Is there an after-life? What happens when we die? These are questions which have eluded the greatest minds of our species. It's an almost unanswerable question which plays upon our anxieties as beings with only a limited time on this mortal coil.
But maybe there is an answer?
Science Attempts to Tackle "Life After Death"
The largest ever scientific study into the matter of life after death has recently concluded that 'out of body' experiences and similar 'post-death phenomena' might actually be real. This therefore suggests that humans may have some kind of consciousness even when their heart has ceased to function.
According to The Independent, a team based in the UK has spent the last four years interviewing cardiac arrest patients who subsequently survived their ordeal. Of the 2,060 patients interviewed, 40% reported having some kind of 'awareness' even when they were declared clinically dead.
Currently, it is believed the brain shuts down 20 to 30 seconds after heart failure, theoretically putting a rather strict limit on any kind of awareness a dying person could have. Furthermore, claims of 'out of body' experiences are usually dismissed as hallucinations experienced by the brain before shut down.
However, this new research suggests dying people may retain some kind of consciousness for much longer than previously thought.
Much of the evidence for the study appears to rest on a particular case of one cardiac arrest survivor. He told interviewers that he was apparently aware of his surroundings for up to three minutes after his heart failed.
The lead researcher, Dr. Sam Parnia, an assistant professor at the State University of New York and a former research fellow at the University of Southampton, claimed the man gave a "very credible" account of what was going on while doctors and nurses attempted to resuscitate him. Even more bizarrely, he claimed to have observed this activity from the corner of the room. Dr. Parnia explained:
We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating. But in this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes. The man described everything that had happened in the room, but importantly, he heard two bleeps from a machine that makes a noise at three minute intervals. So we could time how long the experienced lasted for. He seemed very credible and everything that he said had happened to him had actually happened.
Of course, this one relatively anecdotal piece of evidence is hardly enough to prove the existence of an afterlife, although Dr. Parnia does believe it means the field warrants more research. He states “the recalled experience surrounding death now merits further genuine investigation without prejudice.”
Dr. Jerry Nolan, editor-in-chief of Resuscitation, the medical journal which published the study, also felt it could be the launch pad for further research. He claimed:
The researchers are to be congratulated on the completion of a fascinating study that will open the door to more extensive research into what happens when we die.
What do you think? Does this prove 'out of body experiences' are real? Could it even mean there is an afterlife? Gives us your opinions below.
Do you believe in an afterlife?