seeking this kind of fountain of youth.”

Fischer admits that he would be surprised to find definitive answers on the various aspects of immortality, but aims to make progress on what we do know about death. He emphasizes that the primary focus isn’t just near-death experiences, and hopes that by thinking about immortality, we can learn what we value in our finite lives.

While he says he’s “not a religious believer,” he remains open-minded about the possibility of an afterlife.

“My father, who passed away recently, was a cardiologist and my brother is a cardiologist and they both treat patients who are very sick and sometimes die,” he says. “Maybe when I was young I was thinking about these issues, because I saw that my father would really try and help people, and sometimes he couldn’t, and so maybe that got me started.”
 
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catmeow
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2012, 20:43:01 »

Nice find Kirkland.

Dr Jeffrey Long is always saying that NDEs are broadly culture independent, but the Japanese garden thing rings a bell somewhere.

However, if it is true that the Japanese don't experience a tunnel, then that drives a coach and horses through the standard critics' assertion that the tunnel effect is caused by oxygen deprivation in the visual system, resulting in neurons misfiring causing a bright tunnel effect. Presumably in Japanese people the visual system misfires in the pattern of a pretty garden....

Here is Susan Blackmore being very smug and insufferable about the tunnel. If the Japanese do not experience a tunnel, then she is clearly completely wrong, although like most skeptics she is supremely confident and misrepresents her opinions as proven scientific facts.

Watch from 5.12 to 6.01:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsvkJeX5OE0
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2012, 20:43:01 »

logoVisit the website of Astral Pulse creator Adrian Cooper.

Home of the best selling book Our Ultimate Reality.

Astral Projection, Metaphysics and many other subjects.

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Bedeekin
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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2012, 21:31:21 »

I can't watch her... I simply can't.

But that is very true.

NDEs also can't be an evolutionary brain trait... It's impossible.
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Kirkland
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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2012, 21:45:38 »

Well I think that most of the current skeptic explanations kind of lack any proof of any kind at the end of the day we know very little about human consciousness and the brain. The thing that really disproves most skeptical views to me is the fact that people who have been blind from birth have nde's and are able to describe instruments etc around them in hospitals. Surely they wouldn't be able to even see something (produced by the brain) if they do not have a developed visual cortex.


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ForrestDean
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2012, 04:54:13 »

Yeah, whether it's a tunnel, a garden, a heaven, or a hell, the experience is all dependent upon one's beliefs.  And what is this afterlife they speak of?  rolleyes  What exactly is after Life?  If you look at it from an atheist perspective where you no longer exist beyond this realm, then the term afterlife is irrelevant anyway.  If you look at it from a spiritual perspective where you believe life continues after the body expires then the term is still irrelevant, LOL.  Given that there is life beyond this realm, is there anything other than life?  That's like saying everytime I get out of my car I have just entered the afterlife.  cheesy  It doesn't make much sense.  undecided  But yeah, I understand why the term exists.  I'm just pointing out the silliness of the word.  tongue

Also, it's somewhat entertaining to observe scientists obsessively try to come up with the fountain of youth, or to extend life as long as possible - and not just scientists, but has been the dreams or vanity of many people throughout many cultures because they fear this event that the global society refers to as "death".  I mean I guess from an atheist point of view where they believe life ends, or from a materialistic point of view where they fear to lose their possesions, I can somewhat understand the fear.  But wanting to live forever within this reality here on Earth is like wanting to stay in kindergarten forever, bleh.  shocked  Eventually you must move on or else you will reach a point where you will cease to progress.  Where's the fun in that.  Talk about monotony to the extreme, hehe.  shocked

Also, the brain is basically a receiver, a receptor, a regulator, a tuner, and a filter.  Memories, dreams, and beliefs are not stored in the brain.  Information is not stored in the brain.  Images are not stored in nor do they originate in the brain.  So when the brain is being deprived of oxygen when the physical body is expiring, the neurons firing off DO NOT create the images we see when we move on beyond this reality, or not, A.K.A "die".  There are many things we still don't know about the brain, but one thing is for certain, the brain does not create any images, illusions, halucinations, and it does not store information.  It accesses.  Again, it's much like a receiver or an antenna.  It accesses information that already exists, and the information we receive is based upon the input request from the programmer - You.  It is an input/output device.  So when events happen, such as "death", sudden head trauma, drugs, "halucinagens", etc., the brain is being altered to access or tune into information in a way that is not normally done in a normal, average conscious state, so anomolies happen, such as the so called "halucinations", but they are not halucinations.  They are realities the brain is temporarily tuning into that is outside our normal experiential reality.  There is no such thing as halucinations.  That is just a term we coined to explain this event because many do not understand what is happening when part of our brain is tuning into a reality where our beliefs and perceptions can immediately become part of our reality.  Even when the so called halucinations have no physical effect or do no physical harm, which is most often the case, it does not make the experience any less real.

So 5 million dollars eh?  Well, sounds like fun I guess.  It'll be interesting to see what they discover and what conclusions they come up with.
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2012, 04:54:13 »



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Stillwater
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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2012, 07:05:53 »

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NDEs also can't be an evolutionary brain trait... It's impossible.


To play devil's advocate, why do you feel that?

I have read strong arguments to support your statement, and my own experiences somewhat support it, but I would be interested to hear your angle.
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Volgerle
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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2012, 12:20:43 »

I can't watch her... I simply can't.
Haha, I feel so with you.  grin  I feel exactly the same about all those Blackmoores, Shermers, Wisemans and Randis of this world. If s.o. links a video to them I just cannot stand these watching these 'experts' spreading their half-truths anymore. (It's not that I didn't for a while up to some time ago).

Yes, it sounds arrogant maybe, but I somehow "evolved" out of this state that I feel no need or will anymore to intellectually deal with their beliefs and positions. It's like talking with some first graders of an elementary school about the alphabet (even though there is nothing to "discuss") although you are already enrolled in an English literature class ready and prepared to discuss works of poetry or prose.

I really wish in a forum like this we wouldn't talk about those strange self-proclaimed 'sceptics' anymore at all.
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Kirkland
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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2012, 13:07:27 »

I don't mind those skeptics in the world but I think they should realise that it works both ways they can't expect everyone just to listen to them. They should be able to objectively listen to other people's opinions without turning it into something where they just try to aggressively humiliate people with differing opinions.

In saying that I'm a skeptic just I am someone who does not exactly know what I think yet (22 so still young:D) hence why I am here trying to see if anything here resonates with my experiences.
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catmeow
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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2012, 18:04:12 »

NDEs also can't be an evolutionary brain trait... It's impossible.

Well actually, there may be an evolutionary mechanism. People who survive NDEs tend to continue life with a much more positive attitude and presumably lower stress levels. I'm guessing this leads to a healthier and longer life, and therefore higher chance of passing on those NDE genes!

Weak, I know, but the forces of evolution are in fact very weak. It remains a mystery why we should have evolved the complicated sequence of events which typically make up an NDE. Rick Strassman, the scientist who investigated DMT, made the same observation, namely, why are NDEs so sophisticated, an what evolutionary mechanism could possibly have led to this?


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Volgerle
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« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2012, 18:39:29 »

In saying that I'm a skeptic just I am someone who does not exactly know what I think yet (22 so still young:D) hence why I am here trying to see if anything here resonates with my experiences.
It wasn't intended to be directed at s.o. here. Just a more general statement about the pro skeptics. I think you are an open-minded skeptic (which I am partly myself) and no close-minded (such as Blackmoore et al.) - that is what makes a vital difference.  smiley
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ForrestDean
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« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2012, 19:15:59 »

I can't watch her... I simply can't.

Hehe, yeah I can understand how you feel.  But from another perspective the Blackmores, the Randis, and others have been great for my own learning opportunities, and I'll explain why.  There were times when I was entertained by Susan and Randi's comments because whenever I would listen to their comments my ego would kick in and I couldn't help but get the serious giggles.  cheesy  And to the other extreme I would catch myself watching shows like the Jack Van Impe show and find myself getting the biggest laugh.  Then later I would search myself and examine why I would be entertained by what I perceived to be so amusing.  I soon discovered that it was nothing more than my ego taking control combined with my own belief systems - a VERY powerful combination.  I then turned this into my own little project.  Attachments can be quite a challenge to let go of, and there are many many attachments.  So I would keep watching these shows while practicing letting go of more attachments to my own deeply embedded beliefs.  The more you explore your beliefs the more you surprisingly realise how many there are.  Some are so extremely subtle yet so extremely powerful it can take an entire lifetime on Earth to free yourself from them all.

It's important to keep in mind that there are no right or wrongs.  Just as every snow flake is unique, and each individual has their own unique finger prints, each and every individual has their own unique perceptions and their own unique learning experiences and their own unique reality that has nothing to do with any other individual in their own path of self realization.  I eventually started watching these shows and listening to these individuals without any judgement or bias and without being attached to most if any other beliefs that I am consciously aware of, and I can honor and deeply respect anything they feel to be true for their own reality.

Anytime I experience an event and I feel a nudge, whether positive or negative, I realize that there is an attachment somewhere that is causing the resistence.
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catmeow
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« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2012, 20:09:58 »

Well, I linked Susan Blackmore just to show how foolish she was. Like the other evangelical skeptics, she expresses her own personal opinion as scientific fact. This is something which NDE researchers (eg Long, Van Lommel, Parnia, Greyson, Ring, Sabom) do not do. They are usually quite circumspect when it comes to their own personal theories and do not make arrogant assertions.

In the clip I linked, Blackmore made a fool of herself by stating that NDE symptoms such as the tunnel are caused by oxygen starvation. A significant number of NDE experiencers (maybe 20%) do not experience a life threatening situation, they ony believe they do. They certainly do not experience hypoxia, yet they describe typical NDEs. Similarly, the majority of hypoxia sufferers (eg cardiac arrest sufferers) do not experience any NDE symptoms. There is clearly no correlation between hypoxia and NDE symptoms.

So when Blackmore says that oxygen starvation causes this NDE symptom, and it explains that symptom, she is clearly barking up the wrong tree. Yet she is so arrogant and smug about things she is clearly mistaken about. Something which Jeffrey Long, Pim van Lommel and Sam Parnia are not.
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Volgerle
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« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2012, 20:47:55 »

So when Blackmore says that oxygen starvation causes this NDE symptom, and it explains that symptom, she is clearly barking up the wrong tree. Yet she is so arrogant and smug about things she is clearly mistaken about. Something which Jeffrey Long, Pim van Lommel and Sam Parnia are not.
Just if you're interested: Already years ago I collected these two bookmarks on her. One is a good rebuttal and dissection of her unsubstantial 'brain(dead)'-book from many years ago, the other is on her "scientific research" when she was still a parapsychologist before she became the skeptic society's wh... *oops*, I didn't say anything ...  rolleyes wink.

I think it's really worth the longer read,so here we go:

http://www.near-death.com/experiences/articles001.html

http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/New/Anomali/skeptic_research.html

 smiley
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« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2012, 21:10:22 »

Hi,
Another read from a name we all know.
 http://research.obe4u.com/nde-simulating-experiment/

Enjoy.
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« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2012, 23:04:17 »

Quote
Rick Strassman, the scientist who investigated DMT, made the same observation, namely, why are NDEs so sophisticated, an what evolutionary mechanism could possibly have led to this?

Think about how complicated our protein-machinery inside cells are... hundreds of thousands of different protein machines per cell, pumping, acting as 1-way gates for specific substances, shipping and receiving centers, assembly and demolition units...

If there is a way for what can only be called a bio-robotic factory to evolve in the shape of cells (and that is truly what it is, if you understand how complicated functional proteins are), then something as simple as a programatic series of mental images should be childs-play for evolution.

And there are good reasons for it... humans are the only animal we know of that are strongly conscious of their own mortality (some other mammals might be too). Anything that eases humans of debilitating fears might give an evolutionary advantage, and thus be more likely to be passed on.
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catmeow
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« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2012, 00:41:46 »

If there is a way for what can only be called a bio-robotic factory to evolve in the shape of cells (and that is truly what it is, if you understand how complicated functional proteins are), then something as simple as a programatic series of mental images should be childs-play for evolution.

Well it's more than just a series of hallucinations...

Floating out of the physical body, observing it and the activities taking place around it
Travelling through the tunnel towards the Light
Feeling of safety and unconditional love in the light
Meeting deceased relatives
Meeting a being of light
Telepathic communication
Feeling of knowing all the secrets of the universe
The life review
Decision whether to stay or return to the physical
Strong psychological after effects, increased compassion, decreased aggression and competitiveness

This is a very sophisticated set of core experiences to have evolved, especially without any one of them having much obvious survival value. In the case of the bio-robotic protein factory, I suspect there are obvious direct survival advantages attributable to each stage of the evolution of the mechanism. I don't see direct survival advantages in the evolution of the NDE core set. In fact the only direct survival implications are negative (see later):

Quote from: Stillwater
And there are good reasons for it... humans are the only animal we know of that are strongly conscious of their own mortality (some other mammals might be too). Anything that eases humans of debilitating fears might give an evolutionary advantage, and thus be more likely to be passed on.

Alternatively there might be an evolutionary disadvantage; The certain promise of a blissful after life, would make the experiencer less concerned about his physical safety, increasing the likelihood of death and removal from the gene pool. Also, strong after effects, including reduced aggression and competitiveness would similarly be a direct survival disadvantage.

I'm finding it hard to see an evolutionary mechanism that might have resulted in the NDE core set. The thing is, this core set is not a sequence of unrelated hallucinations, it's an organised collection of experiences, which are entirely consistent, individually and collectively, with a similarly organised after life.  I just don't see the direct survival advantage which would be needed for these things to be hallucinations.
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« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2012, 03:29:20 »

It's rigged.
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todd421757
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« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2012, 03:45:33 »

The true test on NDE's would be to compare the NDE experiences of the current compared to the NDE experiences of the past (pre-1900's) and see how they match up with consistency. If anyone has compared these, please let me know. Thanks.
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Volgerle
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« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2012, 11:29:02 »

We should not forget that the afterlife experience is seemingly shaped differently relying heavily on the expectations and preconditions of the individual, involving cultural, psychological, religious, historical, etc. background.

That does not mean it is not real. The opposite is the case, it is very real because these adaptations are integral to the process.

During a transition period everything is done to make the individual feel comfortable and find ease in the process. If the individual expects a garden they will find a garden and maybe be with angels or helpers that guide them there. If they expect to find a guy named Jesus they might be in for a meeting with him.

On the other hand, if they cannot adjust properly and expect due to a rigid belief system that they have to end up in hell, they will find themselves for some time in hell. Hence we have the little amount of 'hellish' NDEs. If they think that they have to sleep til ascencion day they when they will be awoken by heavenly trumpets, then they will put themselves in hibernation mode accordingly. Etc. pp.
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« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2012, 11:38:43 »

Just been skimming through Radruga's 'dream-NDE'-project "research": It is pretty laughable in my view. Of course you can play through your own fantasies in an AP. You can do programming, even with dreams. And of course I have also flewn through tunnels in OBEs. You can fly through them all the time. It is a common mode of navigation. You also are a creator. If you want to create a rose-red elephant with wings you might be able to do so with some skills. Same applies to flying against some source of light or whatever.  But that does not make sth 'unreal' at all. It is real because your experience and creation on Astral level makes it real.

So, this does prove or disprove nothing about NDEs (or OBEs) at all. Most of all since most NDErs do it involuntarily and have never heard of OBEs before. Secondly you cannot e.g. 'mimic' the feeling of bliss that you encounter, I couldn't do it in an OBE, you might in mystic experiences of the rare kind though.

And then they rely on the unproven assumption that REM-sleep is dreaming and is only experience 'in your head' (instead of being a mind projection like anything else, too), and thereby also deliberately ignoring all scientific evidence in serious NDE-literature stating that no brain activity takes place. And then ignoring all the validations that are constantly made during NDEs, etc. pp.

This is pseudo-research relying on the accounts of biased experiencers and then some "expert" analysing it with even more bias in their mind, imv.
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« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2012, 12:24:03 »

Well actually, there may be an evolutionary mechanism. People who survive NDEs tend to continue life with a much more positive attitude and presumably lower stress levels. I'm guessing this leads to a healthier and longer life, and therefore higher chance of passing on those NDE genes!

Weak, I know, but the forces of evolution are in fact very weak. It remains a mystery why we should have evolved the complicated sequence of events which typically make up an NDE. Rick Strassman, the scientist who investigated DMT, made the same observation, namely, why are NDEs so sophisticated, an what evolutionary mechanism could possibly have led to this?

Yes... I have thought this also.. .that maybe it got passed on from it being a positive experience... but.. .then not all NDEs are positive and not everyone who clinically dies has a NDE. Also NDEs are a 'more' modern phenomenon because of the ability to bring somebody back from a point of no return.
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« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2012, 13:17:52 »

Yes... I have thought this also.. .that maybe it got passed on from it being a positive experience... but.. .then not all NDEs are positive and not everyone who clinically dies has a NDE. Also NDEs are a 'more' modern phenomenon because of the ability to bring somebody back from a point of no return.


I've argued both for and against the evolutionary hypothesis on this thread, but really my position is more against than for. I agree with you, how can the same evolutionary factors which might give rise to a comforting NDE also give rise to a hellish one?!
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« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2012, 22:32:14 »

Evolution isn't goal-oriented though.

It has the tendancy of passing on traits which increase survivability, but the particular trait only needs to increase survivability in more individuals than it descreases; a sucessful trait can both help some and harm others, if there is a net positive outcome; for instance take sickle-cell allele: if an individual has one copy of it, they have strongly-increased resistance to getting malaria, and if they have two, then they get sickle-cell anemia.

So it is entirely possible that the NDE can have a genetic background if it helps more people survive than it hinders.

The interesting thing about all of this though is that the metaphysical explanation of NDE and the evolutionary one are not mutually exclusive. It is very possible that both sides of them evolved in tandem. In fact, if the metahphsyical explanation is true, this is more likely to be the case than not, since evolution would have needed to select for it somehow in the physical in order to justify its existence there.
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« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2012, 23:53:58 »

It'll be interesting to see what they come up with! I don't mind skeptics either, as long as they're open-minded and willing to change the paradigm if the evidence calls for it. And I can't really blame them for going for what they perceive as the most reasonable explanation... As long as they're not obnoxious about it I don't mind listening to it, and on the positive side some skeptics make very good points and can actually be helpful smiley Many of them are trying the best they can with what they have.

To be honest I think the only way these kinds of subjects will really reach the masses and be taken seriously is if they're studied properly (with results, mind you) and that the research is publicized enough... It can actually help a lot of people consider it in a different way than if it's seen as New Age nonsense...
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« Reply #24 on: August 27, 2012, 00:54:25 »

The interesting thing about all of this though is that the metaphysical explanation of NDE and the evolutionary one are not mutually exclusive. It is very possible that both sides of them evolved in tandem. In fact, if the metahphsyical explanation is true, this is more likely to be the case than not, since evolution would have needed to select for it somehow in the physical in order to justify its existence there.

Not getting this point at all. Huh Evolution is a physical theory involving genes, it has nothing to do with metaphysics.

If the metaphysical explanation is true (ie NDEs are "real") then it could not be "selected into the physical experience". Because it wouldn't be a physical experience. It would be a metaphysical experience we have after the physical body dies. i.e. the series of non physical events which happen after our physical body has stopped working.
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