The near-death experience part two: 
alternative explanations

J. Isamu Yamoto
Book Review by  Karin Schumacher Dyke

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Yamoto, J. Isamu (1992).  The near-death experience part two:  alternative explanations.  Christian Research Institute Journal, Summer, 1992:  14-25.  Retrieved October 12, 2002 from


There is no specified sample in this article.  It seeks to compare literature, medical explanation, and Biblical explanation of the near-death experience phenomenon.


Exploration of the near-death phenomena is presented as an event that needs further study.  Medical explanations are presented along with explanations that believers in near-death phenomena have explained.  Specific drugs and their effect are presented as they all have different effects sighted by people who have had near-death experiences.  Medical professionals see the drugs as the cause of these effects.  Near-death experiencers see the event of near-death as the cause of the experience and not the drugs.  Also presented by medical professionals as a source of the near-death experience are various maladies that might mimic the near-death experience reported by experiencers.  These are also refuted by those that have studied the near-death phenomena and have accepted them as a glimpse into the afterlife.  A section about memories of birth, as reported by Carl Sagan, is also presented as an explanation for near-death experiences and again is refuted by those that believe the near death experience is much more.  Finally, the article concludes that the near-death reports can only be accepted as much as they agree with the Bible.  Anything experienced that is deviant or refutes what the Bible has to say is deemed as unacceptable.  What goes along with Biblical principles is acceptable for people to consider and all near-death experiences must be scrutinized for the acceptableness under the guidelines set by this article.

Important Concepts and Definitions

Biblical principles � the guidelines available in the Bible for living one�s life and pleasing God.


As this is more of a review of the literature available and how to interpret the near-death phenomena, there is no operationalization of variables available in this article.

Major Findings 

In respect to the family and how they deal with near-death experiences, two opposing viewpoints are presented.  One says that near-death experience has a positive impact on families.  Another says the converse of this.  The things sighted in the article as positive outcomes of near-death experiences were, �they become more loving; the become seekers of truth; they value life itself more highly; they lose their fear of death (p. 20).�  In regard to the family, we have seen that becoming more loving is not necessarily a positive outcome for the family.  In fact, this characteristic often drives the family to question the loyalty and motives of the near-death experiencer.  On the negative side, P.M.H Atwater is sighted as providing the negative outcomes of near-death experiencers.  They sight her as contributing that people often find it hard to commit to relationships and careers after having a near-death experience.  She is quoted as saying, �thus, many people experience family problems, divorce, and the inability to hold a job (p. 20).�  This then rounds out the information in respect to families according to this article.