Is There A Resting Place For Souls?
Since I began my documentation of consciousness beyond the body with children, I wondered about how children connect with an afterlife:
Visions of Future Children in Near-Death Experience
Brent Hinze, PhD and Sarah Hinze, BSc
This is a second article that explores afterlife (Near Death Experience). My list of related articles (below) includes other points of view and examples; and recall, I welcome comments (and ping-backs).
It seems by hundreds of thousands of reports from NDE survivors that the afterlife is there… for any or all of us. So, I’m open to experiential reports about the afterlife. In fact, I’ve enjoyed reading dozens of them including some that are oddly opposite to the ones that I’m choosing to feature. I think these are important contributions and yet I like simple facts most of all. However, until the simple facts determine the truth, its necessary to examine possibilities.
I think that its good to explore facts and theories and to take sides based on what’s most likely; also its best to remain open and tolerant of different views in a healthy manner. Thus, I hope that this article awakens healthy interest and genuine investigative spirit.
By their awareness or beliefs, many think that its essential to accept spiritual preparations during our lives. I say accept since most agree that spiritual development comes into us more so than from us. However, spiritual growth by my definition is not necessarily religious. This story, I hope is an example of how spiritual preparedness may positively impact living a happy life. If there is one important fact that I want most to emphasize, its that the stories that I post are about spiritual progress, changed lives and happier people.
I want for myself to meet my maker in an already happy state of mind. I think preparation aids me along a happier life here in the meantime.
Since this article is about beliefs, I defer today to a verse that makes clear my belief that God’s instruction is easy to understand. All I have to do is to be willing and follow simple directions. I’ll leave all of the complications to Him — doing my best to follow directions.
John 3:16-21 (NIV)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
The verse is not a universal belief; yet, it’s spiritually the crux of a hope that is resoundingly healthy. Again, I want to emphasize that religious spirituality is not my message. Yet, I am Christian and this is an important foundation for my beliefs. The verse is widely appealing to spiritual people of all sorts, I think.
Hmm… “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light” — this revelation is easy enough to understand — I am to bring myself along with my transgressions into the light — I may be seen plainly there in the sight of God and those nasty transgressions are in me until then. I am to bring myself into the light, knowing that I am exposed as unworthy — there, the truth will set me free. That’s really pretty simple. It’s a simple process and I firmly believe in it. This transforms me into a happy man; compassionate and empathetic here in my present life and also prepares me via spiritual growth for an afterlife by God’s Will.
The topic of afterlife is scientific as well as spiritual. Scientific inquiry explores facts — empirical evidence. However, science also must therefore explore interpretations of facts. Thus, often times, we must sort out the known from the unknown even to determine what to believe from scientific reports. Oh my, this is one of those times.
Let’s look at the process against the universe of facts.
Science looks into the possibility of an afterlife; perhaps mostly because knowing about an afterlife is compelling for some of us. Also, how our universe works is important for many areas of scientific inquiry. How does scientific research occur? Well, typically, scientific research begins with someone that has a theory… often, theories lead to finding of facts… new discoveries bring about new theories. It’s a process. Here is an example:
apparently, the Earth is about 4 billion years old — wow! Who knew?
In 1923, Edwin Hubble began to work out the discoveries that our Milky Way is one of probably more than 200 billion galaxies — and later, by 1929, he’d demonstrated that the universe is expanding. Recently, scientific exploration by observations from new telescopes and spacecraft find that the universe is about 14 billion years old… Wow!
Most accounts as taken from biblical references come up with far less than these scientific estimates… and there is not any direct biblical references to galaxies and for the expansion of the universe… Wow!
Obviously, the biblical account for creation is difficult to apply to scientific findings. In my experience, that is only a small part of the controversy that is involved surrounding debate about afterlife accounts. So, there is much to explore.
In my first NDE story, I wondered what about an NDE may be described and widely accepted as believable. I chose the story of Colton Burpo because of this. His whole family is believable. It seems from further investigation that I’m correct. His story is compelling for many. However, he was just a four-year-old child at the time of the NDE.
Colton’s story is profoundly moving and believable. Yet, can his descriptions of the hereafter hold up to adult inquiry by a scientist? I wondered: Are there scientists that believe that NDE experiences are evidence of an afterlife? Well, yes… it turns out there are thousands. I found one that is widely reported and I want to share about this man, a Harvard trained neurosurgeon that had a NDE.
Dr. Eben Alexander
Here is a highly educated man of science that dismissed accounts of NDE experiences. However, in 2008, Dr. Eben Alexander’s own NDE was so profound that he now adamantly believes consciousness continues after death.
What happened to Dr. Alexander?
Dr. Alexander awoke one morning with an extremely intense headache. All he could manage was “help…” and painful noise and screams. It turns out a ferocious E. coli meningitis infection had penetrated his cerebrospinal fluid and it was attacking his brain. By the time that he’d entered the emergency room that morning chances for survival in a vegetative state were already looming and his chances for any sort of recovery were quickly sinking. STAT! He was leaving us — sinking fast.
When doctors did what they could, Alexander’s survival was found improbable. Brain scans showed his entire cortex — the parts of the brain that transmit consciousness, thought, memory and understanding — not functioning.
Dr. Alexander was in near-death critical condition. By this time, no one expected him to recover even rudimentary human functions.
Alexander’s NDE occurred during the next seven days while he lay in a deep coma.
Shockingly… Eben Alexander awoke on the seventh day.
As weeks and months passed in recovery, Dr. Alexander began recalling and relating his experiences of that seven days; and he realized that he’d never again doubt that Heaven is real. He was powerfully moved upon miraculously reviving from a comatose state; and he was even more so convinced of his experience later, and especially later, when he realized that he’d met his deceased sister in the afterlife.
During the weeks of recovering, Alexander, who was adopted, had contact with his biological family. He was given a picture by his biological family of a sister he had never met nor seen before. As he stared at her picture, he recognized her from his NDE. “I know this is not a hallucination, not a dream, not what we call a confabulation,” Alexander said. “I know that it really occurred, and it occurred outside of my brain.”
Dr. Eben Alexander was featured in the October 15, 2012 edition of Newsweek. The cover story is an account of his near-death experience. The article summary reads: “When a neurosurgeon found himself in a coma, he experienced things he never thought possible—a journey to the afterlife.”
In my last article, Afterlife, Part One: Colton Burpo, a little boy from Nebraska says that he sat in the lap of Jesus. He saw streets of gold. He says that Angels sang to him. He says that he met his great grandfather that had died thirty years before Colton was born. He claims that he’d met a second sister “there” in what Colton refers to as Heaven. Afterlife evidence is mounting. Alexander also claims to have met a sister that he’d never known about. So, both make claims that they’d met people unknown to them — that had passed on — and of course their families were stunned.
What is meant by an afterlife?
The essential meaning of afterlife is that an individual lives on after death. If we apply only classic science and logic, its more like you live; you die; you’re done with no life afterward.
Religious and other spiritual practitioners tend to believe in an afterlife and most believe a soul continues on after physical death.
Either case may be true. Either case may be false. Speculation supports either case, that there may or may not be an afterlife. Making it complicated, various people’s actual experience may support either case as well.
As for what is believed to live on beyond death, that too is complicated. In some circles, an essential part of an individual lives on while others believe that an entire soul of an individual lives on with its personal identity intact. Some believe that an essential aspect returns to the physical world in a new body. Some believe that once entering into an afterlife that there is no returning.
Is there an afterlife?
I believe that there is an afterlife. I accept that I cannot completely and indisputably prove it. I have a reason for my belief. To keep it simple, lets say, I believe in an afterlife because I believe that God created us to be eternal. Additionally, I believe that there will soon be scientific evidence that consciousness and perhaps evidence of a soul are passed on from our bodies at death.
Afterlife scientific theories are being investigated. Science works the same for anyone of us if we apply its disciplines to investigating the facts.
If we can’t find all of the necessary empirical evidence, science may often fall back on what’s reasonable. We may base reasonable on what is empirically known and add personal experiences to form a reasonable theory — this is exactly what scientist do.
It certainly is reasonable to believe that God is. Perhaps God created the universe. In fact, for me, it seems “more” reasonable to believe that the universe originates from something; even if the something is undiscoverable using physical laws and even if the something were found to be not God.
It is also reasonable to assume that whatever the origin, the universe probably came about in such a way as that it operates by physical laws and so that anything not physical is closer to its source.
I like science to make simple sense. So do scientists. Thus, many scientists believe in a higher power (God) and they tend to sometimes, as in the case of Dr. Eben Alexander, also support that there is a heaven and that there is an afterlife.
What opposing view is out there?
According to the Oxford dictionary, naturalism refers to the viewpoint that laws of nature operate in the universe, and that nothing exists beyond the natural universe or, if it does, it does not affect the natural universe. The supernatural is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature. The afterlife is of the supernatural. According to naturalism, the supernatural isn’t real.
Stephen Hawking, eminent physicist says: no god; nor is there fate
What Is Real?
When it comes right down to it, science can’t so far even prove that you and I are “real” in some sense of the definition. There are many competing theories that explore what is real. However, if a person really wants to grow in happiness, it makes good sense to follow high moral and ethical standards and to invest plenty of time in developing of higher awareness (spiritual growth), intuitively knowing that this is best.
We are real in some sense and our consciousness is real as well. Herein lies the magic of physics — but I’ll have to come to that in a follow-up article. This post is already much longer than is good for the average reader… so, as to the emerging science of afterlife — look for that next time… and yet there is a bit more.
Dr. Alexander testifies
“I’ve spent decades as a neurosurgeon at some of the most prestigious medical institutions in our country. I know that many of my peers hold—as I myself did—to the theory that the brain, and in particular the cortex, generates consciousness and that we live in a universe devoid of any kind of emotion, much less the unconditional love that I now know God and the universe have toward us.”
Surgeons and other medical professionals tend to believe that consciousness is a function of the brain or of the brain-body. Its part of the intense training that they receive in Western Medicine. Most are compassionate and caring but tend to not believe reports from patients about anything that is supernatural or spiritual.
Dr. Alexander’s testimony continues “There is no scientific explanation for the fact that while my body lay in coma, my mind—my conscious, inner self—was alive and well. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: a dimension I’d never dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than happy to explain was a simple impossibility.”
There are scientific inquiries presently investigating consciousness. Many scientists tend to categorize the reports from these investigations as pseudoscientific. Yet, when it comes right down to any differences in scientific knowledge, the difference is really one of beliefs and not of scientific methods.
Dr. Alexander’s testimony continues “According to current medical understanding of the brain and mind, there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent.”
Dr. Alexander’s testimony continues “Modern physics tells us that the universe is a unity—that it is undivided. Though we seem to live in a world of separation and difference, physics tells us that beneath the surface, every object and event in the universe is completely woven up with every other object and event. There is no true separation. The first time I entered a church after my coma, I saw everything with fresh eyes. Today many believe that the living spiritual truths of religion have lost their power, and that science, not faith, is the road to truth. Before my experience I strongly suspected that this was the case myself. But I now understand that such a view is far too simple. The plain fact is that the materialist picture of the body and brain as the producers, rather than the vehicles, of human consciousness is doomed.”
(quote from Newsweek: