Scientist Proposes Life Exists After Death
The continuity of life after death has been a fundamental premise of all spiritual perspectives. What makes it so important is that if spirit is real, then it doesnt depend upon matter for its existence. Even after the body dies, for example, the spiritual essence of the person, if it exists, should continue.
Mediumship or the psychic ability to provide communication with the dead led to the religious movement of spiritualism because of this very immediate contact with the continuity of life. Skeptics argued, however, that the phenomenon of mediumship does not make a hard and fast case for survival, leaving many looking once again for proof of life after death.
Near-death experiences have now taken on the role of providing the suggestion of survival. Not everyone agrees that such experiences offer definitive proof, but they do excite speculation. As a recent example, a physical scientist has recently shared his thoughts about a rationale for accepting the continuity of consciousness.
In his book, Soul Search: A Scientist Explores the Afterlife (Villard Books), David Darling proposes that there is one aspect of near-death experiences that the sceptics have not been able to discredit. Carl Sagan, for example, has argued that the experience of going through a tunnel of light to meet a wonderful being may be a replay of the birth experience. The evidence does not support Sagan, however, because people who had Caesarian births are just as likely to have near-death experiences as those who had normal births. Nevertheless, arguments like Sagans that near death experiences are hallucinations have deflated some of the enthusiasm for these experiences as supporting the continuity hypothesis.
There is, however, another aspect of the near death experience that suggests continuity after death. Darling notes that consciousness of self diminishes in these experiences and expands into a more all-encompassing perspective. From this observation, he builds a case for the view that like a drop of water in a wave that falls back into the ocean, after death our consciousness as an individual dissolves back into a unitive consciousness that pervades all of creation.
It is not personality that survives, but consciousness itself. Darling does not propose that there is a survival of individualized consciousness. Instead, he suggests that as that pointed light of individualized awareness dims at death, the underlying consciousness is released to merge with a larger, more expansive consciousness.
Whether atoms do or do not have consciousness, according to Darling, is something that cannot be proved one way or another. He chooses to accept that there is some form of rudimentary consciousness in all elements of creation. That near-death experiences can occur even while the brain waves register no activity suggests to him that consciousness does not depend upon a brain, but is an essential aspect of our universe. Consciousness survives into an afterlife.