Originally posted by dj2becker
Anybody out there that does not believe in the afterlife? Check out
Tell me what you think.
I don't know exactly what happened to this man. But if I had to guess at an explanation, I would explain it as follows:
- When he was actually having this experience, he was comatose, and his brain wasn't getting much oxygen. This meant it was only barely functioning.
- The sensations he describes of light and darkness, warmth and cold, and feeling good/bad are very simple sensations, and can be 'perceived' in a limited sense even by people in a persistent vegetative state. Given what he was going through, these simple sensations were probably the ONLY thing that was going through his mind - he was in no state to think of words, causation, religion or anything else. The sensations themselves may have been due to changes in his surroundings, body temperature etc, or they may have been due to random firing in the brain as the neurons started dying.
- Somehow, he pulled through and regained consciousness - this is certainly not unheard of. He was now left with quite vivid memories of light, cold etc, and maybe some simple emotions such as fear or pleasure, but nothing beyond that. At this point, he did what all of us do every day when we recall things: he subconsciously tried to explain what had happened, and filled in the details. This process is something we are almost completely unaware of, but basically your memory is only a brief outline, and when we 'recall' things we fill in details based on our 'common sense', logical deduction etc. It's very sophisticated, but it's not perfect, and there are well-known techniques for mainpulating it.
- Ian may not have been religious before, but there was nothing in his usual everyday experience that could explain the sensations he'd just gone through, and in particular the lack of any recognisable shape or form to it, so his subconscious had to 'think outside the box'. However, he had some exposure to Christian beliefs, as do almost all Westerners, even those with non-religious parents. The most sensible explanation in his mind was therefore that the darkness was Hell and the light was God/heaven.
- Now the rest of the details come in. He remembered the sequence of dark and light, and surmised that he'd moved from Hell to Heaven and then back to Earth, and that God had sent him back. Once he'd concluded that he'd been to Hell, this made him feel he'd deserved it at some level, especially as he didn't believe in God before and now did. The voices saying 'you deserve it' etc were his 'inner voice', the one which people often perceive as criticisng their actions, and they were added in afterwards.
Now, I'm not saying that this man made it all up - he probably genuinely believes most or all of what he's written. Nor does this make him crazy - every minute of every day, we are all telling ourselves a thousand half-truths, unfounded assumptions and premature conclusions, and there's little we can do about it; besides he went through an extreme experience, and I wouldn't be surprised if I or even rwingett would come out of such an experience with a fervent belief in God. We have to get over the fact that the brain is not a truth machine, and it isn't a computer. Its workings are incredibly intricate and sophisticated; everything we perceive, remember etc goes through a colossal amount of processing; and our powers of introspection are extremely limited by comparison. Try thinking about what you were/are thinking, and how
you think/thought it, and you'll soon get a headache.