The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Is there a scientific study of life after death?  (Read 17126 times)

Offline DERYN

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 25
    • View Profile
Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« on: 28/01/2010 09:11:01 »
Probably an old topic BUT, as I get older I find myself thinking a little more about the possibility of life after death. Not my material body, but perhaps some form of energy or consciousness. Is there a recognized science that deals with this topic OR is it viewed with too much skepticism by the sciences ?

DERYN
« Last Edit: 09/02/2010 10:10:10 by BenV »


 

Offline Don_1

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6890
  • Thanked: 7 times
  • A stupid comment for every occasion.
    • View Profile
    • Knight Light Haulage
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #1 on: 28/01/2010 09:56:48 »
The way I see it is this: If there is some sort of afterlife, why hasn't someone who passionately wants to prove it to the rest of us, presented themself to a television studio to demonstrate the fact, after they have died?
 

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #2 on: 28/01/2010 10:59:26 »
There are many scientists who believe in an afterlife (though I'm not one of them) and because it is usually defined as being a non-testable hypothesis, it is really outside the realm of science to be able to influence such a belief system. You can also redefine the words to mean that you live on after death in the ways you have altered the world by your presence, though this does not give as much comfort.
 

Offline DERYN

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 25
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #3 on: 28/01/2010 11:24:43 »
Ah yes, I guess the fact that you cannot test something and get tangible results makes it difficult to prove anything relating to life after death.

And yes, I guess as long as we have relatives or depending on our impression on history, we might live on in that sense.

From a physical sense I think some people may have a problem with experiencing the world through our senses and THEN coming to terms that after death, well, zilch ! nothing ! Out of this comes a longing for something to put into that black void, an afterlife, a heaven even. At the point of death the 'soul' parts from the body and it is the soul that lives on.

But I was wondering if there had been any scientific 'theories' that might suggest an energy apart from the human body ? An energy that occupies the living body until the body expires ? I know it may be difficult/impossible to test with results but maybe there have been scientific theories ? The only test I am aware of that could be deemed as scientific was the weighing of the body before and after death. Okay I'm not suggesting for one moment that I find this test viable but it does suggest that people do think about life/experience after death and they are thinking of ways to either prove or disprove it.

Any thoughts ?

DERYN
 

Offline lightarrow

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4586
  • Thanked: 7 times
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #4 on: 28/01/2010 14:27:18 »
The way I see it is this: If there is some sort of afterlife, why hasn't someone who passionately wants to prove it to the rest of us, presented themself to a television studio to demonstrate the fact, after they have died?
That's correct. But I wonder: let's say that this happens, how would he communicate with us? And if he does it, will we understand or believe his message?
 

Offline DERYN

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 25
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #5 on: 28/01/2010 19:02:41 »
I would assume that if communication was possible after death then with the millions/billions of people who have already died it would have happened by now. Maybe communication has been attempted by dead people but by means we can't understand ? Like the continued search for a message from ET by SETI. If aliens were to attempt to contact us would we realise it if they were to communicate in ways we don't understand ?

DERYN
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1451
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #6 on: 29/01/2010 05:00:52 »
Well if the aliens were smart they would send a signal that we definitely could understand, regardless of language etc. Like something to do with maths, like the number Pi to so many decimal places that it would be impossible that the signal occured by natural means, or a series of prime numbers or something.

But anyway the thought that there might be an afterlife is just a fantasy that we have, because it would be awesome if it were true, after all most people don't want their life/experience to ever come to an end.

And indeed it is an untestable hypothesis, and it can't be disproven anymore than we can't disprove that the universe was created by a flying spaghetti monster, or that the reason for gravity is that undetectable fairies are constantly pushing mass together.

But scientifically thinking, there's no reason to actually propose either hypothesis in the first place. Reality doesn't care what we want it to be.

So to answer the question no, it isn't science. Science deals with the physical universe, and if you would like to believe something exists outside of the universe then fair enough, but there's no rational reason to.
« Last Edit: 29/01/2010 05:07:23 by Madidus_Scientia »
 

Offline DERYN

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 25
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #7 on: 29/01/2010 09:09:37 »
thanks everyone

I'm not so sure about 'rational' ? I think in some instances rational only limits our thinking and limits possibilities. - Let's propel men into the sky sitting on what is potentially a bomb, send them into orbit around the earth, fire them off into space, land them on the moon where they can get out of their module for a walk and a drive around, then get them safely back to earth in one piece !-
How irrational would that have sounded not too many years ago ?

Okay science deals with the physical universe. After death the body either decomposes or is incinerated and remains in the physical world. BUT if I believe that some sort of energy exists in all humans, in all life itself, that is apart from what we can normally see, touch, smell, taste, and which cannot be scientifically tested by what means we have available to us at this moment in time . . . what does that make me, irrational ? nah, probably 'nuts' you would say.

Hopefully you won't think I'm nut's but I do think this subject belongs in the realms of 'future' science and should not just be filed in the 'religion' box. I'm sitting here with waves from across the universe bouncing off my ceiling, floors, walls, my head ! . . . yes I know you can't see them, but we can prove they are there by scientific means we now have available to us.

Okay I'm nuts  :P

DERYN 
 

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #8 on: 29/01/2010 13:00:06 »
This "energy" would have to be something different from what we currently define as energy. Call it phlig. And phlig is something that you reckon cannot be sensed in any way?! As I said, this is not anything that can be understood by science and, as far as I can see, in any rational way. By defining something this way, anything is possible. It seems equally likely that after death we all turn into monkeys on another planet; but monkeys with no memory of their previous life.

I cannot understand the need to imagine a life after death except in that people do not want to think of themselves as gone and no longer being part of existence. Why is it so hard to perceive of how the world was before one was born. The world may have been changed slightly by one's existence, but generally it will continue in the same general way as it would have anyway. We have no memory, or any other interaction, with the world (or any other world as far as we know, with monkeys or not) before we were born and will not have after. All life, bacteria to humanity, is a continuum of ability, intelligence etc. and, unless it is believed that humans are somehow special and outside of normal evolution, it would mean that "afterlife" should include other species. But going down the evolutionary ladder shows that there is probably no difference between what we call life and what is some form of self-replicating chemical. So do these chemical's have an afterlife too?
 

Offline DERYN

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 25
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #9 on: 29/01/2010 15:57:23 »
Sorry guys, can't do boxes !

‘It seems equally likely that after death we all turn into monkeys on another planet; but monkeys with no memory of their previous life.’

Now you are taking for granted that these monkeys would have no memory of their time as a human on earth.  Here on earth we wouldn’t know that would we ?

‘ Why is it so hard to perceive of how the world was before one was born.’

You are correct. We have no memory of an existence before birth, but then I’m not saying we would have a memory of our earthly human existence after death. I am theorizing that MAYBE an energy of some sort continues after our death. And yes maybe this energy exists in ALL forms of reproducing life ?

‘From a godless perspective (ie, scientifically), for nearly all religions, an "afterlife" has some sort of "reward" for "proper behavior" in the present world. ‘

And you are correct. Though not many religions that I am aware of promote ‘proper behaviour’ in return for a reward in an afterlife. Yes the biggie is Christianity. In other religions you may return back to earth as a fish or a goat . . . in other religions whether you’ve been good OR bad your ‘spirit’ travels on to the spirit world after death. Or your energy returns to the cosmos from which it came.

In a way I’m sorry to have brought this subject up as there appears to be no scientific reason to believe other than, after death there is nothing. Okay you may become a worm feast or a cloud of smoke but other than that . . . Still I’m not proposing we fly off somewhere to become some sort of human in spirit form. I’m just hoping I guess that there is an energy that drives the universe which we are very much a part of. And after our earthly existence, consciously or not, we remain a part of that energy.

Now you guys have been kind and put up with me so I must think of a more scientific question next time.

DERYN
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1451
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #10 on: 30/01/2010 08:19:16 »
Quote
BUT if I believe that some sort of energy exists in all humans, in all life itself, that is apart from what we can normally see, touch, smell, taste, and which cannot be scientifically tested by what means we have available to us at this moment in time . . . what does that make me, irrational ?

Well, if you've observed some phenomenon that warrants you to come up with this hypothesis in order to explain it, then it might be rational, but the reason it isn't rational is because there's no need for this explanation.

It's like if I said I believed that the cause of gravity is that undetectable fairies are always pushing mass together. What evidence causes me to come up with the idea that it's fairies that do it? Why not gremlins? Why do I say they push and not pull? The entire hypothesis is based on nothing but my own fantasy.
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #11 on: 30/01/2010 22:56:21 »
From a godless perspective (ie, scientifically), for nearly.....

I don't think it's legitimate, or fair, to equate godlessness with science. That seems to presuppose that science is incompatible with the existence of gods. Science cannot possibly prove gods don't exist. Science has to accept evidence of gods. You can't blame science for a lack of evidence.
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11978
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #12 on: 30/01/2010 23:08:57 »
I'm leaning towards your idea Derin :)

But maybe a little different, I think we all in a way is figments of the universe :) We all see ourselves as defined entities, each one with his own unique taste (Hey how many can there be:). But I've had personal experiences of someone just watching inside my own mind :)

And it's me, but without an ego, and without my emotions, something intensely curious but detached lending my senses sort of. Weird, ain't it :) And no, not on drugs of any kind. I'm an allergic to them :)

And this watcher to me seems to be what made this world up, or possibly at least found it existing. Like some folk love those soap-operas :)

And life primary directive as I see it is to create life. It doesn't give a f* about good and evil, emotions or ethics. It just produces more life. Which makes us unique and well worth watching if we succeed to create new imperatives.

And in that motto I think we all are a part of that watching and when we 'die' we still are there, as we always have been, 'watching'. But it's no one you 'know' as you live, and very difficult to relate too.

sounds a little schizo, right :)
What can I say, I did meet this 'guy' and recognized 'him' on some strange plane.

It may also be so that we all can reconstruct our life's after our expectations as the Tibetan book of death and 'bardo' seems to claim, don't know there. But I'm pretty sure our identities as we see ourselves here on living ends with our death. And little or more probably nothing will exist of that afterwards.

Which gives a simple explanation to why nobody 'comes forth' with evidence after 'death'. It's us thinking that way, not what waits.
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #13 on: 30/01/2010 23:28:41 »
If I could remember anything about the sixties, I'm sure I'd be having flashbacks.
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11978
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #14 on: 30/01/2010 23:36:10 »
The sixties reviewed :)
No drugs needed..

Hell, the sixties was a time of optimism Geezer.
but what I'm talking about don't give a s* about anything what I, or you, may deem as 'important'.

As I felt it, it just 'watched' impartially, not getting involved at all.
Strange stuff, right :)
==

The sixties revived?
Not really.

To bleak a vision Geezer.
« Last Edit: 30/01/2010 23:41:36 by yor_on »
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1451
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #15 on: 31/01/2010 02:00:25 »
But I've had personal experiences of someone just watching inside my own mind :)

And it's me, but without an ego, and without my emotions, something intensely curious but detached lending my senses sort of. Weird, ain't it :) And no, not on drugs of any kind. I'm an allergic to them :)

The human mind is fallable whether we are on drugs or not (your brain makes it's own drugs). When I was younger, my mother was telling me a story about something I once did, I couldn't remember it at first, but then as she explained more I did remember, the images of the event all came flooding back as she explained it.
Later on however, it was revealed that she was completely confused, and was talking about my older brother (we look incredibly alike if you compare photos when we're at the same age), not me. In fact, I could not have even been born yet at the time she was talking about.

So I had a false memory, my mind completely fabricated an experience from nothing. Even though I knew I had the memory, feeling something, knowing something is no proof. Your brain is just a biochemical machine, and things may missfire sometimes. Actually it's amazing they stay as sane as they do.

I bet if you sat there and tried and tried to get that feeling again of some other entity sharing your senses, you might actually trick yourself into believing you've experienced it again. It's just a feeling though, how do you even know you're interpreting it correctly? If you blindfold someone and tell them you're about to cut their arm, then touch something hot on their skin for an instant, they will believe they've been cut, even though there's actually no real damage to them at all. So even real tangible feelings can be misinterpreted. And look at optical illusions, your senses will tell you something is happening that actually is not. So it's easy to see how there can be illusions within what you are feeling.
« Last Edit: 31/01/2010 02:10:37 by Madidus_Scientia »
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11978
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #16 on: 31/01/2010 02:30:31 »
It's possible Madidus. I'm not saying it was real, but it was a revelation to me at least :)

And if I would expect something after death, that is what I would expect. Not any God caring for us, sharing our 'values'. Or creating us in his/her shape. If SpaceTime is a closed bubble then what we call 'life' might be a very specialized phenomena. And what we call 'ethics' maybe even stranger, as it is something we have created without any real reference to how life works biologically.

So it made sort of sense to me :)
But I'm sort of  a logical uncureable romantic, whatever that is ::))
A contradiction in terms?

Anyway, that kind of 'entity' would at least make some sense. And also explain why we can't see any proofs of life after death. In that case it would be two different value sets colliding. The one we have here, against 'whatever' it would be after death. I'm not even thinking that individuality as we perceive it would exist, if so.

Doesn't mean that I can prove it, more than I say that I remember experiencing it :)

It's like everything else in life, you make your priorities, depending on your situation/circumstances, and then you try for it. And your beliefs will be your own, no matter how many you expect yourself to 'share' them with. And if you really 'sit down' to discuss your beliefs with people you think might have the same belief :)

Well, you might be surprised over their appearant misapprehensions :) ah, according to you that is, and the more sure you are about your own beliefs the more wrong they will be, of course ::))

So yeah, I'm not sure at all, it just made some sense to me..



 

Offline francogrex

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #17 on: 14/09/2011 23:07:39 »
Probably an old topic BUT, as I get older I find myself thinking a little more about the possibility of life after death. Not my material body, but perhaps some form of energy or consciousness. Is there a recognized science that deals with this topic OR is it viewed with too much skepticism by the sciences ?

DERYN

I was querying and found this topic from about a year ago. Interesting question but not yet answered in statisfactory manner by any of those who replied. As far as I know there are 2 "semi" scientific research lines for the study of "life" after death. 1) the "near-death" experience phenomenom, and most interesting to me is 2) the research on reincarnation by Dr. Ian Stevenson a well known  biochemist and psychiatrist who had worked at the University of Virginia.
 

Offline damocles

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 756
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #18 on: 15/09/2011 00:51:58 »
... like the number Pi to so many decimal places that it would be impossible that the signal occured by natural means...

But the Arcturians have seven fingers on each of their seven hands, and their continuing transmissions of Pi to 7^7 heptimal places have never been seen as anything but noise!

 ;)
 

Offline damocles

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 756
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #19 on: 15/09/2011 01:14:30 »
It has always seemed to me that the strongest argument against reincarnation is largely a logical one.

About half the humans who have ever lived are alive today. This makes for two possibilities:

(1) Two separate categories of humans: those who are alive with fresh souls, and those who are alive with recycled souls.

OR

(2) Bifurcation of souls after death so that the same soul can be passed on to more than one new human.

Either of these possibilities appears to be strongly challenged by Ockham's razor. But there are more important implications.
In the first case, the clinical records of those who practice hypnotic pre-birth regression should indicate roughly the same numbers of total failures as successes. This does not appear to be the case.
In the second case, there is the possibility for everyone to find a "soul mate" in a different sense to that usually intended. But there have not been any widely reported instances of such discoveries.

Of course this argument does not apply if human/animal soul migration could be involved in the reincarnation, but in that case the most likely reincarnation for most of us would be as a microbe, and that would not be a particularly interesting afterlife I do not think!
 

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #20 on: 15/09/2011 13:05:48 »
I'm sorry to divert but I'm reminded one of the excellent Alan Bleasdale's plays, "GBH", in which his pathologically nervous hero (played by Michael Palin) is thinking about reincarnation. He says he would like to come back as a West Indian fast bowler but would probably end up coming back as a bl**dy tulip.

I couldn't find a quote but I think that's approximately right.
 

Offline jamessmmarshall

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #21 on: 09/11/2011 16:21:16 »
Mankind is made of Energy and after death its converts in energies other form.Science is trying to learn about life after death.ther are some books and videos are available on this topic.You can prefer video "Spiritual reality" it is best video on this.   
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #22 on: 11/11/2011 07:22:14 »
As far as scientific studies....  You might read about Duncan MacDougall and the weight of the soul.

However, I think it is largely believed there is an error in his calculations.

The problem with "near death experiences" is that it is impossible to separate the actual events from contamination...  lights, hospitals, perhaps random neural firing (like seeing stars in the eyes), friends, dreams, etc...  as well as contamination of expectations.

-------------------------

My belief is that your "afterlife" is what you leave behind for posterity.  Friends, family, what you've taught people, love, etc...  The impact that you as an individual had on the world.
 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8645
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #23 on: 11/11/2011 18:39:01 »
There is no scientific evidence of life after death, so what could the scientist study?
 

Offline damocles

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 756
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #24 on: 11/11/2011 19:38:04 »
There is no scientific evidence of life after death, so what could the scientist study?

The scientist could study claims of life after death -- the subset of them that involve some sort of physical manifestation:
  • the activities of alleged ghosts/poltergeists
  • the activities of spiritualist mediums
  • the activities of pre-birth regression hypnotherapists

In general, though, stage magicians with a little background in science and scientific method  are better at studying these phenomena than scientists. Scientists are not used to dealing with experimental systems that deliberately try to deceive them.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Is there a scientific study of life after death?
« Reply #24 on: 11/11/2011 19:38:04 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums