Many years ago I bought Darryl Reanney’s book The Death of Forever: A New Future for Human Consciousness . A little background to Reanney, from his own autobiographical comments, is that he started out as a skeptic but ended up a believer, well sort of. Reanney’s credentials were, indeed, impressive. A molecular biologist and an internationally recognised authority on the origin of life, and also the author and presenter of Genesis (somewhat in the mode of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos), a seven part series produced by the ABC. I highly recommend reading Reanney’s book, if for nothing else than intellectual stimulation and unorthodox thought coming from “scientific circles”.
Here is Reanney with Phillip Adams (podcast), on an episode of Late Night Live in 1993 (Reanney died of Leukaemia in 1994):
Darryl Reanney with Phillip Adams on Late Night Live
Quite a fascinating interview. Note that towards the end of the interview Phillip notes that Reanney expressed the opinion that he was “kidding himself”. My understanding is that he was uneasy about his sequel (Music of the Mind) to The Death of Forever as being “too speculative” and “unscientific”. The explanations for consciousness are legion, but to date, not a single person on the planet understands how consciousness originated, and that it must somehow be connected to some form of life after death is even more speculative. Reanney notes during the interview that the human brain makes “constructs”, but is it possible that Reanney’s own ideas are themselves nothing but “constructs”? Nevertheless, I think there is some merit in at least pondering his ideas. In his book, Reanney leaned somewhat to Buddhism as being the religion that is “closest to science”. Maybe he didn’t have enough time to examine the Buddhist concept of hell/s, which is as primitive, and perhaps even more perverse than the Christian view of hell. Reanney also talks about near death experiences, but seems to have a rather superficial knowledge of them, for example, why many Japanese NDErs do not “see” a tunnel, but a cave, and why the “Being of Light” is interpreted according to the religious biases and upbringing of the one having the experience. NDEs, for anyone who has studied them, do not come neatly packaged and explainable, nor do they necessarily point to a life after death, because every one who has experienced an NDE didn’t, in fact, die. A few minutes, or even a couple of hours of death, does not indicate final death. It may well be that some part or portion of “us” survives death, but I wouldn’t base such speculative ideas on the writings of Darryl Reanney as the final word on the subject, particularly in regard to his pre-death admission that they were too speculative. His contributions are, nevertheless, worth pondering.
I don't believe that science has all the answers, nor that it can summarise "truth" by equations and pure logic. I'll leave that to the mathematicians, but I equally don't see any reason to accept any concept or idea without consistent evidence to support it. My study of NDEs, if nothing else, only supports the idea that they are not only inconsistent, but seem to point quite heavily as having arisen in the brain. We would all like to live forever, perhaps, and maybe our "constructs" are biased by that idea, and maybe the brain is more than capable of creating this illusion of "foreverness", which, in the end, lead Reanney to feel that he was "kidding himself".