Newsweek: Where Do You Go When You Die?

As I study the biblical worldview of the afterlife (which I’m convicted is true) I’m always curious to see what mainstream culture thinks about it all. So, when I saw this tweeted article – Newsweek giving credence to the possibility of life-beyond-death – my interest was piqued.

Most of the article cites what scientists are finding truly fascinating: human brain cells continue to function for hours after death. Scientists in no way argue that when a person is “dead” they may, in fact, be “mostly dead,” to borrow a term from The Princess Bride. They agree when a person dies, they’re dead. But this discovery of post-death brain activity intrigues them nonetheless.

Human consciousness is one of the “Achilles heels” of the psycho-physical/natural reductionist worldview (the argument for human existence being purely natural, void of anything supernatural, or outside empirical evidence – this worldview would include the disbelief in any form of an afterlife i.e. when we die, we cease to exist.)

No respected physicist/scientist on the planet claims to be able to define, much less explain, human consciousness & cognition. Presently, this remains beyond human explanation. No doubt, this is by God’s own design.

Citing “near death” experiences, the author writes,

[The scientific findings] seem to suggest that when our brains and bodies die, our conscious may not,…”

Indeed, according to God, they don’t. “People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” the author of Hebrews warned. That does not sound to me like, after death, we cease to exist.

Of course, those who would scoff at this biblical warning are wagering there is nothing beyond death.  This, in my opinion, is a bad bet.

I’ve included for you here the final 4 paragraphs of the Newsweek article – which I find the most interesting part of the piece. (The article in its entirety is linked below.)

“In a 2016 study published in the Canadian Journal of Biological Sciences, doctors recounted shutting off life support for four terminally ill patients, only to have one of the patients continue emitting delta wave bursts—the measurable electrical activity in the brain we normally experience during deep sleep—for more than 10 minutes after the patient had been pronounced dead; no pupil dilation, no pulse, no heartbeat. The authors were at a loss for a physiological explanation.

Parnia’s research (Dr. Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at New York University Langone Medical Center) has shown that people who survive medical death frequently report experiences that share similar themes: bright lights; benevolent guiding figures; relief from physical pain and a deeply felt sensation of peace. Because those experiences are subjective, it’s possible to chalk them up to hallucinations. Where that explanation fails, though, is among the patients who have died on an operating table or crash cart and reported watching—from a corner of the room, from above—as doctors tried to save them, accounts subsequently verified by the (very perplexed) doctors themselves.

How these patients were able to describe objective events that took place while they were dead, we’re not exactly sure, just as we’re not exactly sure why certain parts of us appear to withstand death even as it takes hold of everything else. But it does seem to suggest that when our brains and bodies die, our consciousness may not, or at least not right away.

“I don’t mean that people have their eyes open or that their brain’s working after they die,” Parnia said. “That petrifies people. I’m saying we have a consciousness that makes up who we are—our selves, thoughts, feelings, emotions—and that entity, it seems, does not become annihilated just because we’ve crossed the threshold of death; it appears to keep functioning and not dissipate. How long it lingers, we can’t say.”

Read the entire article here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick