Today, I would like to share two books that recently impacted me. The two books are “Evidence of an Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences” and “God and the Afterlife.” The authors are Jeffrey Long, MD and Paul Perry. “Evidence of an Afterlife,” their first book, provides information about the phenomenon, with case examples. “God and the Afterlife” focuses on the nature of God provided by the descriptions. Personally, I preferred the second book, but the first was helpful.
Jeffrey Long is a Radiology Oncologist physician, but he became interested in near-death experiences early in his career. You’ve probably heard of people who came very close to death and later told of an experience with heaven, meeting deceased relatives or even God. Of course, there have been several books and movies about the experience. A near-death experience is usually defined by its name. The person was near death, and he or she had an experience.
In 1998, Dr. Long established the Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF) to study the phenomenon. He set up a website and invited people to write about their experience, and answer a lengthy questionnaire. At this point, the site has received over 4000 entries from all over the world. The questionnaire explores not only the near-death experience, but also changes that may have taken place after the experience. The questionnaire has been translated into over twenty different languages.
The amazing thing about such experiences is their consistency. While not everyone offers the same description, most experiences are very similar. The most common experiences involve an out-of-body experience, heightened senses, intense and generally positive emotions or feelings, passing into or through a tunnel, a brilliant light, and encountering deceased relatives. Many also report a life review, learning special knowledge, and a moment where they had to decide to stay in that realm or return to life.
I was most impressed by the consistent reports of intense, unconditional and indescribable love during the experience. They said that they felt surrounded by this incredible love, like they had never experienced. They said the love emanating from God was beyond description. They often said that God was love.
I was also impressed by the ways this experience changed the lives of the reporters. Most said they no longer had any fear of death, and that they gained a new love for others and themselves. They said that they felt a peace. And these changes continued over twenty years after the experience.
The author also deals with the arguments of skeptics, and presents evidence that, to me, seems pretty convincing. In many of the experiences, the person was able to describe events occurring in other rooms, that would have been impossible for them to know. Also, many people had these experiences when their brain functions should have made any conscious experience impossible.
As I noted earlier, there have been several recent books about one person’s near-death experience, but this is the first time I have been able to review research into over 4000 such experiences. I think you might be impressed as well.