The autopsy for Terri was recently completed, and CNN posted an article about the autopsy results. Just to get this out of the way, they found no signs of trauma or abuse from her husband. But let's focus on the most important part of this entire autopsy. Medical examiner Jon Thogmartin had this to say:
"The brain weighed 615 grams, roughly half of the expected weight of a human brain. ... This damage was irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons."
This quote, along with the videos that everyone has seen, should make the consciousness-material brain dependency perfectly clear. For the afterlife-believers out there, think about the implications of these circumstances.
Terri was a non-functional human being with a decomposed brain that weighed half the size of a normal adult brain. Her consciousness deteriorated in direct proportion to the material deterioration of her brain. So if there is an afterlife, what happened to her consciousness? Did certain parts of her cognitive ability just float away and wait around for the rest to follow? Do you think the parts of her consciousness without brain matter to support them were waiting in the spirit realm to be reunited with the remainder of her mind once her body fully expired?
Do you think that her memories, which have shown to be composed of material electronic impulses and neural connections inside the brain, could still have "existed" in some other realm even without material support, and then can somehow be reattached to the rest of her consciousness after her death?
No doubt, pretty much all the afterlife-believers would answer yes to these questions. Well, I think that this presents a bit of a problem. To insist that the consciousness is not dependent upon material support for existence is to deny that material conditions can affect it. Therefore, I contend that if the afterlife exists, and material conditions do not affect a consciousness, then Terri Schiavo should have retained all of her conscious capabilities regardless of the condition of her brain. I contend that those portions of her consciousness would never have left her and that Schiavo would have still had full use of her mental facilities and memories regardless of the degree of deterioration of her brain.
If the consciousness truly was not dependent upon a material brain for existence, then it would not be negatively affected by brain damage or deterioration. Therefore, these portions of her consciousness would never have separated from the rest of her mind in the first place.
I contend that the fact that she lost mental capabilities from the deterioration of her brain is proof that her consciousness is affected by her material brain and that it cannot exist without material support.
If the afterlife-believer were to accept falsifiability for their position, then it would have just been proven false in the previous paragraph. If an afterlife-believer, setting up an unfalsifiable version of the afterlife claim, can say that consciousness will exist without material support, then I can use their same argument to insist that my Windows XP operating system will continue to exist after I smash the hard drive into a million pieces. Neither of those arguments would be falsifiable if "immaterialism" is to be incorporated. But if a material, quantifiable standard is employed (detectability of brain waves or other electric signals) then both of those arguments would be proven false.
In previous blog entries, I have given examples of machines that can detect, measure, and interpret thoughts. These thoughts are purely material, they require specific components of a functional brain to exist, and each kind of thought is quantifiable and distinct from the other. In previous blog entries, I have also discussed the burden of proof. I have met the burden of proof regarding the material dependency of the brain. No afterlife-believer has met the burden of proof to support the contention that consciousness can exist without a brain (organic or synthetic).
My proposition (dependency on matter for consciousness) is falsifiable. I never argue against the afterlife with any unfalsifiable argument, for an unfalsifiable argument is no argument at all. Most of the afterlife-believers' arguments are not falsifiable (therefore defeating themselves), and when they are falsifiable, they get proven false very quickly thanks to the evidence I have presented in this blog.
Terry Schiavo's consciousness was dead years ago and this autopsy proves it. Terry Schiavo did not pass into any afterlife. Her consciousness is not eternal; it only existed as long as her brain was able to support it. Terri's consciousness did not exist before she was born, and it doesn't exist anymore now that she is dead.
There is no afterlife.