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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?