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Record Type: Review   ID: 425

Life After Death

Harpur, Tom

 This astute survey of the evidence for survival of death by a Canadian religious editor of the Toronto Star is for the general reader. It is in five parts, each dealing with specific types of witnesses to the kinds of evidence he considers. Thus, the book is primarily a collection of EHEs of the death-related type that have a bearing on the question of survival after death. The first part has 6 chapters representing the following secular witnesses: Strange encounters, in which he draws on nearly 200 letters received in response to a query he made in his syndicated Sunday column. The response to writing their experiences is summarized on page 26 and is in line with what most EHEers say about the experience of sharing an EHE in itself. He presents 16 cases, noting that the tendency is not for the experiencer’s belief in survival to influence his or her EHE; rather, it seems the experience itself led to the belief, which is an affirmation of Hufford’s "experiential source" hypothesis. The remaining 6 chapters are on NDEs, channelers, reincarnation, dreams of death and dying, and some strands of evidence offered by science. The second part, which deals with Christian witnesses, contains 9 chapters, starting with St. Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus and ending with "the Christ myth as the ultimate Myth of the Self." The witness of three Christian sects is presented in Part 3: Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Science. Chapters 18-24 deal with the witness of other world faiths: Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Bahai, and "native spirituality." Each of the chapters contain firsthand accounts of proponents of the type of witness being considered. Part 5 consists of Harpur’s own personal conclusions and reflections. He does not think science can ever prove survival, but he thinks the evidence for survival he had marshalled in this book provides a rational basis for belief in survival, and he sees death as a process akin to birth.
Publisher Information:Toronto, Ontario, Canada: McClelland & Stewart, 1991. 296p. Bibl: 283-286; Chap. notes: 273-282; Index: 287-295
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