Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Life After Death

One of the most comforting beliefs of Christians is the belief that the soul is immortal and survives bodily death. We believe that even though our physical bodies die, our invisible, spiritual soul lives on. For people who have lost loved ones, this is a most comforting and hopeful belief to know that in a place we call "heaven" we will meet our loved ones again. Humans are made up of a visible, human body and an invisible soul. As human beings, beloved by our Creator and made in the image and likeness of God, we have been given souls. Eternal life is a gift from our Creator.
I've always been interested in near-death experiences. I read  a lot of them when I was in college as part of a psychology course I took. I found them to be fascinating and very believable. Many accounts are of a religious nature.  The near death experiences of children are fascinating as well. Interestingly, people who have near-death experiences are always changed by them and want to spend their lives doing good and meaningful work, especially for others. They are always transformed by the experience. 
In an online article I recently read titled, "Is There Such A Thing As Life After Death?" by Laura Fitzpatrick (Time Magazine in partnership with CNN), she wrote about a controversial new book by a radiation oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Long. His book is titled, "Evidence of the Afterlife." The article begins with this intriguing and important question, which Christianity answered thousands of years ago, "Is there life after death?" According to the article, "Theologians can debate all they want, but radiation oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Long says if you look at the scientific evidence, the answer is unequivocally yes. Drawing on a decade's worth of research on near-death experiences-work that includes cataloguing the stories of some 1,600 people who have gone through them-he makes the case for that controversial conclusion in his new book, Evidence of the Afterlife. Medicine, Long says, cannot account for the consistencies in the accounts reported by people all over the world."
A near death experience is described as an experience which happens in which a person is unconscious or often clinically dead, with an absence of heartbeat or breathing. They are revived and then many tell of an experience they've had which is "lucid and highly organized." They can (from my research) recall many fascinating details about their experience. 
Hundreds of scholarly articles have been written on this topic and they are very convincing. Dr. Long is interviewed for the article and a question he is asked is this, "Is life after death a scientific question or a theological one? This is his answer, "I think we have an interesting blend. This research directly addresses what religions have been telling us for millenniums to accept on faith: that there is an afterlife, that there is some order and purpose to this universe, that there's some reason and purpose for us being here in earthly life. We're finding verification, if you will, for what so many religions have been saying. It's an important step toward bringing science and religion together." Well said!