It's sad that a person so well-educated can interpret some post-comatose, revisionist "memories" as something metaphysical or otherworldly. At best, this was a vivid dream and you've no proof otherwise.
Reminds me of Timothy Leary and other such "psychonauts." The only difference here is that the good doctor has replaced hallucinogenics with a traumatized cerebral cortex.
But hey, if you're willing to trade your credibility as a man grounded in medical science, empirical knowledge, etc., why not cash in, right?
In the movie, "The Fugitive," someone said that Harrison Ford (his character name escapes me) murdered his wife to get rich. One of the policeman, I think it was Tommie Lee Jones, said, "He's a doctor - he's already rich."
Neurosurgeons, even in academic medicine, earn at least $300,000 to $400,000 a year. If he was interested in money, he probably wouldn't have gone into academic medicine, but would instead have gone into a private practice, where he would have been earning between $500,000 and $2-million a year.
Book writers usually earn little (and sometimes nothing). Fewer than 1% of best-selling authors earn what neurosurgeons earn.
You may question his story or his interpretation of what happened if you care to, but don't imagine that he wrote a book like this to cash in.
There's no reason to question the sincerity of people who astral travel, see ghosts, have NDE's, are abducted by aliens, etc. It's only a bit odd that Alexander can't move from the understanding that these things happen to people, to the subjective experience of having it happen to himself. I guess people think "Sure it seemed real to him, but if it happened to me, I would know that it was an illusion." And then when it does happen they just jump right to saying "No, it was absolutely real. I know it was, because it was me that experienced it, and I know a hawk from a handsaw!" And then they blandly take it for granted that "seeing" for example - which is an input form absolutely dependent on our history and experience as animals, and involves incident light bouncing off selectively absorbent surfaces before being interpreted by our eyes and nervous systems in a very stylised way - just continues on, in a non-physical world, as does time, causality, memory, proprioception, occupation of an area of space, and so on. All of these animal concepts that our brains had to be trained in, when we were babies, all just carry over into an utterly different realm of existence, so that instead of being bewildered babies struggling to assemble chaotic experience into something coherent, there is instead just this easy, natural transition to a world just exactly like this one, only fluffier and more comforting.
I think a little brain damage probably goes a long way toward making this seem like a reasonable proposition.
I'm not rushing to judgment on this one. Eben Alexander discusses at length the various supposed explanations for the NDE and discounts them. I find his account here fascinating and well worth reading. What he experienced was obviously nothing like a "vivid dream." Statements that the man is cashing in with this book are irresponsible and disingenuous.
This book is irresponsible, along with all claims to knowledge of a consciousness following brain death. Wishful thinking will not make it true. From all verifiable evidence at our disposal, the only immortality we can expect is that our constituent atoms, which were formed inside stars, will return to the cosmos.
It is a very responsible book. The author reports honestly what he experienced, and why he feels it was "reality" and he discusses the many supposed explanations for NDEs and why those "explanations" don't explain what happened to him. He is patient, exhaustive and obviously honest. No one knows what lies beyond death. NDE literature is well worth study, and this is one of the more substantive contributions to that literature.
Again, I think it's a terrific book. Very strong. And it is refreshing to read of an NDE from a neurosurgeon. He has important things to say about why the NDE is not the result of oxygen deprivation, or DMT, et al. For those interested in this growing body of literature, this is a really fine and important read.
There is nothing wrong with the Bible if you read if by themes. The problem lies when you read it literally. The parable of the sower for instance is a correct depiction of what is happening in the world today - a struggle between materialism and spiritualism. I read the story of Adam and Even not as the genesis of mankind but man's pride. Etc.
Open mindedness is one thing. Being so open-minded that your brain falls out of your head is another. Near-death experiences can be explained with theories about how trauma experienced by the brain translates into cognition. After all, each of those who report these events have only their own memory upon which to rely. We know the brain plays tricks on us all the time. So what's more likely -- that when our brains are suffering major trauma like hypoxia we are whisked away to experience a magical place our culture has come to call "heaven," complete with clouds and angels, or our memory of these minutes of unconsciousness has been informed by some of the same chemical reactions we experience while we dream or when we take hallucinogenic substances?
Not really. Science can be an awe-inspiring discipline. For example, just consider the fact that many of the atoms inside of our bodies were created inside the nuclear fusion furnace of an exploded star -- and will once again be recycled into another star. Or, consider the fact that we have evolved over millions of years to the point where we are intelligent enough to ask questions about our origins and that of the universe. Just imagine where we might be in another million years! Think about all the hundreds of billions of stars just in our own galaxy and then consider that there are billions of galaxies in the universe! Consider that this means the odds of intelligent life elsewhere in our massive universe are actually fairly high. This is the realm of science, and it fills many of us with the kind of wonder that inspires.
The brain does play tricks on us...one of its favorites is to convince us to identify with it as to who we are. Another is to dupe us into believing that it is the sole arbiter of truth and reality. Both of these are very handy if you are an evolutionary organ that is threatened by the real self that also inhabits us....the eternal creative force that formed us and the universe we exist in. You know...the one that separates us from the other creatures with brains. When Dr. Alexander got to experience what it was like to have his brain "out of the way" so to speak, he was able to totally access that force...and I would wager that his relationship with his brain will never be the same. Most of us are not so fortunate. We need to give our tricky little brains a rest once in a while...turn off the tape...and see if we can get in touch with the deeper self we all possess. That would be the authentic self that comes from the place that Dr. Alexander was privileged to fully experience for a brief time.
This statement makes an a priori claim -- the age-old dualism argument which asserts that there is a soul or spirit that inhabits our bodies but is separate from our material selves. Apart from the fact that there is no reliable evidence yet revealed to support this concept, there actually is some evidence that neuro-scientists can point to which discounts dualism. See here: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Non-materialist_neuroscience
Some people (like Mr. Bauer and others) will refuse to believe in the human spirit, no matter what the evidence. Dr. Alexander goes into great (even boring) depth as to why his experience is not explainable by current science. Not being a neurosurgeon, I respect his knowledge and will give him the benefit of the doubt. As a Christian, I believe in the human spirit, but I don't believe his book goes far toward "proving" it. Like many others, I was disappointed that he didn't try harder to describe his experiences beyond saying how wonderous and utterly full of love they were. He was in Heaven for 7 days. Why did he keep returning to that distinctly UN-Heavenly "Realm of the Earthworm's Eye View?" Did he spend all of his time in the Core, or flying over the "Gateway?" Did he spend any time on the ground? Did he meet anyone other than the butterfly-girl? Just not enough information for me.
Jody, I believe in the human spirit, just not the idea that it resides in a metaphysical realm. Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon, not a neuroscientist. This means his specialty is operating on portions of the nervous system, not studying how that complex system works to supply us with our conscious and unconscious perception of the world. It's a bit like the difference between a nuclear reactor technician and a nuclear physicist -- the former knows how to repair problems in the reactor but the latter knows how the reactor works to produce fission. With this in mind, it seems fair to say that Dr. Alexander is hardly more qualified to explain what was happening in his brain at the time of his unconsciousness than most people.
As far as the "human spirit" goes, I would only ask you to honestly consider whether you have any evidence for the existence of such a metaphysical thing. Or is it, much like a belief in a god, something you must simply rely on faith to believe in?
Nice going here. But remember we are not reading your lines literally either, since you seem to be in a coma yourself.....what part of the word of God do you take literally, any? Jesus laying down his life for you so you may go free? God's forgiveness of your sins when you sincerely believe Jesus came to lay down his life just for you? Eternal life in the presence of God, your Creator, when you die? Think very hard Casiano, your future may depend on it. God bless
Mr. Bauer, good post, except your opinion is NO opinion, just a chemical combination of ignorance, hard-heartedness and God-hating. Don't waste the precious gift of life God has given you, so you may worship and love Him. Turn from scoffing and telling yourself that you can not believe, you can, with His help, ask Him.
Your none-scientific opinion about ' billions of universes' only reflects that you're desperately trying n o t to believe that there is God, the Creator of your existence and all things, including the universe, ( this theory is disseminated and spun by scientists who will tell you officially that they would never, ever believe in the God of the Universe and unofficially that they hate just the idea of a Creator who knows them and gave life to them)). You're pointing to odds of intelligent life elsewhere being high, like a drowning man points to the horizon line with no sign of land. Deep down in the most secret recesses of your heart you know and fear that God is true, that you are His creation, that He loves you and wants you to love Him back, but you would have to turn from your stubbornness and say ' I was wrong, please forgive me'. It takes very little on your part : tell Him sincerely you want to know Him, trust Him, believe Him and He will answer you. But be totally sincere, He reads your heart and do not be afraid to ask Him, be afraid not to ask.
Rob, I appreciate your comments but they don't add anything to this discussion. I am interested in scientific theory based on observations, study and intellectual honesty. Do you have anything along those lines to offer? If not, please find another thread on which to preach.