So, one slow day on the bookmobile, I picked up a new book to skim. It held my attention, and I finished it; it’s called “Evidence of the Afterlife” by Jeffrey (and Jody) Long with Paul Perry. Then I went to the website,
and I’ve been browsing occasionally ever since. The book summarizes a fascinating study of Near death Experiences; the data in the study is on the website, and is continually updated. Since there's no physical evidence of these events, and little verification, the data is mostly anecdotal. Rather soft by scientific standards, but very compelling. The “hard” science involves the current state of neuroscience, and it’s pretty limited, so I need to do some more reading. Elsewhere.
My problem with the website is that the Longs are clearly very fond of the answers they propose. As are most authors of "scientific" studies. This is my gripe with mainstream science: it’s as dogmatic as any religion. I guess it has to be, ironically, for the sake of credibility. If something can’t be proven, Science isn’t supposed to acknowledge it. It doesn’t exist, except among those wild-eyed fringe freaks. When said freaks manage to come up with something valid, Science pays attention. Anyhow, while I don’t necessarily subscribe to the Longs’ answers, I am riveted by the questions raised!
Is there something in this world that’s non-physical and not measurable? Can the human consciousness exist outside of the human body? It appears so. And it makes perfect sense to me that the encounters with “the Divine” are understood in the context of the individuals’ personal experience. A lot of Christians are certain they encounter Jesus. (Imagine the uproar if a Christian woke up and said, “Holy crap, the real God IS Allah! We were wrong!”) The subjects also frequently meet people they recognize, including deceased relatives they’ve never seen. All in all, these experiences could be some kind of little-known hallucinations. They are probably not “anoxia hallucinations” (lack of oxygen,) which are characterized by chaos, confusion and extreme anxiety. In the end we can’t know what they really signify, if anything.
The aspect of this data that science really shouldn't dismiss, is the verifiable knowledge learned during “death.” A number of the subjects “saw” and “heard” what was happening while they were unconsious and possibly dead. And not just in the same room, but in physical places nearby! I have fainted several times in my life, and I can assure you, vision and hearing are the first senses to go – I’ve been standing up and mentally aware as my sight and hearing went kaput. These “dying” people, (I don’t say “dead” because nobody knows the actual level of brain activity) KNOW what can only be learned through physical senses that are NOT functioning. Very thought provoking.
Recently I stumbled on this account. http://www.nderf.org/wayne_h's_nde.htm
How cool is that? Imagine the scenario: Chances are, Jesus was a real person; he did change history, after all. Maybe he was just an ordinary guy, with the same divinity we all share. After his first NDE, he spent his life trying to share his knowledge of God and Heaven. Of course he was executed for what he taught! And the rest was a combination of politics and legend. Could it be, THAT was the start of Christianity?
Oh, the possibilities! Of course, both Science and Religion emphatically agree – it’s all bunk!