California State University, Bakersfield Professor Stafford Betty recently released his latest book, “When Did You Ever Become Less by Dying? Afterlife: The Evidence,” examining what can be a difficult, sensitive and often debated discussion among many.

An author of four books on afterlife since 2011, Betty hopes his latest will continue to spark a healthy discussion on a much-needed topic.

“Sharing the evidence and analyzing it properly unleashes what (American philosopher and psychologist) William James called ‘the strenuous mood.’ It encourages a zest for life,” Betty said. “It helps form the conviction that what we do here really matters and has consequences that reach beyond this life. It helps generate every kind of virtue.”

He says his teachings in the classroom served as a springboard to examine research related to afterlife.

“For many years, I’ve been teaching a highly successful course at CSUB titled ‘The Meaning of Death’,” Betty said. “One of the keys to its success is the discussions we have on what happens at death and what might happen after. Most students are turned off by the idea of becoming nothing at death, and I show them the various types of evidence suggesting this won’t happen.

“I share my students’ discomfort at the thought of personal extinction. For the most part I enjoy life, and any evidence that suggests it goes on is very welcome news. My books explore this evidence.”

The book, “When Did You Ever Become Less by Dying? Afterlife: The Evidence,” was released this summer and is available on Amazon. Betty, a professor of religious studies, says his research relies on scientific and philosophical analysis of the evidence, which falls under nine areas: deathbed visions, the near-death experience, apparitions or ghosts, poltergeist phenomena, spirit communication through mediums, spirit attachment, reincarnational memories by very young children, spirit communication using electronic instruments, and unaccountable clarity by advanced Alzheimer’s victims just before death.

“Most afterlife researchers who are aware of this information are strong believers in survival of death,” Betty said. “My latest book shows why they are.”

Betty said his research has provided compelling evidence. “It’s full of surprises, but perhaps most surprising is the finding that afterlife is not the exclusive domain of religion,” Betty said. “The great adventure that death opens up to us is not dependent on belief but on character. Deeply religious people often have an advantage, not because of their beliefs, but because they have often thought more carefully about death and devoted time to becoming loving and forgiving persons. But nonbelievers are not disadvantaged. Character is fundamental, and good atheists or agnostics will begin the journey at the level that their character — their habits of a lifetime — have readied them for. The same goes for people of varying faiths.”

However, Betty admits his research may draw different reaction from those who follow religious doctrine.

“Reactions vary,” Betty said. “First, the answers reaching us from these nonreligious sources frighten away many religious people who restrict themselves to their Bible or Quran or Vedas. Second, many religious people are open to more light and are pleased to see that the evidence affirms the truth of survival even if the details of what to expect at death are different from what they’ve been taught. Third, many other religious people discover in these books a world following death that makes far more sense than anything they’ve come across in their churches or synagogues. Their worldviews change accordingly.”

As for scientists, “again, reactions vary,” Betty said. “Many people who think of themselves as scientific refuse to look at the research. They cannot imagine a world apart from the one they know, and they don’t give themselves a chance to meet the evidence that might change their minds. Needless to say, this is a very unscientific attitude. Many others, especially in the medical professions, are more open. Some of the best reviews of my books have been written by doctors, including psychiatrists.”

He hopes many will consider the evidence he presents. “There is no need for the good man or woman to fear death,” he said. “To regret it, yes. For there is so much that is yet to be done. But fear it? No. The great adventure of life will almost certainly continue.”

MENDIBURU MAGIC: Kudos to Brian and wife Valerie Mendiburu and their team of supporters for organizing the 11th annual Mendiburu Magic Foundation’s annual Pyrenees Fiesta.

The charity event, which was held Saturday at The Station in northwest Bakersfield, was presented by the Wheeler Foundation. Pyrenees Fiesta annually brings locals together in a celebratory atmosphere that features Basque and Mexican cuisine, live entertainment, and competitive, but friendly, silent and live auctions. It’s all for a good cause, according to Brian Mendiburu, since event proceeds benefit local children who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses.

The Mendiburu Magic Foundation, which began in 2000 after Brian Mendiburu lost his mother, Nancy Ann, to a battle with cancer, provides eligible families with vital support. At the event, Shyanna Atkinson shared how the foundation supported her family as her toddler, Mia, battled health challenges from the time she was carrying her. Although Atkinson was too humble to ask for assistance at first, she later realized that the importance that the Foundation played in her daughter’s life and thanked supporters attending the event for their continued support.

For more information about the organization, visit www.mendiburumagic.org.

Email contributing columnist Olivia Garcia at oliviagarcia2@icloud.com. Her work appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are her own.

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