Common scientific basis to afterlife reports?
Oct 21, 1998 05:20 AM
by Peter Novak
Has modern science finally arrived at the underlying mechanics of Life
After Death reports? It now seems possible, perhaps even likely, that
Near-Death Experiences, Past-Life memories, and reports of ghosts &
apparitions may all be related, all the explainable and predictable
effects of a single, scientifically definable "Life After Death"
A great wealth of evidence, both scientific (sociological,
psychological, and archaeological) and scriptural
(compiled from sacred religious texts from cultures all
across the world), seems to offer compelling testimony
for a new, scientifically-based vision of Life After Death.
The Binary Soul Hypothesis
The ancients believed, as modern psychology teaches, that the human
SELF is composed of a fundamental duality.
Whether one calls the two parts of that duality a "conscious" and an
"unconscious", or "the head" and "the heart", or (as in ancient China)
a p'o and a hun, or (as in ancient Greece) a thymos and a psyche, or
(ancient Egypt) a ba and a ka, or (ancient Persia) an urvan and
a fravashi, or (ancient India) an asu and a manas, or (ancient Hawaii)
the uhane and unihipili souls, or (ancient Israel) a soul and a spirit,
humans have always and everywhere seen themselves as possessing
two distinct and separate non-material psychic components.
Like that ancient SELF described in so many cultures, modern science has
in this century also discovered that our mind is composed of two parts -
one conscious and one unconscious. And modern science's description
of the characteristics of those two parts is (surprise!) virtually
identical to how those ancient cultures used to describe the two parts.
Traditions about a Binary Soul Dividing at Death
Many ancient peoples (including Greece, Egypt, Persia, China, Hawaii,
Israel, native Americans, and other cultures) all believed that these
two parts separated from one another at death; most of these cultures
believed that one of their two parts would become trapped in some sort
of semi-conscious, dreamlike netherworld (a heaven/hell type scenario),
while the other part slipped away freely. Some of these ancient cultures
believed that this second part of the binary soul went on to
What is particularly interesting about this is that :
(A) These ancient cultures described the functions and characteristics
of the two parts in terms virtually identical to how modern
psychologists describe the functions and characteristics of the
conscious and unconscious alves of the human psyche.
(B) If one then asks what would happen if the two halves of the human
psyche survived the death of the physical body, but divided from one
another in the process, one finds that the unconscious would seem to
become trapped in a self-induced dreamlike netherworld, while
the other would loses its memory and sense of identity but remain free
to go on to have new experiences, as in the tradition of reincarnation.
I go into detail about the mechanics of this process at my website:
(C) The Bible, as well as many other ancient scriptures, includes
literally hundreds of passages supporting such a soul/spirit division
concept (although few have noticed this relationship):
"The word of God is living and active
and stronger than any two-edged sword,
and cuts so deeply it divides the soul from the spirit..."
- Hebrews 4:12
This Division Would Hide Itself
What is particularly interesting is that such a division, if indeed it
did occur, would naturally hide itself . If such a division did occur,
no one would be likely to report the division itself, but only the
aftereffects of the division; the division itself could only be
discovered through deductive reasoning.
If such a division occurred, there would be few or no reports of the
division itself . Instead, there would be two seemingly contradictory
traditions of the afterlife: (1) a dreamlike netherworld, and
No one would report the division itself because after the division,
neither side of the mind would be aware that any such division had
occurred at all. Each side of the mind would be prevented from arriving
at this realization, because after the division, each side of the mind
would be crippled, because each would then lack the mental capacities
of the opposite side of the mind:
If the conscious and unconscious split apart, each side would report
the very afterlife experiences we have seen come down through history,
and which continue to be reported today. The afterlife experience of
the conscious mind would reflect the traditional reincarnation scenario,
while the afterlife experience of the unconscious would reflect the
traditional heaven/hell netherworld scenario.
As has happened for thousands of years, each is still being actively
reported today, in NDEs and Past-Life memories. For the last 20 years,
science has researched these phenomena, and this research has produced
yet further evidence supporting this "Division Theory".
The Hidden Evidence for DivisionTheory
When subjects are regressed in their memories to a point in time in-
between lives, they report an afterlife scenario dramatically unlike
that reported by NDE subjects. In-between lives, they report possessing
no memories or emotions, just calmly floating in a tranquil nothingness.
They don't recall their own names, or having ever lived any previous
lives, or having ever been anywhere else besides that nothingness they
are experiencing at that very moment. This contrasts sharply with the
scenario described by NDE subjects, who report undergoing profound
memory- reviews - confrontations with their memories of their past-life-
after which they visit emotionally-intense heavens or hells populated by
any number of other people. NDE subjects do often report a similar
episode during their experiences, in which they seem to temporarily
"lose track" of their own emotional state, during the first few moments
of an NDE. But shortly after they begin the subsequent events (traveling
through the tunnel, experiencing the memory-review, etc), they again
report having vivid, intense emotions.
From Psychology to Archaeology to Sociology:
The Accumulating Evidence for DivisionTheory
This century has brought many discoveries which stand as evidence
(1) the psychological discovery that the human mind is naturally
divided into two halves, and the discoveries that each half possesses
unique traits and characteristics
(2) the DivisionTheory discovery that, if the mind was to survive death,
but divided apart in the process, those innate scientific
characteristics of those two halves, the conscious and the unconscious,
would cause them to neatly reproduce humanity's two classic afterlife
scenarios (the conscious would lose its memory but remain free to go on
to new experiences, i.e., reincarnate, while the unconscious would
become trapped in a dreamworld created out of its own reactions to its
own memories, i.e., a memory- review, a judgment, and then heaven or
(2) the archaeological discovery, in the Nag Hammadi scriptures, that
the afterlife theology of the early Christian church originally focused
on such a division of two halves of a person's spiritual self, and
(3) the historic discovery that the ancient religions of Hawaii, Egypt,
Greece, China, Persia, and many other cultures also focused on such a
(4) the sociological phenomenon that subjects hypnotically regressed in
their memories to a point in time in-between past lifetimes (as during
Past- Life Regression) consistently describe floating calmly in
nothingness, feeling no emotions, recalling no memories, and possessing
no sense of identity, and
(5) the sociological phenomenon that people describing Near-Death
experiences frequently report experiencing a similar, but temporary loss
of feelings and emotions (this occurs immediately after leaving their
bodies, but before they travel very far away from that body, and their
sense of experiencing emotions returns shortly thereafter), and
(6) the sociological phenomenon that modern exorcists consistently
describe the devils and demons they encounter as possessing a single
identity, but being at the same time composed of innumerable separate
Does this constitute final, definitive, conclusive proof of Division
Theory? No. But DivisionTheory does explain ALL the phenomena
being reported, up to and including the peculiar memory- and
emotion-loses being reported by NDE and past-Life Regression subjects.
DivisionTheory suggests that NDE subjects report the afterlife
experience of the unconscious (the soul), while the Past-Life Regression
group reports the afterlife experience of the conscious (the spirit).
But neither side, neither conscious nor unconscious, would report the
division itself at all. There could be no direct eye-witness reporting
of such an event. Neither part would be aware such a division had
* The conscious would not remember the division.
Memory is stored in the unconscious.
* The unconscious would not be able to figure out that
the division had occurred, because, having lost the
conscious mind with its rational intellect, it could
no longer objectively figure out anything. It would
be as unable to discern logical conflicts and
irrationalities as the mind is during dreams.
This would explain why the reports of heaven/hell netherworlds and the
reports of reincarnation both continued through the ages, keeping both
legends alive, but the reports of the division itself got lost in the
confusion during the cultural turmoil of the Dark Ages. After the Dark
Ages, the division was no longer understood. Nor was the distinction
between the soul and spirit comprehended, and they became thought
of as interchangeable terms for the same thing, whereas in the original
texts of many many cultures, the two were clearly presented as separate
and distinct components of the human spiritual economy.
I have established a website, on this idea, which I invite interested
parties to explore. I find it endlessly fascinating how the ancient
beliefs dovetail with modern science via DivisionTheory. The website-
goes into some detail on this. The Bible, and the scriptures of many
many other cultures, differentiated between soul and spirit, and clearly
stated that they could, and often did, divide apart.
Given that, we must ask, what part of "ME" is the soul, and what part
is the spirit? If we do divide apart, this question becomes crucial -
are they parts I will miss much?
The ancient cultures speak of these two parts in the same way modern
science speaks of the conscious and unconscious. If the spirit splits
away at death, and the spirit is in fact our conscious mind, death
suddenly become far less hopeful a place than merely the reincarnation
scenario of the East or the heaven/hell of the West. Instead, we are
split apart, losing our very SELFhood.
This rings true in my ears. When something deteriorates, it breaks down
into its constituent components. Perhaps the mind does as well. Perhaps
this explains whay so many ancient religions focused so strongly on the
importance of INTEGRITY.
Does psychological integrity after death result from moral integrity
Again, an argument quickly presents itself that this may be so.
- Peter Novak
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