Are near-death experiences (NDEs) real?


By BibleAsk Team

Near-Death Experiences (NDEs)

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are personal experiences associated with impending death. During these experiences, some have claimed to encounter a variety of unusual phenomena, like moving through a tunnel toward a light, visiting heaven or hell, and having spiritual visions.

However, scientific research suggests that NDEs are not spiritual but instead chemical – a function of anoxia or oxygen deprivation in the brain. This has been shown in a study by the University of Michigan Medical School and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

And according to an article at, the researchers wrote that “the brain is much more active during the dying process than in the waking state.” Lead author Jimo Borjigin believes that elevated level of brain activity may happen during the human experience of ‘near death’ and it is this that gives rise to a heightened state of consciousness, including the visions experienced by survivors of cardiac arrest. Researcher Borjigin had conducted previous research with similar findings in 2013, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researcher Susan Blackmore, author of “Dying to Live: Near-Death Experiences” (Prometheus Books, 1993), notes that many NDEs (such as euphoria and the feeling of moving toward a tunnel of white light) are common symptoms of oxygen deprivation in the brain. Further, NDE’s can be chemically induced in patients.

Also, a 2001 article published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences states, “contrary to popular belief, research suggests that there is nothing paranormal about these experiences. Instead, near-death experiences are the manifestation of normal brain function gone awry, during a traumatic, and sometimes harmless, event.” – Neuroscientist Dean Mobbs, of the University of Cambridge’s Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, and Caroline Watt, of the University of Edinburgh.

A 2010 study in the journal Critical Care found that of 52 heart attack patients, 11 reported having NDEs. Between one in four and one in ten heart attack survivors report some form of near-death experience.

For these reasons, Christians need to be very careful and not base their theology on such unreliable experiences especially when they often contradict each other and the clear teachings of the Bible. Such experience should be tested by the scriptures. The Lord says, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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