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MEDICAL RESEARCHER SAYS SHE HAS 'NO DOUBT' SOME HAVE GLIMPSED AFTERLIFE
Dr. Lili Feng, an associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine, says she is now convinced of near-death experiences and is seeking funds to document what she believes may be miraculous physical effects after such episodes.
For decades -- for centuries, since the time of Pope Gregory the Great -- scholars have been recording the remarkable accounts of those who glimpse the hereafter, and Dr. Feng joins a growing cadre of scientists who believe that such accounts are credible. "Near-death periods are very short, just seconds, but it can lead to fundamental changes," claims Dr. Feng, who notes not just emotional and spiritual changes but also cases where spirituality has affected the physical body. "Why is that? Before I wasn't convinced I could get this data, but now I am very convinced."
Dr. Feng, who is seeking a grant from the National Institutes of Health, says that while she is only beginning her work, she already has "some good data" indicating the existence of "other dimensions." Her research will go beyond near-death experiences to the effect that mysticism, including prayer, has on the human genetic system. She said genes are like "puppets." "There's something behind it that controls genes," says the medical doctor, and it is this "something" -- the spiritual aspect -- that the scientist, based in Texas, wants to document.
She says she has "no doubt" he and others have had supernatural encounters. "This level is not at the material level, it's higher than that, and is significantly affected by a spiritual factor, and now I have some proof," says Dr. Feng.
This is touchy territory. There are those who claim that aspects of near-death experiences smack of the "new age" while others counter that the glimpses granted of the afterlife are misinterpreted because they are new to most theologians and outside the realm of previous human experience. Moreover, the study will mix various religions. Dr. Feng herself, a native of China, is interested in meditation and Eastern-type methods that are often looked upon with suspicion by Western religions.
Dr. Feng says those who have these or other spiritual experiences and who note physical improvements in health appear to have experienced alteration of their bodies at a molecular level -- which is where she seeks documentation. Dr. Feng says she will be drawing blood from a number of near-death patients and comparing the molecular aspects to those of blood sampled before the alleged experiences. "It's not a hypothesis anymore, it's ready to go," said the researcher. It is the positive outlook on life in those who have mystical experiences that seems to cause actual effects, she says. She will focus on what is called the ubiquitian protein-degradation pathway.
That humans occasionally glimpse the afterlife in such a way is mentioned by Paul in II Corinthians 12:3-5. In the sixth century such cases were documented by Pope Gregory in his classic Dialogues. That work described a number of near-death cases, including that of a hermit who was revived from death and testified that he had been to hell, where he saw several powerful men dangling in fire. Just as he too was being dragged into the flames, an angel in a shining garment came to his rescue. A second case was that of a prominent blacksmith who had died from plague and was likewise shown aspects of eternity.
In modern times, new methods of resuscitation and surgery have led to a proliferation of such cases. Recently a Dutch research team estimated that at least seven million people have had near-death episodes and a poll from Gallup many years before said millions more had spiritual experiences -- often leading to major changes in their lives -- during brushes with death.
Asked if she thought such people were actually in a spiritual realm, Dr. Feng said, "Yes. There's no doubt about it. I know that for sure. That will be the next step. I think I can prove it. These things cannot happen overnight. It's impossible. If we can offer this kind of evidence to the scientific world, a lot of scientists will start looking to it and believe." She said she will focus on what is called the ubiqitian protein-degradation pathway.
"I want to show that if you believe in God," says Dr. Feng, "your condition is much better."
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