Near-Death Experiences and Religious Experience: An Exploration of Spirituality in Medicine

Jonathan Kopel, Mark Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There has been a continuous discussion of religious experience since William James, culminating in a rich and varied literature on the epistemology of religious experience in the late twentieth century. There has also been a burgeoning literature on near-death experiences (NDEs), largely on neurology and physiology and sometimes as possible counterevidence to naturalism. One important subject is largely missing, and that is a discussion of NDEs as religious experiences, and what light that might shed on their epistemic status. This paper is an attempt to fill that gap. In part one, we will delineate the topic of NDEs and what medical science has to say about them. In part two, we will lay out a general view of the epistemology of religious experience. In part three, we will apply that understanding of religious experience to NDEs and draw what lessons we may.

Original languageEnglish
Article number156
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Experience
  • Framework
  • Near-death experiences (NDE)
  • Religious experience


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