Near-Death Experiences, Deathbed Visions, and Past-Life Memories: A Convergence in Support of van Lommel's 'Consciousness Beyond Life' Page: 305
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JOHN C. GIBBS
compassed contributions ranging from process theology to quantum
Yet something importantly new pertains to van Lommel's NDE
research-based articulation of the continuity claim: in two words, The
Lancet. The prior publication of his and colleagues' (van Lommel et
al., 2001) large-scale prospective longitudinal study of NDEs in this
prominent and prestigious medical journal renders his championing
of the continuity claim particularly challenging to the mainstream
academic and professional community.
The challenge meets understandable opposition. How can van Lom-
mel or anyone justifiably use near-death studies to make claims re-
garding death and beyond? It has been said that an extraordinary hy-
pothesis requires for its acceptance extraordinary evidence-and the
continuity hypothesis would certainly seem to be extraordinary. Has
not neuroscience established that mind or consciousness is totally a
function of the brain-and hence cannot possibly continue once brain
activity has ceased? What evidence could be extraordinary enough to
challenge this established materialist view of mind qua brain-let
alone support a leap into a claim for the existence of an afterlife? Does
not such a claim drag scholars back to pre-scientific days of baseless
belief, dogma, and superstition?
Yet as I will show, there is extraordinary evidence. And as the evi-
dentiary base broadens, the existential and ontological claim becomes
compelling. Although van Lommel (2010) based his continuity claim
largely on NDE studies, he referred also to related existential phe-
nomena such as deathbed visions or "nearing-death awareness" as
well as past-life memories. Such related phenomena round out the
picture and merit more extensive attention than that afforded in van
Lommel's book alone. Accordingly, in this article I primarily review
not only NDEs but also deathbed visions and past-life memories (cf.
E. F. Kelly et al., 2007). I will illustrate the experiential "feel" of these
phenomena as well as review corroborative and converging evidence.
Featured in Consciousness Beyond Life are basic contents and after-
effects of NDEs, which van Lommel defined as "the (reported) recol-
lection of all the impressions gained during a special state of con-
sciousness" that "can occur during . . . a period of clinical death"
(2010, p. 7). This special mental state entails "profound psychological
events with transcendent and mystical" qualities (Greyson, 2000b,
Here’s what’s next.
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Gibbs, John C. Near-Death Experiences, Deathbed Visions, and Past-Life Memories: A Convergence in Support of van Lommel's 'Consciousness Beyond Life', article, Winter 2010; Durham, North Carolina. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc461696/m1/3/: accessed April 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .