A group of international researchers studying "near-death experiences" agree that people who have been brought back to life after their hearts stopped beating retain broad memories of life after death.
The Jerusalem Post reports the researchers published the first-ever peer-reviewed consensus statement examining accumulated scientific evidence about "near-death experiences" and laying out guidelines for the further scientific study of them.
Led by by Dr. Sam Parnia, M.D., PhD and director of Critical Care and Resuscitation Research at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the team studying the phenomenon included researchers with varied medical backgrounds from Harvard University, Baylor University, University of California Riverside, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Medical College of Wisconsin, and the universities of Southampton and London.
The statement of their agreement on the subject was published in the Annals of The New York Academy of Sciences.
The research team found human brain cells do not immediately die when the heart stops beating and a person has been declared dead.
"From a scientific perspective, death remains potentially reversible for as long as the underlying cellular processes have not reached biological irreversibility," the study said.
The team noted advances in resuscitation science, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR, have saved the lives of millions of people. Even though clinically dead, they were brought back to life using advanced medical procedures. Many of these same people have recounted "a unique set of recollections in relation to death that appears universal," wrote the researchers in the consensus statement.
In their conclusions drawn from the study, the researchers noted, the recalled experiences surrounding death are not consistent with hallucinations, illusions or psychedelic drug induced experiences, according to several previously published studies. Instead, they follow a specific narrative arc involving a perception of:
- (a) separation from the body with a heightened, vast sense of consciousness and recognition of death;
- (b) travel to a destination;
- (c) a meaningful and purposeful review of life, involving a critical analysis of all actions, intentions and thoughts towards others;
- (d) a perception of being in a place that feels like "home"; and
- (e) a return back to life.
The researchers added that while systematic studies have been unable to absolutely prove the reality or meaning of near-death experiences or NDEs, it has been impossible to disclaim them either, according to The Post.
While critics may scoff at the idea of these "experiences" and call them merely "hallucinations," University of Virginia Psychiatry Professor Jim Tucker, who authored the 2013 book Return to Life, told a South by Southwest panel in Austin, Texas, last month that it is physically impossible for a dying person to have fantasies or hallucinations, according to Business Insider.
"Critics often argue that dying people's brains play tricks on them, creating fantasies or hallucinations. But a near-death event compromises a person's brain function, whereas hallucinations are usually the result of an overactive sensory cortex (the part of the brain that receives and interprets sensory information). That would make it hard for a dying person to hallucinate," Tucker said.
'There's a Man's Tennis Shoe on the Roof of the Hospital. It's Dark Blue. It's Left-Footed'
As CBN's Faithwire reported, best-selling author and investigative journalist Lee Strobel nearly died 10 years ago. That experience put him on a path to prove the existence of life after death. Strobel first rose to prominence decades ago as an atheist and journalist trying to disprove Christianity.
Instead, he found Jesus and shared his journey and discovery in the 1998 bestseller, The Case for Christ.
His new documentary film, The Case for Heaven, based on his book of the same title, explores his own brush with death and evidence for the afterlife.
"I was completely surprised by the evidence for near-death experiences," he said. "I was a skeptic about it. I thought maybe it was just a lack of oxygen to the brain that causes hallucinations or something like that. And what I discovered is there have been more than 900 scholarly studies on near-death experiences published in scientific and medical journals over the last 50 years. It's a very well-studied phenomenon and The Lancet, which is the famous medical journal in England, carried an article that analyzed near-death experiences and said that no alternative explanation could account for this phenomenon."
Strobel says his favorite example is from a woman named Maria who died in the hospital, was revived, and described it later. Maria claimed she was conscious but not attached to her body during that time, watching the resuscitation efforts the medical staff were doing on her body. She said her spirit was kind of floating there in the hospital room, and then her spirit floated out of the hospital before she was revived, and then her spirit returned to her body.
"She said, 'Oh, by the way – there's a man's tennis shoe on the roof of the hospital and it's dark blue, it's left-footed. There's some wear over the little toe and there's shoelaces tucked under the heel,'" Strobel recalled. "So, sure enough, they go up and they find it exactly as she said. In my book and the film, we document these cases and I think it's extraordinary."
Over the last several years, CBN News has reported on many such near-death experiences. Last month, we told you the story of Tina Hines and her experience in February 2018. Rushed to the hospital, she was still without a heartbeat and had no sign of life for 20 minutes. After being taken off a ventilator, she was able to breathe on her own. Her husband Brian placed a pen in her hand and held a notebook for her.
Brian recalled, "We figured out that she wrote I-T-S-R-E-A-L. 'What's 'it's real'?' And I go, 'The pain? The hospital?' She's slowly nodding your head. Eyes are closed. She's fully vented. She's moving all this, 'No.' and then my daughter goes, 'Heaven?' And she goes – she nods yes."
The doctor warned that she may not be able to speak for a while, however, Tina had a lot to say immediately.
"I just wanted to share that I saw Jesus face to face and the unbelievable rest and peacefulness of what I was experiencing was Jesus standing there with His arms open wide, and right behind Jesus standing there was this incredible glow. It was the most vibrant and beautiful yellow," she told her family and friends.