By Joe Taksel
University of Kentucky neurologist Kevin Nelson has concluded that because their brain structures are similar to ours, it's reasonable to accept that animals, like humans, are capable of spiritual experiences.
For instance, Nelson says that animals probably experience the same "light at the end of the tunnel" effect as humans during near-death experiences because the phenomenon is caused by the loss of peripheral vision when blood flow slows as a result of fainting or cardiac arrest. He says that the light aspect of the experience results from rapid-eye-movement consciousness, which both humans and other animals experience.
Nelson isn't alone. Marc Bekoff, a professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado–Boulder, also believes that animals have spiritual experiences comparable to those of humans. Both Bekoff and world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall have witnessed chimpanzees in the wild engaging in animated dancing to the point of entering a trancelike state.