Ivan Turing is a tech billionaire. Dr. Carolyn Tyler is a cardiothoracic surgeon. Their divine appointment informs the plot of “Proof,” a dramatic series with decidedly religious overtones, which airs on TNT.
Turing, played by the actor Matthew Modine, is terminally ill. He wants to know whether there is life after death. So he recruits Tyler, played by the actress Jennifer Beals, to investigate.
The surgeon reluctantly agrees. But only after the billionaire (who bears a striking similarity to the late Steve Jobs) makes her an offer she can’t refuse – leaving his vast fortune after he dies to the hospital where she practices.
Turing chooses Tyler because he secretly knows the surgeon’s back story. She is one year removed from the accidental death of her teen-aged son. And she herself had a near-death experience (NDE) when traveling abroad on an ocean liner that capsized during a tsunami.
During her NDE, Tyler saw her deceased son reaching out his hand to her, welcoming her to the afterlife. But later she attributed what she experienced to hallucination.
That’s how those without a faith life, those skeptical of life after death, explain away evidence of the hereafter. But those of us who are Christ followers know better. For the Scripture tells us that God “has put eternity in (our) hearts.”
And as to skeptics who insist there is absolutely no scientific evidence of life after death, they are dead wrong.
Indeed, scientists at the University of Southampton spent four years examining more than 2,000 patients who suffered cardiac arrests in 15 hospitals in Great Britain, the United States and Austria. It was largest ever medical study of near-death and out of body experiences.
In findings published last year in the journal Resuscitation, the scientists reported that nearly 40 percent of those who survived described some kind of “awareness” during the time they were clinically dead, before doctors restarted their hearts.
One particular patient, a 57-year-old man, recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the operating room. Despite being “dead” for three minutes, he recounted the actions of the nursing staff in detail and described the sound of machines in the OR.
That cannot be attributed to anything other than life after death, suggested Dr. Sam Parnia, who led the study. “We know,” he said, “the brain can’t function when the heart stops beating,” as it did in the cases of those who suffered cardiac arrest, who lived to attest to their near-death experiences.
The Southampton study corroborates the testimony of Dr. Eben Alexander, the Harvard-trained brain neurosurgeon who authored the 2012 book, “Proof of Heaven,” which topped the New York Times bestsellers list.
Like the fictional Dr. Tyler, the real-life Dr. Alexander was skeptical of near-death and out-of-body experiences, dismissing them as figments of the imagination of medicated patients.
Then, Dr. Alexander contracted a severe case of bacterial meningitis, which put him in a coma for seven days, during which, he said, he experienced the afterlife. Like the “man in Christ,” according to the Apostle Paul, who either “in the body” or “out of the body,” he didn’t exactly know which, was “caught up to the third heaven.”
The third heaven, to which Paul referred on second reference as “Paradise,” sounds very much like the heavenly realm Dr. Alexander visited during his coma. In that realm, wrote the neurosurgeon, “Love is, without a doubt, the basis of everything.”
Indeed, Dr. Alexander continued, “This is the reality of realities, the incomprehensibly glorious truth of truths that lives and breathes at the core of everything that exists or will ever exist, and no remotely accurate understanding of who and what we are can be achieved by anyone who does not know it, and embody it in all of their actions.”
That is what awaits the Christ follower on the other side of the grave. And to one who has faith, no further explanation is necessary. And to one without faith, no plausible explanation is possible.