Is the notion of personal post mortem existence coherant??

Can we survive past our physical bodies?

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  • Created by: Penny
  • Created on: 05-12-11 20:00


The idea that the soul is reborn into another body after death.

'Just as a person casts off worn out garments and puts on others that are new, so does the embodied soul casts off worn out bodies and puts on another that is new'

Hinduism teaches that the soul is immortal, each person has an 'attman', an essential self. Throughout life, they aim to escape 'samsara' (cycle of rebirth) by seeking unity with God.

Assumes the law of Karma, that we receive the concequences of what we have done in the past, and by having good karma, hindu's will acheive 'enlightenment'.

This supports the idea that we are able to survive the death of our bodies

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Buddhists believe in similar idea's of karma and reincarnation, but teach that we have no essential self or soul

There is no 'afterlife', just the constant cycle of rebirt, governed by the law of Karma. Any sense of being seperate from the world you may have, is an illusion.

Compare rebirth to the idea of a wave, rising up out of an ocean for a brief moment, and surviving on its' own, but returning back to the main body of water eventually.

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Many near death experiences aim to prove that we can survive beyond our physical bodies

Raymond Moody's characteristics of NDE's are very common, and many people have experienced some or even all of these, which could be proof that we do survive beyond our bodies, as some characteristics are almost exactly similar.

Kenneth Ring took a more scientific approach to his studies and aimed to strengthen Moody's theory during the 1970's, he claimed that an NDE was not simply a hallucination, as they are usually rambling, unconnected and unclear. NDE's tend to have a clear connected pattern, perhaps suggesting they are proof of a post mortem existence. He also noted that people are changed after an NDE, therefore something must have happened to cause this change.

Pam Atwater, similar to Moody, could also class NDE's into different categories, which again inforces the idea that they are common, making them more likely to be true.

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However, NDE's may all have simple scientific explinations.

Endorphins, as explained by Daniel Carr, block pain and produce feelings of wellbeing and happiness, which could explain why most NDE's are positive, letting the sufferer see their loved ones for example

Many claim that anoxia or hypercarbia can cause most of Moody's characteristics, for example, our visual field can become disturbed during periods of low oxygen levels (which a person would have at death) making us see bright lights or cause the common 'tunnel experience'

Temporal lobes have been found to be connected heavily with religious experiences, and may also be connected with NDE's. For example, the temporal lobes hold our memory and are sensitive to anoxia, which could trigger the commonly expressed 'life review'. Kenneth Ring expressed in his research how people with unstable temporal lobes may be more prone to NDE's.

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