Are spiritual experiences inside your head? Of course they are, and they are real. Here is why Science can't disprove it.
Do we have a spirit?
While I am not religious in any way whatsoever, I have to say that I very much disagree with strongly opinionated skeptics that write close-minded articles about the subject of spirituality being nothing more than a fragment of our imaginations.
First of all, people’s lack of wonder in possibilities the universe has to offer is indicative of some sort of negative personality trait, to say the least. It’s almost like life became so robotic to them that they just gave up and can’t see anything beyond their own experiences.
Secondly, the sense that conscious human beings are simply empty carcasses who disappear when they die raises questions to me, which I will point out as we move along in this article.
While extreme skeptics perceive their opinion as being the absolute truth on the subject which is: There is no spirit, there is nothing when we die, it actually remains an opinion, not a fact.
This is not a religious article whatsoever, by the way, so let’s move on.
There are valid arguments on both sides of the field.
Having said that, closing our minds to the possibilities of the universe is not how science works. I prefer to have an open mind.
In the medieval ages, atoms were not yet discovered, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist does it? In fact, anyone that ever made a wee bit of sense was prosecuted by religion at the time, under pain of death.
So before all of you skeptics decide to prosecute me, I have questions.
Physics and the realms of possibilities
Quantum Physics has been able to prove that atoms pop in and out of existence.
Fermilab, America’s particle physics and accelerator laboratory writes:
“Today,Modern physics deals with some ridiculously non-intuitive stuff. Objects act as though they gain mass the faster they move. An electron can’t decide if it’s a particle, a wave or both. However, there is one statement that takes the cake on sounding like crazy talk: Empty space isn’t empty.
On the face of it, empty space should be empty. If you take a container, pump all the air out of it, shield it from electric fields and plop it in the deepest of intergalactic space to get it away from gravitational fields, that container should contain absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip.
However, that’s not what happens. At the quantum scale, space is a writhing, frantic, ever-changing foam, with particles popping into existence and disappearing in the wink of an eye. This is not just a theoretical idea—it’s confirmed. How can this bizarre idea be true?”
Scientists are also now studying the possibility of parallel universes, as atoms go in and out of existence, and we do not know where they go. If quantum physics takes this scientific phenomenon seriously and is studying the possibility of other parallel universes, why not see them as possibly being other spiritual realms?
What if inside the matter that makes up human beings, there is a spirit that vibrates at a different frequency, one that we can’t yet detect?
Many of the major developments in fundamental theoretical physics, relativistic physics, quantum physics, cosmological physics, unified physics, computational physics, have led physicists to consider that one way or another, parallel universes exist.
Particles vibrating at different levels could essentially explain spiritual realms.
A spiritually active person would tell you that the spirit vibrates at a different level than we do. People that meditate or that experience spirituality, like shamans, for example, know this intuitively.
If modern physics has proven that particles pop in and out of existence, why would the idea of our “inner self, our spirit” doing the same after our body dies be so crazy?
The idea that when we die, part of our consciousness leaves the physical body and vibrates on another level of existence is not so far fetched. In nature, everything is recycled, everything is transformed. Why wouldn’t the same happen to our consciousness? Our consciousness is as real as feelings of anger, happiness, and jealousy. Yet, we can’t detect how cells create these feelings. We can surely detect that they make protein…but how do we measure the creation of feelings within each cell in the brain? We can’t.
Are spiritual encounters all in your head?
Of course they are, where else would they be? The brain is our gateway to the outside world. The brain controls what we see, what we don’t see. Different areas of the brain light up when we think, when we interact with people, when we touch things, when we remember things. Why would they not activate when we have spiritual experiences?
Let’s pretend for a second, that having a spirit is possible. This would mean that there would need to be some sort of entry and exit point of the spirit within the body. It would also mean that certain areas of the brain would show spiritual activity is ongoing when our spirit enters, leaves the body, or when we have other experiences classified as out of this world. (hunted houses, nature spirits, out of body experiences, etc)
My question is: Would the brain not also be stimulated, show activity in certain areas, if there would be an activity such as the spirit entering or exiting the body? Or if a person had a spiritual experience? Yes, the brain will activate just as it does for everything else. Even though we do not yet understand, those are all possibilities. Forming the opinion that parts of the brain activate, therefore we are hallucinating vs we are experiencing a real spiritual experience is still an opinion that anyone can make according to how they interpret the facts. Fact interpretation can be distorted by personal beliefs, culture, and upbringing. As of now, there is no definite answer.
There are two parts of the brain that scientists keep referring to in their studies. The pineal gland and the right temporal lobe.
The pineal gland
The pineal gland is a small gland located deep in the center of the brain. Named for its pinecone shape, this gland secretes melatonin, which plays a role in the body’s internal clock. In many cultures, this gland is referred to as the third eye. This is in reference to the gate that leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. In the religious texts, both in the eastern and western philosophies, it has been called: the third eye, the pineal eye, the eye of Shiva, etc.
According to the Indian Journal of neurosurgery:
The existence of the pineal gland as third eye or mystic control has been described in Indian ancient science. The modern world is trending toward the same inference.
The Correlation between Pineal Activation and Religious Meditation Observed by Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging study states that:
Pineal body exhibit significant activation during meditation process, supporting the long lasting speculation that pineal plays an important role in the intrinsic awareness which might concern spirit or soul.
The temporal lobe
According to the British Journal of Neuroscience Nursing
Profound spiritual experiences have been observed as a trait of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), as described in the Geschwind syndrome. Further research may help to explain whether the complex, partial seizures of TLE are a cause of abnormal religiosity or an accessory to spiritual enlightenment.
Several studies have shown time again that temporal lobe disturbances within the brain lead to mystical and paranormal experiences such as out of body experiences. Researchers also conclude that many questions pertaining to the real nature of the “Out of body experience phenomenon” still remain unanswered today.
Is there such a thing as another spiritual realm? Another extreme thought would be, could it be that hallucinations are in fact the brain tapping into something else? Those are questions that we don’t have answers to, and therefore saying with absolute certainty that the body has no spirit because everything happens in the brain is not conclusive to me.
I am certainly not religious at all, but this explanation does not address the possibilities. How could you prove, or disprove the presence of a spirit in a body? You can’t, either way.
If we have a soul, when is it born and when does it die?
Well, at this point, no one knows for sure what happens to our “inner-self”, when we die.
Therefore this question can’t be answered by skeptics or nonskeptics.
How could skeptics expect nonskeptics to have an answer in order to prove to them that humans have a soul? Spiritually open-minded people that don’t have an answer are “not proof” that there is no answer and that there never will be an answer.
In order to answer this question, we need to step back a notch and learn about the dilemma of the body and the self.
So until we have a definitive answer to the “soul” question, no one can answer those existential questions as of right now.
What we can talk about though, is the human experience. Human beings have been pronounced dead before, and have been resuscitated before.
The study of out of body experiences
Out of body experience studies reveal that more than 10% of the healthy population have experienced an OBE at some point
There have been instances of people who have suffered cardiac arrest for periods as long as 45 minutes and have been brought back to life thanks to the medical technology that we have today. By definition, when a person doesn’t have a pulse, a beating heart, the person is dead.
With the medical technology that we have today, many have been brought back. It is interesting to note that whether religious or not, male-female, children, or adults, 10% of the cases had similar descriptions of tapping into an afterlife.
If those people can give descriptions of what was happening in the room or hallway next to the room where their body was, is that not an interesting clue? I have read, of papers where scientists tested these theories by positioning a picture in the room to test if the spirit could see it, and as a result, they have not.
But, personally, if I was having an out of body experience, I doubt that I would focus my attention on a random picture in the room. Would you care about a random picture in the room if your spirit left your body? Would you not be in some sort of shock, focusing on where the hell your spirit is supposed to be going?
The extraordinary experience would probably take my breath away in the first place. I might probably focus more on the human beings in the room, on the question of whether I want to go back in my body or move on.
The second point is that we don’t know how a spirit’s vision functions.
Before science discovered cells, microwaves, infrasound, and x-rays, those were all invisible. If you would mention these concepts to a medieval priest you would have been burned at the stake.
I find it unsurprising that many people completely dismiss spirituality, due to the negative impact that many religions have had on people over the course of time. (wars, killings, rapes, torture, poverty,). That doesn’t mean that spirituality is connected to those negative connotations. In many cases, having spiritual beliefs has nothing to do with religion. It is intuition.
I don’t have answers but what I find of interest, is the overall shared human experience, the scientific counter-intuitive discoveries that are made in physics, the parts of the brain that activate proving that something really is happening, people aren’t lying about their experiences. The other thing is that,, being open to spirituality has taught me to learn many of these concepts intuitively.
Our universe might be really, really big — but finite. Or it might be infinitely big. Both cases are possibilities. Brian Greene
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