Mainstream, conservative scientists repeatedly tell us there is no evidence for life after death, yet reincarnation studies, life between lives reports and near-death experiences suggest otherwise. What are the facts and truths?
by David Stone
Assorted Ideas, Large & Small
Are scientists scientific — open-minded and objective — when considering persistent claims about life after death? And if they are not, why? And what is the real, unbiased truth?
This discussion is not about whether or not there is life after death, but rather, whether scientists are being scientific when they say that there’s no evidence of life after death.
Much was written over the years on this, but I won’t try covering all the angles here. I’m mainly going to walk you through what the positions are and how they relate to standard scientific practice.
What do Scientists say about Life after Death?
This quote sums it up well: “A comprehensive survey of more than 3,000 physicians from 21 countries indicated that 46.8 percent denied the existence of a phenomenon called ‘the near-death experience.’ It further revealed that 48.3 percent were very confident that no information could be obtained from such experiences, and 45.5 percent thought they harmed patients.”
Another study found that 75% of doctors don’t believe in life after death.
One study surveyed over a thousand academic psychologists and discovered only 6 percent believed in life after death. 13 percent were atheists who didn’t believe in God or a higher power, and 78 percent did not believe in an afterlife.
This is from a review by Jeffery Long, MD and Paul Perry of hundreds of published scientific articles on the subject:
“Close to 90 percent of mainstream U.S. and British medical doctors reject any form of life after death.”
In a book chapter entitled “Is there empirical evidence for survival?”, Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D. wrote: “I found that among the top 120 universities in the United States, there are only two departments of psychology that have even one faculty member who publishes articles on life after death.”
There are many more studies with similar findings. But the point is clear: Scientists overwhelmingly say there’s no evidence for anything after death. So much so that for example, when a poll asked “What is your impression of the status of parapsychology as a science?”, 16% said it was legitimate, 63% said it wasn’t.
This is why reincarnation researchers often get labeled pseudoscientists by mainstream scientists. They are not open-minded about an idea that doesn’t conform to the mainstream, yet they ignore evidence in insisting it’s untrue.
It sounds ridiculous if you take a hard stance about something without knowing what you’re talking about, yet at the same time, science is not known for rigidity or close-mindedness. So there must be more to the story.
I hope that by reading this post, you will have a better understanding of what’s going on. And perhaps most important of all, it will give you an insight into why paranormal research is important. You may even change your mind about it…
What are near-death experiences?
Nigel Kerner, a well-known British author and journalist who has written about this topic for many years says:
“Near-death experiences (NDEs) are perhaps the most extraordinary phenomena that exist in human consciousness. These transformative experiences include an enhanced or lucid out-of-body experience (OBE), visions of light and tunnels of light, encounters with spiritual beings, and an overwhelming sense of love.
“Reported NDEs conclude with the return of awareness to the physical body.”
Since all experiences are unique to each individual, there is no set point in time when one occurs, except most reports come during life-threatening medical crises. Hence the name. These circumstances seem to open normally closed windows into experience.
Some people even report “out-of-body” or highly lucid experiences where they can think clearly while separated from their physical bodies.
How do they compare with life between lives (LBL) experiences?
Many NDEs are described as life-changing events, which people don’t forget easily. They’ve said things like “I had an out-of-body experience and came back a changed person.”
This is different than the LBL experience, which is often supervised under hypnotic regression. Not all regressions verifiably revisit past lives, but some have turned up certifiable facts otherwise unknown to the patient. Scientists tend to ignore LBLs as evidence for life after death because they suspect hypnotic suggestion, intentional or not.
But there are occasional similarities between NDEs and LBLs: Visual imagery, a sense of being out of the body, traveling through a tunnel or void toward a light at the end. LBL’s, unlike NDEs, may expose soul family members who played different roles during different incarnations. The tend to be more complex but less immediate.
Many people who’ve had an NDE report meeting deceased relatives during the experience, even if they didn’t know them when they were alive. This is how it’s described in Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick’s book The Art Of Dying:
“An elderly lady named Sarah frequently sees a gentleman in a top hat whom she does not know. She wonders about him but is not unduly concerned. One day while shopping, she suddenly has the overwhelming feeling that her time on earth is up and that it’s time to go home ‘to where I came from’.
“She then finds herself traveling along a road, approaching a house that has a porch with pillars. She walks up to the door and rings the bell. A stranger opens the door, she asks ‘Does so-and-so live here?’ The reply comes back – ‘I’m afraid not.’
“She is then aware of being in a garden containing many flowers and fine fruit trees, of it being summer, and that she is in a beautiful place. She asks the stranger ‘Is this heaven?’ The reply comes back – ‘I’m afraid it’s not quite like that, but this is where you’ll find your loved ones’.
“She reaches for her husband’s hand. Although they did not touch or speak to each other during the vision, she knows that it is her husband’s hand, but younger and with a firm grip.”
This lady also sees people who are not relatives – they are friends of hers from school days. She hears their voices congratulating her.
I would say this sounds similar to an LBL. There seems to be no doubt that both can be life-changing experiences, so is there any evidence either experience might be telling us something about life after death?
Reincarnation: A Link With Life After Death and Far Beyond
Many books and articles suggest reincarnation is a scientific fact.
But at present, the best evidence for reincarnation comes from children who remember details of their past lives.
One of the most famous case is that of Shanti Devi, born in Delhi in 1926. When she was only four years old, she claimed to recognize her previous family and drew pictures of her husband (whom she claimed to remember). The information given by the girl about her former life was found to be true, including details which could not possibly have been known or guessed, such as names, dates and places.
The fact that information was found to be true is puzzling. Less impressive but more telling, some children who have a past life memory lapse into their old accent and language when recalling something from their previous life.
Many people believe that all cases in which children talk about past lives involve false memories created by their naive young minds under the influence of adults’ suggestions. This is one possible explanation, but not the only one. Skeptics claim they have conducted their own studies on children who have talked about past lives, yet these are just as likely biased from asking leading questions.
The reality is that scientists repeatedly say there is no evidence of life after death, yet reincarnation studies, life between lives reports and near-death experiences suggest otherwise.
What are the facts and truths?
One thing for certain is that the phenomenon of perceived life after death exists. Many reading this post may recall their own memories of previous lives.
However, modern scientists, typically good at explaining away what they don’t understand or see, will not accept anything regarding past-life memory.
- But children talk about past lives, just as if they are in the present while scientists insist it is just a game.
- Many scientists like to think these cases are pathological – caused by psychological problems, but many of these children have been thoroughly checked over and found normal. In several startling cases, they have birthmarks identified as wounds suffered during their past-life deaths. You can’t fake that.
- Dr. Ian Stevenson, a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, was one of the most respected scientists in this field for many years. During decades of research, he compiled over twenty-thousand cases in which children talked about past lives.”
- Dr. Jim Tucker is a Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia. He is the current reincarnation expert at Dr. Ian Stevenson’s former department. Dr. Tucker reports that over half of all children he studied in India claim to remember past lives.
Skeptics are unable to find logical explanations for these cases. They do not question the accuracy of the information. Instead, they assume it is false because, they reason, a young mind could store away all these facts without being taught.
Conclusion: Reincarnation, Life After Death
Reincarnation, NDE’s and LBLs are still a taboo for most scientists. That’s unfortunate because it deprives the research of the critical reviews on which mainstream science thrives. It also limits funding.
While all we know about these topics can’t be proof to everyone’s satisfaction, there is certainly plenty of evidence for life after death. The sooner mainstream science opens up to serious investigation, it lowers trust while, at the same time, adding nothing to arguments for or against.
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