December 22, 2009
Last updated: April 16, 2010
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“Life After Death: The Evidence” is not about ghosts or mediumship. It is an ambitious and contentious book in which a reasonable case is made for the survival of consciousness after death based on logic and rationality without having recourse to scripture and revelation. D’Souza, a man of strong Christian faith, continues to propel this debate into the 21st century, building on his previous work and challenging atheists at their own game by using arguments and theories from theoretical physics, evolutionary biology, psychology, cosmology, neuroscience and moral philosophy, to prove his case.
D'Souza is a clear and disciplined thinker and he presents the material in a thoughtful and scholarly way. His humor and accessible examples help to guide the reader skillfully through the material but it may not be an easy read for those unfamiliar with the history of Western science and philosophy. He covers a wide range of subjects and this book should be seen as a multifaceted approach to the debate on life after death with no single argument standing on its own. However his conclusions are not entirely convincing and the reader should be cautious in accepting the arguments he presents. After stating a hypothesis and presenting selective theories, he then chooses the conclusion that supports his beliefs. In themselves they do not provide concrete evidence.
To provide “unshakeable scientific evidence” that consciousness survives brain death, D’Souza offers documented studies of Near Death Experiences (NDEs). This shows his courage to step out of the fold as these are often treated with derision by religious thinkers. Out-of-body experiences recalled by people who have been revived after clinical death do bear a certain similarity, and the cases cited are interesting to read. However, these do not provide D’Souza with the empirical evidence he needs, as they are anecdotal, and many alternative reasons have been suggested for their occurrence.
Future empirical studies of NDEs may indeed provide incontrovertible proof that there is life after death. If that does happen, Western secular thought would truly be challenged and even the most stubborn atheists would need to reevaluate their beliefs. Until then, this book may not convert the atheist, but it will probably provide food for thought for the open-minded agnostic and it will certainly underpin the faith of the believer.