Skip to main content

Heaven or Hallucination?

By Klym ~

I was browsing through a Barnes & Noble bookstore this afternoon when I came across a book titled, "Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife" by Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon. I couldn't resist skimming through it, so I picked it up, went to a nearby table in the bookstore cafe, and started reading. It was quite intriguing and because it was written by a doctor/scientist/Harvard professor, who claimed to be a previous skeptic, I thought he might give some scientific insight into NDE's that no one else could provide. But, I was disappointed. Especially when I got to the part where God (the author calls God "Om") tells him that there is a tiny bit of evil in the world so that humans can have free will and so that suffering can help us become what Om wants us to be. I immediately shut the book and put it back on the shelf.

While I don't disbelieve the good doctor's experience---I'm sure that it was very real to him---I do take issue with him calling his experience evidence of "heaven". Here are some questions I wish the doctor would answer for me:

  1. He was in a coma---his heart was beating and he was on a ventilator. Does that meet the medical definition of being dead? WHAT IS the medical definition of death? (I know that several of you out there are doctors and nurses--help me out here.)
  3. How can you claim there is an afterlife when you were never really dead? Doesn't the very word "after" imply that you had to be dead FIRST and THEN you went to "heaven"?
  5. If he was truly dead, and then came back to life, wouldn't that be a '"between" lives' experience? How does that prove that an afterlife exists?
  7. I've never understood the concept of "NEAR death" anyway. Exactly how close is NEAR? If I unexpectedly drop dead in a few hours, say of a brain aneurysm--then I am near death right now, although I obviously am not aware of it, and I'm not having any otherworldly experience. Please define exactly, and once and for all, what "near death" really means.
  9. Explain to me the statement Om made to you that "Nothing humans can do is wrong." Does that mean that it wasn't wrong to murder 6 million Jews in the Holocaust? That it's fine and dandy to neglect and abuse children? I need some insight on that bit of your NDE, if you don't mind.

OK, I didn't read the entire book, so maybe some of my questions would have been answered if I had read every page. But I read enough to make me wonder exactly what the purpose of his book is. He claims that he wants every human being to know that they are unconditionally loved by God and that they are interconnected with everything in the universe. Mmmmm, that's a lofty ideal, but I don't think this book accomplished that. At least not for me.

I truly wanted to read it with an open mind, but I found it hard to filter his experience through my skepticism. To me his description of heaven sort of sounded like the special effects in the movie Avatar. Speaking of movies...I'm feeling a bit hungry. I think I'll go "interconnect" with a warm buttery bowl of popcorn....sounds kind of heavenly, doesn't it?


Popular posts from this blog

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our

So Just How Dumb Were Jesus’ Disciples? The Resurrection, Part VII.

By Robert Conner ~ T he first mention of Jesus’ resurrection comes from a letter written by Paul of Tarsus. Paul appears to have had no interest whatsoever in the “historical” Jesus: “even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know him so no longer.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:16 ) Paul’s surviving letters never once mention any of Jesus’ many exorcisms and healings, the raising of Lazarus, or Jesus’ virgin birth, and barely allude to Jesus’ teaching. For Paul, Jesus only gets interesting after he’s dead, but even here Paul’s attention to detail is sketchy at best. For instance, Paul says Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4 ), but there are no scriptures that foretell the Jewish Messiah would at long last appear only to die at the hands of Gentiles, much less that the Messiah would then be raised from the dead after three days. After his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus—an event Paul never mentions in his lette

Christian TV presenter reads out Star Wars plot as story of salvation

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Star Wars in the belief they were stories of personal salvation. The unsuspecting host read out most of the opening rap to The Fresh Prince, a 1990s US sitcom starring Will Smith , apparently unaware that it was not a genuine testimony of faith. The prankster had slightly adapted the lyrics but the references to a misspent youth playing basketball in West Philadelphia would have been instantly familiar to most viewers. The lines read out by the DJ included: "One day a couple of guys who were up to no good starting making trouble in my living area. I ended up getting into a fight, which terrified my mother." The presenter on Genesis TV , a British Christian channel, eventually realised that he was being pranked and cut the story short – only to move on to another spoof email based on the plot of the Star Wars films. It began: &quo


By David Andrew Dugle ~   S ettle down now children, here's the story from the Book of David called The Parable of the Bent Cross. In the land Southeast of Eden –  Eden, Minnesota that is – between two rivers called the Big Miami and the Little Miami, in the name of Saint Gertrude there was once built a church. Here next to it was also built a fine parochial school. The congregation thrived and after a multitude of years, a new, bigger church was erected, well made with clean straight lines and a high steeple topped with a tall, thin cross of gold. The faithful felt proud, but now very low was their money. Their Sunday offerings and school fees did not suffice. Anon, they decided to raise money in an unclean way. One fine summer day the faithful erected tents in the chariot lot between the two buildings. In the tents they set up all manner of games – ring toss, bingo, little mechanical racing horses and roulette wheels – then all who lived in the land between the two rivers we

Morality is not a Good Argument for Christianity

By austinrohm ~ I wrote this article as I was deconverting in my own head: I never talked with anyone about it, but it was a letter I wrote as if I was writing to all the Christians in my life who constantly brought up how morality was the best argument for Christianity. No Christian has read this so far, but it is written from the point of view of a frustrated closeted atheist whose only outlet was organizing his thoughts on the keyboard. A common phrase used with non-Christians is: “Well without God, there isn’t a foundation of morality. If God is not real, then you could go around killing and raping.” There are a few things which must be addressed. 1. Show me objective morality. Define it and show me an example. Different Christians have different moral standards depending on how they interpret the Bible. Often times, they will just find what they believe, then go back into scripture and find a way to validate it. Conversely, many feel a particular action is not

On Living Virtuously

By Webmdave ~  A s a Christian, living virtuously meant living in a manner that pleased God. Pleasing god (or living virtuously) was explained as: Praying for forgiveness for sins  Accepting Christ as Savior  Frequently reading the Bible  Memorizing Bible verses Being baptized (subject to church rules)  Attending church services  Partaking of the Lord’s Supper  Tithing  Resisting temptations to lie, steal, smoke, drink, party, have lustful thoughts, have sex (outside of marriage) masturbate, etc.  Boldly sharing the Gospel of Salvation with unbelievers The list of virtuous values and expectations grew over time. Once the initial foundational values were safely under the belt, “more virtues'' were introduced. Newer introductions included (among others) harsh condemnation of “worldly” music, homosexuality and abortion Eventually the list of values grew ponderous, and these ideals were not just personal for us Christians. These virtues were used to condemn and disrespect fro