Death, Society, and Human Experience

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Death, Society, and
Human Experience
9th Edition
Robert Kastenbaum
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Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
Chapter Thirteen:
Do We Survive Death?
This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law:
•Any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network;
•Preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, or any images;
•Any rental, lease, or lending of the program.
•
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
What Do We Think of the Afterlife?
Key Points
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Great differences in literal or metaphorical interpretations
Dualistic philosophy is associated with most beliefs
• Mind/Soul and body are separate; body dies but soul
lives on
The conservation theme has been a powerful influence
• The mighty in life will be powerful in the afterlife
The compensation theme is alive today
• Afterlife provides freedom, justice, or opportunities
missed in this life
The final exam theme is common but not universal
• Final judgment after death
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
Myths Regarding the
Journey of the Dead
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Gilgamesh – No human can survive death
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Orpheus and Eurydice – The dead must remain so
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Dreaded underground situations in Greek Hades and
Egyptian underworld
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Paradise situations in Aztecs’ Blest Isles and Roman
Paradise Island
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Buddhist view of our essence as birds of passage in which
birth is not a beginning and death is not an end
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
The Desert Religions and
Their One God
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Similarities and roots in Zoroastrianism
• Three themes in early Jewish survival belief
• Yahweh is the god of life – and this life is all we
have
• The faithful among the dead will arise to
participate in a new and improved society
• There is a spiritual rather than a physical
afterlife in which the individual soul
contemplates God
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
The Desert Religions and
Their One God
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Heaven and Hell for Christians
• Several mythological characters had returned
from the underworld, but Jesus was unique in
that he did it for everyone’s salvation
• Baroque era viewed hell as a cartoon or
amusement park entertainment
• Jesuits emphasized hell as torment and urban
squalor
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
The Desert Religions and
Their One God
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Paradise and Jahannam in Islam
• Jihad refers to the constant struggle between one’s own
lower and higher impulses as well as conflict with
enemies of the faith
• A Book of Deeds is kept for every person and viewed on
the day of judgment
• Heaven is a place of pleasures open to men, women,
and children who have done good deeds
• Jahannam is hell, full of torment for those who have
sinned
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
Does Survival of the Dead
Have to be Proved?
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18th century brought the science vs. religion debate
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19th century brought Darwin’s ideas and further science vs.
religion debate
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Suffering from the World Wars has been linked to the
development of existentialism, death awareness, and the
connection of death and evil
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Currently there is interest in Near Death Experiences
(NDEs) and “past lives”
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
Current Survey Trends:
What Other People Believe
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Belief in afterlife has been increasing in the U.S. since the
1980s (even among the non-religious), decreasing in
Europe
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Recent Fox News Survey (Morin, 2000)
• 71% were sure that hell is a real place
• 88% were sure that heaven is a real place
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Gallup Poll, 1999
• Most believed in a day of judgment
• Poll split as to whether a good person can get into
heaven with a belief in God
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
Near Death Experiences (NDEs)
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Best selling book, Life After Life, by Raymond Moody, Jr.,
1975, recorded out-of-body or autoscopic experiences
• Most said it was a serene experience
• Rising and floating are common
• Many had a sense of journey, moving toward something
• A brilliant white light
• Often included a turning-point encounter
Ring (1980; 1992) found that survivors of NDE report:
• A renewed sense of purpose in life
• Daily life is more precious
• A reduced fear of dying and death
• Interpreted as life-changing spiritual experiences
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
Biomedical Attempts to
Verify NDE Phenomena
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Sabom, a cardiologist, identified 6 NDE survivors who
recalled 1 or more specific details that could not have been
obtained through guesswork or prior knowledge of CPR
• NDEs showed no relationship to age, gender,
socioeconomic status, or cause of the crisis
Team of cardiologists in the Netherlands studied 344
patients who were resuscitated after cardiac arrest
• NDEs were uncommon (18%)
• The NDEs reported were similar to those in previous
research
• Positive changes (more intuitive, less fear of death)
became more evident as time passed
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
Biomedical Attempts to
Verify NDE Phenomena
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Parnia and Fenwick, British researchers, found that NDEs
were uncommon (11%), and found similar characteristics
Gabbard and Twemlow found:
• NDEs are not caused by nor are they necessarily
symptoms of mental illness
• NDEs are not related to level of education (not educated
guesses or imaginations)
• NDEs do not occur mostly among people who
previously had been fascinated by mystic or other
unusual phenomena
• NDEs do not have much similarity to dreams
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
The Case Against NDEs as
Proof of Survival After Death
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Many people who have a close encounter with death do
not report NDEs
• Some survivors return with nightmarish experiences
• NDEs sometimes occur when there is no medical situation
• Many people who report NDEs had not come close to
death
• People who had been in severe pain were more likely to
experience a sense of distance from their bodies
• NDE reports come from survivors (who, obviously, didn’t
‘completely’ die)
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
Alternatives: NDEs Are Not Death
Experiences, They Are…
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A response to crisis involving a mystical dimension,
depersonalization, and hyperalertness (Noyes et al.)
• NDEs are experienced as we come back to awareness
following the moments near death (Kastenbaum)
• NDEs serve as a way to make sense of an experience and
serve as an escape when we feel helpless (Kastenbaum)
• Hallucinations stemming from state-dependent recall of
birth (Siegel)
• Religious imagination (Zaleski)
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
The Dead as Evidence for Survival:
Deathbed Escorts
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Observations from over 2,000 physicians and nurses in
India and the U.S. (Osis et al.)
• Patients (who were clear of mind) were observed to be
interacting with a visitor or apparition
• Visitations usually came to those who were known to be
dying (some came to those not thought to be dying, and
the patient did die soon afterward)
• Visitations were not always welcomed
• Escorts vary (parents, angels, psychopomp)
• Occasionally something happened that others could see
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
The Dead as Evidence for Survival:
Communicating with the Dead
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Spiritism, as conducted by or through a Medium,
Channeler, or Shaman
• Peaked in the middle 19th century, faded, and has
recently rebounded
• Spirit Photography, Seances, Automatic Writing, and
Trance Reception
Channeling and Past Life Regression
Apparitions (ghosts)
• Benign ghosts as house guests
• Ghosts that provide comfort or warn of danger
• Ghosts that haunt and do evil things
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
The Dead as Evidence for Survival:
Reincarnation
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Ian Stevenson has published numerous detailed
accounts in several books – in all cases:
• The child described the way he or she died in a past life
• The child has birthmark or birth defect that is very
consistent with the fatal wounds suffered by the
deceased person
• A deceased person whose life and death matches the
past life story the child has identified
• Medical records documenting the specific causes of
death and condition of the body are obtained
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
Kastenbaum’s Questions About
Surviving Death
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Regarding Reincarnation
• Why are so many of the reported past lives ended by
sudden and violent death?
• If anyone is reincarnated then shouldn’t everyone be
reincarnated?
• Is death the same for everyone?
Should We Survive Death?
• Do we deserve to survive?
• Does the prospect of survival encourage the worst side
of human nature? (prospect of eternal life used to
manipulate others)
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
Two Ways of “Surviving” Death
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Symbolic Immortality
• Keeping someone’s memory alive
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Assisted Immortality
• Cyonic resuscitation (see chapter 6)
• Have yourself cloned
• Become a smart chip (transfer your brain to a computer
chip)
• Mail yourself to the future (in a time capsule)
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
Glossary: New Terms
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Autoscopic Experience
• Channeler
• Compensation Theme
• Depersonalization
• Endorphins
• G-LOC
• Hizbollah
• Holographic Memory
• Hyperalertness
• Immortality
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Jahannam
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Medium Near-Death
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Experience (NDE)
Psychopomp
Reincarnation
Séance
Yahweh
Zoroastrianism
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007
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