I just listened to a fascinating interview on Fresh Air with Dr. Sam Parnia, author of the forthcoming book, Erasing Death: The Science that is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death. Parnia is the Director of Resuscitation Research at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Here is an excerpt from the Kirkus Reviews review:
Since it is now possible to resuscitate people who would previously have been pronounced dead, the question then arises: When does death occur? Death is not an event, writes the author, but a process that is sometimes reversible. This idea leads him to question the implications of near-death or after-death experiences. While they do not in themselves substantiate any religious beliefs, there are too many documented cases to be ignored. People from diverse cultures who hold different religious beliefs, including atheism, describe many common features, such as seeing a bright light and a guiding figure, and out-of-body experiences.
A fascinating discussion that addresses medical, moral and social issues and their implications for understanding consciousness, self-awareness and the soul.
Parnia is one of the world’s foremost researchers into the phenomenon of death. Among the interesting and sometimes unexpected statements Parnia made to Terri Gross in the interview:
It seems to me that the people who “came back” weren’t really dead, but it also seems clear that their experiences cannot be explained as a purely neurological phenomenon if the brain had ceased functioning. I think I’ll give this book a read.