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Gerald M. Woerlee

Born and raised in Western Australia, G. M. Woerlee is a physician and anesthesiologist who has taught and practiced in Leiden, the Netherlands, for the past twenty-seven years. In addition to Mortal Minds: The Biology of Near Death Experiences, Woerlee is the author of The Unholy Legacy of Abraham, a study of the biological basis of belief in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, including a critical study of the texts of their holy books.

Published on the Secular Web

Modern Library

The Near-Death Experience: Unanswered Questions

Since the publication of Raymond Moody's Life After Life in 1975, several investigators have performed outstanding studies of the incidence and properties of near-death experiences. Unfortunately, many authors have enticed readers to accept uncritical supernaturalistic or paranormal explanations for NDEs, causing many good studies to languish unread by mainstream scientists. Despite over 30 years of public interest and scientific endeavor, many promising lines of research have not even been touched upon, while others have not been followed up. This article considers a select inventory of the gaps in our current knowledge of the causes and genesis of the NDE, with particular emphasis on whether NDEs represent scientific confirmation of life after death, or simply manifestations of brain function. The latter is implied by what is germane to the NDE itself, the psychological and sociocultural influences on NDEs, and what it would take to make it possible for something to leave the body during out-of-body experiences and see and hear events going on in the physical world.