What happens within our brains as we are dying and what’s the evolutionary benefits to it and how does that play into our faiths

I have read multiple things on what is believed to happen as the brain begins to die from brain activity pointing towards super awareness to processes spreading up making time seem slower to people saying it’s saturated with dmt like substances leaving someone feeling like they are sort of having this spiritual trip as they die.

What would be the evolutionary benefits to this?
What is the possible relationship to our faith concerning this?
Or is there no benefit to it and it’s just a byproduct of how everything else evolved.

I understand a lot of this speculative and full of gaps. I am aware of how people that have had near death experiences and those who use psychedelics have all mentioned how they felt it was very spiritual.


Do you mind posting some article links to what you have read? We are interested in doing a themed month on the website sometime about death/dying and this would certainly be an interesting scientific angle.

1 Like

Yeah. They were just random ones over the last few weeks. But after work I can track them down and share them.


My thought is, no evolutionary benefits. Most are beyond reproductive age, so no way to pass any such tendencies to the next generation.
Relationship to faith? Color me skeptical. I tend to think that they are much like dreams, random firings of neurons due to ischemic events. I think if they represented something real, they would all be consistent, and would be pretty much universal. No doubt some interpret them as spiritual, and for those people, perhaps have some spiritual significance, just a drug induced experiences as interpreted as spiritual for some. So I would say the relationship is tangential.
Benefits? While there may be some individual examples of benefits, a renewed interest and re-examination of life and faith, I really see none. Over the years, I have seen many die, and many near death who were resuscitated. The vast majority of those resuscitated have no memory of anything but blacking out and waking up in the hospital with nothing in between.

1 Like

I also don’t believe it’s spiritual. I also could not figure a evolutionary benefit to how we die. My belief is that it’s as you stated, just things going off in the brain. I believe it’s just a byproduct of everything else that did evolve. I don’t believe in anyones near death experiences being supernatural.

I’m not completely opposed to it I just have no reason to believe it at this moment. The only reason I lend some weight to it is because if when we pray certain parts of our brains are “lit up” then perhaps when those parts of the brains are lit up in death it could potentially make us more prone to whatever the Holy Spirit does, if it does anything at all.

But overall, I essentially reject all supernatural stories.

I’m not sure if these will help with anything but they are some of the ones I was reading that seemed more informative , or
Interesting from others.

Rats seratonin levels increase shorts after death.

This one i was reading because as I was questioning people I met about death and their fears of dying one thing that kept coming up was fear of being a organ donor because many of them believes , and to be honest I even kind of begin suspecting it myself, that if you are a donor they may be more likely to begin removing your organs as you clinically die. They may begin after your heart stops but while brain activity is still there.

Liver transplant fine after donation brain death. It seems livers we’re fine but I kept reading other organs like lungs were more likely to be damaged by inflammation.

This one was crazy because it was about how some decapitated pig heads had their brains removed and kept alive for hours. Sounds like a horror movie trope.


Surge of brain activity in dying brains.

I was curious about this one because it mentioned how some blind people’s pineal gland still released melatonin based off of light despite them not being aware consciously of day and night by sight. I wanted to try to trace down any possible connections between this and could chemicals still get released despite a person being clinically dead because of lights in a operation room. Probably a dead end but it was stuck in my mind.

Physiology of the Pineal Gland and Melatonin - Endotext - NCBI Bookshelfneuroendo_pinealmel_ABSTRACT

This was a pretty good one in my opinion. Though I would want to read any rebuttals to it. I think there was some author notes or something but I saw it was cited several times too. It pretty much shot down the whole dmt myth. But I want to read more form others that disagree. Took me a while to find a non paywall for this one lol.

This was just a biologystack forum that I was going through to research various answers I was seeing there on the evolutionary benefit of death.


This is another one by nature on the evolution of aging that I thought may be relative to giving answers as to why die.

Evolution of aging


This was probably one of my favorites because it tunes us into a potential evolutionary reason for near death experiences without any supernatural influence. I really liked the diagram in it too. Definitely want to look more into this one.

Anyways those were some of the doors I was knocking on while looking into these questions myself. What’s crazy outside of that aspect is the societal pressures and manipulations carried out by those that profit from death. I am friends, or rather use to be friends, with a funeral director that told me they were told to question clients about their recently deceased to learn about their favorite colors and least favorite colors. So if someone said they liked blue but hated brown they would bring in cheap brown caskets and expensive blue caskets. Sometimes even bring in brown caskets that was too short and explain they would have to crush the knees or break the legs to fit the body in the brown one or they could spend that extra money and get the larger casket to where they won’t have to break the legs. Also talked about the manipulation involved into guilting people to buying trinkets like pillows. A $10 pillow they charge $200 for to make the dearly departed look more comfortable. There is a entire industry debate over making pricing public and Georgia seems to be one of the states with the most advocates to make funeral prices public and more easily found. All kind of weird laws to help reduce the chances of clear answers. Lots of issues with transparency and hidden fees. Like what all do they provide. A hearse versus limo transporting the body or if you can legally transport the coffin yourself.

There is also a lot of issues on the environmental impacts of have we get rid of out dead. Such as what chemicals we pump into them and so on. Things like metal coffins versus cloth coffins.

There are some good podcasts that talk about these later issues.

Alie Ward with her “ Oologies podcast “ also has a episode or two dedicated to death.

Then on the religious side I recently heard a podcast, I’ll have to track it down, where NT Wright was talking about have we possibly cheapened the hope of the resurrection in our minds by doing cremations. ( I disagreed with him ) but he was voicing concern over the value we placed on the resurrection by switching from being buried to being cremated. I think he was aware it’s not of spiritual significance but rather a societal one. That we care less and so we have changed our burial habits.

I know when I’m dead I want to be buried as naturally as possible on my own property. I don’t want people to waste $10k ( on the cheap end ) when I can be kept chilled for a few days and buried without any added chemicals in a cloth wrap a few feet underground to be absorbed back into nature.

It’s funny how we seem to place so much value on a corpse of a loved one that we spend so much on special clothes, special plots, special headstones and ect… when it’s really a ritual and does not actually benefit the deceased. It’s interesting how different cultures places different values on it. From viking funerals, Mongolians bird feasts, and sailors being tossed over board and so on. It makes me wonder how much is truly emotional guilt tripping by the industry versus natural desires to honor them.

For no good reason I’ve always been curious about that phenomenon. I’ve certainly never been curious enough to wish to hasten its onset of course. But if I have any wits and attention left (so unlikely) I’m sure I will be contemplating the transition of my tissues to other life forms, picturing its long history and deeming it good.

1 Like

Just remember you don’t have to do it all at once. You can start with toes and fingers and see how it goes. No reason to decompose all at once xd.

1 Like

If we look at it from a natural perspective it could be a last ditch effort by our mind to find a solution that would let us live. This could be backed if it’s true for other animals but I don’t know if this is the case.

Here is another really good podcast I just started. Many of the stories are pretty emotional. But very hope filled about a healthier way to handle the loss and burial of a loved one. It’s a mixture of conversations with those in the industry talking about why they wanted to be more involved in greener and at
Home funeral services as funeral directors and also with families and why they decided to do it and some of things they wish would be more known such as pediatric organ donors and so on.

I don’t discount the data of subjective experience, such as a our experience of free will and importance of meaning and love. But… this is one of those things where it is very difficult to collect even this kind of data. Once the cells of the brain actually die then it is over and there will be no report of what they have experienced. That is actual death not the cessation of the lungs and heart from which we can be revived. How can we possibly know if the experience of transition to such a revivable state is the same as the one to actual death?

I was trying to investigate cases of partial brain death and experiences of this, but it was futile. I suspect that in such situations when the brain begins to die it is no longer collecting data which can be reported later even if it is somehow halted and the person survives. Thus we have only the cases where there is damage to portions of the brain and I am not sure that this gives the information we are searching for either.


This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.