Quantum Consciousness and Life after Death

Introduction

What we typically find in the literature pertaining to the survival hypothesis is an accumulation of evidence, consisting largely of testimonial claims, descriptions of the methods of their verification, and associated conclusions. And the conclusion most often drawn is that the survival hypothesis is the best explanation. But while many scholars firmly contend to have compelling evidence to prove “life after death”, I often feel misled by the corresponding lack of scientifically derived justifiable evidence and associated rationale to support this astonishing determination. All too often, this is the case in topic areas associated with life after death research as evidenced by the extraordinary controversial conclusions made by many researchers. After all, skepticism is incorporated in the scientific method.

The scientific method integrates the observation of a phenomenon, the development of a hypothesis about the phenomenon, experimentation designed to demonstrate the truth (or not) of the hypothesis, and a conclusion that supports or amends the hypothesis.  That is, a hypothesis becomes a fact when confirmed by strict scientific standards, which is of course, subject to challenge.  So when we hear extraordinary claims of seeing and communicating with deceased relatives, having lived before this life, perceiving reality beyond the confines of one’s physical body, and experiencing another realm of existence during a period of no detectable brain activity, I say “great, prove it”. In other words, skeptical analysis of such claims serves as a necessary component to refining theories and initiating the continuation of related investigations to seek verification, or not, of experimental results and conclusions.

The application of the scientific method, however, is likely impossible to adequately apply to test if the survival hypothesis is true or not since it lacks tangible, objective based evidence to study. A reliable, widely accepted test that can yield persuasive evidence in support of either outcome simply does not exist; that is, science lacks the required methodology needed to evaluate the concept of life after death. Yet, despite these significant limitations, the reported anecdotal and experimental research findings addressed prior are regarded by many as compelling evidence in support of this concept.

All the theories that attempt to explain life after death can’t be correct and maybe they are all incorrect. But how do we know who and what to believe when the preponderance of evidence is hearsay, anecdotal, and lacking in hard, verifiable, undisputable facts?  The difficulty incurred from diverse opinions tend to leave us confused about who and what to believe. Much of this problem is struggling to filter sense from nonsense especially since skeptics often adopt the position that those who believe in immortality consider that because their claims have not been disproved. But while I take serious notice of the perspectives on life after death by prodigious minds, it is still a belief and not a conclusion formulated using scientific principles applied under well controlled experimental conditions. After all, the greatest intellects and spiritual leaders do not necessarily hold the truth on everything, especially something as elusive and seemingly impossible to prove as some form of conscious existence after death. Within this context, consider the perspectives held by some of the greatest minds of our times as follows:

Perspectives on Life after Death

“Quantum consciousness begins to dissipate into the cosmos as the quantum processes in the brain terminate, but it returns to the brain once the physical body is revived. The individual may recall an out-of-body experience, seeing their dead relatives, or walking towards a light or tunnel, as a result of quantum consciousness reentering the brain with new information.”                                                                          S. Hameroff, anesthesiologist

“Aspects of a personality might be able to survive bodily death and persist for a while as an enduring mental entity, existing somewhere in Descartes’ world of mental things, but capable on rare occasions of reconnecting with the physical world. Quantum mechanics would both allow our conscious efforts to influence our own bodily actions, and also allow certain purported phenomena such as “possession”, “mediumship”, and “reincarnation” to be reconciled with the basic precepts of contemporary physics.”                                                                                                                                                            H. Stapp, mathematical physicist

”Death “cannot exist in any real sense” … “when we die our life becomes a perennial flower that returns to bloom in the multiverse.”3                                                                                                                                         R. Lanza, physician and chief scientific officer at the Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“What we consider the here and now, this world, it is actually just the material level that is comprehensible. The beyond is an infinite reality that is much bigger which this world is rooted in. In this way, our lives in this plane of existence are encompassed, surrounded, by the afterworld already… The body dies but the spiritual quantum field continues. In this way, I am immortal.”4                                                     H.-Peter Dürr, physicist and former head of the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich.

“If we were to apply Occam’s Razor to the total set of data collected over the past hundred years, there is a straightforward hypothesis that is elegant in its simplicity. This is the simple hypothesis that consciousness continues after death. This hypothesis accounts for all the data.”5                                                                  G. Schwartz, psychologist

“I accept reincarnation as the best explanation for a case only after I have excluded all others–normal and paranormal. I conclude, however, that all the other interpretations may apply to a few cases, but to no more than a few. I believe, therefore, that reincarnation is the best explanation for the stronger cases.”6                                                                                                                                                                                           I. Stevenson, psychiatrist

“The soul takes nothing with her to the next world but her education and her culture. At the beginning of the journey to the next world, one’s education and culture can either provide the greatest assistance, or else act as the greatest burden, to the person who has just died.” Plato, philosopher and mathematician

“I believe that the soul of man is immortal and will be treated with justice in another life, respecting its conduct in this. “I look upon death to be as necessary to the constitution as sleep. We shall rise refreshed in the morning.”8   Ben Franklin, political theorist, politician, scientist, and inventor

“My life often seemed to me like a story that has no beginning and no end. I had the feeling that I was an historical fragment, an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing. I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer; that I had been born again because I had not fulfilled the task given to me.”8a                            Carl Jung, psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology

“I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence.”8b                                                                                              Socrates, one of the founders of Western philosophy

“Souls are poured from one into another of different kinds of bodies of the world.”8c                         Jesus Christ in Gnostic Gospels: Pistis Sophia, central figure of Christianity, whom the teachings of most Christian denominations hold to be the Son of God

”Immortality? There are two kinds. The first lives in the imagination of the people, and is thus an illusion. There is a relative immortality which may conserve the memory of an individual for some generations. But there is only one true immortality, on a cosmic scale, and that is the immortality of the cosmos itself. There is no other.”9                                                                                                                                                       Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist

”I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”10                                                                                                                                     Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist and director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge

“I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.”11                                                                                                                                                                                         C. Sagan, astrophysicist

“I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.” 7a                                                                                                                                                                                                    I. Asimov, author and professor of biochemistry

Super-ESP or Life after Death?

The survival hypothesis is primarily defended by the notion that consciousness can function while the body is clinically dead. And if consciousness is not of the body and of something else (e.g., Super-ESP), it is not surprising that some consider a form of mind– body dualism as authentic. This conclusion is based largely on the NDE evidence that involve veridical OBEs, i.e., lucid consciousness and perceptual capacities despite a severely compromised brain.12 According to the Super-ESP hypothesis, the primary argument against the survival hypothesis, during a conscious OBE, one’s telepathic ability enables the observation of events remote from the body. Extending this concept to the NDE, proponents of Super-ESP contend that one’s fear of dying facilitates their psychic ability to allow for veridical information to be obtained from the memories of living persons. Accordingly, this process “stimulates a hallucinatory experience that is incorporated into their NDE” which acts as an inherent psychological coping mechanism in the form of a “meeting with deceased spirits” that provides comfort when facing death.12a Consequently, the terror experienced awaiting impending death somehow triggers psychic events that mitigate fear in the form of palliative illusory perceptions. Thus, the Super-ESP refutes the NDE as evidence of life after death.

Mediumship and reincarnation evidence, which imply that an individual may exhibit knowledge about the deceased have largely contributed to the Super-ESP/life after death debate. Some of the best examples are represented by mediumship evidence in which “drop-in” communicators provide accurate information about themselves which are later found to be true. Researchers who support the survival hypothesis also claim to have ruled out other hypotheses (e.g., Super-ESP, psycho-cultural, dissociative phenomena, rare cognitive skills, fraud, etc.) by arguing that they cannot adequately explain the apparent accurate knowledge some mediums and young children who claim to remember past lives exhibit.  Psychologist S. Braude, who contends that mediums use exceptional psychic powers to gather information of the deceased from living witnesses (e.g., telepathy) or from documents (e.g., clairvoyance), has argued for cases sufficiently rich in detail as evidence to support the survival hypothesis, but believes no such evidence exists.13 I. Stevenson explained this issue succinctly by stating: “Since the [Super-ESP] theory assumes that discarnate personalities do not exist, it has to attribute motive for a particular mediumistic communication or apparitional experience to the subject. But evidence of such a motive is not always available, and we should not assume that one exists in the absence of such evidence.”6a M. Sudduth also argued that while ESP among the living is sometimes a component of mediumship evidence, it is not sufficient to show that this is “Super-ESP at work or that nothing else is going on”.14 A similar position is held by D. Rousseau who remarked that, “The Super-ESP theorist may in fact be sympathetic to the ideas of dualism and/or survival, but I just don’t think that discarnate interactionism is the best explanation for the evidence suggestive of survival.”15 Such assumptions, which cannot be adequately tested using established scientific principles and accepted test protocol, make it impossible to interpret explanations of evidence in support (or not) of communication from the deceased with confidence.

There exists a key question at hand which must be addressed to help explain the possibility of life after death.  That is, do mediums who claim to communicate with the deceased, individuals who claim past-life experiences, and those who display extraordinary skills (e.g., child prodigies, speak a different language, or play a musical instrument, etc.) without prior knowledge or training, provide compelling evidence to reject the Super-ESP hypothesis and accept the survival hypothesis? According to the Super-ESP hypothesis, successful mediums obtain much of their information about deceased persons by somehow accessing and retrieving the memory of the living. However, since past experience from the brain’s coded representations of such experience is dependent on normal brain function, this widely accepted principle is challenged by those who consider that memory may exist after death of the body. The question, therefore, emerges as to how one can have conscious recall of a claimed past life if memory representations are dissolved along with the brain after death?  Consequently, in the absence of post-mortem memory representations, how can mediums telepathically access the deceased?  The Super-ESP hypothesis, therefore, is weak unless we assume that memory storage manifests not only in the brain but also externally to the brain, as some propose in the form of what is referred to as a collective unconscious memory bank, (i.e., the Akashic records, or “the mind of God”).16 The key questions advanced from mediumship and reincarnation evidence, therefore, is whether or not information about the deceased is accessed through either: a) Communication exchange with an aspect of consciousness associated with another body at an earlier period of time, which presently exists in an incarnated person, b) A memory trace of the deceased person’s life experiences, or c) The memory from the survival of the person’s consciousness? Since the validity of accurate past life reincarnation and mediumship evidence to support a living consciousness of the deceased is unconfirmed, the survival hypothesis is seriously challenged by the inadequacy of existing explanations of such questions.

This similar concern may extrapolate to apparitional experiences, especially the collectively perceived crisis apparition. This “crisis” case, which is considered to be facilitated by the dying person who is its original, may also be produced by a “living person (one of the percipients) in response to extrasensorially acquired information about his death”.16a Cases of veridical apparitions of the dead have also been explained as a manifestation enabled somehow from the mind of a living person grieving about the referenced deceased person. Psychical researcher F. Myers, however, considers this evidence to support the survival hypothesis since the creator of the apparition cannot be among the percipients of it. That is, the apparition is veridical to the extent that it “contains details and conveys information unknown to the witnesses, represents a person with whom they were not acquainted, and ostensibly pursues a goal which they do not consciously entertain, etc.”17 If Myers is correct, veridical postmortem apparitions are not created in the mind of the percipient since there is no person known to be thinking or grieving over the deceased. So, is it Super-ESP or life after death?

The Holographic Concept of Reality, Quantum Consciousness, and Life after Death

<text> The theories and associated experiments in quantum physics, (e.g., law of entanglement, double-slit, non-locality, and the “observer effect”), concommitent with unexplained anecdotal evidence from studies in NDE, OBE, mediumship, past-life recall, apparitions, super-psi, among other phenomena, lend indirect evidence to support the concept that our consciousness may influence and give rise to various phenomena that seem to exist in the physical world.  Theories developed from studies in quantum physics may provide the foundation to eventually explain the relationship between scientific principles, paranormal events, and the concept of life after death.

Advancements in quantum theory aiming to join together all physical processes have opened the door to a profoundly new vision of reality, where observer, observed, and the act of observation are somehow connected. The observation, for instance, that our conscious perception compels an electron to assume a definite position, acknowledges that we create of our own reality (i.e., the “observer effect”). Taking this a step further, many physicists conclude on this basis that the universe is a “mental” construction and that the interconnectedness of everything is particularly evident in the non-local interactions of the quantum universe.18 Theoretical physicist Fred Alan Wolf sums up this view as follows:

“There is evidence (i.e., quantum physics) that suggests the existence of a non-material, non-physical universe that has a reality even though it might not as yet be clearly perceptible to our senses and scientific instrumentation. When we consider out-of-body experiences, shamanic journeys and lucid dream states, though they cannot be replicated in the true scientific sense, they also point to the existence of non-material dimensions of reality.”19

The Holographic Concept of Reality: The “Holographic Concept of Reality”, first suggested by Miller, Webb and Dickson20 and advanced by many noted scientists21-26 considers the Universe as one dynamic holomovement—a grand Unity. In other words, there is a more fundamental reality represented by an invisible fluidity comprised of an inseparable interconnectedness of reciprocal patterns of meaningful information about the universe.  More specifically, our universe instead of being a 3-dimensional spatial construct, is actually more like a holographic image built up by interacting vibratory waves, like colliding ripples on the surface of a pond. Within this context, some physicists suggest that the nature of reality is fundamentally analogous to that of a holographic projection associated with a form of 3D photography where objects to be photographed are illuminated by a laser beam; that is, lightwaves bouncing off the objects collide and form “interference patterns” which encode the spacial information about the illuminated objects.  Consequently, any fragment of a holographic picture contains all the information to reproduce the entire original 3D scene, despite the fragment size.  Thus, the term “holographic” refers to a condition where a fragment contains all of the information to reconstruct the whole of which it was a part.  In this paradigm, all potential information about the universe is holographically encoded in the spectrum of frequency patterns constantly bombarding us. If so, reality may consist of embedded holograms which somehow gives rise to our existence and perceptual experiences. Related to this perspective are both the controversial Superstring Theory, which proposes the existence of an additional six dimensions beyond our 3-dimensional reality where the concept of other possible dimensions of existence arises27, and the Quantum Hologram Theory (QHT), which describes the universe as a self-organizing inter-connected conscious holistic system28.

Noted scientists such as D. Bohm, K. Wilber, B. Greene, and K. Pribram consider that biological and physical phenomena associated with theories of consciousness may also be explained by quantum theory.2a In fact, K. Pribram considers that brain activity and memory are facilitated by holographic principles which convert incoming physical energy received by the senses into perceptions. This potential information, therefore, is holographically encoded in the spectrum of frequency patterns which influence our experiences. Taking this complex concept to the next level, physicists contend that our brains construct “concrete” reality by interpreting such frequencies from another dimension which transcends time and space. Thus, the brain may behave as a hologram by interpreting a holographic universe and their interrelatedness, which somehow gives rise to our existence and sensory images. This “holonomic brain theory” of quantum consciousness or “holistic” view of reality (i.e., a whole system being more than just the sum of its parts) has gained increasing support among neurophysiologists such as J. Hayward, who emphasized that “some scientists belonging to the scientific mainstream frankly say that consciousness next to space, time, matter and energy could be one of the basic elements of the world.”29 But don’t interpret this perspective too literally since it stands in sharp contrast to the founder of the general theory of relativity Dr. A. Einstein, who believed that quantum mechanics is “not a complete or holistic science”.30 In support of Einstein’s viewpoint, physicist R. Feynman remarked that quantum mechanic explanations of reality are, “marred with multiple unresolved paradoxes” and “no one understands it”.30a

The most significant theoretical consideration of the Quantum Hologram Theory (QHT) is that at the subatomic scale of matter everything in the universe is interconnected; that is, all objects in the universe retain evidence of each event that has occurred to them which is stored in a holographic form that can be retrieved by the mind when it “attends” to an object.25a,31-34 The QHT, which allows for distinctions that occur in our consciousness, and those that can manifest on a physical scale, may provide the foundation for understanding how things interact with one another such as thoughts in telepathic experiments and consciousness with the brain. For example, if a person’s consciousness is shared with another in the QH field and they are in close contact throughout space-time, telepathy may occur (i.e., non-locality). In fact, many physicists apply the QHT to explain the nature by which the consciousness of the deceased may communicate with the living non-locally.

Quantum Consciousness and Non-Locality: The apparent enigma with the concept of “consciousness” is that it is difficult to define and implicates many different things. According to the QHT, consciousness is an essential component of the universe, and all matter possesses subjective characteristics of consciousness (i.e., the foundation of everything). The QHT, which considers consciousness non-local in the same sense that quantum objects behave in a non-local manner, has potential significant implications for understanding death. In other words, upon death, we may no longer exist in space-time but instead behave outside the constraints of our 3-D space-time continuum. Despite the many unresolved questions associated with how the information of the QH may be transmitted over vast distances, many physicists such as Nobel Prize recipient E. Wigner are realizing the implications of quantum mechanics for possibly explaining the nature of life after death and anomalous events.  For example, Wigner considers theories in quantum mechanics as proof of “the existence of “God” or some form of “cosmic consciousness”, while physicist and brain researcher C. Hellwig advocates that consciousness is a quantum state, and that “our thoughts, our will, our consciousness and our feelings show properties that could be referred to as spiritual properties”.35 Support for this complex notion may be evidenced, in part, by reported ESP experiments which tend to illustrate that “telepathy” is not affected by distance (outside space) and “precognition” which provides information of future events (outside time).  Through extrapolation of such evidence, therefore, it may be possible for a characteristic of consciousness to remain unaffected by death and to continue to function, in some capacity, in some undefined realm of existence beyond our 3-D space-time continuum.

The consistency of reported near death and out-of body experiences may be critical for understanding the relationship between the brain and consciousness. Although our current medical and scientific concepts are inadequate to explain all aspects of the NDE, however, certain features of an NDE/OBE appear to correspond with some of the basic principles from quantum theory, such as non-locality and entanglement or interconnectedness, and instantaneous information exchange in a timeless and placeless dimension. The perplexing aspect of the NDE/OBE, concommitent with the experimental results in non-local intuition, also suggests that our consciousness may be separate from our physical body and capable of affecting events remote from our body. More specifically, if sensory information processing is in fact “non-local” it may explain the reported altered perception and the life review and images often described as a dimension without time and space associated with an NDE/OBE.

Reciprocal OBE cases represent especially intriguing evidence to support the consciousness-brain distinction and the associated survival hypothesis. This is represented by one who goes through an OBE and finds himself/herself at a distant location from their physical body, and is observed by another person at that same location. One documented case of a reciprocal OBE is of M. Johnson, who described a dream in which she travelled “by walking or floating” to her mother’s home over 900 miles away on January 27th, 1957. Her account is as follows:

“After a little while I seemed to be alone going through a great blackness. Then all at once way down below me, as though I were at a great height, I could see a small bright oasis of light in the vast sea of darkness. I started on an incline towards it as I knew it was a small house by the school where my mother lives. After I entered, I leaned up against the dish cupboard with folded arms, a pose I often assume. I looked at my mother who was bending over something white and doing something with her hands. She did not appear to see me at first, but she finally looked up. I had a sort of pleased feeling and then after standing a second more, I turned and walked about four steps.”36

She awoke from her dream at 2:10 A.M. (1:10 A.M. Minnesota time). A paraphrased account of her mother’s experiences were provided in two letters to her daughter by A. Gauld:

”I believe it was Saturday night, 1:10 A.M, January 26 or the 27th. It would have been 2:10 A.M. your time. I was pressing a blouse here in the kitchen. I looked up and there you were by the cupboard just standing smiling at me. I started to speak and you were gone. I forgot for a minute where I was. I think the dogs saw you too. They got so excited and wanted out—just like they thought you were by the door—sniffed and were so tickled. Your hair was combed nice—just back in a ponytail with the pretty roll in front. Your blouse was neat and light—seemed almost white.16b

If both M. Johnson’s and her mother’s account represent accurate details of their experiences, the existence of a duplicate “astral” body as a vehicle for an aspect of her consciousness or product of it, cannot be entirely dismissed. This evidence, which lacks verification, tentatively suggests that the instrument required for our surviving “I” (i.e., memories, personality, etc.) manifests in an “astral” secondary body whose manner and nature of function have yet, if ever, to be realized. If we extrapolate this evidence to the apparitional phenomenon of the dead and of living projectors, one may infer that apparitions of both the living and dead represent the same “astral” vehicle for one’s consciousness.

The Synchronized Universe Model and Zero Point Field: The nature of many unexplainable experiences may possibly be justified by the Zero Point Field (ZPF) (i.e., the lowest possible energy of a quantum mechanical physical system) postulated by physicist C. Swanson, who considers the ZPF to offer “much promise if we are to understand paranormal phenomena.”37 Consequently, anomalous events such as ESP, apparitions, reincarnation, and OBE and NDE, among others, may be explained by the Synchronized Universe Model (S.U.M.) of which the ZPF is a part; that is, photons created by “distant matter” contain almost all the matter of the universe and interact with one another over long distances (i.e., non-locality). Therefore, every “zig and zag of a local electron is really a communication between it and the distant matter”.37a If factual, the synchronous interaction of particles across great distances and times may explain ESP, whereby, “the sender can cause energy or information to refocus at some other point in space-time using the 4-D holographic principle”.37b By extension, the S.U.M may also provide the underlying principle(s) to explain: 1) How our consciousness may leave the body and travel in space and time, 2) The NDE and OBE in which one describes reality apart from the body, and 3) The foundation to explain life after death and paranormal phenomena. According to Swanson, the S.U.M can “explain how paranormal effects can be seemingly immune to time and space displacements. It may help us understand how two minds can be linked when separated by vast distances of space and time. And it offers a way to connect paranormal effects to changes in quantum noise, which is one of the central mysteries facing the new physics.”37c

Accordingly, the S.U.M, QHT, and ZPF, among other theories within quantum physics, have the potential to explain the reported connection between one’s own consciousness and that of other living persons or deceased relatives.  This relationship has drawn the attention of several well respected scientists such as astrophysicist R. Schild who proposed that, “consciousness exists in our space-time and constrains our waking perception”.24a Schild and Leiter provided additional support to the potential infinite capacity of our universe to store “quantum holograms”, by the existence of “black holes” (i.e., “super-dense, massive, collapsed, evolved stars and galaxy-center quasars”).24b Because of its’ “relativistically-continuous contraction and continuous acquisition of more mass”, they contend that “black holes” may function as “nature’s hard-drives”, holding copies of the quantum holograms generated by each new moment of human experience, as well as by each new event which occurs to non-living objects.38 Related to this concept is the perspective held by cardiologist P. Lommel who stated, “It seems to be possible to have a non-local connection with other people’s consciousness as well as with thoughts and feelings of deceased friends and family and to communicate with them by way of thought transfer.”39 The implications of these yet, if ever, to be confirmed perspectives, may hold the key to the many mysteries of our time, especially life after death.

The Quantum Brain and DNA: Quantum mechanics postulates that each of the approximately eighty-seven billion neurons in the brain, of which one-hundred times as many microtubules exist in every neuron, either contains or supports consciousness. Physicist H. P. Stapp’s viewpoint that the brain operates in accordance with the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics is supported by physicist      R. Penrose’s theory that “microtubules”, which form the cytoskeleton in neurons both within and between brain cells, may be sites of quantum effects enabling entanglement (i.e., the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently).40  Penrose teamed with anesthesiologist S. Hameroff to formulate the controversial “orchestrated objective-reduction” (Orch-OR) theory, which states that brain neurons behave as “quantum computers”. They considered every synapse, which is where two nerves come together and do their “decision making,” as a quantum system and the source of information computation.  Accordingly, quantum activity within the neuron interact non-locally with other neurons and, along with the quantum hologram, facilitate a “conscious event”. In fact, they believe that the Orch-OR theory serves as the foundation for the human “soul”, NDEs, OBEs, and may even account for one’s perception of reality after physical death.22a Hameroff wrote, “The connection to space–time geometry also raises the intriguing possibility that Orch-OR allows consciousness apart from the brain and body, distributed and entangled in space–time geometry”, and that “quantum information can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely, as a soul”. 41 Related to this concept, physicists J. McFadden and J. Al-Khalili proposed that the brain’s electromagnetic field may couple to quantum-coherent (i.e., entanglement) ions moving through microtubules, enabling the “binding” of cortical processes and the “emergence of consciousness”.42 Similarly, physicist D. Zohar contends that biological quantum coherence serves as an organizing principle which may explain a “quantum relationship” between consciousness and the body.43 Physicist W. Tiller also advanced the idea that the holographic properties of space are key to understanding the effects of consciousness and how ESP can take place in single living cells.44 C. Swanson summarizes these perspectives as follows:

”These large-scale, coherent, resonant processes, where trillions of molecules in the body are in communication with one another and can function in resonance, brings up a new possibility: Maybe the body is a macroscopic quantum system with a set of coherent quantum states all vibrating in step? If so, then some of the weird phenomena we have called “paranormal” might really be just quantum mechanics working its strange magic on the large scale of everyday life.”37d

Indirect support for the Orch-OR theory was provided by computer scientist S. Berkovitch, who calculated that the brain has an “inadequate capacity to produce and store all the informational processes of our memories”.45 He based this conclusion on the fact that the brain would need to perform “1024 operations per second” which he considered to be “absolutely impossible for our neurons”.45a A similar perspective is held by neurobiologist H. Romijn who stated, ”One should conclude that the brain has not enough computing capacity to store all the memories with associative thoughts from one’s life, has not enough retrieval abilities, and seems not to be able to elicit consciousness.”46

Testimonials from prominent physics researchers from institutions such as Cambridge University, Princeton University, and the Max Planck Institute for Physics claim that quantum mechanics predicts some version of life after death; in other words, a person may possess a body-soul duality that is an extension of the wave-particle duality of subatomic particles.35a Physicist H. Peter Dürr, for instance, believes in an existence after death based on the opinion that the dualism of the smallest particles is not “restricted to the subatomic world” and that a “universal quantum” code exists for all living and dead matter.47 He explains this concept as follows: “What we consider the here and now, this world, it is actually just the material level that is comprehensible. The beyond is an infinite reality that is much bigger which this world is rooted in. In this way, our lives in this plane of existence are encompassed, surrounded, by the afterworld already. The body dies but the spiritual quantum field continues. In this way, I am immortal.”47a

The DNA molecule, composed of nucleotides with a double helix structure, is arranged into 23 pairs of chromosomes, defines 30,000 genes, and contains about 3 billion base pairs.48 Many mysteries surround human DNA, one of which is that about 95 percent is termed “junk DNA” due to its unknown function. According to computer scientist S. Berkovich, a possible functional significance of “junk DNA”may be to facilitate “hereditary information and memories from the past”, i.e., it acts as the “receiver and transmitter of our evolving consciousness”.49 Related to this concept is the perspective of noted quantum physicist E. Schrödinger who considers DNA a “statistic molecule” which behaves as a quantum mechanical process with non-local communication.50 S. Hameroff also proposed that DNA behaves as a chain of quantum bits which functions similarly to a quantum computer with quantum superposition.51 According to P. Lommel, the potential role of the “person-specific DNA” in our cells may serve as the “place of resonance, or the interface across which a constant informational exchange takes place between our personal material body and phase-space, where all fields of our personal consciousness are available as fields of possibility.”52. In fact, Lommel contends that DNA molecules in chromosomes throughout the body may be linked non-locally by enzymatic action in the cell since they exist in a quantum state of “substance-wave duality.”52a

Quantum theories on the nature and role of DNA has provoked speculation about phenomena like past life recall and genetic immortality. In fact, professor of pedagogy A. Szyszko-Bohusz proposed a theory of genetic immortality in which parental consciousness and hereditary information is transmitted to children.53 This viewpoint is supported by psychiatrist J. Tucker from is studies with children who report past life recall, and the concept in quantum physics that consciousness creates our physical world and doesn’t require a brain to exist.  Consequently, he concluded that reincarnation may be based on the possibility that “consciousness requires no physical binding to pass on through the generations”.53a According to Tucker, “I understand the leap it takes to conclude there is something beyond what we can see and touch”. But there is this evidence here that needs to be accounted for, and when we look at these cases carefully, some sort of carry-over of memories often makes the most sense.”53b

It is well documented that experiences necessary for survival of a species are learned and that this knowledge is passed on to subsequent generations. But what other kinds of experiences might be saved in our DNA over the many thousands of years when our ancestors were born, lived and died? Is it possible that our DNA contains coded memories of ancestors who had life-changing negative experiences that were passed on to future generations which can be accessed by us now and possibly exert influence on present behaviors? In other words, can memories be inherited by DNA, or is some other mechanism responsible for past life recall yet to be realized.  In fact, some paranormal phenomena may even have holographic characteristics. Bohm and Pribram, for instance, noted that phenomena such as ESP may be explained by this model which allows for individual brains to be interconnected parts of the greater hologram (i.e., information is exchanged between minds regardless of distance stored non-locally in the ZPF).26a,52b  That is, the brain’s holographic structure may enable it to both send and receive holographic wave patterns as represented in thoughts. Evidence to support this concept is supported by the behavior of light in a hologram, whereby, if one observes the radiation flowing into and out of it, “the light is coming from the past, flowing through the image and then on out into space where it is absorbed in the future”.37e Interestingly, biophysicist Pjotr Garjajev and his colleagues, who studied the vibrational behavior of DNA, believe that the DNA molecule may also generate waves that perform in a similar manner. Based on their findings, they concluded that chromosomes function like a holographic computer using “endogenous DNA laser radiation” which alter “DNA frequency and associated genetic information”.54 

Physiological evidence to support the theory that the brain operates like a hologram, and that memory and visual perception are governed by the holographic principle, was provided by neurosurgeon K. Pribram, who showed that even without most of the brain, organisms can function almost normally.  His research in cats, for example, demonstrated their continued ability to perform complex visual tasks despite a loss of 90 percent of the primary visual cortex.55 A similar result was obtained by neuroscientist R. Galambos, who severed up to 98 percent of the optic tract of cats without seriously impairing the cats “ability to perform skillfully on tests requiring them to differentiate between highly similar figures”.55a One theory to explain such maintained normal functioning is related to the recovery of memory from a brain even after much of it has been destroyed. This is based on the notion that a hologram contains the entire image, in this case the entire memory. According to C. Swanson, this effect is “consistent with the holographic structure of the brain”, which allows for “the direct and instantaneous communication of images and other anomalies which occurs in paranormal events”.37f Supportive evidence for this aspect of function has also been advanced in the form of competent mental functioning in those with severely compromised brain function. This has been documented in approximately 50 cases of so-called “terminal lucidity” where mental abilities are restored before death despite severe brain disorders in those with Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia56,57; about 80 cases of normal cognitive function despite severe brain developmental disorders such as hydroenencephaly58-60; and cases of serious brain degeneration without associated cognitive deficits61. The question remains, therefore, if normal function in severely compromised physiological states, as in those who report an NDE, may be facilitated by holographic based brain and associated DNA activity? And, if so, what are its’ possible implications for the continuity of consciousness and memory after death?

The Multiverse Theory: An extension of the Holographic Concept of Reality is represented by the “Multiverse Theory” proposed by physicist H. Everett. This theory states that there are a couple of multiverses, whereby, we may be living in one dimension while other surfaces with other beings on it exist. According to Everett, all possible alternate histories and futures are real, with each representing an actual “world” and “everything that could possibly have happened in our past, but did not, occurred previously in another universe”.62 That is, when an action occurs having more than one possible outcome, separate universes emerge to accommodate each possible outcome. Everett saw his theory as guaranteeing life after death in which at each “branching of universes between death and living”, a being’s “consciousness endures”; that is, upon death, you are still alive in other universes and will be born again in other universes.62a. A similar viewpoint by R. Lanza is that, “Multiple universes allow for the possibility that in one universe the body can be dead while in another it continues to exist, absorbing consciousness which somehow entered into this universe.”64,65  J. Bockris, known for his creation of physical electrochemistry, also concluded that we live in a synchronized universe which enables us to experience our “real” universe which coexists with “other universes just as real as this one”.66 Accordingly, Bockris concluded that this model provides the means to understand how “the soul, the center of human consciousness, can exist in a permanent form, surviving human death”.66a

The controversial existence of multiple universes has also been promoted as a possible explanation for various phenomena by many leading physicists such as S. Hawking, M. Kaku, D. Bohm, and D. Greene, among others. S. Hawking, for instance, proposed that one can have different universes in one existence called a “multiverse”.67 He wrote: “Down at the smallest of scales, smaller even than molecules, smaller than atoms, we get to a place called the quantum foam. This is where wormholes exist. Tiny tunnels or shortcuts through space and time constantly form, disappear, and reform within this quantum world. And they actually link two separate places and two different times.”68

Discussion

If we assume that one’s consciousness somehow survives physical death, then where and how does it exist, and what principles may explain the nature which regulates its’ continued functioning? And if an aspect of one’s personality continues on, that aspect must not have been entirely dependent on normal brain function since the brain, once functional, ceases at some point in time. Consequently, to prove there is a form of life after death, there must be irrefutable evidence that a form of consciousness operates independently of the brain.  Despite the absence of supporting evidence, numerous scientific concepts have been advanced to support their independence (e.g., quantum physics, psychic factors and Super-ESP, the collective unconscious, quantum brain activity and DNA, holographic principles, the Multiverse, among others). Or is the popular notion that a second “astral” body (i.e., consciousness, soul, or spirit), which operates at a higher vibrational frequency, persists after physical death?  We can only conjecture if this non-local aspect of one’s consciousness, personality, and memory exists, or maybe the abstract answer is that it just “is” and persists through a vacuum where there is no time or space within an intradimensional reality.

The scientific approach to the concept of life after death should be a required methodology for research in reincarnation, mediumship, NDE/OBE, apparitions, consciousness , and quantum physics, among others, which could enhance its relevance and potential implications.  Although associated hypotheses have been advanced to explain the nature of past life evidence and associated phenomena, there remains no consensus within the scientific community about the nature of such events, nor the possible functional mechanisms of human consciousness that could be responsible for such phenomena and persist after death. An inherent factor that impedes our further understanding of such elusive concepts is that the survival hypothesis fails to define exactly what criteria are needed to delineate the essential features of whatever it is that may survive death.

The most significant argument against accepting the survival hypothesis is that the evidence represents a form of Super-ESP among the living. And if valid, it would imply that some characteristic of a deceased person may exist which can affect our consciousness. This may explain how people report experiencing a deceased personality in the form of apparitions, NDEs, after death communication, mediumistic communication, and past-life recall, etc. And if such a characteristic of the deceased can somehow be experienced, we can only speculate as to what form of energy and associated principles of operation it is that interrelates with one’s consciousness.  That is, communication may be either occurring with the mind of a present person and not with the deceased, or alternatively, discarnate souls can via their psychic abilities interact with the living and physical world.

Even if one accepts that the survival hypothesis is supported by the present evidence of the observed phenomena, many issues remain ambiguous, unresolved, and complicated by existing evidence which can be interpreted as a convincing case either for or against some form of survival.  Since the general life after death related evidence is largely based on anecdotal testimony, it is very difficult to either reject or confirm this hypothesis through a validation process. The problem is that the approaches used have not consistently conformed to the expected scientific method and standards routinely applied by research scientists. The evidence presented, therefore, cannot sufficiently explain and justify the continuity of consciousness after death.

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