Jack H. Hiler, Ph.D., J.D., is the author of the book, Near-Death Experience of Space, Time, and Consciousness: How the World Was Created and Functions (2019) and the author of a series of papers in the Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research (2019). Based on many thousands of out-of-body experiences associated with the near-death experience, and correspondence of the experience to principles from Relativity Theory and quantum mechanics, the nature of existence and the role of consciousness are analyzed and a theory is proposed. This theory hypothesizes that there is a universal field of consciousness in which the individual consciousness (spirit and soul) functions both in life and in eternity, before and after an Earth life. Whereas standard science holds that the material reality we observe is fundamental, and regards consciousness as an epiphenomenon or unreal, Dr. Hiller’s theory proposed here explains why consciousness is fundamental, and supports the material reality we normally perceive.
Dr. Hiller has an unusual breadth of knowledge across psychology, math, computers, and physics. He started out as a bench level scientist in the Department of the Army, after having earned his Ph.D., and having served as a private in the Marines, and in the Army as an officer with a Captain’s rank. Dr. Hiller was eventually promoted from GS 13, 14, and 15 to super grade as the Director of the Army Research Institute (ARI) Training Systems R&D Lab, and as Associate Director of ARI which he ran from 1986-96. At the time, the Training lab was the world’s largest with around 120 in-house Ph.D.s and a comparable number working on supporting contracts. The ARI has drastically shrunk over the years. In 1996, Dr. Hiller was promoted to the Director for Human Systems Integration (HSI) in the Pentagon where he had policy and budget review oversight for all human related research and studies, along with another super grade position with protocol of a two-star General. Dr. Hiller retired from the Department of the Army in 1998. In 1999, Dr. Hiller went to work for Northrop Grumman Corp as a senior scientist and was promoted after a few months to Division Chief Scientist with about 1,500 computer programmers and many Ph.Ds in information sciences, electronics engineering, math, and physics. After a few years, Dr. Hiller was honored as Distinguished Technical Fellow. Dr. Hiller retired in 2010. The following is an overview of Dr. Hiller’s book, Near-Death Experience of Space, Time, and Consciousness: How the World Was Created and Functions, his Frozen Time Theory (FTT), and his recent NDE research.
Table of Contents
- Frozen Time Theory (FTT)
- Universal Consciousness Underlies All of Reality: a Tripartite Domain Theory
- Possible Enablers and Barriers to Dimensional Perception
- Analysis of the Differential Perception of Time in the Second and Third Domains
- Definitions of Now
- An Absolute Limitation to the Rational Analysis of Experience, Consciousness, and World Origin: the Principle of Interior Unknowability
- Review of Carlo Rovelli’s Book: The Order of Time
- A Postulate Set Governing Existential Knowledge
- What is Consciousness?
- A Theory of Knowledge: The Transcendental and the Mundane
1. Frozen Time Theory (FTT)
Frozen Time Theory (FTT) reports discovery of a reliable, but surprising, feature of the out-of-body experience (OBE) reports associated with traumatic near-death experiences (NDE). At the instant of a severe trauma, such as a heart attack or violent vehicle collision, the suffering individuals report being puzzled about what has happened, as they are suddenly viewing their environment from a different perspective. Typically, they are now located above their body, so that they no longer see through their eyes, but see from a different location. There was no apparent transition in consciousness or conscious perception to cue separation of consciousness from their body leading to their confusion over what had just happened. The lack of any distinctive transition for consciousness and conscious perception from the normal bodily state to consciousness and conscious perception during the OBE strongly implies that it is not the brain itself that is generating conscious experience. They also then start to notice that the nature of their sight has changed, as they can see through objects, can focus to the atomic level or out to the cosmos, and see in 360 degrees. Individuals who have been born blind also report experiencing this remarkable manner of perception. Realization develops that they have been effectively knocked dead, but still remain conscious.
A striking feature of OBE perception is that all entities observed exhibit consciousness, not only relatives and friends who have passed, and angels, but rocks, grass, flowers, trees, animals — even water. This experience is consistent with the ancient philosophy of panpsychism.
One of the great mysteries remaining for the psychology, neurology, and philosophy of perception is termed the issue of qualia, i.e., how can we perceive different qualities such as vision with different colors, sounds, and fragrances, but do so without the brain exhibiting differential structures for processing information after the senses have transduced energies to electrochemical energies in neurons. In the frontal lobes, where we believe perception is present, no differential structures or processes are found there corresponding to the differential qualities of perception. The FTT hypothesizes that the consciousness experienced during the OBE exists in a field or domain of consciousness in which individual entities share their existence without boundaries. Thus, FTT hypothesizes that perception during normal perception for the body and brain occurs not in the brain itself, but in the consciousness (soul) that had been attached to the normal body. The differential qualities of perception are dependent on how the field of consciousness functions, not on the brain producing the qualities of perception we experience.
One of the most interesting features of the OBE is the feeling that time no longer runs, and during the OBE it is reported that they have simultaneously viewed past scenes, their current environment, and future scenes. In addition, all entities viewed, including their own “body,” glow with the appearance of being made of light. The FTT relates the absence of time running, i.e., frozen time, with the formulation of Special Relativity that photons do not experience time. Thus, FTT hypothesizes that time during the OBE translates to a fourth spatial dimension, such that the past, present, and future correspond to differing locations in the domain of consciousness.
2. Universal Consciousness Underlies All of Reality: a Tripartite Domain Theory
In the FTT, I had accepted from the NDE reports that there existed two realities, our normal domain of reality associated with the paradigm of materialism, and an alternative domain of experience characterized as a field of consciousness in which all entities experienced appeared to be made of light, and time did not run.
An obvious question was about how these two domains might be related. Were they causally independent of each other, even if somehow correlated across time, or might they even be causally linked? Based on the NDE reports and the curious phenomenon of quantum entanglement, what Einstein spoofed about as “spooky action at a distance,” I inferred that our material reality was connected to the domain of consciousness. The NDE reports reliably stated that all thought of movement was capable of instantaneity, so if entangled particles existed in the domain of consciousness as well as the material domain, their instant communication would be accounted for.
Another question was about the possibility for a third domain. Was there anything that might have preceded the material and consciousness domains? The hypothesis that seemed best was that there initially existed a domain of pure consciousness in which nothing else existed, not light, not space, not time. This initial domain might be termed, in common with most religions, as God. This speculation is in fact consistent with the Old Testament according to which all that existed at first was God alone. God’s first act of creation was light. After light, He created the firmament, or material world. Thus, a tripartite domain theory was formed that is consistent with NDE reporting and the Old Testament. The relationships among the three domains are shown by the Venn diagram below. God is represented as Domain 1; the world of consciousness which includes light is the 2nd Domain; and the physical world we occupy is Domain 3.
The FTT and Tripartite domain papers acknowledge that our ordinary perception in our material domain separates time as an abstraction with space having three extended spatial dimensions. But in the second domain, as defined to be filled with consciousness and entities made of light, it was hypothesized that time also exists as an extended spatial dimension, so that different times in the material domain would correspond to different locations — without time running. This paper analyzes why common sense regards time in the material domain to have a different character than space. The analysis keys off of Edward Abbott’s clever Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions satire. It is argued that, while common sense regards space as perceptible, but time is regarded as an imperceptible abstract concept only, when time is termed “duration,” perception of time and space are equally abstract, and equally perceptible for the objects of sense-perception in the material domain.
4. Analysis of the Differential Perception of Time in the Second and Third Domains
This paper analyzes how perception of time progression (i.e., time is perceived to run) occurs in the material 3rd Domain, but does not occur in the 2nd Domain of consciousness to which the 3rd Domain is connected. The argument is made that perception of time depends on the domain being experienced.
5. Definitions of Now
In philosophy and psychology, some argue that only “now” exists, the past has forever gone, and the future is yet to be. Given the importance of “now,” alternative definitions are presented and discussed.
6. An Absolute Limitation to the Rational Analysis of Experience, Consciousness, and World Origin: the Principle of Interior Unknowability
After working for approximately a decade to produce a defensible theory for how the world came to be, I realized that I had made zero progress. I questioned why that effort was entirely futile, and came to an interesting conclusion — the question itself implied an observational framework external to a Creation event, but scientists could never in principle locate externally as “privileged observers” to be able to see what happened. Thus, a new postulate for the metaphysics of creation was defined. This postulate was termed the Principle of Interior Unknowability (PIU). It was argued that the PIU stands on two legs of support. The first leg is an analogy posed about fishes born in a fish tank having no opportunity ever to locate outside of their tank. From their interior location in the tank, they (or scientists in the material world) would never be able to learn where it came from or how it was made; the same argument applies if the world were instead conceptualized to be infinite with no boundaries. The second leg is a conjectured analogy with Kurt Godel’s Theorem of Undecidability, developed while he was working on his Incompleteness Theorems. This leg of the argument for the PIU reasons that postulates, axioms or assumptions based on internal observations of our world, applied to mathematically model its creation, are susceptible to creating a paradox (historically known as the Liars Paradox) by self-reference. To escape the potential for producing a valueless or misleading paradox, information would have to be gathered external to a system to be used for modeling its creation. Nevertheless, as pointed out by my friend Neil Siegel, a great deal of scientifically valid and useful information may indeed be acquired within the material world, despite the barrier to knowledge acquisition about creation postulated by the PIU.
7. Review of Carlo Rovelli’s Book: The Order of Time
Loop quantum gravity physicist Carlo Rovelli published an entertaining book that explained his preference for denying the utility of a time variable in physics, and even in psychology. This book review identifies points of agreement, but notably points of disagreement.
8. A Postulate Set Governing Existential Knowledge
In an earlier chapter, 6., the Principle of Interior Unknowability (PIU) was defined as a postulate which excluded any possibility for scientists to observe the conditions of the origin of the world, or to be able to infer from information collected within our material world how the world was constructed with any certainty, or “where it might have come from.” In this chapter, three additional Postulates are defined. One of these concerns the nature of existential reality, and states there are two domains for knowledge exploration: (1) the material domain in which we normally perceive the world, and (2) the domain of consciousness that underlies consciousness and conscious perception that may become available during the NDE/OBE or by meditation. This is the Postulate Governing Existence (PGE). The PGE defines the consciousness domain as fundamental. The third postulate is the Postulate Governing Knowledge (PGK) which defines knowledge to be incorporated in consciousness. As was also explained in Chapter 2 on Universal Consciousness, all individual entities possess consciousness, and “”knowledge” is information incorporated into their consciousness. The fourth postulate affirms Descartes’ Mind-Body Dualism that mind and brain ordinarily communicate, despite being different in kind. This is the Postulate for Mind-Body Dualism (PMBD).The set of four postulates governs the nature of Existential Knowledge (EK). With the EK as a set theoretic foundation, the potential for extra-sensory phenomena is explainable. We may summarize that the nature of any and all knowledge about existence, EK, is a function of PIU, PGE, PGK, and PMBD.
9. What is Consciousness?
A brief historical review of the concept of consciousness is provided from the perspectives of philosophy, psychology, and neurology. The weaknesses in traditional analyses of the nature of consciousness are explained, followed by a synthesis of consciousness (with mind and soul) based on the previous eight chapters. The 2nd Domain of consciousness is recognized as the foundation for how the 3rd Domain of materialism functions. It was concluded that the reality of what consciousness is and how it is known denies any useful ability to define it by reference to objectively observable experience, so it must be regarded as an indefinable, primitive term.
10. A Theory of Knowledge: The Transcendental and the Mundane
Knowledge is analyzed to fit two main classifications: (1) the Transcendental idealized forms as described by Plato, and (2) the mundane experiences generated by the body/brain living in the material world. Knowledge of each of the two types is examined for how it is acquired (from the 2nd Domain) or learned by sense-perception experienced in the 3rd Domain. Knowledge learned through life in the 3rd Domain is unreliable because of imperfections in our sense-perception mechanisms, and because memory storage and retrieval are prone to intervening learning distortions and aging processes. By contrast, knowledge acquired directly from or while in the 2nd Domain is perfectly accurate and not subjected to any aging process because time does not run in the 2nd Domain.
Overall, the text argues that Creation and “consciousness” fundamentally exist beyond the boundaries of conventionally acquirable scientific knowledge. The specific arguments employed made use of analogy and the Liar’s Paradox to support an out-of-bounds conclusion defined by the Principle of Interior Unknowability (PIU), and appear to be novel for the metaphysics literature. The NDE reports demonstrate a high degree of perceptual consistency for the OBE experience, such as time no longer perceived as running, all entities perceived to be made of light, and actions driven by thought perceived as instantaneous; all of these perceptions were found to be consistent with Relativity Theory and quantum mechanics. A theoretical foundation was laid for the reality of paranormal phenomena. It was found from the review of over 4,000 NDE reports available on the NDERF.org and IANDS.org web sites that the NDEs were dominated by experiencing the light and love of a God Creator, even for those who were agnostic or atheist before their NDE. Based on these NDE reports and the neo-Platonic concept of Transcendental knowledge having been provided to the human conscience, a proposed code of conduct was included in the Annex. The quest to develop knowledge about Creation and consciousness ends in a conclusion that, by our being immersed in them, they are not ever directly observable by us as material beings. However, conventional science is plagued by those who either seek to deny their existence, or instead seek to scientifically describe and explain them, whereas the PIU shows that both of such opposing perspectives are wrong.
12. Dr. Hiller’s Near-Death Experience Study
On February 3, 2020, Dr. Hiller completed an NDE study involving an analysis of the most recently archived NDE reports (62 total) on NDERF.org to develop a sample frequency estimate for experiencing God, Jesus, and other major religious figures. As a side note, when Dr. Hiller discusses OBE reports, he tends to report the experience as “experience” instead of as “perception.” He states the reason for this distinction flows from how he proposed to solve the issue of “qualia” in perception, following Eben Alexander‘s reporting about his OBE as experiencing everything as his being a part of everything, as opposed to how we look at things as separated observers in this material domain to achieve perception.
A Frequency Analysis for a Sample of NDE Reports
An analysis of the most recently archived NDE reports (62 total) on NDERF.org at was performed to develop a sample frequency estimate for experiencing God, Jesus, and other major religious figures. Nine categories of information were defined for coding as representing an experience or not:
- Agnostic, atheist, New Age, or nothing before the NDE
- Christian affiliation
- Non Christian to include Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist
- Experience of a mystical light
- Experiencing God as a huge zone of light that enveloped the spirit
- Experiencing God as a being with personality
- Experiencing Jesus as a personality
- No experience of light or a deity, just an OBE
- A hellish experience.
Unfortunately for “purely clean” scoring, these categories proved not to be mutually exclusive, as multiple elements were reported for the experience; for example, in one report there was a mystical light at first, then it developed into a huge zone of brilliant light recognized as God, and then Jesus was also experienced, so 4., 5., and 7. were scored.
One unanticipated finding was a glaring disproportion of NDEs for those who did not profess belief in God. According to a 2017 USA research estimate by Pew reported by The Atlantic 63% definitely believe in God regardless of religious affiliation, leaving 37% who do not or are uncertain. A recent academic study estimated that 26% of Americans do not believe in God. So, it’s fair to set 37% as a baseline estimate of the agnostic/atheist percentage. In this sample of 62 NDE reports, 56% were agnostic or atheist or not willing to commit to belief in God (category 1). A test to estimate if 56% is statistically significantly different from 37% (using 26% would have produced a higher level of statistical significance) yielded a Z value (2.6) which is significant for a reliable difference at a probability of less than .009, which is a stronger result than the .05 level generally used to decide if there were a reliable difference. Thus, it appears that NDEs are more frequent for those who did not already have belief in God, implying that they were getting a wake-up call for a life course correction.
There were four Muslims in this sample. Two experienced only a mystical light, and the other two had an OBE without an experience of God. Muhammad was not experienced.
There was one Buddhist and his experience was in category 5 of immersion in a huge zone of light that produced “incredible joy.” He did not see any image of Buddha, but decided it was apt to label this light as Buddha.
Jesus was reported to have been experienced by 13% (including one by the only Jewish respondent), while God was experienced (from categories 5 and 6) by 29%, with two experiences as personal. There were two hellish experiences reported.
One striking result was the dominance of category 4, the experience of mystical light in which they were immersed by 63% of the reports. I interpret this as support for the Tripartite Domain theory (see Near-Death Experience of Space, Time, and Consciousness) theorizing that the 2nd Domain (which is Heaven) is a universal field of consciousness functioning as a medium for light, with all entities existing in this Domain manifesting as forms of light.
This pilot study appears to warrant further research to increase the sample size and scope of investigation about the perceptions and implications for deities occurring in near-death, spiritually transformative, and out-of-body experiences.