QR99 What kind of method is used in science? Answer: Inductive method (moving from particulars to universals). Notice that this is different from deductive method which moves from general principles to particular conclusions. It is important to know the limits of inductive method, because it means that science cannot know if it knows everything about the physical universe. Why? Because science can never know whether it has discovered every particular datum necessary to have a complete explanation of the universe. It must always be open to new discoveries (and even to surprising new discoveries). Science cannot know what it has not yet discovered since it has not yet discovered it.
QR98 Can scientists ever know that they have explained everything about everything in our universe? Answer: No. Because science is an inductive discipline, (which means that it moves from particulars to universals) and scientists cannot ever know whether they have discovered all the particulars that are ingredient to a complete explanation of the universe. They cannot know what they have not discovered until they have discovered it. (See above question #1.)
QR97 Why is this answer significant for the question about a Creator of the universe? Answer: If we do not make “nothing” into something (or sneak something into nothing), then we know that this nothing could not have done anything. Now if it could not have done anything, then it could not have moved itself from nothing to something. How then did the universe move from nothing to something at the absolute beginning, if physical reality could not have done it? It must be that something beyond (transcending) physical reality did it, and this “transcendent something” is called a Creator.
QR96 Among Einstein’s many contributions to physics, what was his most important cosmological discovery? Answer: The General Theory of Relativity, which integrated mass, energy, space, and time. It was the first comprehensive, organic cosmological explanation of the universe as a whole. Though Newton did have a theory of the universe as a whole, he separated space, time, mass, and energy, and hence his explanation was not organic and only partial.
QR95 Why did Lemaître propose his expanding universe hypothesis to Einstein? Answer: Assuming that the universe expanded much like a balloon being blown up, the high velocities of extragalactic nebulae could be explained with almost perfect mathematical accuracy. Lemaitre noticed that if space was stretching (growing), like the elastic of a balloon being blown up, then the further a galaxy is from us (the observer), the greater its recessional velocity must be. Why? Take out a rubber band and put it next to a ruler. Now draw a dot on the rubber band at point zero; another dot at one inch; and yet another dot at two inches. Now, take the rubber band and hold it with your left hand at point zero. With your right hand stretch the rubber band so that the dot that was at two inches is now at four inches. Evidently the dot which was at two inches from origin has expanded another two inches (to the four inch mark). But notice that the dot which was at the one inch mark has only moved to the two inch mark (an expansion of only one inch). Thus, if space as a whole is growing like a balloon (or like our rubber band), the further away a galaxy is from our galaxy (at point zero on the ruler), the more it expands per unit time. Since expansion per unit time is recessional velocity, Lemaitre is right – the further away the galaxy is, the greater its recessional velocity. This insight will be very important when we explain the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth proof below.
QR94 Is space simply an empty vacuum? Answer: No. Space in the General Theory of Relativity is a highly dynamic field. It is capable of adjusting its coordinate system and curvature in proportion to the density of Mass-Energy within it (mass and energy are essentially convertible to one another, and so we might refer to it in combination as Mass-Energy). Thus, the density of Mass-Energy can actually “collapse” the coordinate structure of the spatial continuum and “pull together” the coordinate structure surrounding the collapsed area (much like when you pinch a table cloth and pull it up, you notice that you not only alter the area being pinched, but also the surrounding area of the table cloth — notice, too, that the closer that an area is to the one being pinched, the more altered it is).
QR93 The recent Planck spacecraft data (March-April 2013) made slight revisions to the data used in this presentation recorded earlier. According to the new data, the universe is 13.8 billion years old (instead of 13.7 billion years old as previously thought) and the proportion of visible matter, dark matter, and dark energy has also been revised. According to the Planck spacecraft the current estimate of visible matter is now 4.9% (instead of 4.6%), dark matter is 26.8% (instead of 23%), and dark energy is 68.3% (instead of 72.4%). This was not corrected throughout this book because the video presentation uses the older figures.
QR92 What are the four forces in our universe? Answer: The electromagnetic force which explains electrical activity. The strong nuclear force which binds protons together in the nucleus of an atom. The weak force which is responsible for radiation and particle decay. The gravitational force which is explained by the curvature of the space-time field in the General Theory of Relativity. It is responsible for attraction of massive bodies at a distance. What does the electromagnetic force do? Answer: It is the source of all electrical activity. It has the power to attract and repel charges which creates force that can move things, change things, give rise to light and heat, as well as make things strong and hard, and give things shape. What does the strong nuclear force do? Answer: The strong nuclear force binds together protons in the nucleus of an atom. We know of the existence of this force because protons (being of similar charge) should repel each other, since this is the ordinary dynamic of the electromagnetic force. Then how can protons, as it were, “stick together” (when they should be repelling)? There must be a stronger force of attraction than the electromagnetic force of repulsion. This force only becomes strong when protons are in exceedingly close proximity to one another under high pressures and temperatures (i.e. nuclear fusion). What does the weak force do? Answer: It causes radioactive decay, particle decay, which results in radiation and is, as will later be seen, responsible for the way in which the universe emerged. What does the gravitational force do? Answer: Gravitational force is the force of attraction among massive bodies in the universe. It increases in proportion to the masses which are in proximity to one another, and it also increases with shorter distances among those bodies. Thus, the more massive the bodies and the shorter the distance among them, the stronger the gravitational force. Since the time of Einstein, we no longer consider gravity to be a force (as Newton did) — today we know that the effects of gravitation are produced by the curved geometry of the space-time continuum. The greater the curvature, the stronger the gravitational effect. Greater density of mass-energy causes greater curvature of the space-time continuum.
QR91 What is dark matter? Answer: Dark matter resembles visible matter in one important respect — it interacts with the space-time field in the same way — that is, it causes gravitational effects (“attraction” effects). As noted above, dark energy is causing the space between galaxies to stretch (grow) at an accelerated rate; so the question arises: Why don’t the galaxies expand or grow at the same accelerated rate (which would make them fly apart)?” Because the attraction produced by both dark matter and visible matter within the galaxies (where the density of mass-energy is much higher than in intergalactic space) counteracts the effects of dark energy and keeps the galaxies together.
QR90 Why is the Assertion, “That’s just the way it was…” an Inadequate Explanation for the Fine-tuning of our Universe at the Big Bang? Answer: Some people contend that there is no need to give an explanation for the fine-tuning of our universe, because our universe is all that there is, and it is in fact here, and there is no reason to believe that it could have been anything else. At first glance, this seems to be a reasonable statement of the facts, but in reality, it is not because there is good physical reason to believe that the universe could have been other than it is. The truth is that there is no necessity for low entropy at the Big Bang. Indeed, as we saw earlier, high entropy at the Big Bang (for purely naturalistic reasons) is far far more probable than the low entropy that occurred. This provokes an important question for physicists which cannot be ignored. Why did this highly improbable initial condition of our universe occur when simple probabilities would have dictated otherwise? Roger Penrose puts the question in a way that is helpful. He notices that when 1080 baryons worth of mass-energy are coming into being, it gives rise to 10 10123 equally possible phase-space options for the entropy of our universe. Of that 10 10123 phase-space options, only a mere fraction of them will be low entropy options which will enable life to develop within the universe. This gives rise to the question “Why did this incredibly small phase space option occur amidst the far far greater number of phase space options (10 10123) that could never have given rise to a life form?” It is not good enough to say “Just because” or “Because it did.” This is tantamount to the same person winning the lottery a trillion-trillion- trillion times in a row and everybody saying “That’s just the way it is, and it could not have been otherwise.” One might want to ask whether the person running the lottery was related to the person winning. It would be ridiculous not to ask! It might help to illustrate this further. Let’s suppose that every phase space option that could have occurred with our mass energy (1080 baryons) at the Big Bang were like a huge black sheet that could extend over the size of our Milky Way Galaxy and was divisible into 10 10123 little pinholes. Now all these pinholes are black except for one pinhole which is red, and the red pinhole is the only low entropy phase space option that will give rise to life forms. All of the black ones will be high entropy options that will not allow for the development of life in the universe. All the black pinholes and the red pinhole could have occurred at the Big Bang. Now a pin is launched from a vantage point two galaxies away from the sheet and it tumbles toward the sheet, and hits the red pinprick straight on. Can it really be said that “That’s just the way it was, and it could not have been other than it was?” This makes far less sense than saying that the person can win the lottery a trillion-trillion-trillion times in a row and it couldn’t have been other than it was. The same holds true for the values of our universal constants. The range of constants for an anthropic universe (capable of sustaining a life form) is exceedingly exceedingly small by comparison to the range of constants that will give rise to a non-anthropic universe (not capable of sustaining a life form) –given the mass energy of our universe, its four forces, and the dynamic nature of its space-time continuum. Every non-anthropic value of the constants could have occurred at the Big Bang (because there is no intrinsic bias toward the anthropic ones). Since there are so many more possibilities for non-anthropic values of constants than anthropic ones at the Big Bang, one must ask “Why did the anthropic ones occur?” “Why did we win the lottery a trillion-trillion-trillion times in a row?” This is why the vast majority of physicists who do not want to believe in a supernatural cause have made recourse to a multiverse. Every one of these physicists recognizes (either implicitly or explicitly) that it is not good enough to say, “That’s just the way it was, and it could not have been other than it was.” They recognize that the universe could have been other than it was, and indeed that it would have been much much more probable to be non-anthropic than to be anthropic. For this reason, they choose a multiverse as a naturalistic explanation of our highly improbable anthropic universe.
QR89 What is dark energy? Answer: Dark energy is not like dark matter. In fact, it is not like matter in any respect. It is like a field which “attaches itself” to our dynamic space-time continuum and causes it to stretch or expand very rapidly. This stretching or expanding has an accelerative effect. Some people doubt the existence of Dark Energy, and think that it is just a fudge factor that scientists have invented to explain faster than expected inflation. A majority of physicists believe that Dark Energy exists. Over a decade ago, astronomers observing the brightness of distant supernovae realized that the expansion of the universe appeared to be accelerating. They attributed the acceleration to the repulsive force associated with dark energy. In September 2012 a team of astronomers at the University of Portsmouth and LMU University Munich, determined that the likelihood of the existence of dark energy stands at 99.996 per cent. The team released their findings after two years of study and reverification of the Integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect; the theory that first gave credence to Dark Energy. Dr. Alan Guth theorized that Dark Energy was a very probable source of a cool inflationary period immediately after the Big Bang, which is necessary to explain the distribution of mass and galaxies (as well as several other phenomena) throughout the universe.
QR88 Why do physicists believe that the 2.7-degree Kelvin uniform radiation had to have occurred in a cosmic event near the beginning of the universe? Answer: Since the radiation is uniformly distributed (virtually the same throughout the entire universe) it could not have originated at a particular place in an already-expanded universe. If it had, the shock wave would have moved away from the epicenter of the explosion and it would have rushed from one place to another place growing weaker as it did so. Thus, it would not have been uniformly distributed everywhere in the universe. So the uniform radiation must have originated at a point when it could be everywhere distributed (and would cool at the same rate everywhere in the universe). The only time at which this could have occurred is very near to the beginning of the universe itself.
QR87 Lisa Grossman’s Summary of Vilenkin’s Explanation for Why the Static (Cosmic Egg) Hypothesis Must be Quantum Unstable and Must therefore have a Beginning: Answer: Vilenkin’s final strike is an attack on a third, lesser-known proposal that the cosmos existed eternally in a static state called the cosmic egg. This finally “cracked” to create the big bang, leading to the expanding universe we see today. Late last year Vilenkin and graduate student Audrey Mithani showed that the egg could not have existed forever after all, as quantum instabilities would force it to collapse after a finite amount of time (arxiv.org/abs/1110.4096). If it cracked instead, leading to the big bang, then this must have happened before it collapsed – and therefore also after a finite amount of time.
QR86 What is a multiverse? Answer: A multiverse is a hypothetical configuration proposed by Andre Linde and others as a possible implication of the collapse of a false vacuum in inflationary theory. The hypothesis suggests that little “mini-universes” (bubble universes) could be generated by the collapse of the false vacuum in the super-universe (the multiverse). All the bubble universes would be unified through the spacetime of the multiverse. Andre Linde thought that it might be possible for a multiverse to be past-eternal, but as will be seen below, the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem proves that it cannot be — and that it must have a beginning. Therefore, there can only be a finite number of bubble universes in a multiverse. Please note there is no observational evidence for a multiverse. It is purely speculative. Furthermore, it is doubtful that we will ever be able to get observational evidence of a multiverse, because we cannot get beyond our universe to obtain evidence of it.
QR85 What is a bouncing universe? Answer: The bouncing universe (sometimes called “the oscillating universe”) is a hypothesis that has been proposed since the time of the “Big Bang” theory. It holds that our universe is in a state of expansion, then contraction, then re-expansion, and then re-contraction. By proposing this theory, it was thought that a beginning of the universe at the Big Bang could be avoided because there could be (hypothetically) multiple “Big Bangs” — one after every collapse at the moment of re-expansion. This could hypothetically have gone on eternally into the past. This hypothesis has never been observationally verified and its past-eternal implications have always fallen prey to problems. Richard Tolman discovered the first problem in 1937. He showed that every expansion would necessarily increase the background radiation in the universe (which never goes away and accumulates throughout each cycle). This leads to an increase in pressure in each additional cycle which means that the universe must get bigger (before each collapse) and it must take a longer time to get to its maximum volume (before each collapse). If the universe has a finite volume today, and we go back into the past through previous cycles, those cycles would have to have been smaller and smaller. Eventually, we would have to reach a minimally small cycle with a minimum time of that cycle (the Planck length and time) which would constitute a beginning of the cycle. What Tolman showed was that even if a bouncing universe did exist, it, too, would have to have a beginning. The theory of entropy (see below) also shows that bouncing universes could not be past eternal. Essentially, entropy means that our universe is irreversibly moving from ordered systems to disordered systems of energy, and that eventually, all systems of energy will become maximally disordered (what is called “maximum entropy”). This condition means that the universe as a whole would be at thermodynamic equilibrium (like the cosmic microwave background radiation — incapable of doing anything) if the universe were eternal into the past. But in point of fact, our universe is not anywhere near maximum entropy; it has very low entropy (with a considerable amount of ordered systems of energy — such as stars). This indicates that our universe was very probably not past eternal, and furthermore, very probably did not bounce even once (see the Roger Penrose number below — the improbability of fine tuning our universe even more than it already was at the “Big Bang” is simply astounding. It is highly, highly, highly improbable). The final two blows to the bouncing universe theory as a hypothesis allowing for a past-eternal universe have come more recently. First, the discovery of dark energy (the field attaching itself to the space-time continuum which causes it to stretch and expand) suggests strongly that the universe could never have collapsed because dark energy is much greater than the combination of visible matter and dark matter (72.4% dark energy vs. 27.6% visible matter and dark matter). How could the universe collapse? The only way would have been for the dark energy to somehow disappear, which is not physically realistic. Secondly, the B-V-G Theorem shows that even bouncing universes in higher dimensions have to have a beginning (see below). Thus, it is highly doubtful that even if there was a bouncing universe (which the presence of an abundance of dark energy militates against), it would not have been past eternal. It would have had to have had a beginning. Quantum cosmology (question #38) allows for the possibility of another kind of bouncing universe in higher dimensional space. Einstein’s theory of gravity integrated with quantum mechanics in a mathematically consistent manner (unified with the other forces of nature) called superstring theory requires that there be several “extra” space dimensions. In one class of higher-dimensional scenarios, our fourdimensional universe can be viewed as one “membrane” (called “brane” for short in the technical literature) moving around within a higher-dimensional spacetime, where there may be other branes. In the so-called “ekpyrotic” scenario of Steinhardt and Turok, our universe is one of two such branes that are parallel to each other and repeatedly collide, move apart, and collide again. The Big Bang is supposed to have been one of these collisions. They have suggested that this cycle of collisions may have been going on forever. However, as Borde, Vilenkin, and Guth make clear in their 2003 article, even bouncing universes in higher dimensional space must have a beginning (because the average Hubble expansion is greater than zero). See below questions #44 & 45.
QR84 What is a space-time geometry proof? Answer: The highly dynamic structure of Space-Time (see 34 and 35 above) allows us to make predictions about what the Space-Time continuum must do under certain conditions. Thus, the typical form of a Space-Time Geometry Proof is “if condition x, condition y, and condition z are real in the universe, then there must be a beginning of that universe.” First one must prove the major premise (the “if — then” part of the proof) which normally entails both mathematics and logic (as we shall see below). Then, we must prove the minor premise (the part of the proof which shows that each of the conditions do in fact exist in our universe). This part of the proof must be done by observations or experiments based on observations. If both the major and minor premises can be shown to be correct, then the conclusion would naturally follow as correct.
QR83 What are the implications of the second law of thermodynamics for the beginning of the universe? Answer: If the universe is an isolated system (and there is no energy coming into it from outside), then if the universe had no beginning (and had existed for an infinite amount of time), it should have experienced the irreversible process of progressive disordering completely. In other words, it should be completely run down. This would mean that the universe would effectively be dead – it would be like cosmic microwave background radiation at a temperature exceedingly close to zero degrees kelvin (absolute zero). Yet this is not in fact the case. Our universe has very low entropy (instead of maximum entropy) as manifest by billions upon billions of burning stars, planets, and even life forms on this planet. The argument for a beginning may be set out in five steps:
(a) In order for isolated physical systems to perform work (significant physical activity – such as stars burning) they must have internal order or organization (they cannot be completely disordered; that is they cannot be the same – and the same temperature – throughout the system).
(b) Every time work is performed by an isolated physical system, a tiny bit of its internal order is lost (that is, it becomes a little more disordered – its entropy increases). Note that entropy is a measure of disorder in an isolated physical system.
(c) The process of moving from order to disorder (entropy) in isolated physical systems performing work is irreversible. No isolated physical system will move spontaneously from disorder to order over the long term. This is true for purely statistical reasons. If we consider a racked set of pool balls to be an ordered system, and we shoot a cue ball at it and it becomes disordered (randomly distributed), this should not surprise us (for purely probabilistic reasons). However, if we were to shoot the cue ball at the randomly distributed pool balls, and they spontaneously reorganized themselves into a racked configuration – spitting the cue ball out at the end – we would probably be shocked, because the probability of this occurring randomly and spontaneously is exceedingly small.
(d) If the universe is an isolated system (which is thought to be the case in the Standard Big Bang Model), and it has been performing work (such as stars burning) for an infinite time, then it should have reached maximum entropy today. This is a simple conclusion from (a), (b) & (c) above. If disorder increases whenever work is performed by isolated physical systems, and the universe is an isolated physical system which has been performing work for an infinite period of time, then it should have reached maximum entropy today – that is, it should be dead – rundown, and unable to perform any work. The entire universe would be like microwave background radiation — very close to absolute zero degrees.
(e) However, this is clearly not the case. The fact is, we live in a universe that has very low entropy with billions upon billions of stars burning, planets evolving, life growing on this planet, and physicists thinking about it.
(f) Therefore, if the universe is an isolated physical system, it seems quite likely that it has not existed for an infinite amount of time – that is, it had a beginning.
Notice that this evidence for a beginning is based on different data than the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Proof implying that the two evidence sets mutually corroborate each other. If we are going to negate this evidence for a beginning from entropy, we will have to show that either the universe is not an isolated system, or that we can re-start entropy at some point in our universe (like at a bounce). There is currently no evidence that the universe is not an isolated system. The bouncing hypothesis is taken up in the next question.
QR82 What is a universal constant? Answer: A constant is a fixed number which is everywhere and at every time the same throughout the history of the universe. These constants control the equations of physics (which describe the laws of nature). Therefore, the constants control the laws of physics in the universe. What are some examples of universal constants? Answer: At present there appear to be about twenty universal constants – such as the speed of light constant (c = 186,200 miles per second) representing the maximum possible velocity in the universe. Hubble’s constant (H = 69.32 ± 0.80 (km/s)/Mpc – (kilometer per second) per megaparsec – this is subject to revision depending upon measurement techniques). Planck’s constant and the cosmological constant are also well known. Each of the four forces in our universe has a constant or constants associated with it. The electromagnetic force has three constants: the mass of the proton, the mass of the electron, the electromagnetic charge; the strong nuclear force has the strong nuclear force coupling constant; the weak force constant, and the gravitational force, the gravitational constant – and so on.
QR81 What does an absolute beginning in physics signify? Answer: An absolute beginning signifies a beginning of physical time. Since physical time conditions all physical reality (that is, physical reality does not exist without physical time), the absolute beginning of physical time must also be the absolute beginning of physical reality. Prior to the absolute beginning of physical reality, physical reality would have to have been nothing. It would not have existed in any respect. Prior to an absolute beginning, what was physical reality? Answer: Absolutely NOTHING. (see above). What is nothing? Answer: Several physicists have recently tried to redefine “nothing” – as a zero energy condition of the quantum field, the law of gravitation, or something else. But, as noted above, an absolute beginning of physical reality means the beginning of physical time itself. This means that no physical reality could have existed. Clearly a zero energy quantum field is a physical reality (and not nothing), and it would not have existed prior to an absolute beginning of physical reality. If the law of gravitation is thought to exist independently of physical reality, then it would have to be some kind of mental reality – like a divine idea or a platonic idea, but this begs the question of a mind that can create such an idea – which sounds surprisingly similar to a Creator. What can nothing do? Answer: Nothing. Why is this answer significant for the question about a Creator of the universe? Answer: If we do not make “nothing” into something (or sneak something into nothing), then we know that this nothing could not have done anything. Now if it could not have done anything, then it could not have moved itself from nothing to something. How then did the universe move from nothing to something at the absolute beginning, if physical reality could not have done it? It must be that something beyond (transcending) physical reality did it, and this “transcendent something” is called a Creator.
QR80 Question? Answer:
QR79 Quotations A. Dr. Pim van Lommel’s general conclusion to his longitudinal study (in The Lancet). How could a clear consciousness outside one’s body be experienced at the moment that the brain no longer functions during a period of clinical death with flat EEG? . . . Furthermore, blind people have described veridical perception during out-of-body experiences at the time of this experience. NDE pushes at the limits of medical ideas about the range of human consciousness and the mindbrain relation. In our prospective study of patients that were clinically dead (flat EEG, showing no electrical activity in the cortex and loss of brain stem function evidenced by fixed dilated pupils and absence of the gag reflex) the patients report a clear consciousness, in which cognitive functioning, emotion, sense of identity, or memory from early childhood occurred, as well as perceptions from a position out and above their ‘dead’ body. B. Dr. Eben Alexander’s assessment of his measured physiological condition during the time of his near death experience. “My synapses—the spaces between the neurons of the brain that support the electrochemical activity that makes the brain function—were not simply compromised during my experience. They were stopped. Only isolated pockets of deep cortical neurons were still sputtering, but no broad networks capable of generating anything like what we call ‘consciousness.’ The E. coli bacteria that flooded my brain during my illness made sure of that. My doctors have told me that according to all the brain tests they were doing, there was no way that any of the functions including vision, hearing, emotion, memory, language, or logic could possibly have been intact.” C. Dr. Kenneth Ring’s conclusion to his study of blind patients. Among those narrating NDEs, not only did their experiences conform to the classic NDE pattern, but they did not even vary according to the specific sight status of our respondents; that is, whether an NDEr was born blind or had lost his or her sight in later life, or even (as in a few of our cases) had some minimal light perception only, the NDEs described were much the same. Furthermore, 80 percent of our thirty-one blind respondents claimed to be able to see during their NDEs or OBEs, and, like Vicki and Brad, often told us that they could see objects and persons in the physical world, as well as features of otherworldly settings. . . . Ring et al also found that the quality of perception was quite high among the majority of blind patients who reported seeing during their near-death experience: How well do our respondents find they can see during these episodes? We have, of course, already noted that the visual perceptions of Vicki and Brad were extremely clear and detailed, especially when they found themselves in the otherworldly portion of their near-death journey. While not all of our blind NDErs had clear, articulated visual impressions, nevertheless enough of them did, so that we can conclude that cases like Vicki’s and Brad’s are quite representative in this regard. D. Janice Holden’s General Conclusion Regarding the Accuracy of Reported Data During Clinical Death. Janice Holden made a compendium of 107 cases in thirty-nine studies by thirty-seven authors in 200746 in which veridical (verifiable) experiences had been reported. She concluded as follows: Using the most stringent criterion – that a case would be classified as inaccurate if even one detail was found to not correspond to reality – Holden found that only 8 percent involved some inaccuracy. In contrast, 37 percent of the cases – almost five times as many – were determined to be accurate by an independent objective source, such as the investigation of research reporting the cases. The other 55 percent did not involve inaccuracies, but could not be completely independently verified by other sources. E. Dr. Melvin Morse’s general conclusion regarding lower death anxiety in children having an NDE: We discovered that adults who have had near-death experiences as children have a much lower fear of death than people who have not had them. This was true whether they had vivid and wonderful memories of a flower-filled heaven or a brief and fleeting experience of light. Furthermore, the deeper their experience, the less they were afraid of death. This finding is in sharp contrast to people who have come close to death and survived, but were not fortunate enough to have had a near-death experience. They actually had a slightly higher death anxiety than normal. And…people who identify themselves as being intensely spiritual, have the same death anxiety as the general population. F. Summary of the Gallup Survey Data: George Gallup Jr. in a 1982 Gallup Poll discovered that approximately 8 million adults in the United States had had a near-death experience (a significantly large population from which to take accurate samples). The people sampled reported having some of the following ten characteristics, which appear to be unique to neardeath experiences:
Out of body 26% Accurate visual perception 23% Audible sounds or voices 17% Feelings of peace, painlessness 32% Light phenomena 14% Life review 32% Being in another world 32% Encountering other beings 23% Tunnel experience 9% Precognition 6%
G. Sir Arthur Eddington (Physicist) Assessed the Need for a Transphysical “Human Spirit” to Perform Uniquely Human Creative Functions: We all know that there are regions of the human spirit untrammeled by the world of physics. In the mystic sense of the creation around us, in the expression of art, in a yearning towards God, the soul grows upward and finds the fulfillment of something implanted in its nature. The sanction for this development is within us, a striving born with our consciousness or an Inner Light proceeding from a greater power than ours. Science can scarcely question this sanction, for the pursuit of science springs from a striving which the mind is impelled to follow, a questioning that will not be suppressed. Whether in the intellectual pursuits of science or in the mystical pursuits of the spirit, the light beckons ahead and the purpose surging in our nature responds.
QR78 Briefly explain “veridical evidence” and why this is significant for showing that near death experiences include an element of perception and thought after clinical death. Answer: “Veridical evidence” refers to verifiable evidence of a unique sort occurring during a near death experience which can be subsequently verified when a patient has returned to his or her body. True example — a person who leaves his body, passes through the wall of a hospital and sees an old sneaker on the fifth floor ledge of the outside wall of the hospital (the experience of the sneaker and its position is unique – not common to the vast majority of near death experiences). A researcher crawls out on the fifth floor ledge of the hospital and finds the sneaker there (probably dropped by a construction worker) and had been there for decades (verifiable after the NDE). These findings have been corroborated by many studies. Dr. Pim van Lommel’s well-known 2001 longitudinal study in multiple Dutch hospitals (reported in Great Britain’s prestigious medical journal, The Lancet) indicated that veridical evidence was so considerable as to be undeniable (see Pim van Lommel, MD, Vincent Ruud van Wees, and Ingrid Elfferich, 2001 “Near Death Experience in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A Prospective Study in the Netherlands.” The Lancet. Vol. 358, Issue 9298, pp. 2039-2045). One researcher, Janice Holden made a compendium of 107 cases in thirty-nine studies by thirty-seven authors in 2007 in which veridical experiences had been reported. She concluded as follows: “Using the most stringent criterion – that a case would be classified as inaccurate if even one detail was found to not correspond to reality – Holden found that only 8 percent involved some inaccuracy. In contrast, 37 percent of the cases – almost five times as many – were determined to be accurate by an independent objective source, such as the investigation of researchers reporting the cases.” The other 55 percent did not involve inaccuracies, but could not be completely independently verified by other sources. It is difficult to believe that this degree of verifiably accurate reporting which occurred at a time when there was no electrical activity in the cortex can be attributed to a bodily function. This implies a transphysical component to human consciousness (termed “a soul”). For Holden’s research, see Christopher Carter 2010. Science and the Near Death Experience. (Rochester, Inner Traditions) pp. 216-217.
QR77 Why do medical teams researching the experience of blind people find this particular kind of evidence so convincing for showing a transphysical dimension (capable of surviving bodily death) of human beings? Answer: The evidence of blind people seeing after clinical death simply has no physical explanation. Without electrical activity in the brain, it does not seem possible for anyone to see; but when we can verify that sight occurs in people who were formerly blind — many of whom were blind from birth – and so are seeing for the first time only when they are clinically dead, there does not seem to be any physical causation for it. This is why Dr. Pim van Lommel believes it to be exceedingly persuasive evidence of the survival of human consciousness after bodily death. Dr. Kenneth Ring and his team did a study of blind people and determined that 80% of blind people undergoing a near death experience could see during clinical death (and those who were blind from birth – could see for the first and only time during clinical death). When blind people return to their physical bodies, they return to a state of blindness (see Kenneth Ring, Sharon Cooper, and Charles Tart 1999, 1999. Mindsight: Near Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in the Blind. (Palo Alto, CA: William James Center for Consciousness Studies at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology).
QR76 Explain why a “significantly lower death anxiety” (in children who experienced an NDE) is an important verification of cognitive activity after clinical death. Answer: Dr. Melvin Morse (University of Washington Medical School) published two significant studies in the American Journal of Diseases of Children. In it he reported that children who underwent clinical death and experienced an NDE had almost no measurable death anxiety, whereas children who underwent clinical death and did not experience an NDE had a higher measurable death anxiety than even the normal population. This was true in almost every measurable case. Furthermore, the absence of death anxiety (in the children who had an NDE) continued well into adulthood, and the higher than normal death anxiety (in children who did not have an NDE) continued well into their adulthood. If death anxiety is not something that adults can control voluntarily, then there must be some other cause of the absence of death anxiety that occurs almost universally in those who did not have an NDE, and is absent from those who did have an NDE. It seems that the very real cause of the absence of death anxiety is linked to the NDE itself. But the NDE occurred when there was no electrical activity in the brain (when the physical body was clinically dead). How can there be a real causative effect produced by an apparently non-physical cause or source? If the cause is real, but not physical, then it seems as if it is transphysical, implying survival of human consciousness after bodily death. See Melvin Morse, M.D., P. Castillo, and D. Venecia, 1986. “Childhood Near Death Experiences.” American Journal of Diseases of Children, 140, pp. 1110-1113. See Melvin Morse, M.D. D. Connor, and D. Tyler, D. 1985. “Near Death Experiences in a Pediatric Population.” American Journal of Diseases of Children, 139, pp. 595-600.
QR75 Explain why certain reports of “crossing to the other side” during a near death experience has some verifiable value. Answer: According to five major studies (von Lommel, Ring, Morse, Moody, and Gallup), it is very common for people to report seeing deceased relatives or friends when they cross over to the non-physical domain. The most interesting cases are those of children (who have no agenda) reporting that they were greeted by relatives or friends of their parents who they had never seen or heard of – mostly because they died prior to the children being born. The children could sometimes give vivid descriptions of what these relatives and friends look like when they were younger, and give personal details about the relatives’ or friends’ relationship with their parents. The question arises as to how they could possibly know this information after clinical death when they were seemingly unaware of it prior to clinical death. Though this evidence is circumstantial, it is so frequent that it is very difficult to ignore or simply pass over as fantasy. For this reason many researchers consider it to be circumstantially valid, though not empirically valid (like veridical evidence or the blind seeing or the lowering of death anxiety).
QR74 Is there any evidence for God which comes from near death experiences? Explain. Answer: Normally, near death experiences are used to give empirical and circumstantial evidence of the survival of human self-consciousness after bodily death (the existence of a soul). But there is also circumstantial evidence from the five major studies (von Lommel, Ring, Morse, Moody, and Gallup) for the existence of a transcendent being and a transcendent domain (“the other side”). A statistically significant percentage of those having an NDE, also see a loving white light they identify as God, or frequently in the case of children, a being who identifies himself as Jesus. Also, as in the case of Dr. Eben Alexander, there is a clear awareness of a blissful transcendent domain (which is frequently associated with “heaven”). Though this evidence is only circumstantial (and not empirical like veridical evidence), it is reported so frequently that it may have statistically significant circumstantial validity.
QR73 Why do many medical teams (doing extensive research on near death experiences) believe that the four phenomena mentioned above are not explicable by some material or physical cause (such as oxygen deprivation, narcotic or psychotropic drugs, or the shutting down of the brain)? Answer: There are three reasons for their conclusions:
a) Only about 20% of the population undergoing clinical death has a near death experience (there are many theories about why this is so, but this will not be discussed here). If 100% of the patients were deprived of oxygen, and 100% received some kind of morphine or other narcotic for the purposes of controlling pain, and 100% experienced a shutting down of the brain (to the point of no electrical activity whatsoever), then one would expect that 100% of the patients should have a near death experience if near death experiences were caused by these same physical circumstances. The fact is, the circumstances are carefully measured and observed in 100% of the cases (in peer-reviewed longitudinal studies) and only 20% of the patients have had an NDE. The above argument was offered by Dr. Pim von Lommel after his careful study (with control groups) of both kinds of patients.
b) The four phenomena mentioned above all have dimensions that cannot be explained by a body undergoing the process of physical death. They have elements which cannot be explained by physical causation. For example, a person who sees a shoe on the ledge on the outside of a hospital eight stories high must have some other source of data besides merely being deprived of oxygen or taking morphine, etc. The accuracy, situational nature, and unusual characteristics of the data require some form of perceptual activity beyond a morphine induced state, or an oxygen induced state. There must be a cause sufficient to properly explain the unusual situational data, and generic physical causes (such as morphine) do not meet this requirement. This inadequacy of causal explanation also applies to blind people seeing accurately for the first time; it also applies to the problem of children reporting data about, say, dead relatives, about whom they had never heard.
c) In virtually every case of a child having a near death experience, the death anxiety was measurably lowered; however, this does not occur in all children who experienced clinical death. In the 80% of children who experienced clinical death, but not a near death experience, the death anxiety was actually higher than the normal population. If the lowering of the death anxiety were attributable to generic physical causes, it would seem that 100% of those experiencing clinical death would also experience the lower death anxiety. Instead, this only occurs in the 20% who had the NDE (it is a very statistically sharp distinction).