Sidebar from a Science Times article on the identification of the brain locus of certain uncanny experiences, the angular gyrus:
Scientists investigating out-of-body experiences and other eerie sensations have found no sign of the supernatural. Instead, they are discovering that the feelings are the product of brain chemicals and nerve cells.
AARRRGHHHHH!!!!! This is such a pet peeve of mine. "Instead"?
How is discovering the material location or correlate of a subjective phenomenon so all-fired reassuring to these people? As if that somehow banishes all the scary mystery, turns the light on and shoos the gods and monsters out from under the bed?
I remember reading another article maybe eight or ten years ago that claimed that dreams had now been "explained," once and for all. Some part of the brain stem was discovered to be spraying out volleys of nerve impulses during REM sleep. That was "all" it was. That was the end of Freud, Fritz Perls, and every other psychologist who'd ever marveled at the bizarre creativity and the intimate, mythic meaningfulness of dreams. The new theory accounted for none of that. It was all just a random response to this firehose of nerve impulses. They didn't even bother to observe that some other damn fool part of the brain was at least trying to make sense and story out of the randomness. But why? How?
Matter is Mommy to these people. It's almost ridiculous how bright and proud and brave they are at having explained away . . . absolutely nothing! So they've found the location in the brain associated with out-of-body experiences. If anything, that only makes it more mysterious that the electrical stimulation of that bit of tissue can trigger the experience of being up near the ceiling looking down at one's own body. Why? How? How can you see without your eyes? Are those experiences just hallucinations? Is the storied accuracy of things seen and heard during "near-death" OBEs strictly apocryphal? The purely material explanation is not the simplest one, the Occam's Razor close shave. You'd have to go through contortions to explain why the brain would accurately record precise details of a scene in the midst of a mortal crisis, then choose to hallucinate an accurate view of that scene from a physically impossible perspective.
I'm not saying these scientific discoveries aren't great achievements, milestones, fascinating and cool. Just that they explain only one dimension of the puzzle, revealing its connection to the other dimensions(s) to be even more mysterious than we'd imagined. Whether you call the persisting mystery "supernatural" or "natural" is really nothing but semantics. Scientific evidence is real; subjective experience is also real. Outside of the material, science is blind. Some scientists say that, therefore, what they can't see does not exist, including most of the meanings of our lives.
UPDATE: And, just for a fun look off the other deep end: Why near-death out-of-body experiences are Satanic. (Like everything you imbibe through your unbiblical cord.)
IN THE COMMENTS: BrianOfAtlanta says:
Rather like someone discovering a typewriter and announcing that he now knows how Shakespeare did it.
I wholeheartedly endorse that analogy despite the anachronism in it.