Thanks to improved
survival rates resulting from modern techniques of resuscitation,
more and more people experience close encounters with death, but
live to tell about it. The current estimate is that as many as
15-20 million Americans alive today have experienced a so called
“Near Death Experience” (NDE).
Many claim these experiences actually give a glimpse of
what happens at the moment we die and consequently provide insight
into God and the afterlife. I would like to emphasize that the
presented material in this exhibit is
anecdotal and not evidence that can be scientifically verified.
But still – as the similarity of experiences is quite impressive
– it is worth learning more about.
In 2001 a ground-breaking 13-year study of NDEs in 10 Dutch hospitals was published in the highly respected international medical journal Lancet. The study interviewed 344 patients who experienced cessation of heart and/or breathing function, and were resuscitated and later interviewed. Through these interviews, the doctors identified that a number of the patients had experienced NDEs. The advantage of this type of study is that it gives scientists a matched comparison group of non-NDE patients against which to compare the near death experiences. Therefore the data is more reliable about the possible causes and consequences of the NDE.
In the past, some scientists have asserted a NDE is simply a hallucination brought about by the brain, due to loss of oxygen (called anoxia), after the heart has stopped beating. This study casts doubt on that theory, as all patients had a cardiac arrest, and were clinically dead with unconsciousness resulting from insufficient blood supply to the brain. In such circumstances the EEG (a measure of brain electrical activity) becomes flat, and if CPR is not started within 5-10 minutes, irreparable brain damage occurs, and the patient will die. According to the theory that NDE is caused by anoxia, all patients in the study should have experienced a NDE, but only 18% reported having one.
There is also a theory that a NDE is caused psychologically by the fear of death. But only a very small percentage of the patients said they had been afraid seconds before their cardiac arrest – it happened too suddenly for them to realize what was occurring. More patients than the frightened ones reported NDEs. Finally, differences in drug treatments during resuscitation did not correlate with the likelihood of patients experiencing NDEs, or with the depth of their NDEs.
Of the 344 patients tracked by the Dutch team, 18% had some memory of unconsciousness, and 12% (1 out of every 8) had what the physicians called a “core” or “deep” NDE.
Dr. Raymond Moody has outlined nine elements that generally occur (in this order) during the near-death experience:
There is much speculation about why some people remember NDE experiences and others do not remember or never had a NDE. No satisfactory explanation is currently available, but it is clear NDEs are real and likely are what they suggest to be: a brief and limited look into life after death.
Apologist and philosopher Peter Kreeft mentions features of a NDE that argue for its truth: 
The NDE experiences seem timeless in duration. The described events should require [in “earth” time] considerable duration, however are experienced as timeless. In our reality – given the short elapse of “earth” time involved between clinical death and resuscitation – they all happen in only a few moments.
The “being of light” and the “feeling of love being the most important sensation in life” is also experienced by non-believers who experience NDEs. So, experiencing the “being of light” seems to be a fact we all face, even if we do not believe in God or accept that love is the most important “sensation in life.” This is exactly what Jesus teaches again and again (John 15:17) “This is my command: Love each other” plus numerous other Biblical references.
Continue with the second main question: Is the Bible True?
van Lommel P, van
Wees R, Meyers V,
 Dr. Raymond Moody , Life After Life (1975). See also P.M.H. Atwater, Coming Back to Life (1988).
 Adapted from Peter Kreeft , Questions of Faith, the Philosophy of Religion (2006), pages 54-55.
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