Ousley, J. D. (1978). Possible evidence for life after death. Anglican Theological Review, 60(3) 259-277.
Abstract: Raymond Moody's best-selling book, Life After Life, presents a number of reports of 'near-death experiences' which have been said to prove that there is a “life' after this life. The experiences are described (I), and their unusual characteristics are discussed (II). For example, they represent a basically new phenomenon, resulting from modern medicine's ability to 'bring back' people who are clinically dead. But, looked at scientifically, philosophically and theologically, do the reports of near-death experiences constitute evidence for life after death, and does this evidence provide conclusive proof of continued personal existence after death? It is argued that the logical peculiarities of the evidence count against it (III), but there could be compelling grounds for accepting the reports as good scientific evidence (IV). Still, scientists might on balance decide to wait for further data before saying the reports actually constituted proof of 'life after life' (V). The evidence is then considered from a philosophical perspective (VI): concepts such as 'spiritual body' are analyzed, the possibility of new kinds of evidence is discussed, and it is argued that Moody's evidence can neither be dismissed out of hand nor said to warrant extravagant claims about another realm of being. Finally, the near-death experiences are related specifically to Christian belief (VII). For example, while the experiences might appear to support Christian doctrines of eternal life, one could still accept these doctrines and dismiss the evidence, or reject the doctrines and find the evidence credible; thus there is no necessary connection between the reports and Christian doctrine. It is then concluded (VIII) that while the reports are of great interest, the most sensible scientific approach would be a ”wait-and-see' attitude—an approach which might well be shared by philosophers, and even theologians, who will question whether the reports could ever constitute a proof of the Christian belief that there is a life after this life which shares the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Copyright: © 1978. Reprinted with permission of the Anglican Theological Review.
Aftereffects of NDEs—Sense of Self, Psychological and Physical
Aftereffects of NDEs NOS
Afterlife, Belief in
Altered States and NDEs
Characteristics of NDEs—Autoscopy, Out-of-Body
Characteristics of NDEs NOS
Explanations of NDEs—Parapsychological
Explanations of NDEs—Philosophical
Explanations of NDEs—Physiological, Neurological, Brain
Language and NDEs
Methodology in NDE Research
Religion and NDEs—Christianity
Science and NDEs
Veridical Perception during NDEs