I recently came across this Salon article from 2012 that is adapted from a book called Brain Wars. This article summarizes the research, however limited, on Out of Body Experiences (OBEs) and Near Death Experiences (NDEs).

TL;DR: Case studies of patients who have had OBEs have shown common themes, such as floating above one’s body and being able to see things that they didn’t consciously experience. For example, one patient was being operated on while under anesthesia and she saw the doctors performing the surgery and was able to repeat some of the things they were saying during the surgery, even though her cerebral cortex showed no activity.

NDEs go beyond OBEs in that patients describe traveling through a tunnel with a light at the end, seeing dead relatives, and feeling the presence of god while they are in a state of being close to death, such as during cardiac arrest.

While there are many recorded case studies of these phenomena, there is limited evidence of brain-based causes for these experiences. Theists may argue that OBEs and NDEs are proof that god exists, but I say that they are proof of how little we know about our own brains and how much farther science needs to go.

Any thoughts? Have any of you had one of these experiences or known someone who has?