Today medical science is able to revive people whose bodies show little or no brain function. When they come back from the brink of death, many share remarkable accounts of feelings of calm, peace, moving upwards through a tunnel, meeting deceased loved ones, encountering a being of light, experiencing a life review, feeling unconditionally love, being given a choice to stay or return, feeling a return to the body, often very reluctantly. They have a near-death experience (NDE).
During the NDE, the body and brain have lost mental and physical vitality—they are dying. Although during the NDE the brain is not capable of experiencing higher functions that neuroscience associates with awareness, such as sensory experiences, judgment, and memory, experiencers report that their senses are more acute than normal, with vivid visual experiences and feelings of physical comfort and lightness and no pain, even when the body is in trauma.
Rather than feeling the fear and dread one would expect during life-ending traumatic experiences. people feel profound peace. They are on the bluff at the end of this life, enthralled by the vista before them of indescribable beauty, peacefulness, and unconditional love.
Experiencers Have More Acute Senses When They Should Be Failing
Dr. Jeffrey Long, founder of the Near-Death Research Foundation, explains that trauma to the dying brain and body should cause a brain to lose capabilities, resulting in confusion and cessation of awareness and memory. But that is not what happens.
Dr. Peter Fenwick, a neuropsychiatrist and one of the leading authorities in Britain on NDEs explains that the condition of the brain during NDEs should result in confusion and paranoia, but it doesn’t.
During the NDE, no sensory experiences and no memory production would be possible if the mind were located in the brain. During these times, people whose brain activity is being monitored show absolutely no life in the brain. Dr. Fenwick describes the state of the brain during an NDE:
A famous NDE demonstrating that people are having sensory experiences when the body’s senses are blocked or not functioning was reported in Light and Death, a book by cardiologist Dr. Michael Sabom.[i] To remove a large, deadly aneurysm from beneath her brain, doctors put Pam Reynolds into a state of hypothermic cardiac arrest. Her body temperature was lowered to 60 degrees, her heartbeat and breathing were stopped, and the blood was drained from her head; her brain waves flattened, showing no brain activity. After her successful operation, she was warmed and her own blood was returned to her body. When she could communicate, she reported a startling NDE.
Reynolds gave remarkably accurate, detailed descriptions of the surgical procedure. She reported that someone in the operating room said something about her arteries being small, and she described the Midas Rex bone saw as looking like an electric toothbrush, having interchangeable blades and a high-pitched whirring sound.
The things she saw and heard occurred when she was deeply unconscious. During the time she described hearing and seeing details, her eyes were taped shut and her ears were plugged with devices that monitored her brain stem activity. These devices produced loud clicks measuring 95 decibels at a rate of 11.3 clicks per second, drowning out all outside noise.
Reynolds reported floating out of the operating room and traveling down a tunnel to a light, at the end of which her deceased relatives and friends were waiting. Her long-dead grandmother was there. Eventually, her deceased uncle took her back and she reentered her body.
She said that during the experience she saw with vision that was “brighter and more focused and clearer than normal vision.” When she heard her deceased grandmother calling, the sound was clearer than sounds she’d heard with her ears, yet her auditory functions were shut down by the noisy clicks and she was unconscious.
Five eminent cardiac and medical specialists (Sam Parnia, Pim Van Lommel, Robert Spetzler, Peter Fenwick, and Michael Sabom) all supported the accuracy of Reynolds’s stated experience during her clinical death. “What she saw corresponded to what actually happened.”[ix]
She had seen and heard details while either sensory deprived and unconscious, with her eyes taped shut and hearing. Blocked by loud clicks, or while she was brain dead.
Proof the Afterlife: Experiencers Know about Distant People and Events When Their Bodies and Brains Have No Access
Other evidence that in the NDE a person is moving into another realm is demonstrated in their knowledge about people and events distant from them. Their minds are freed from the body and use their heightened sense of awareness and perfectly functioning memory to observe and remember things happening distant from their unconscious bodies. Their minds are alive and acutely aware when their bodies have shut down.
Pediatrician Melvin Morse resuscitated a young girl named Katie who had nearly drowned after being underwater for nineteen minutes. As a result of the massive swelling of the brain, she had fixed and dilated pupils. She was breathing only with the assistance of an artificial lung. She had only a 10 percent chance of surviving.
Against the odds, three days later she recovered fully. In the follow-up exam, Katie described many details of the emergency room resuscitation, although during the entire ordeal, she was “profoundly comatose, with her eyes closed. More importantly, Katie could recall many details far beyond the hospital.
In one glimpse inside her own home, she described her mother preparing roast chicken and rice for dinner, where her father was sitting, what he was doing, and the specific toys her brother and sister were playing with. When Morse checked the details, the family confirmed that these events had occurred just days before.[x]
A young child’s account is especially evidential of the separateness of mind and body because a naïve child reports what happens matter-of-factly.
A five-year-old boy named Rick suffered from meningitis and fell into a coma. He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Because of his near-death condition, Rick was outside of the body. As his body was taken away, he decided to stay behind.
He watched family members’ grief-stricken reactions to his emergency. He watched his father weeping as he entered the car to take the family to the hospital.
Then he rushed to the hospital, arriving ahead of the ambulance, he watched hospital personnel move a girl about twelve years old out of the room he was to occupy.
Rick remained comatose for several days. When he was revived, he described all the events of the trauma and his family’s behavior in perfect detail. His family was bewildered by the depth of his knowledge. He had been completely unconscious through it all.[xi]
Dr. Larry Dossey, former chief of staff of Medical City Dallas Hospital, describes this case of a woman blind from birth who was able to see clearly during her near-death experience: experience:
Sarah’s mind was able to see when her body couldn’t because she was unconscious and had been blind since birth.
View the video of a woman who had been blind from birth who was able to see during her near-death experience: www.earthschoolanswers.com/vicki/.
People who have experienced an NDE describe having more acute senses at the time of the event. When the brain is failing, the result should be confusion and paranoia. It isn’t. The person’s senses and mental faculties are keen and accurate. People in NDEs have knowledge about distant people and events they could not have if their minds were confined to their unconscious bodies.
These characteristics of NDEs are proof our minds live on after our bodies cease to function.
[i]Jeffrey Long with Paul Perry, The Science of Near-Death Experiences (New York: HarperOne, 2010), 80.
[ii]Peter Fenwick, “Dying: a spiritual experience as shown by Near Death Experiences and Deathbed Visions,” unpublished paper, 2004, https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/docs/default-source/members/sigs/spirituality-spsig/spirituality-special-interest-group-publications-pfenwickneardeath.pdf?sfvrsn=686898bc_2.
[iii] Peter Fenwick & Elizabeth Fenwick, E., The Truth in the Light—An Investigation of Over 300 Near-Death Experiences (Headline Book Publishing, 1996).
[iv] Spink Health, “One in 10 people have ‘near-death’ experiences, according to new study,” EurekAlert, June 28, 2019, https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-06/sh-oi1062519.php.
[v] Sarah Tippit, “Scientist Says Mind Continues after Brain Dies,” Reuters, June 29, 2001.
[vi] Tippit, “Scientist Says Mind Continues.”
[vii] Michael Sabom, Light and Death (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1998).
[viii] Edward Kelly et al., Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006).
[ix] Sabom, Light and Death.
[x] Gary Habermas, “Near Death Experiences and the Evidence—A Review Essay,” LBTS Faculty Publications and Presentations, fall 1996, 337.
[xi] Melvin Morse and Paul Perry, Closer to the Light: Learning from the Near-Death Experiences of Children (New York: Random House, 1990), 152-154.
[xii] Dossey, Recovering the Soul, 18.