A more recent illustration of the merits of scientific research involves the phenomena known as near-death experiences. In the last 2 decades, numerous reports have claimed to prove the existence of life after death (such as Betty Eadie's best-selling book Embraced by the Light). A person who is near death becomes aware ofleaving his or her body, and this is followed by various sublime experiences: proceeding down a long dark tunnel, emerging into a brilliant and unearthly light, feeling eternal peace and love, and perhaps even seeing heavenly figures and meeting God:
Amidst all my pain, I saw a faint light in the distance. As I approached it, my pain began to disappear. When I finally came out of the dark and into the light, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I heard chimes, or distant bells, tinkling in the background, a beautiful sound I'll never forget. I was gently drawn up and into a great whirling black mass. I should have been terrified, but I felt a profoundly pleasant sense of well-being and healing. Love filled this whirling, moving mass. I have never felt greater tranquility in my life. The pinpoint oflight in the distance and the black mass around me took the shape of a tunnel, and I felt myself traveling through it at an even greater speed, rushing toward the light. As I got closer, I saw a man with brilliant golden light radiating around him. His light blended into mine, and the merging of our lights was like an explosion oflove. His arms were open to receive me. I went to him and received his embrace and said, "I'm home. I'm home. I'm finally home." (Blackmore, 1993, pp. 1-2, 136)
Scientific research points to a strikingly different conclusion: The phenomena experienced in near-death experiences can be explained by what happens in the dying human brain. For example, there are two kinds of chemical activity that occur in the brain.