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Losing (Some of) My Fear of Death (without Religion)

By freak80 following x   2013 Jul 19, 7:12am 18,442 views   53 comments   watch   sfw   quote     share    


About three weeks ago I was having blood drawn and I passed out. The nurses said I was "out" for 20 or 30 seconds. Amazingly, I didn't even notice.

At one moment there was just the one nurse drawing blood. Immediately afterward (from my perspective) there were three nurses propping me up, asking me if I could hear them. From my perspective, the transition was totally seamless. I experienced *nothing at all* during that 30 seconds...no darkness...not even time.

Has anyone else out there had a similar experience? Or should I say: "non-experience"?

Since that episode, I have been much less afraid of death. It turns out that "nothingness" wasn't as terrifying as I had imagined. In fact, I didn't even notice it at all.

For some reason I had always imagined "nothingness" as darkness. It's almost impossible to imagine "nothing" so I imagined it as darkness. There's also a lot of cultural stuff out there equating death with blackness/darkness. But darkness is "something", not "nothing!" Oh how our imagination(s) can be our worst enemy!

Religion is one way people cope with the fear of death.
Maybe if we gave everyone the opportunity to be (safely) "knocked out" once in their lifetime, there would be less need for religion. (I'm joking...but only a little bit);-)

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14   curious2   ignore (0)   2013 Jul 21, 1:34pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

thomaswong.1986 says

Eben Alexander

..."Has Now Been Thoroughly Debunked by Science".

sbh says

Kierkegaard...makes an elegant case that truth is subjectivity....

George Costanza makes a similar point less elegantly in the diner on Seinfeld, "The truth is what you believe it to be." The facts, however, remain what they are - whether we believe them or not. If the light in the tunnel is in fact an approaching train, then no matter what you might believe about it, reaching out your arms to embrace it will in fact yield very different results compared to stepping out of its path. In contrast, believing in a cure does not appear to yield success.

15   New Renter   ignore (11)   2013 Jul 21, 2:27pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

thomaswong.1986 says

The evidence supporting Dr. Alexander's experience transformed him into a believer in God's unconditional love and brought reconciliation to his family - and will upend our ideas about human consciousness and spirituality.

Or he may have been wearing one of these:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_helmet

16   Hysteresis   ignore (2)   2013 Jul 21, 2:42pm   ↑ like (4)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

we were all dead before we were born.

we've all been there - it's nothing to be afraid of.

17   thomaswong.1986   ignore (5)   2013 Jul 21, 2:55pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

curious2 says

thomaswong.1986 says

Eben Alexander

..."Has Now Been Thoroughly Debunked by Science".

sbh says

by who ? Michael Shermer perhaps.. not the evidence one would expect.

"In April, Michael Shermer at Scientific American explained how the author's "evidence is proof of hallucination, not heaven."

is this person a scientist or some kind of journalist ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Shermer

American science writer, historian of science, founder of The Skeptics Society, and Editor in Chief of its magazine Skeptic, which is largely devoted to investigating pseudoscientific and supernatural claims.

Shermer states he was once a fundamentalist Christian, but converted from a belief in God during his graduate studies, and has described himself as an agnostic, nontheist, atheist and advocate for humanist philosophy as well as the science of morality.

18   CMY   ignore (0)   2013 Jul 21, 2:56pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Hysteresis says

we were all dead before we were born.

we've all been there - it's nothing to be afraid of.

Took the words right out of my mouth. Having dealt with death consistently from a very young age (while religion was being crammed down my throat) I got very used to the idea that whatever I'll feel 'after' will be similar to the 'before'.

We're not special, and whatever unknowns there are in the universe will likely take hundreds of thousands of years to figure out. We are just part of a process.

19   thomaswong.1986   ignore (5)   2013 Jul 21, 2:59pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

New Renter says

thomaswong.1986 says

The evidence supporting Dr. Alexander's experience transformed him into a believer in God's unconditional love and brought reconciliation to his family - and will upend our ideas about human consciousness and spirituality.

Or he may have been wearing one of these:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_helmet

failure more like it...

Failed replication and subsequent debate[edit]

In December 2004 Nature reported that a group of Swedish researchers led by Pehr Granqvist, a psychologist at Uppsala University in Sweden, had attempted to replicate Persinger's experiments under double-blind conditions, and were not able to reproduce the effect.[8] The study was published in Neuroscience Letters in 2005.[10]

Granqvist et al concluded that the presence or absence of the magnetic field had no relationship with any religious or spiritual experience reported by the participants, but was predicted entirely by their suggestibility and personality traits. Persinger, however, takes issue with the Swedish attempts to replicate his work.

"They didn't replicate it, not even close," he says.[8] He argues that the Swedish group did not expose the subjects to magnetic fields for long enough to produce an effect. Granqvist et al. respond that Persinger agreed with their proposed methodology beforehand[40][41] and they stand by their replication.[12]

The theoretical basis for the God helmet, especially the connection between temporal lobe function and mystic experiences,[42][43] has also been questioned

20   curious2   ignore (0)   2013 Jul 21, 3:00pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

thomaswong.1986 says

by who ? Michael Shermer perhaps....

Whom, you mean. Yes on Michael Shermer, also Luke Dittrich.

21   thomaswong.1986   ignore (5)   2013 Jul 21, 3:07pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

curious2 says

Whom, you mean. Yes on Michael Shermer, also Luke Dittrich.

Michael Shermer... expert Bicyclist.. not the person expert in science or religion.
Is he a Neurosurgeon or any other doctor.. what is his expertise ? Bicyclist at most.

22   thomaswong.1986   ignore (5)   2013 Jul 21, 3:10pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

curious2 says

Luke Dittrich.

Esquire Journalist... oh come on... LOL! you gotta do better than that..

Liberals have escalated Journalists as near GOD mortals.. it must be true.. he is a writer.

23   curious2   ignore (0)   2013 Jul 21, 3:14pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

thomaswong.1986 says

curious2 says

Whom, you mean. Yes on Michael Shermer, also Luke Dittrich.

Michael Shermer... expert Bicyclist..

Michael Shermer, PhD, with expertise in experimental psychology, whose article refuting Eben Alexander's claims was published in Scientific American, and journalist Luke Dittrich, who investigated Alexander's troubled past and motives and disproved Alexander's claims.

thomaswong.1986 says

Liberals have escalated Journalists as near GOD mortals.. it must be true.. he is a writer.

You are the one choosing to believe the disproved claims of a guy who by his own account was suffering from serious disease and under the influence of medication at the time. But, that's an upgrade compared to your usual nonsense.

24   New Renter   ignore (11)   2013 Jul 21, 4:32pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

thomaswong.1986 says

ailure more like it...

Failed replication and subsequent debate[edit]

In December 2004 Nature reported that a group of Swedish researchers led by Pehr Granqvist, a psychologist at Uppsala University in Sweden, had attempted to replicate Persinger's experiments under double-blind conditions, and were not able to reproduce the effect.[8] The study was published in Neuroscience Letters in 2005.[10]

Sure, that's how science works. Until it's reproducible it's interesting but not proven.

On the other hand has your neurosurgeon been able to reproduce his experience?

Well at least he got a book out of it.

25   thomaswong.1986   ignore (5)   2013 Jul 21, 5:04pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

curious2 says

Michael Shermer, PhD, with expertise in experimental psychology,

Phd in what ? a shrink who is self professed atheist.. where is your professional independence. Where is your peer review ?

26   thomaswong.1986   ignore (5)   2013 Jul 21, 5:08pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

curious2 says

and journalist Luke Dittrich, who investigated Alexander's troubled past and motives and disproved Alexander's claims.

oh come on.. who is Luke Dittrich... but a journalist.. what is with you liberals...

In this interview Luke talks about both his writing and his running. Regardless of the type of writing you do, you'll find something of value in what Luke says. In particular, I find the backstory to his Bolt interview fascinating. For those readers less accomplished than Luke, it's instructive to see that he has some of the same anxieties about writing (like writing on a deadline) that most everyone has. I also like his editing advice (the same thing I tell everyone: read your drafts aloud) and his choice of recommended writers (Hemingway) - See more at: http://www.writersonprocess.com/2010/06/dittrich-interview.html#sthash.RY1OsYSh.dpuf

27   thomaswong.1986   ignore (5)   2013 Jul 21, 5:11pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

New Renter says

On the other hand has your neurosurgeon been able to reproduce his experience?

Well at least he got a book out of it.

thats the interesting part of these experiences. how identical from many difference people across the globe ... all are down to the out of body experiences over the past several decades as lives have been pulled out from death and near death.

28   freak80   ignore (4)   2013 Jul 21, 10:45pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Yes, I had heard of Dr. Alexander's NDE. NDE's are fairly common, aren't they?

I tend to believe his story. (Who would believe someone like me who says they "passed out" and didn't even notice?)

I'm skeptical that Alexander's experience is "proof" of an actual afterlife, however. Which afterlife would it proove? The Christian one? The Muslim one? The Buddhist one? None of the above?

29   freak80   ignore (4)   2013 Jul 21, 10:59pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

curious2 says

The facts, however, remain what they are - whether we believe them or
not. If the light in the tunnel is in fact an approaching train, then no
matter what you might believe about it, reaching out your arms to embrace it
will in fact yield very different results compared to stepping out of its
path.

Precisely my point. I thought "truth" and "facts" were essentially synonyms, but language is always changing...

30   Quigley   ignore (0)   2013 Jul 21, 11:37pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

You can't scientifically prove or disprove someone's personal experience. You can only believe or cast doubt. If you have the right credentials after your name and scream loud enough, if you get enough positive publicity from "people who matter," then you can claim to disprove or debunk. But, if truth is objective, you can't disprove it with hand waving and speculation. If truth is subjective, you're absolutely unable to disprove anyone's version of it.

31   Quigley   ignore (0)   2013 Jul 21, 11:40pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I've experienced the "nothing" of unconsciousness during surgery. And passed out a couple times. But I don't think it was like death. More a suppression of consciousness than elimination of it.

32   New Renter   ignore (11)   2013 Jul 22, 1:36am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Quigley says

You can't scientifically prove or disprove someone's personal experience. You can only believe or cast doubt.

Sure you can. If I take 5,000 people and poke 1/2 of them with a pointy stick vs. poking the other half with a blunt stick I'm pretty sure I'll be able to determine to a high degree of confidence which stick hurts more.

33   freak80   ignore (4)   2013 Jul 22, 2:12am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

New Renter says

Sure you can. If I take 5,000 people and poke 1/2 of them with a pointy stick
vs. poking the other half with a blunt stick I'm pretty sure I'll be able to
determine to a high degree of confidence which stick hurts more.

Good point.

That's one of the reasons I started this thread. People "pass out" all the time. Is my experience of "not even noticing" rare or common? That's what I'm asking.

When I sleep, I usually have a sense of darkness and time...probably because it takes a finite amount of time of laying around with my eyes closed before I actually "fall asleep." Plus it's possible to dream, which usually involves a sensation of time (for me at least).

But my experience at the doctor's office was totally different. I didn't have any sensation of time or darkness. The nurses said I was out for 20 or 30 seconds, but I didn't even notice.

34   curious2   ignore (0)   2013 Jul 22, 2:12am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Quigley says

You can't scientifically prove or disprove someone's personal experience.

Sometimes you can disprove it, as James Frey's fictional "memoir" was disproved, and as Luke Dittrich disproved Eben Alexander's claims (for example, hospital staff said Alexander was in a conscious but delirious medicated state at the time he claimed to have had no brain activity). As in many professions, there are honest practitioners and dishonest ones. The NT instructs believers to be credulous even if they are called fools, and that has made them easy prey for charlatans.

35   freak80   ignore (4)   2013 Jul 22, 11:39pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Quigley says

I've experienced the "nothing" of unconsciousness during surgery.

But how is it possible to experience "nothing?" Isn't "nothing" a *lack* of experience?

For example, there was *nothing* before I was born...at least as far as I can tell. I don't remember any kind of experience of anything.

I guess it all gets down to semantics. ;-)

36   freak80   ignore (4)   2013 Jul 23, 2:15am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

curious2 says

Your past suffering illustrates a too common pattern: the business of many
religions is to frighten small children and sell them a doctrine of
institutional obedience and service, including money. Eventually, many people
manage to see through it, after wasting a lot of money and suffering needlessly.

All social movements (whether religious or secular) have their "true believers." If I remember correctly, Patrick actually linked to a book on the subject.

In my case, I was indoctrinated into a "true believer" in my respective social movement from a a young age. It's a situation I was essentially born into.

Social movements typically have symbols. The Christians have their crosses, the Muslims have their crescent moons; the Gay Rights movement has its rainbows and equal-signs.

As for which social movements are "good" and which ones are "bad," those are questions for the ages.

37   Heraclitusstudent   ignore (2)   2013 Jul 23, 10:42am   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

mmmarvel says

The sad thing is that people who believe in afterlife will never know they were wrong.


It seems unfair.

And on the flip side, if they are correct ... you'll end up in a heap of trouble.

Yes, but that's potentially true for everyone.
Suppose you're a good christian and muslims have it right.
Then you're in a heap of trouble...

38   curious2   ignore (0)   2013 Jul 23, 10:46am   ↑ like (4)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Heraclitusstudent says

mmmarvel says

Heraclitusstudent says

The sad thing is that people who believe in afterlife will never know they were wrong.
It seems unfair.

And on the flip side, if they are correct ... you'll end up in a heap of trouble.

Yes, but that's potentially true for everyone.
Suppose you're a good christian and muslims have it right.
Then you're in a heap of trouble...

That's Simpson's Rebuttal to Pascal's Wager:

39   Heraclitusstudent   ignore (2)   2013 Jul 23, 10:52am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

freak80 says

I thought "truth" and "facts" were essentially synonyms, but language is always changing...

Truth are facts: if they relate to a tangible universe that is shared by all participants.

I assume this universe exists, though I can't prove it does.

40   Heraclitusstudent   ignore (2)   2013 Jul 23, 10:53am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

curious2 says

That's Simpson's Rebuttal to Pascal's Wager:

I suspect the rebuttal predated the Simpsons.

41   Heraclitusstudent   ignore (2)   2013 Jul 23, 11:51am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

New Renter says

You can't scientifically prove or disprove someone's personal experience. You can only believe or cast doubt.

Sure you can. If I take 5,000 people and poke 1/2 of them with a pointy stick vs. poking the other half with a blunt stick I'm pretty sure I'll be able to determine to a high degree of confidence which stick hurts more.

Personal experience is all we have. But it's a subjective thing.

You can't know for certain what other people experience except by assuming it is the same as you would experience in the same situation, or trying to infer how they feel based on how they behave.

42   freak80   ignore (4)   2013 Jul 23, 10:12pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Heraclitusstudent says

Personal experience is all we have. But it's a subjective thing.

Which can be scary. Ultimately, how do I know that I'm not alone in the universe? Or, how do I know that reality isn't just a computer simulation (like in those Matrix movies)?

43   BlueSardine   ignore (2)   2013 Jul 23, 11:07pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Touch the back of your neck and see if there is a usb socket there....

freak80 says

Heraclitusstudent says

Personal experience is all we have. But it's a subjective thing.

Which can be scary. Ultimately, how do I know that I'm not alone in the universe? Or, how do I know that reality isn't just a computer simulation (like in those Matrix movies)?

44   freak80   ignore (4)   2013 Jul 23, 11:22pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

SoftShell says

Touch the back of your neck and see if there is a usb socket there....

Love it!

But couldn't the computer simulation make it impossible for me to notice it? ;-)

45   BlueSardine   ignore (2)   2013 Jul 23, 11:26pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Now that i've had half a cup, I forgot the simulation people did not have the sockets....no way to tell....we are fucked.

freak80 says

SoftShell says

Touch the back of your neck and see if there is a usb socket there....

Love it!

But couldn't the computer simulation make it impossible for me to notice it? ;-)

46   freak80   ignore (4)   2013 Jul 29, 3:35am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I'm wondering if the following statement is accurate scientifically:

"It is impossible to experience one's own death."

That statement seems to make sense. After all, I never "experienced" not being born. But I'm still making an argument from personal experience and not actual science.

Are there any neurologists out there who want to weigh in?

47   BlueSardine   ignore (2)   2014 Oct 10, 1:41pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

So logic dictates you buy into a mutual fund of religions. spread the risk around so you don't get hurt. believe in anything and everything!

Heraclitusstudent says

mmmarvel says

The sad thing is that people who believe in afterlife will never know they were wrong.



It seems unfair.

And on the flip side, if they are correct ... you'll end up in a heap of trouble.

Yes, but that's potentially true for everyone.

Suppose you're a good christian and muslims have it right.

Then you're in a heap of trouble...

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