I was thinking about why people want to cling onto the afterlife earlier today and then I came across this piece of news about an interesting study on near-death experiences. This study does not deal with the afterlife directly, but it does show what these so called near-death experiences are about. The authors showed that there are high levels of brainwave activity in rats after the heart was stopped. The authors found that "high-frequency neurophysiological activity in the near-death state exceeded levels found during the conscious waking state".
They carry on to say that "the mammalian brain can, albeit paradoxically,
generate neural correlates of heightened conscious processing at near-death".
Now as I said in the beginning of this post, this does not prove the non existence of the after life. However, it does bring into doubt any stories regarding the after life that people have "experienced". So if someone has had a near death experience and they are using this as an argument for the existence of a god, then this study is pointing us towards the fact that this is a false claim.
The argument I am sure to hear from theists is that this study was done in rats, and so one could claim that this is not true for humans as we have "souls". But as I have pointed out in two recent previous posts, we are not that special when it comes to our abilities with respect to memory and learning abilities. So, if we are not so special when it comes to memory and learning, how else might we not be special? Could it be that we don't have a special "soul".
I think this whole soul question could easily be proven, by monitoring brain function of people were the life support gets terminated or in countries where assisted suicide is legal. If the brain activity at death is the same as mice, then one either has to accept that mice have souls or that near-death experiences are lies. I am guessing these studies will never happen due to ethical reasons, but would it not be good to know from a theistic and an atheistic viewpoint?
On a side note this is not the only reason that I know near-death experiences are trash, but it is another interesting study showing that they are not true.