Science and NDE 

Contributions to the research on near-death experiences have come from several academic disciplines, among these the disciplines of medicine, psychology and psychiatry. Interest in this field of study was originally spurred by the research of such pioneers as Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, George Ritchie, and Raymond Moody Jr. Moody's book "Life after Life", which was released in 1975, brought a lot of attention to the topic of NDEs .

Near-death experiences (NDE­s) are common enough that they have enter­ed our everyday language. Phrases like "my whole life flashed before my eyes" and "go to the light" come from decades of research into these strange, seemingly supernatural experiences that some people have when they're at the brink of death. But what exactly are NDEs? Are they hallucinations? Spiritual experiences? Proof of life after death? Or are they simply chemical changes in the brain and sensory organs in the moments prior to death? 

The Near-Death Experience recently gained an increased scientific respectability by the publication of an article in The Lancet authored by Dr. Pim van Lommel of the Rijnstate Hospital at Arnhem (the Netherlands) and his collaborators (Lommel, et al. 2001). Their prospective work with cardiac patients who were successfully resuscitated after cardiac arrest, resembles similar research by Dr. Sam Parnia at the University of Southampton and his colleagues (Parnia et al., 1998). 

Both Van Lommel and Parnia have concluded that NDEs are real and that they cannot be explained by physiological or psychological causes (alone). Moreover, they have both accepted the implication that consciousness is not destroyed when our brain activity ceases, but that there is a continuity beyond brain coma and therefore probably after brain death as well. Consciousness does not ultimately depend on brain activity for its very existence, which makes it downright irrational to take for granted the idea that it would be obliterated after the brain ceases to exist as a physical system. 

The above is not hard fact, but rather theory, and does not mirror the opinion of the entire scientific community, in fact it is a minority, I mention it here because it is interesting that at least some of the scientific community gives it merit.