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Your Natural Afterlife: the Non-Supernatural Alternative to Nothingness

Updated on March 7, 2017
Bryon Ehlmann profile image

Bryon is a retired computer science professor, now seeking to employ an open mind and his analytic skills to better grasp our amazing world.

This natural afterlife overview gives a scientifically plausible, logically consistent answer to “Where is heaven?” and may change forever how you view death. It abbreviates a more comprehensive and in-depth, scholarly paper entitled The Theory of a Natural Afterlife: A Newfound, Real Possibility for What Awaits Us at Death.

The NEE and Natural Afterlife

An NDE, an event relative time perception, and an imperceptible death result in an NEE and natural afterlife. Others know you've died, but you don't. Instead, you're suspended within a dreamlike NEE.
An NDE, an event relative time perception, and an imperceptible death result in an NEE and natural afterlife. Others know you've died, but you don't. Instead, you're suspended within a dreamlike NEE. | Source


You’re dying having what will be called your near-death experience (NDE) should you recover. Within this very intense, “even more real than real”1 dreamlike experience*, you believe you’re in heaven. You’re overcome by marvelous feelings of wonder, love, and contentment and excited about such a glorious eternity. With death and the end of consciousness, this is your never-ending experience (NEE) and natural afterlife. At least, so posits the theory of a natural afterlife.

But how is such a natural afterlife, based on an NEE, possible when presumably any dreamlike experience ends with death and a non-functioning brain? Ironically, it’s possible not because individual consciousness continues after death but because with death, when and if such consciousness ends, you won’t know that:

  • You’ve died. You won’t see the “NDE screen” go blank.
  • Your NDE has ended. You won’t notice that nothing more happens in your NDE.
  • An eternity is fleeting by. Is this happening just before or after you died? You can’t tell. Relative to you, it’s irrelevant, time is suspended, and your NDE is essentially everlasting.

The situation is like watching an extremely exhilarating movie and not knowing that: you’ve unbelievably, with no perceivable drowsiness, fallen asleep; for you the movie is suspended; and time is fleeting by. Until you wake up, you still believe you’re captivated in that movie.

Understanding and Appreciation

The natural afterlife is hard to understand, even harder to appreciate. To grasp it, you must be able to imagine what it’s like to never wake up from a dream, something you’ve never experienced. You must imagine not knowing in your dreamlike NDE that it has ended, thus believing it hasn’t, despite knowing now that it will. And, you must imagine the relative irrelevancy of billions of years rushing by in what for you is a timeless, everlasting, final NDE moment.

Why won’t you know that your NDE has ended? Because you almost certainly won’t perceive your moment of death (just as you never perceive the moment you fall asleep). And why does your final NDE moment become everlasting? Because with an imperceptible death (as with falling asleep) your perception of time ends because perceived events (here NDE events)—whose sequence defines our sense of time, i.e., our event relative time—imperceptibly cease. You experience nothing more (not even nothingness) and indeed no next moment to replace your final NDE moment and signify to you that your NDE is over. Thus, your final NDE moment—which essentially embodies your NDE at a point in time and includes (as within any dream) your sense of self—becomes in your mind the forever present moment, which results in a timeless NEE and natural afterlife as shown in the above figure..

To appreciate such a timeless afterlife, you must be able to envision and value being left at death in a static, dreamlike yet intensely real-like state of mind enjoying an everlasting, ideally heavenly moment—one heightened by a never-ending anticipation of many more such moments to come. For some, this vision must replace the traditional vision of spending an eternity of human time in a time-perceptive, perfect world. Actually, such a world isn’t logical since perfection implies no challenges, no free-will lest decisions be bad (even evil), and thus an eternity of boredom. Certainly, not perfect! A timeless afterlife on the other hand has no such inconsistencies as one can logically experience a relatively forever, perfect moment—in reality, the optimal heaven.

Books Claiming NDEs as Proof of Heaven

NDEs provide no proof of heaven but do provide evidence for the natural afterlife.
NDEs provide no proof of heaven but do provide evidence for the natural afterlife. | Source

Popular Science Articles on NDEs

The science that refutes the claim that NDEs provide proof of a supernatural afterlife provides evidence of the brain'™s propensity to create a natural one.
The science that refutes the claim that NDEs provide proof of a supernatural afterlife provides evidence of the brain'™s propensity to create a natural one. | Source


The natural afterlife differs from the supernatural afterlife or the nothingness** that for centuries were considered the only possibilities for what one experiences after death. For example, the natural afterlife wasn’t considered by the authors of many bestselling books each claiming, based on a personal NDE, that consciousness survives death—e.g., Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander (Simon & Schuster, 2013). Nor was it considered by the authors of many scientific articles each claiming that NDEs provide no evidence of an afterlife since they’re induced by the natural physiology of the brain shutting down—e.g., The Death of “Near Death”: Even If Heaven Is Real, You Aren’t Seeing It by Kyle Hill (Scientific American, Dec. 3, 2012). Actually, NDEs, while providing no proof of an afterlife, provide evidence for the natural afterlife as does the science attempting to explain them.

Evidence for the natural afterlife, however, doesn’t guarantee that you will have one, that it will be heavenly, or that it’s the only one possible. You may not have an NDE, in which case your afterlife may be just like your before-life. Or, your NEE may be of a perfectly marvelous day on the beach, which for you may be the ideal heaven. Or, unfortunately, your NEE may be a hellish nightmare. Up to 15% of NDEs are such by one estimate.8 Also, your NEE could be overridden by a supernatural afterlife at death or sometime thereafter. The theory of a natural afterlife doesn’t preclude this.

It merely defines a new, very plausible after-life alternative, whose possibility can impact how one views death (and life), which is its main significance.

In a Nutshell

A simple description of your natural afterlife
A simple description of your natural afterlife | Source


In a nutshell, your natural afterlife could simply be described as dying while believing you’re in heaven (or hell) and for all eternity never knowing otherwise.

The following features make this afterlife extraordinary.

  • It’s supported by science—i.e., requires no supernatural beliefs.
  • It doesn’t suffer from logical inconsistencies.
  • It was apparently never part of the discussion before being defined by a 2013 article9.
  • It’s a gift of nature (perhaps from God) resulting from our amazing ability to have a dreamlike NDE and perhaps our brain’s propensity to induce one, our event relative perception of time, and our nearly certain imperceptible death.
  • It can be seen as acceptable to both theists and atheists and doesn’t preclude a supernatural afterlife if some type of consciousness continues or emerges sometime after death.
  • Its content is mysteriously produced and personalized, either by nature or by a God as you may choose to believe..

The difficulties in understanding and appreciating the natural afterlife also make explaining it difficult. You can find more detailed explanations and discussion in two additional articles 9, 10 and in the paper referenced above in the abstract.11


  1. 'Afterlife' feels 'even more real than real,' researcher says, Ben Brumfield (CNN, April 10, 2013)
  2. Sam Harris, 11/11/2012
  3. Charles Q. Choi, 9/12/2011
  4. Josh Clark, 10/23/2007
  5. Colin Lecher, 10/10/2012
  6. Michael Shermer, 4/13/2013
  7. Victor Stenger, 10/11/2012
  8. Consciousness: an Introduction, Susan J. Blackmore (Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 362.
  9. Perhaps Heaven Is Your Never-Ending Dream and Natural Afterlife, Bryon Ehlmann (HubPages, 2013). This is the first article ever written on the theory of a natural afterlife. It gives a more religious and philosophical perspective on the theory, arguing for its plausibility both philosophically and scientifically.
  10. The Heaven of Your Natural Afterlife: a More Revealing Look, Bryon Ehlmann (HubPages, 2013). This article attempts to better explain the natural afterlife and argues for the desirability of the heaven that it makes possible. The article also discusses a religious “add-on” to the theory.
  11. Ehlmann, B.K. (2016). The theory of a natural afterlife: A newfound, real possibility for what awaits us at death. Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research (JCER). 7(11) 931–950. This paper provides a comprehensive, in-depth, and scholarly discourse on the natural afterlife, including a near proof of its existence. The paper can be accessed as originally published at (no sign-in required) or a version with very minor revision can be accessed at by clicking on its title.


  • * - Here NDEs are not differentiated from near-death dreams as only the dream-like aspects and very intense reality of NDEs are relevant to the theory of a natural afterlife. Indeed, in older versions of this article, what here is called a never-ending experience (NEE) was called a never-ending dream (NED).
  • ** - A “nothingness” without consciousness is actually illogical. See Why Something vs. Nothing and the Essentialness of Consciousness (HubPages, 2014).
  • All trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.
  • A version of this article entitled “The Theory of a Natural Afterlife: An Overview” has been published by invitation January 2017 in the Scientific God Journal, 8(1) 104-109.
  • A .pdf version of this article is available on at: Your Natural Afterlife: the Non-Supernatural Alternative to Nothingness.


What did you believe you would experience after death prior to reading this article?

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If you chose A above, do you believe that the natural afterlife is possible after reading this article?

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If you chose B above, do you believe that the natural afterlife is possible after reading this article?

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If you chose C above, do you believe that the natural afterlife is possible after reading this article?

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Your comments are appreciated. Give them below after the “More by this Author” section.

© 2013 Bryon Ehlmann


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    • Bryon Ehlmann profile image

      Bryon Ehlmann 2 weeks ago from Tallahassee, Florida

      To Helen:

      First, I want to say I am very sorry for your loses, which are a lot to bear in just one year.

      "Why would we be any different" from "a flower, a tree, or an animal"? Because we are different in so many ways from a flower, a tree, and most animals. For one thing, we have a very different type of consciousness.

      The natural afterlife requires no belief in a God, so the rest of your comment, much to which I can agree, is not that relevant to the article other than to state that you, like me and many others, do not require a belief in a God or an afterlife in order to be a good person.

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      Helen 2 weeks ago

      If there is nothing we will not be able to know. I have lost my mother and my husband this year and I do believe, the end is the end. Just like a flower, a tree or an animal. Why would we be any different. That doesn't mean I am going to do what I please and not be a good person. I feel good when I do something nice for someone, not because a God tells me to be nice, but because I feel it. I know lots of people that really believe in God, but when their help is needed, they are nowhere to be found. Do they think that, at that moment God is no watching? I believe in myself, and I know I am always watching.

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      Lathaniel 11 months ago

      I have been wondering for some time, if i actually woke from my NDE or not. This ties in with that exactly, how do you know if you are in NED or alive?

    • Bryon Ehlmann profile image

      Bryon Ehlmann 19 months ago from Tallahassee, Florida

      Reply to Larry:

      I don't know how "people think consciousness will stay organized after death without a brain." The natural afterlife does not depend on consciousness staying organized after death. In fact, just the opposite.

      It is quite reasonable to assume that someone can have an NDE, yes a "near-death" experience, just before dying--i.e., "near" to death. Unlike some, they simply don't recover to tell about it.

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      Larry 19 months ago

      Since we know the consciousness directly depends on a living brain, how do people think consciousness will stay organized after death without a brain?

      NDE means -near- death experience, not death experience.

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      Mary Wilson 24 months ago

      Thank you for confirming what I have been feeling for a long time. Hope you will continue to research all of this and keep us informed.

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      paula marie deubel 2 years ago

      In other words, our very last memory, only experienced subconciously

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      Lyn Bigge 2 years ago

      Just check the silkworm...if that same energy can be transferred/transformed into something as beautiful as a butterfly, who am I to think in another hey?

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      Joe Waldron 2 years ago

      I think you are the right track

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      Mac 2 years ago

      Hopefully by the end of my lifetime we will actually know EXACTLY what happens when we die, it would be really cool to know :) But Nothingness just wouldn't be my ideal After-life, even if we don't notice the nothingness!

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      Synergy 2 years ago

      So basically like the movie "Source Code"? doesn't sound half bad

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