Inquiry into sin and redemption, karmic retribution, heaven and hell, and journeys through other bodies such as those of animals has been a pressing concern for many centuries. Now, in modern secular society, the question of surviving the extinction of the physical body has been channelled into belief versus science. We don’t ask if God finds us worthy to go to heaven so much as how credible a near death experience might be according to the best research.
The scheme of belief versus science is something of a false divide. There has been credible research on reincarnation, which would surprise most people, including scientists. Pioneering studies have been conducted by Ian Stevenson, chairman of the psychiatry department, at the University of Virginia Medical School. He began investigating the phenomenon of young children who say they recall a past life. Hundreds of such cases were looked into with the aim of validating if the person they remembered being, actually existed.
Stevenson travelled the world, closely examining children’s memories and matching them to specific individuals, and not only were many validated, but some children even bore physical signs of injuries sustained when their previous incarnation died.
After Stevenson’s death, the research was continued by another University of Virginia psychiatrist, Jim Tucker, who presents some fascinating statistics in two books. In an online article that summarises some of the more startling numbers, he says:
Around 20% of young children claim to have memories of the time between death and birth.
60% of children who claim to remember past lives are male.
Roughly 70% of such children remember an unnatural or violent death.
The average time spent between lifetimes is 16 months.
Such reports occur in general in children between the ages of 2 and 6, after which the phenomenon of remembering a past life wanes.
There has been no serious questioning of the validity of this research, and Tucker explains reincarnation in terms of natural phenomena. “Quantum physics indicates that our physical world may grow out of our consciousness. That’s a view held not just by me but by a number of physicists as well.”
Without a doubt there’s a need in contemporary physics to account for consciousness in the universe. No physical explanation has been satisfactory in the past. People casually assume that as life evolved and became more complex, the primitive brains of lower species evolved into the massive brain of Homo sapiens. The physical evidence for that is unassailable. Yet, no one has described why and how any brain is related to the mind. Brain cells do nothing so different from any other cell that their activity should produce a three-dimensional world complete with sights and sounds from an organ the texture of cold oatmeal that is totally dark and silent inside.
(To be continued)