On out-of-body experiences
2012-11-06 0:00

By Andrew Brown | Guardian.co.uk

The idea of an untethered consciousness is something we can understand, even when we donít suppose it is found in nature.


I was standing at the urinal in the brightly lit downstairs cloakroom at Lambeth Palace when I realised that to talk about the spiritual dimension of life is perfectly ridiculous Ė because the spiritual, disembodied dimension is where we live all the time. We can only get out of it with a deliberate effort. The physical dimension comes to us at second hand. Consciousness is the form in which experience comes to us.

This is hardly original Ė perhaps itís one of those insights which recurs in different forms throughout your life. But it goes some way to explaining why out-of-body experiences seem so natural to us. Almost all our daily life is an out-of-body experience. When I write this, I am conscious only of the words on the screen, and, faintly, of my fingers somewhere underneath. Least of all am I conscious of my brain, where all this stuff is supposed to be happening.

But what about other peopleís out-of-body lives? Again, these make intuitive sense, because disembodied spirits are something we deal with all the time. When you read this, your mind is reacting (I hope) to my mind. Youíre certainly not reacting to my brain. If you destroy the brain, the mind is also destroyed, but the link between them is still entirely mysterious. The idea, then, of a consciousness that comes completely untethered from its body and survive the bodyís destruction is something that we can understand even when we donít suppose it is to be found in nature. Itís not logically impossible: just contingently so.

An interesting sidelight here is that consciousness seems to be something we associate with purpose and desire: an angry ghost is believable in a way that a computerís ghost is not. Even people who believe that computers can be conscious canít believe in one whose consciousness persisted even after the electricity was turned off. I donít think this is just a matter of materialism. Itís also because computers donít have desires.

Of course, the fact that it is easy and natural to imagine ghosts, or disembodied consciousnesses, does not mean they exist. Science proceeds on the assumption that they donít and that our imaginings are simply illusions produced by the evolved compulsion of our minds to jump to conclusions. When we see Pac-Man pursuing the dots in a crude video game we see a pursuit, which is a purposive activity, and we see it without any conscious reflection at all.

But suppose there were evidence of disembodied consciousness in scientifically monitored situations? The most interesting experiments I know of take place in intensive care units. Since one classic version of the near death experience involves looking down from a great height at your own body Ė come to think of it, I may have had one of those myself when bicycling to my heart attack Ė the obvious scientific test is to place things in an intensive care unit that could only be seen from above, and then to ask whether the experiencer noticed them.

[...]

Read the full article at: guardian.co.uk







Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

ABC Is Hiding Details of Killer Vester Flanagan's Manifesto ...(Must Be Littered With Liberal Propaganda)
2015-08-29 3:45
Killer Vester Flanagan was a big Obama supporter. But, you’d never know it from the liberal media. The media is hiding Flanagan’s political leanings from the American public. ABC has yet to release Flanagan’s manifesto. It must be littered with embarrassing liberal propaganda. The Tatler reported, via Instapundit: Two days ago, ABC News reported that Vester Flanagan, the murderer of two WDBJ employees, sent a 23-page ...
Austria, Libya count dead as number of migrants crossing Mediterranean soars
2015-08-29 1:37
Austria said on Friday 71 refugees including a baby girl were found dead in an abandoned freezer truck, while Libya recovered the bodies of 82 migrants washed ashore after their overcrowded boat sank on its way to Europe and scores more were feared dead. The U.N. refugee agency said the number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe ...
Financial Times Calls For Abolishing Cash
2015-08-29 1:07
liminating physical currency necessary to give central banks more power The Financial Times has published an anonymous article which calls for the abolition of cash in order to give central banks and governments more power. Entitled The case for retiring another ‘barbarous relic’, the article laments the fact that people are stockpiling cash in anticipation of another economic collapse, a factor which ...
Serbian government bans anti-mass immigration protests, and plans ahead for mass immigration
2015-08-29 1:52
Nebojsa Stefanovic, Serbia’s Interior Minister said protesters who are concerned about “an EU plan” to settle thousands of illegal immigrants into the country, will not be allowed to voice their concerns in a protest march on Monday, 31st of August. “We will not allow the expression of intolerance and hatred to be something that is characteristic of Serbia” said Stefanovic. “The Ministry ...
Germany asks Facebook to remove 'racist' anti-migrant posts
2015-08-28 20:32
Heiko Maas, Germany's justice minister, says social network should remove xenophobic posts in the same way it deals with nudity Germany is calling on Facebook to remove “xenophobic and racist” anti-migrant posts from its website and apps. Heiko Maas, the German justice minister, has written to the company to demand an urgent review of its policy over hate messages. “Photos of certain ...
More News »