10 Ways Science Explains Life After Death Phenomenon

10 Ways Science Explains Life After Death Phenomenon

What happens to you after you die? That is one of life’s biggest questions. For millennia, humans have been trying to solve that problem through a variety of different ways. From philosophy to science, the question of life and death has pervaded a significant amount of important work either directly or indirectly.

Unfortunately, there are no answers to the question of life after death. Even after all of this time, scientists are only beginning to fully understand the process of death itself. Old tropes talk of the moment of death as though it is a singular point in time or the period at the end of the sentence of life. But, just as life is a complicated series of processes and events, death cannot be broken down to a split second when life ends.

From studies surrounding consciousness to tales of near death experiences, humans have been exploring these concepts for centuries. Recently, new breakthroughs in resuscitation science have some information about what happens to a person in the first few minutes after they die. This research is of hallmark importance; however, not all of it can be proven to be objective fact.

Much of what life after death means comes down to the kind of life you describe. Life, as a biological process, will end. Cells die and are immediately broken down. That much about death is clear. But things like behaviors, traits and likenesses live on through our offspring. Whether it is by genes or by learned behaviors, some part of many people lives on through their children long after they die.

Science cannot explain the phenomenon of life after death as it presently stands, but here are ten ways that it can try:

  1. Death Is Not an Event

Death is not an event? This looks eventful.
Death is not an event? This looks eventful.

The moment that your heart beats for the last time or the moment you take your last breath is not the moment of your death. Death continues to be a mysterious process for those with a career in science, and for those who ponder their own mortality.

The fact that death is not a fleeting moment is demonstrated by the rare confusion that some people face regarding whether or not a person is really dead. Most people have heard the stories about someone who was declared dead but seemed to magically wake up at their funeral.

Despite so many medical advancements and technologies, people still make mistakes about who is dead and who is not. A 91 year old Polish woman recently scared the life out of some morticians after she woke up in a morgue 11 hours after being declared dead. The mortician discovered that there was movement in the body bag and when it was opened, the poor woman was not only alive but quite healthy.

A similar situation happened in Kenya in 2014. A young man was declared to be dead after he ingested insecticide. Although the doctors had tried to save him, they believed that the cause was lost. But only 15 hours after being sent to the morgue, he woke up and frightened the technicians who were working near and around him.

Of course, some of these mistakes are the result of human error. After all, American coroners are not required to have medical degrees, and some conditions and medications do mimic death in a convincing manner.

Mistaking the living for the dead is a rare thing in modern society. It happens so rarely that if a mistake is made, the news makes headlines around the world.

Whether the mistake is made by an elected official or a trained medical professional, it opens up a necessary discussion about how complicated the processes of death and dying really are.

  1. The Brain Cannot Function When the Heart Stops Beating

Where there's no oxygen the brain gets funky.
Where there’s no oxygen the brain gets funky.

Dying is not an instantaneous process. Although it was thought to be a simple process in which a person stops breathing oxygen and supporting brain function, it is much more complex than this. Dying does not just happen. It is something that happens over an entire lifetime. The final process itself is something that happens over several hours and some doctors believe that it is reversible.

Scientists know very little about what happens when a person dies. This is partly because it is such a complex question and partly because few researchers actually participate in discussions surrounding the subject. Many of the hard sciences like chemistry have supported the idea that there is only one objective in reality and anything that is subjective is not considered to be a fact. As a result, scientists veer away from the subject of life after death, despite its existential value.

What science does know is that the brain needs oxygen to function; it relies on the heart and the cardiovascular system to take in oxygen, filter it and pass it to the brain. Once the heart stops beating, the brain dies very quickly. In fact, it takes only 20 to 30 seconds for the brain to stop all function after the heart has stops beating. It only begins function again if the heart can be restarted.

  1. Some People Have Awareness Even After They Are Clinically Dead

Some people claim awareness even after clinical death. If they have a story about it clearly they didn't die.
Some people claim awareness even after clinical death. If they have a story about it clearly they didn’t die.

A recent study in resuscitation medicine surveyed 360 people who were able to be revived after suffering from cardiac arrest. These 360 people were found out of a group 2,000 patients from hospitals in America, Britain and Austria.

Out of these 360 people, only around 100 were well enough to be interviewed. Out of this group,  around 40 percent said that they had a kind of “awareness” even though their heart had stopped beating and their brains had stopped functioning. Of course, some scientists chalk this up to post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychiatric issues.

However, one case in particular stood out among the crowd. One of these 360 people could describe the exact events that followed his death. He told the researchers that while he was clinically dead, he kept hearing the beeping of a machine. The beeps went every three minutes and he heard two beeps from the machine. The exact detail with which he could describe the events that followed his death lead doctors to believe that his brain did not fully shut down, even though his heart stopped for several minutes.

Dr. Sam Parnia of the State University of New York at Stony Brook was the lead author of the study that published this miraculous case. Dr. Parnia suggested that man’s experience was paradoxical, but that it opened up new possibilities in medicine. He believes that it is possible that more people continue to have awareness after death. He believes that the majority of patients lose memory of consciousness as a result of the trauma or of the sedatives involved in reviving them.

  1. People May Have Different Levels of Consciousness After They Die

A significant percentage of people that have near death experience have out of body sensations.
A significant percentage of people that have near death experience have out of body sensations.

In the same study, Dr. Parnia noted that out of the 360 patients in the study, many of these patients recalled dramatically different experiences of their time after death. Out of all of the patients interviewed, 39 percent said that they had distinct feelings of consciousness but that they were unable to describe anything that happened to them or around them during the period when they were clinically dead.

About 46 percent of all of the patients interviewed said that they had some recollection of their near death experience; however, these memories do not fit in with the general knowledge about near-death experiences. Only 9 percent of the patients interviewed actually experienced the bright lights that are most commonly associated with a near death experience.

Many of the people with memories remembered feeling scared and persecuted while they were dead.

But people’s experiences varied widely. Some people felt joyful while others described being enveloped a bright light. Some believed they had encountered a kind of mystical or mythical being. Only 13 percent of the people with these recollections felt as though they had been separated from their body.

The variety of experiences that patients in this study reported suggests that if there is life after death, or in this case, brain function after death, then this experience is vastly different for everyone.

There have been several reports in the media over the years of people who have come back from the edge at the last moment and claimed to have their lives flash before them. Some claim that they were taken in by a warm, brilliant light. While many of these reports are written off as hallucinations at best and outright lies at the worst, this new study provides some scientific merit to the experiences humans have encountered for years.

  1. Consciousness Cannot Be Proven by Science

Consciousness not proven by science. Is there any doubt?
Consciousness not proven by science. Is there any doubt?

Unfortunately, even after at least 2,000 years of trying to understand human consciousness, no one seems to have any real answers. The topic was first documented as being considered by the Greeks and thinkers around the world have been infatuated with the subject for years.

Consciousness cannot be proven. People can’t even think about their own consciousness. The main problem, so far, with the perception of consciousness is that people cannot even think of the questions to find the answers to.

Philosophers, psychoanalysts, doctors and learned people from all walks of life have made thousands of attempts to discover what it means to be conscious and how a person is conscious. Almost all people assume that we are conscious, but no one can prove it.

As a result, proving or disproving the reports given by the patients in Dr. Parnia’s study is impossible. Are they making them up? Are they merely tricks the brain plays to cover up the trauma? It remains impossible to tell.

As for the man who accurately described the scene after his death, that alone can finally justify further investigations into the problems of life and death.

  1. If We Are Conscious after Death, It Is Not Clear How Long This Consciousness Lasts

Many people believe our consciousness or soul lives on after death sometimes in the form of spooky ghosts
Many people believe our consciousness or soul lives on after death sometimes in the form of spooky ghosts

Assuming that the brain truly can live on after the death of the body, the next question is, how long can the brain function after death? The answer to that question makes a huge difference in many areas that are currently considered to be pseudo-science.

The belief in ghosts and spirits is one of the most common paranormal beliefs. The belief is spread around the world, regardless of education or religion. People from all walks of life claim not only claim to have seen or feel the presence of someone who is known to be dead but truly believe that this is the case.

Of course, the belief of ghosts and spirits has been capitalized on by media and Hollywood. But, the legend of a dead person’s spirit remaining among the living is an incredibly old one. If it was possible that consciousness, whatever it is, could continue even after the heart stops beating and the brain stops functioning, then the idea of ghosts is not as far-fetched as it once was.

  1. You Live On Through Your Genes

Science says you live on thru your genes.  The stuff this little is made of.
Science says you live on thru your genes. The stuff this little is made of.

Thinking about life after death is not limited purely to consciousness. People’s traits and personalities can live on long after they die through their genes. Genetic science, one of the harder sciences of the biological set and it is somewhat easier to experiment with than psychiatry or neuroscience because it does not require scientists to rely so much on people being truthful.

Many people know that their physical traits and abilities are often passed on to their children through their genes. Hair color, eye color, height and weight are all things that are established partly through the heredity of genes.

But it is not just physical features that live on through these genes. Some studies suggest that the trauma you experience can be passed on through your genes as well. Recent studies have suggested that Holocaust survivors’ genetics were affected by the indescribable trauma they suffered during the Second World War.

A new study was released by researchers at Mount Sinai hospital in New York. The study looked at the genetics of 32 Jewish men and women who had either experienced torture at a concentration camp or who had to go into hiding during WWII.

If it is true, the process of passing on trauma through genes is called epigenetic inheritance. This is the idea that your lifestyle can go on to affect the genetic disposition of any children you have. It can even potentially be passed on to grandchildren.

Epigenetic inheritance is very controversial within science but it has been studied in many areas. One study suggested that Dutch women who gave birth to girls during the famine that came at the end of WWII saw that these babies would grow up to have a higher than average risk of schizophrenia.

Although the details have not yet been determined, the idea does not sound preposterous. Accounts that deal with the survivors of the Armenian death marches in 1915 would suggest that not only were the traumas encountered suffered by those who lived through it, but subsequent generations of the survivors families would find that they suffered some of the same fears as their parents and grandparents did while living through the genocide during World War I.

  1. The Debate Between Nature and Nurture Has Not Yet Been Solved

Age old battle.
Age old battle.

The debate about the use of genetics in determining patterns in human behaviors has not been solved. Charles Darwin says that human behavior is the result of evolutionary processes that were created over time to help humans survive and adapt to new conditions. There is scientific evidence for his claims and he is known as the father of the debate on human nature.

Then, the glory years of psychiatry came along. Sigmund Freud, a definitive thinker at the time, said that human behavior is the product of nurture. His famous argument suggested that personalities, traits and behaviors were created in spite of and because of the way that children are treated by their parents, or their absentee parents.

The debate has raged on over the years and each side makes valid points, some of which can be validated scientifically. The importance of this debate does not necessarily lie in who is right and who is wrong. Instead, it is important that humans note that there are patterns in behavior. Whether someone is alcoholic because they were surrounded by alcoholic parents or because there is a predisposition in their genes, what scientists do know is that behaviors have a way of living on through children and grandchildren.

Whether a person has children of their own or adopts non-biological children, something of them will be passed on to their children and live on long after they are dead.

If you think that you can drink because you’re Irish or that you are loud because you are Italian then you have bought into a cultural norm that persists through either nature or nurture or perhaps even a combination of the two.

  1. There Is No Proof That There Is Life after Death

Here's proof! A picture of the pearly gates and cows.  Cause heaven has ice cream duh. And without cows no ice cream!
Here’s proof! A picture of the pearly gates and cows. Cause heaven has ice cream, duh. And without cows no ice cream!

One of the biggest reasons that science has not prepared itself to truly explore the phenomenon of life after death is because there is no proof that there is life after death. There is no proof that the soul exists and there is no proof regarding the parameters of consciousness. Because there is no conclusive proof, many people walk away from it scientifically because they believe it to be fruitless.

  1. There Is No Proof That There Is No Life after Death

Proving a negative is a heavy lift. All 10 reasons can't be gold.
Proving a negative is a heavy lift. All 10 reasons can’t be gold.

But at the end of the day, even though there is no proof of life after death, there is no proof that there is not life after death either. The entire concept is a mysterious subject. So many psychological signs point to the idea that there may be life after we pass on but none of these pass onto the physical.

The intense desire to find out what happens to people after they die is one that has gone for as long as the world has had written sources. For thousands of years, people have been asking the same questions about the afterlife. Religion has created all kinds of different possibilities. The monotheistic Abrahamic religions have one idea while pagan traditions have more than one. Regardless of the belief system in place, one thing is clear: it is a subject that everyone wants to be better informed in.

If the conscious exists, the drive to discover the keys to death and life are possibly a reflection of the potential to live on after we die. Some psychologists would say that this fear is the fear of the unknown but this is a superficial stance to take on the matter. It is possible to assume that these driving forces come from a knowledge somewhere within consciousness that people do live on after they die. Either way, if this is not true, no one can prove it.


Life after death has fascinated people from all corners of the globe for thousands of years. For the last few hundred years, science has written off the concept as a fantasy only for those who need religion and the idea of an afterlife to find meaning during their time on Earth.

But since the quantum revolution in science, the way science works has changed. Physics has taught scientists that not everything is quantifiable. The understanding that some scientists have that describable matter makes up only a small portion of the universe while dark matter makes up the rest has changed the way everyone looks at the scientific process.

While there is no definitive study that can tell anyone that there is life after death, some breakthroughs have been leading in that direction. Recent research in science has demonstrated that it is possible that brain function can continue after a person is clinically dead. Research in genetics has found that is possible to pass on your experiences to your children.

If you adjust your meaning of the words death and life, it seems as though science could provide an answer in the not so distant future. Sometimes the only proof you need is to have no proof at all.