The idea that some form of consciousness continues after death is a controversial one and difficult to prove, especially when modern science still struggles to define exactly what consciousness is. To study this, researchers turned to the main evidence of an afterlife which is thousands of reports by people who say they physically died but their consciousness continued before they were brought back to life. When confronted with the notion that life continues after death, skeptics love to point to a host of common explanations such as "chemicals in the brain" are causing the experiences people report. But if you look at the peer-reviewed studies and scientific papers, many of these so-called explanations have actually been proven wrong.
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Dozens upon dozens of studies have been performed on various aspects of near-death experiences. One researcher named <a href="www.nderf.org">Dr. Jeffery Long</a> conducted a 10-year study of near-death experiences and documented the accounts of over 4,000 participants who reported conscious experiences after clinical death. Another study from the University of Southampton called AWARE studied 2,000 cardiac arrest patients and the experiences they reported. While there has been a large number of studies on the afterlife, what do they prove?
One puzzling aspect of near-death experiences falls under a particular category of Dr. Long's research and that is patients who were under general anesthesia when they flat-lined. Dr. Long says that despite the fact a large number of people studied were under general anesthesia and showed no brain activity on an EEG (Electroencephalograph) at the time they died, they still reported having near-death experiences where their consciousness floated out of their body and they entered an ethereal realm. This speaks to the argument that chemicals in the brain are responsible for the experiences people have when they die. If a person is under general anesthesia and their brain is showing no electrical activity, the experiences they report cannot be taking place in the brain. Skeptics argue that just because an EEG can't detect activity doesn't mean it isn't there and perhaps in the future, a more sensitive device would reveal brain activity after all but this is only speculation.
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As to what people are reporting, a large number of near-death experiencers report floating out of their body and seeing themselves laying on the table in the hospital before being engulfed in a white light. Almost all of these experiencers report meeting what most refer to as "God" in the form of a brilliant white light and an overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance. Many of these people describe not being able to see their body yet still having conscious thought and existing in a seemingly timeless state where they are shown that every living thing is connected to the "source" of all consciousness. One near-death experiencer named Nanci Danison described having a conversation with what she called "Source", an immense being of light that is the creator of the universe.
Danison asked the being what the reason for creating humans was and she was shown the entire history of the universe in a few moments. Danison reported the being told her that it created the universe out of loneliness and curiosity to explore what it is capable of. When asked what the purpose of humans was, the being conveyed to her, not as much in words but in a serious of images and feelings, that it wanted to experience what it had created. Since "Source" exists in a timeless, non-physical form, it could not experience what it had created. So in order to satisfy its curiosity, it took a living animal (humans), which were created by the processes and formulas it had set in motion at the beginning of the universe rather than specifically created, and gave them a piece of itself.
Danison made the analogy of dreams to better describe this. For example, a person had a dream and inside that dream, there are other characters, those other characters only exist as an extension of the person having the dream, sort of like characters in an authors mind. Much like an author can create characters in their own mind, source took small pieces of its own consciousness and created "light beings". These beings are like a refraction of its own consciousness, they aren't separate from Source but rather they are unique extensions. Source allowed these light beings to inhabit the physical bodies of humans so that it could experience emotions, feeling, sight, sound, and touch all from the perspective of a 3D reality. Much like a person can't experience the perspective on reality as a microscopic amoeba knows it, Source couldn't experience the 3D world it created.
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She goes on to explain that each light being inhabits a person with the goal of experience reality from a human perspective all in the name of satisfying Source's curiosity. Danison also describes that she got the impression that this process of experiencing reality on a physical level is taking place all throughout the universe on other planets by other forms of life. When asked where she thought Source came from and if she asked it, Danison explained that she got the impression that there could have been more sources out there in other universes or that Source existed within another Source. She says that not even Source seemed to know the answer to where it comes from but that it felt lonely which is what lead it to manifest our universe.
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This is just one of thousands upon thousands, if not millions, of near-death experiences reported by people who died but were revived. It would take many lifetimes to interview all of the people who have these experiences in-depth, but thankfully people like Dr. Long are working on just that. Skeptics love to point out that the only people who report these experiences are people who believe in God and skeptics say that is the reason for their experiences. They say that it is their preexisting belief system that dictates what they experience but there is actually evidence that refutes that argument because even people who are atheists and had no belief in God prior to their death have reported near-death experiences very similar to Nanci's where they meet what they can only describe as "God".
So, what do all this research and all these experiences mean? Well, since near-death experiences are so difficult to verify and are not something that can be physically studied, much of what science has to say is based on speculation. But the latest theories about the afterlife come from Quantum Mechanics. Surprisingly, what Quantum Mechanics theories have to say about the afterlife actually supports what people like Nanci Danison and thousands of others describe. <a href="http://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/01/14/quantum-theory-sheds-light-on-life-after-death/">The latest Quantum Theory</a> about the afterlife attempts to explain the true nature of reality and says that consciousness is not just a product of the brain, but rather the brain acts like a "receiver" of consciousness, much like a TV doesn't contain the show, it is a receiver which picks of the signal of the TV show.
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The theoretical physicist credited with originating quantum theory is Max Planck and he argued that this view of consciousness is the best explanation. "I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness." His theory was later supported by the Double-Slit Experiment in 1927. This highly complex physics experiment showed that consciousness actually has an effect on the reality around it. In short, electrons (light particles) were sent through two slits and depending on whether there was someone to observe the experiment, the form which the particles took would change. This is known as <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_effect_(physics)">the Observer effect.</a> If there was an observer, the light particles would take the form of waves, if there was not an observer the electrons would remain unchanged. This is a complex experiment which is really far above my head and I probably butchered it so don't take my word for it. If you want to learn more about the Double-Slit experiment <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment">you could start here.</a>
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Royal Institute</span>
As to whether there is an afterlife, the evidence strongly suggests that there is something that happens after we die that involves consciousness but we don't understand what it is yet. As Quantum Mechanics advance, perhaps one day we will have a theory that can be tested to prove that some form consciousness continues after death. Until then, there is much work to be done and I'm not writing off the experiences of those like Nanci Danison just yet.
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