Life after deathIn a recent broadcast of the U.S. morning news and talk show Today, radiation oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Long discussed his new book, Evidence of the Afterlife: the Science of Near-Death Experience, and argued that his research provides convincing evidence of the existence of an afterlife. Stories of near-death experiences, he explained, are so consistent and predictable that consciousness probably does continue to exist in another dimension after the brain dies. If Long is correct in his claim, the current scientific paradigm on the relationship between the body and the mind would require extensive changes.

What makes near-death experiences (NDEs) such convincing evidence of life after death, Long says, is the fact that they are so consistent across age groups and cultures. Long cites nine "lines of evidence" to confirm the reality of NDEs. One of these lines of evidence is the claim that people who have been blind since birth gain the ability to see during their near-death experience. These visual impressions, he points out, are not fragmentary or incoherent, but complete and well-ordered they are also similar to visual impressions that other people have in other near-death experiences. In addition, he said, the NDEs of children under the age of 5 are "absolutely identical" to those of older children and adults.

Many mainstream scientists have disputed these claims. One opposing argument, called the "dying brain hypothesis", comes from psychologist Dr. Susan Blackmore. Paraphrasing Blackmore, Christian apologist Dinesh D'Souza sums up her hypothesis in his book Life After Death: the Evidence. According to the hypothesis, while the brain deteriorates, it continues to generate images in an attempt to reconstruct a convincing reality based on memory patterns. For Blackmore, the dark tunnel with the bright light at the end results from the constriction of the visual pathway; chemicals such as endorphins and other opiates, which are released under stress, explain the feelings of joy, peace, and love; finally, the tunnel and lights together are the result of hallucinations created by an oxygen-deprived brain cortex. In addition, states the hypothesis, the sense of being out-of-body results from a breakdown in the sense of the body's location, the life review is a consequence of the brain's memory systems trying to assemble themselves as they fail, and images of deceased relatives are the result of these same struggles within the memory systems. Finally, the sense of timelessness is created by a self that has abandoned all conventional and familiar notions of time and space (p. 71).

Others have challenged these explanations, offering further support of research such as that conducted by Long. According to Dr. Sam Parnia in his book What Happens When We Die, Blackmore's claim that the visions are created by an oxygen-deprived brain cannot adequately explain all NDEs. The reason for this is that many people experience NDEs immediately before a violent physical injury, so the NDE's visions cannot possibly result from oxygen deprivation occurring after an injury. For example, some people who have been in car accidents report having NDEs immediately before the actual collision, thus oxygen-deprivation resulting from the collision cannot explain such visions. In addition, some people who are terminally, but not critically, ill have had NDEs, and oxygen deprivation is not occurring in these people. Conversely, Parnia notes, patients suffering from oxygen deprivation do not experience NDEs (pp. 19-21). So oxygen deprivation probably does not explain the visions which characterize NDEs.

D'Souza gives his two cents' in response to Blackmore's hypothesis. While Blackmore acknowledges the similarity of NDEs, she attributes this similarity to the fact that everybody has a similar brain, similar hormones, and a similar nervous system. However, D'Souza points out that if the consistency of NDEs results from the physiological similarities of human beings, then everybody would be having NDEs when they die. But they do not. In addition, he argues, dying brains typically produce disorientation and faded, incoherent memories, unlike the lucidity and vividness of typical NDEs. So perhaps Long is correct in attributing the consistency of NDEs to an actual, external phenomenon, and not to physiological mechanisms. In addition, D'Souza states,

If NDEs are the result of a dying brain, then a breakdown of mental faculties has already taken place; but most people who report near-death experiences are living normal lives. So how have their brains reversed the dissolution and gotten all their normal perceptual faculties back? Blackmore has very little to say about any of this.

Finally, D'Souza explains, Blackmore's hypothesis about a dying brain does not explain how clinically dead people can know about things that seem to occur outside their range of perception. For example, how can a dead woman somebody whose brain shows no activity know exactly what the doctors are saying, word-for-word, if these experiences are the result of a brain that is still in the process of dying (p. 72)? Blackmore, he points out, has had nothing to say in response to this except to say that she does not believe the patients are dead when they are having these experiences she believes their brains are still dying; however, doctors such as cardiologist Pim van Lommel routinely confirm in hospital records that these patients did not have any brain activity when they had these experiences.

If true, the claims of researchers such as Long would have enormous implications for our

current understanding of the relationship between the brain and consciousness. Perhaps consciousness is not an epiphenomenon of the brain; rather, the brain may serve as a sort of transceiver for consciousness, somewhat like a radio. The brain becomes a piece of hardware, and the information it receives, the software. When the station is changed, the reception becomes distorted, but the performance itself being broadcast from the concert hall remains intact.

Dr. Long's research probably does not prove the existence of consciousness beyond brain death, but, in combination with the body of thought and research tendered by others such as D'Souza, Parnia, and van Lommel, it does provide a convincing argument for the likelihood of consciousness beyond brain death. There are many fascinating new theories to account for this possibility non-locality, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, multi-dimensionality, and recent discoveries in quantum mechanics in general and how this interfaces with human evolutionary biology. But, of course, we would like to know what you think, whether you are a skeptic or a believer. Do Long and others like him offer a persuasive case for life after death?



  1. Gary Johnston's Avatar Gary Johnston

    A wise sage long ago stated:-

    "Wisdom is knowing that I am nothing......Love is knowing that I am everything.....and my life moves serenely and beautifully between the two"

    Rev. G.R. Johnston

  1. Stephen's Avatar Stephen

    I was born dead I have seen what you call after life all my life. I can hear them just as I hear you they are sweet to me never told me to do anything bad, but did scare me when I was young as I grew I Realized they mint no harm they just wanted to play like me but I was the only one that could see them so I could only play when no one was around I'm 42 now and they are all my best friends I'd talk to them all day if I could but people would think I'm crazy like you are as you read this but it's very true I have been bless to have angles to have fun with and play in all the ways they do and cant wait to leave this body so I can be with them and play. they are always talking even when people are around don't never think you have not been in the presents of Angle, every time some one does some bad they talk stuff about them and tell me to go tell them to change there way and go to fathers good word they say it's his life plan for us the word, but I never do I just pray for them and lough cause the thing they say when some one acts up is so funny they are all in their own way a Comedian. I could go on and on it's been 42 years I have many stores that I could tell and the best thing is they all of them would be good and funny Angles play more then little kids but very smart so next time your doing something wrong just know they are there and when you die you will find out nothing you ever did was a secrete.

    1. Reverend Dave's Avatar Reverend Dave

      Stephen I, like Eleanor, would love to hear more about your amazing journey. My loving spouse is from Guam, and has told me stories about, who she calls little people, that is very much in line with what you are talking about. Thanks for your time.


  1. Matt's Avatar Matt

    Thank God for the wonderful chemicals that He designed (allowed to evolve) for our comfort in such moments, and for the possession of the correct receptors to make our experience complete. And for allowing us to discover and cultivate earthbound molecules that open our eyes to our oneness with creation and those who have proceeded us. Consciousness is amazing....and life sooooo precious.


  1. Sharon D Cimato-Vallee's Avatar Sharon D Cimato-Vallee

    I had a near death experience years ago following a tragic car accident that nearly took my right hand. I was bleeding pretty bad and lost consciousness. The doctors and nurses stated that I had flat lined after arriving at the hospital in a helicopter. It is important to not that at the time I was not of God nor anything else. I was a free spirit. From what I can remember, I was told you know me not, now is not your time. The voice was big and gentle. Firm and soft. Deep and humble. There was a bright light. I know now that I did not have faith in anything. Now I live for my Lord Jesus Christ. For never again will I hear you know me not. God bless you all, In Christ, Sharon

  1. Jody Lynn Baldwin's Avatar Jody Lynn Baldwin

    I believe. Thats all I need to say.

  1. Yllena S.'s Avatar Yllena S.

    Proof of Heaven - a neurosurgeon's journey into the afterlife - Eben Alexander, M.D., is a most helpful book on this subject!

  1. Elizabeth Renee Bell-Avery's Avatar Elizabeth Renee Bell-Avery

    I worked in hospice for 15 years and the charge nurse told me dying is beautiful I just never saw it no beauty at all. I am comforted in my faith with God's guidelines I been able to rely on him he is my Rock. I believe in God, Jesus Christ, and the holy spirit. To guide my ever breath Thank You for all that you do. I am tuning my mission to serve the poor and disadvantaged in my and other communities. I no dying is nature but it is still very difficult. I hope I can do justice to the Lord's words and give the utmost respect dignity and overall comfort to the families. In God we Trust

  1. Rev. Shakell's Avatar Rev. Shakell

    Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Revelation 21:1 NIV

  1. Christopher Lee Moore's Avatar Christopher Lee Moore

    Believe or not. Up to you. The truth will be told at the End of days.

  1. Eleanor Griego's Avatar Eleanor Griego

    Steve , I'd love to hear more!

  1. Weldon Joe Horton's Avatar Weldon Joe Horton

    Be patient and you will discover the truth about life after death. All die eventually.

  1. Jimothy Johnson's Avatar Jimothy Johnson

    Does this apply to John F. Kennedy Jr., who will resurrect for Trump's Re-election in 2024?

  1. Gary Hartfil's Avatar Gary Hartfil

    Blackmore's hypothesis does not account for recovered repeating, verbatim, a conversation that happened in a distant part of the hospital. Such as the Chappel.

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