This essay has been significantly revised to reflect updates that were published in the Journal of Near-Death Studies in 2007. Several points have been streamlined for clarity and to remove unnecessary verbiage. The section on psychophysiological correlates has been rewritten to be much more accessible, and now ends on a discussion of what is implied by the influence of medical factors on NDE content. A discussion of circumstantial evidence of temporal lobe instability among NDErs has been added to the section on the role of the temporal lobe in NDEs. A few points have been incorporated into the main text from Augustine's replies to Journal commentaries where they elaborate on points in the lead essays, such as a discussion of why cross-cultural diversity undermines a survivalist interpretation of NDEs. That argument is followed up by a similar one, cut for space from the Journal discussions, about the meaning of the apparently random distribution of pleasant and distressing NDEs. Additionally, a large number of new endnotes have been added to this essay. Most of these summarize the most important points of the Journal exchanges (notes 1-6, 10, 17, 20, 23, 28, and 30-32), but a significant number also concern other issues or recent developments (notes 5, 7, 8, 11-16, and 22).
Published on the Secular Web
[This essay was originally published in Vol. 5, No. 2 of Skeptic Magazine in 1997. The version presented here has been significantly expanded.] The Case Against Immortality by Keith Augustine But in the present state of psychology and physiology, belief in immortality can, at any rate, claim no support from science, and such arguments as […]
By simply being reactive, nontheistic debaters have allowed religious organizations to set the agenda. The time to create a freethought debate circuit, where both sides have fair legal representation and adequate debate preparation, has finally arrived!
If a sentient God existed, Augustine argues, then the value that he would attribute to our lives would not be the same as the value that we find in living and thus would be irrelevant. Therefore, we must create our own meaning for our lives regardless of whether or not our lives serve some higher purpose.