You see! There are changes to the brain!

There is a very odd way of "dismissing" experiences that points to neurological evidence, and says, "See, it is really just a change in brain state!"

We see this in "scientific" accounts that attempt to explain away, say, love: "We have detected that people in love are really just experiencing altered neurological states!"

But how about the neurologist who made this finding? Wouldn't we detect that his brain state had altered upon seeing this evidence? So why aren't his findings dismissed in the exact same way? "He thought he had just performed an important experiment, but really he was just experiencing an altered brain state." Oh, you respond, others can duplicate his experiment? Well, altered brain states for them, too.

I ran across an amusing example of this recently, where the author states:
It is now believed that instead of the brain becoming more inactive during the final moments of life, brain activity actually surges, causing a hyper-aware mental state. This heightened state of consciousness can cause unexpected things to happen, whether that be "life flashing before your eyes" or a "light at the end of a tunnel"...
Somehow, this is supposed to dismiss the idea that these experiences mean anything.

But there are two big problems with that contention:

1) On a purely materialistic basis, it is very hard to explain why the heck an organism just about to die should have a "hyper-aware mental state": what purpose could that possibly serve, in Darwinian terms? You might quickly spot a mate in the last minutes of your life, and reproduce?! But your willie stopped working a decade ago, and anyway, you can no longer move!

2) On the other hand, let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the "spiritual" accounts of what is happening here are at least in the right ballpark: the "gates of heaven" or the "great white light of the void" is suddenly being revealed to someone still (barely) alive. Well, mighn't that kind of thing produce a wee "surge" in brain activity?

I don't contend that the above two considerations prove anything about this phenomenon. But they certainly show the silliness of the usual scientistic interpretation of them.


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