Monday, April 23, 2012

More thoughts on Dr. Jeffrey Long

I've been surveying reaction to Dr. Long's after-death research, and most of the opposition comes from that portion scientific community offended that Dr. Long is offering *scientific* proof of the afterlife. Had Dr. Long simply said, "I believe in life after death, and here's why"--without invoking the name of science--I doubt whether anyone would have said anything.

From the current scientific perspective, there can never be proof of "life after death," because such is a logical contradiction. As defined by science, death is the cessation of physical life. There can be no continuation of physical life after physical death. So, within these logical boundaries, Dr. Long's critics are correct, and Dr. Long cannot prove his assertions. And it's no surprise that his critics are so offended by Dr. Long's temerity (though I wonder why they are so agitated).

I can see only a few ways to reconcile what many of us know intuitively to be true--that there is conscious survival of physical death--with the likely possibility--in near term, anyway--that there will be no way to "prove" it.

One possibility, as suggested by Dr. Raymond Moody, that there will be a change in logic that redefines the parameters of what constitutes life, and death.

Not terribly long ago, before Darwin, the scientific consensus held that life originated by spontaneous generation--life springs out of inanimate matter. (In Tennessee, which, as usual, is behind the curve, you can still argue this in biology class.) Even after Darwin, folk wisdom still clung to spontaneous generation. As a young boy, I remember my father telling me that I could grow a worm by soaking a horse hair in rain water--as well as my bemusement, when my attempt to scientifically prove this, failed.

Of course, we all know now that life must come from life. Life must evolve. It cannot come from inanimate matter.

Or do we? Science has created synthetic particles that mimic DNA and can not only replicate, but can also "evolve" by changing according to environmental factors. When science creates life by any number of means (including reactivating extinct species by replicating their genome)--perhaps in this century--I predict that the main philosophic question will become, "What, indeed, is life?" At the same time, we may develop methods of measuring the presence of consciousness after "death," and the question will become, "What is death?"

Should such a shift happen, our current notions of "life" and "death" will sound as outlandish as soaking horse hairs in rainwater.

No comments:

Post a Comment