Really I don't know anyone who has had one, or do I want to. Further I have not really investigated it much either or do I want to.
So in a way I might be leaving myself vulnerable for the inevitable argument about it, and have thought this for a while. However I tend to do the stagnation thing a lot and haven't looked into it so the inevitable did indeed happen and I was told: "How do you explain this, and that all people that have them report the same thing?"
Well I am not sure if the person asking the question was sure of her facts either, but it would be great to get some view points on this?
the commonality is a product of each person sharing the same brain physiology. the commonality is the same commonality that makes it so that neurologists feel confident working on anyone's brain. the commonality in experiences is what we would expect. it's totally unsurprising and isn't an argument for anything other than that our brains each respond the same way to oxygen deprivation.
anyway, it's always seemed to me that people touting the NDE argument miss one glaring problem that exists right from the outset. NEAR death experience! these people aren't actually dying and then returning with these experiences. they're trans-death experiences. they're near death experiences, not after death experiences.
and still, let's even allow for a moment that these experiences would be evidence of a god's existence. the person using such an argument would still have all of their work ahead of them if they'd like to use this as evidence of their particular deity. they'd have all of their work ahead of them to justify their following the particular doctrines and dogma they do.
even if a valid argument it would only very slightly skew the probability away from infinitesimal perhaps leaving it best characterized then as "slim". it certainly wouldn't be a reason to jump into the god hypothesis with both feet despite their being no evidence that one exists and despite the very conception most people have of their god being incoherent and contradictory.
The writer of the atheist blog "Too Many Questions" had a heart attack a few months ago and technically died, and wrote a great post about it: http://crispysea.blogspot.com/2009/08/great-british-national-health...
There's also stuff in there about the health care debate, but that's not the point here. He says "So before, when I wrote my blogs, and ranted on about there being no god etc. I was standing on a rock called 'I don't know but the probability of a god is pretty much zero', whereas now, there is nobody on the planet more qualified. I know what happens when you're really 'most sincerely dead' because I've been there, and it's just exactly like being asleep."
Considering theists take their dreams seriously as messages from God sometimes, I think that makes sense.
I'm sure there are plenty of near death experiences that have happened that don't have any of the religious connotations, but those won't ever be the ones you hear about.
You can see the 'tunnel of light' without having a near-death experience, too. Tunnel vision, the loss of peripheral vision while retaining vision in the center, can be caused by a great number of things, including a loss of blood to the brain (not unusual when someone is dying), extreme fear or distress (also not unusual), and a host of other sources.
Well, I was dead for a few minutes, and didn't have a NDE, but I do know about the characteristics and also the facts.
In addition to all the great answers you've gotten I can tell you this. What produces these allegedly "supernatural" experiences is a drug called Ketamine that creates all of the elements of an NDE when it is injected into normal, non-dying people.
This experience can be chemically induced with this drug. The trigger for the body to naturally release Ketamine is lack of oxygen to the brain and body. If you read scientific papers like these, you'll find that there is a completely chemical and completely non-spiritual reason for the NDE's.
I have also re-posted my own story here, if you want to read it.
Well said, I remember Dawkins in "The God Delusion" made a similar comparison to Ketamine.
NDEs are just another example of religious people automatically attributing anything they don't understand to their faith. Instead of seeking a rational and scientific explanation the source of any mystery, it becomes a spiritual event or miracle without question.
To add to the ketamine argument, I have seen people taking it recreationally (stupid as I think they were to do it, seeing as it's used as a horse tranquiliser).
One person did in fact claim that he felt like he was out of his body and promptly swore off ever doing it again. The other (a regular user) stood in the middle of the room and told the world at large that he was "Jesus Decimus Mauridius, the Roman God Gladiator"... so take that how you will, I guess.
My view? Just because we may not have an adequate scientific explanation for these experiences doesn't mean you can jump to putting God in there.
Interestingly, NDEs can be simulated without drugs by stimulating certain areas of the brain. There's a link to Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (a condition many people may have and never realise it) - I'm posting the rest at the end of the thread as it seems like something new to bring to the table.
doone man and nelson man are right on the button here, The one thing that everybody has in common no matter where they come from or what they believe, is that they all have a brain. The brain, in my opinion and based on what i have read is that the brain is dying. sad and simple .
I would still like to hear explanations of people seeing and remembering things that were up high, out of their line of vision.
I can't remember where I saw it, but I"m tempted to say it was a Penn & Teller's bullshit episode. Anyway, at a NASA training center, they have one of those fun little centrifuge machines. Very reliably, after a certain G-force, all pilots basically pass out, and report a NDE-like experience. As previous posters have said, this is attributed to the hypoxia to the brain.
A related phenomenon is the abduction experience. It's most likely that the "victims" are really only experiencing sleep paralysis. I've actually had this feeling. Woke up, but I was physically unable to move, and I had a sense of another being in my room (my grandfather's funeral had been that day). Seriously freaky, but scientifically explainable. Wiki has a good summary on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_paralysis
Quantum weirdness is more freaky then this allege stuff. The role of quantum mechanics in conscientiousness is a field of study also, "where does conscientiousness lie " may be one day answered by project Blue Brain.
But if Project Blue Brain is correct the electromagnetic spikes in the brain are not a result of conscientiousness, but rather conscientiousness itself, certainly a paradigm shift that may have far reaching ramifications and would not limit conscientiousness to carbon base units. But a conscientious spirit leaving the body has Pagan origins and is not a argument for the Bible, "the living know they shall die and the dead know not anything"