The Near-Death Experience: Evidence of the Afterlife?

In Features by Critical Eye




The near-death experience (NDE) remains a phenomena that continues to be an object of fascination for many. There are now thousands of documented cases with similar salient features as their central theme, that of travelling through a tunnel of bright light, being reunited with loved ones, spirit guides and other entities, and an all-encompassing feeling of love.

For those who have had a NDE it can be a life-altering moment. Often having felt such feelings of euphoria and happiness, they may no longer harbour any fear of death, and the thought of returning to their normal lives seems unbearable. Many are compelled to make significant changes, often with a need to help others in some capacity.

Familiar stories include patients having specific and detailed knowledge of their surroundings and who was in the room when laid on the operating table, and provide other information they could not possibly have been aware of. Other accounts involve visions of unspeakable beauty, unparalleled within our 3 dimensional Earthly reality, and recount vivid experiences that were highly tangible and real at the time.

Science has as always attempted to explain away accounts of NDE as a hallucinations or brain trauma, and merely a symptom of the inner workings of the mind, making these visions seem very real to the individual.

Dr Eben Alexander was one such sceptic. A respected neurosurgeon in the United States and unique in that given his expertise on brain functionality, actually had a near-death experience himself, which he detailed in his book ‘Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife’.

In 2008 Dr Alexander slipped into a coma after suffering with a rare form of bacterial meningitis, and was essentially brain-dead and not expected to pull through. When he came out of his coma after a week, his outlook on life had been completely transformed, and he was now resolute in his belief in life after death.

In his book he gives names for each place or ‘dimension’ he travelled while in a coma, such as the Core, the Underworld, the Spinning Melody and the Gateway:

“I didn’t have a body – not one that I was aware of anyway. I was simply…there, in this place of pulsing, pounding darkness. At the time, I might have called it Primordial”.

Whilst in the Underworld, he describes what he calls the ‘Realm of the Earthworm’s-Eye view’, in which he found himself in dirt and undergrowth, as if he was an earthworm, he says, “I wasn’t human while I was in this place. I wasn’t even animal. I was something before, and below, all that. I was simply a lone point of awareness in a timeless red-brown sea”.

With his position as a neurosurgeon, Dr Alexander was later able to explore his NDE more fully and came to the following conclusion:

“In reviewing my recollections with several other neurosurgeons and scientists, I entertained several hypotheses that might explain my memories. They all failed to explain the rich, robust, intricate interactivity of the experiences”

As usual, science’s failure to acknowledge that which can’t be measured via our limited 5 senses has hindered further serious exploration of the near-death experience that could allay the fear of death for many people, and furthermore, render even the concept of death as the end to be wholly inaccurate, and a deception rooted in fear.