Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-hfldf Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-12T16:26:19.528Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Science of Life after Death By Alexander Moreira-Almeida, Marianna de Abreu Costa and Humberto Schubert Coelho Springer. 2022. £39.99 (pb). 101 pp. ISBN 978-3-031-06055-7

Review products

Science of Life after Death By Alexander Moreira-Almeida, Marianna de Abreu Costa and Humberto Schubert Coelho Springer. 2022. £39.99 (pb). 101 pp. ISBN 978-3-031-06055-7

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 May 2023

Christopher C. H. Cook*
Affiliation:
Durham University, UK. Email: c.c.h.cook@durham.ac.uk
Rights & Permissions [Opens in a new window]

Abstract

Type
Book Review
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Science of Life after Death does what it says on the cover – it considers the scientific evidence for life after death. This evidence falls under three main headings: studies of mediumship, near death experiences (NDE) and reports of people (particularly children) who claim to remember a previous life (referred to in the book as ‘Cases of Reincarnation Type’, thus CORTs). Anticipating the likely scepticism of many Western scientists, the evidence that forms the core of the book is preceded by a chapter ‘Setting the scene: addressing the main arguments against survival hypothesis’. The question is then raised as to what evidence we might look for in support of the hypothesis of personal survival after death. It is proposed that we might look for evidence of enduring memory, personal skills and recognisable personality traits. Accordingly, evidence for persistence of these factors is then considered in turn for each of the study populations, in particular for mediumship and CORT. For NDE the focus is more on whether or not the reported perceptions during the NDE are ‘veridical’. In each case, alternative explanations of the evidence are considered and eliminated. The final conclusion is that that there is compelling scientific evidence for life after death.

Two of the authors are psychiatrists and so, even taking into account the strict length limitations of the Springer Briefs in Psychology series, it was disappointing that the clinical implications of the evidence and conclusions were not explored, even if only briefly. I do hope to see this addressed in future publications. Another omission was the lack of attention to the theologies and beliefs of the world's major faith traditions. What people believe, and the cultural context of belief, is important to understanding the scientific evidence. Reincarnation and resurrection, for example, are two radically different propositions. In general, the authors are quite negative towards the ‘dogmatism’ of traditional religion, and they tend to stay with the science (plus some philosophy), but some scientist readers may nonetheless beg to differ from the authors’ conclusions. None of this should detract from the interest and value of this book, which brings together some quite large fields of research that are often neglected in both theology and psychiatry. It offers an excellent introduction to this literature for those who may not be familiar with it.

Declaration of interest

C.C.H.C. is an Anglican priest and Chair of the Spirituality & Psychiatry Special Interest Group (SPSIG) at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The views expressed in this review are his own and do not necessarily represent those of the SPSIG.

Submit a response

eLetters

No eLetters have been published for this article.