Humans have believed in some sort of afterlife, as evidenced by burials, as far back as 100,000 years ago. Accounts by people who claimed to have died and then come back are studied as Near Death Experiences (NDEs.) Of course, if these people are correct, then humans consciousness survives after the body dies and this is a no-no for materialists whose mantra is:
Never mind the mind, matter is all that matters.
If the NDE experiencers are correct, a whole bunch of paradigms are brought into question, such as: we are just animals suitable for herding or just machines, suitable for tinkering with wrenches and WD40. Questioning paradigms is a wickedly painful process and is always sure to meet fierce resistance.
I have had spiritual experiences (without dying) similar to what the NDE folks describe. They also describe profound changes after their experience. What are those changes?
According to the International Association for Near Death Studies,
Around eighty percent of the people who experienced near-death states claimed that their lives were forever changed by what happened to them. And this was true with child experiencers, as well as with teenagers and adults.
These are some psychological effects:
Loss of the fear of death, more spiritual and less religious, more generous and charitable than before, convinced of a life purpose, a child-like sense of wonder and joy, less stressed, hunger for knowledge and learning, highly curious….
These are some physiological changes:
Comfortable with ambiguity, heightened intelligence, more creative and inventive, unusual sensitivity to light and sound, decreased tolerance of pharmaceuticals and chemically treated products…
In spite of my own experiences, I am somewhat skeptical of some of these stories. Moderate skepticism is a good thing. But then there is this one: a woman undergoing brain surgery, who was hooked up to every kind of gadget known to man, died and came back. Doctors say there is NO WAY she was conscious of anything-everything was shut down. Yet when she left her body she heard what the doctors were saying and saw their instruments and she repeated these details back to the doctors later. They have no explanation.