The Boy Who Lived Again – Documentary About Death
The near-death experience (NDE) is an anomaly that defies the scientific logic of our modern world, and therefore it is often met by skepticism because it makes a case for immortality and the afterlife. This is understandable to me, since before my experience, as an atheist, I would also have been very skeptical of the NDE. If I had known about it then, I would certainly have rejected the reality of the experience on the grounds of lack of solid proof.
A U.S. News & World Report’s poll in 1997 estimated that up to 15 million Americans might have had a near-death experience. The most famous recent case is the near-death experience of ABC anchor, Bob Woodruff, who was almost killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He tells us about his experience that,
“I don’t remember hearing it. I remember that I – I went out for a minute. I saw my body floating below me and [a] kind of whiteness. I don’t have much more information than that, whether it was heaven or something. I still don’t know.”
Most scientific studies are done retrospectively many times years after the experience, but recent prospective studies have shown the experience to be scientifically predictable. In 2001, the first prospective study of near-death experiences was published in the international medical journal The Lancet. The study was lead by cardiologist Pim van Lommel, MD, and set up in ten different hospitals in Holland over a period of 13 years. In this time period, 344 patients who had cardiac arrest were successfully resuscitated and they were then shortly after interviewed about their experience of being near to death. The study found that of the 344 patients, 62 patients or 18 percent reported having a near-death experience.
This prospective study gives strong evidence that near-death experiences are not just stories that people make up, but that something does indeed happen to people who come close to death. Still, many experts remain skeptical. One attempt to explain the near-death phenomenon is that the experience is simply due to hallucinations brought on by the loss of oxygen to the brain, which in medical term is called “anoxia.”
However, this explanation is a bit problematic because as we all know people who collapse or faint usually have total blackout or are at least very confused about what happened to them. But the near-death experiencer has a clear consciousness of the event, remembering the episode acutely for many years. So, the big question for the skeptics is; how can people have clear consciousness in a state of cardiac arrest with no brain activity (flat EEG)? Clearly these cases should not be called near death experiences but life after death experiences because people with cardiac arrest are clearly dead with no breathing or heart beat.
The best documented instance of this paradox is the case of Pam Reynolds. In 1991, Reynolds was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to undergo very complex surgery called “hypothermic cardiac arrest.” This is a procedure where the body temperature is lowered, the heartbeat and breathing stopped, the blood is drained from the body, and the brain waves are totally flat.