The jury is still out on whether life goes on after death, even though most of the world’s religions claim to know the answer. Scientifically, there is very little evidence of the human spirit carrying on after the body is gone. And yet, some people claim to have caught a glimpse of the afterlife, having gone through so-called near-death experiences (NDEs).
NDEs, which typically occur during moments of intense trauma like cardiac arrest, often involve seeing bright lights or hearing voices ‘from the other side’.
In some cases, people recall being transported to an otherworldly realm where they encountered angelic beings or visions of hell.
Some scientists attribute these bizarre visions and memories to residual brain activity, and some studies have found NDEs are often influenced by the patient’s cultural norms.
Bill Nye, 65, the science communicator best known for his 1993 to 1998 TV series Bill Nye the Science Guy, discussed the life after death issue in a Big Think video alongside physicist Michio Kaku, science writer Michael Shermer and former pastor and author Rob Bell.
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He said: “People my age have a lot of grandparents and parents who are not as sharp, certainly not as athletically capable or physically capable as they were when they were younger.
“And so watching ourselves die is to me, overwhelming evidence that there is no life after death.
“There’s certainly no — it doesn’t seem to be any reason to think that when you die, you go back to your optimum age at your optimum athletic ability in your optimum intellectual sharpness.”
Mr Nye added: “Evolution, if it were an entity, doesn’t really care about you, man.
“You had your kids, your genes are passed on and you expire.
“You lose your faculties as you run out of steam and that’s just how it is.”
According to Manchester Metropolitan University Neil Dagnall and Ken Drinkwater, there is no definitive answer for why some people claim to have seen the afterlife.
However, the researchers said ongoing studies will shed more light on the phenomenon.
In a 2018 article for The Conversation, they said: “Whether paranormal or not, near-death experiences are extremely important.
“They provide meaning, hope, and purpose for many people, while offering an appreciation of the human desire to survive beyond death.”