Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Beyond Life

Most people will agree that there are two highly important stages that the average person experiences and that these are:
  • Birth.
  • Death.

Unfortunately, from there on it becomes highly complicated.

For example, we all agree that we were born but what does that actually mean?  Being born is, after all, just a transitional change from living in one environment (the womb) to living in another (the world).  Should we perhaps be talking about conception?  Or is that too dangerous?  Are we at risk with such thinking?  Whose body is it, for example, one second after conception?

Let's leave 'birth' and try death.

Death, of course, presents us with different problems.  First of all, there is the simple question of when death occurs.  You might think that death occurs four minutes after the brain is starved of oxygen.  What then of those whose brain does not function but who are being kept alive by machine?  What if brain cells could be frozen and then thawed without cellular collapse - could a person be brought back to life?  Would they have actually died?

Many years ago, a solution for epilepsy was trialled.  Severe victims of this condition had the left and right sides of the brain separated.  It was no longer possible for the two sides of the brain to pass messages between them.  They did not die.  They experienced some very strange effects, but they still lived.  How could a single person survive with two half-brains?  

And we haven't even touched what might happen after death.

The point of this is to draw attention to the fact that - despite people having very clear cut opinions about life and death - there is really very little clear cut about it.  When even the point-of-entry and the point-of-exit are so difficult to pin-point, then it seems unreasonable for people to then make statements such as 'there is no life after death'.

Or before conception.

The paranormal is about questioning our experiences in life and trying to find sense in them.  Things happen to us that might fit very neatly into the small-box of alleged rationality.  But then, sometimes things happen that do not fit.
All about us is a world that we still hardly understand.  The dead and the unborn - which might yet turn out to be the same - still have many secrets, as do the living.  Strange powers, ghostly apparitions, terrifying feelings, aliens - the human imagination is full of explanations for the less tangible and very odd shaped pegs that will not fit into our very square holes.   Yet, until events are fully understood; until some better explanation arises, it is foolish to discard such labels even though they have been somewhat tarnished by entertainment and scary stories.

Science often rolls its eyes at the paranormal and uses words like 'proof'.  Yet much of science is not built on proof but on hypothesis, on theory and on accepted conjecture.  Man does not - can not - know everything or prove everything.  To reject the concept of the paranormal is, in fact, unscientific.  There is no evidence to prove its non-existence.

Whether any one person's experiences are paranormal or not can be a difficult call.  Even something that seem to be paranormal may one day be explained.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  But somethings will never be explained away - in the conventional sense - and there's nothing wrong with that either.  Despite our best efforts, the word 'haunting' might be the best description of a problem.

We cannot pin down the beginnings of life.
We cannot pin down the endings of life.
We cannot even be sure about the bits in the middle - the physical.
Because some things go beyond the physical.  Beyond life.

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