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Proof of heaven popular, except with the church
They claim that they’ve glimpsed heaven but survivors of near-death experiences face a surprising skeptic: the church.
May 19th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Proof of heaven popular, except with the church

By John Blake, CNN

“God, help me!”

Eben Alexander shouted and flailed as hospital orderlies tried to hold him in place. But no one could stop his violent seizures, and the 54-year-old neurosurgeon went limp as his horrified wife looked on.

That moment could have been the end. But Alexander says it was just the beginning. He found himself soaring toward a brilliant white light tinged with gold into “the strangest, most beautiful world I’d ever seen.”

Alexander calls that world heaven, and he describes his journey in “Proof of Heaven,” which has been on The New York Times bestseller list for 27 weeks. Alexander says he used to be an indifferent churchgoer who ignored stories about the afterlife. But now he knows there’s truth to those stories, and there’s no reason to fear death.

“Not one bit,” he said. “It’s a transition; it’s not the end of anything. We will be with our loved ones again.”

Heaven used to be a mystery, a place glimpsed only by mystics and prophets. But popular culture is filled with firsthand accounts from all sorts of people who claim that they, too, have proofs of heaven after undergoing near-death experiences.

Yet the popularity of these stories raises another question: Why doesn’t the church talk about heaven anymore?

Preachers used to rhapsodize about celestial streets of gold while congregations sang joyful hymns like “I’ll Fly Away” and “When the Roll is Called up Yonder.” But the most passionate accounts of heaven now come from people outside the church or on its margins.

Most seminaries don’t teach courses on heaven; few big-name pastors devote much energy to preaching or writing about the subject; many ordinary pastors avoid the topic altogether out of embarrassment, indifference or fear, scholars and pastors say.

“People say that the only time they hear about heaven is when they go to a funeral,” said Gary Scott Smith, author of “Heaven in the American Imagination” and a history professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania.

Talk of heaven shouldn’t wait, though, because it answers a universal question: what happens when we die, says the Rev. John Price, author of “Revealing Heaven,” which offers a Christian perspective of near-death experiences.

“Ever since people started dying, people have wondered, where did they go? Where are they now? Is this what happens to me?” said Price, a retired pastor and hospital chaplain.

A little girl’s revelation

Price didn’t always think heaven was so important. He scoffed at reports of near-death experiences because he thought they reduced religion to ghost stories. Besides, he was too busy helping grieving families to speculate about the afterlife.

His attitude changed, though, after a young woman visited his Episcopal church one Sunday with her 3-year-old daughter.

Price had last seen the mother three years earlier. She had brought her then-7-week-old daughter to the church for baptism. Price hadn't heard from her since. But when she reappeared, she told Price an amazing story.

She had been feeding her daughter a week after the baptism when milk dribbled out of the infant's mouth and her eyes rolled back into her head. The woman rushed her daughter to the emergency room, where she was resuscitated and treated for a severe upper respiratory infection.

Three years later, the mother was driving past the same hospital with her daughter when the girl said, “Look, Mom, that’s where Jesus brought me back to you.”

“The mother nearly wrecked her car,” Price said. “She never told her baby about God, Jesus, her near-death experience, nothing. All that happened when the girl was 8 weeks old. How could she remember that?”

When Price started hearing similar experiences from other parishioners, he felt like a fraud. He realized that he didn’t believe in heaven, even though it was part of traditional Christian doctrine.

He started sharing near-death stories he heard with grieving families and dejected hospital workers who had lost patients. He told them dying people had glimpsed a wonderful world beyond this life.

The stories helped people, Price said, and those who've had similar experiences of heaven should “shout them from the rooftops.”

“I’ve gone around to many churches to talk about this, and the venue they give me is just stuffed,” he said. “People are really hungry for it.”

Why pastors are afraid of heaven

Many pastors, though, don’t want to touch the subject because it’s too dangerous, says Lisa Miller, author of “Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife.”

Miller cites the experience of Rob Bell, one of the nation’s most popular evangelical pastors.

John Price ignored heaven until he met a woman with an amazing story.

Bell ignited a firestorm two years ago when he challenged the teaching that only Christians go to heaven in “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.”

The book angered many members of Bell’s church as well as many in the evangelical establishment. He subsequently resigned.

“Farewell, Rob Bell,” one prominent evangelical tweeted.

“It’s a tough topic for a pastor,” said Miller, a former religion columnist for the Washington Post. “If you get too literal, you can risk sounding too silly. If you don’t talk about it, you’re evading one of the most important questions about theology and why people come to church.”

If pastors do talk about stories of near-death experiences, they can also be seen as implying that conservative doctrine – only those who confess their faith in Jesus get to heaven, while others suffer eternal damnation – is wrong, scholars and pastors say.

Many of those who share near-death stories aren’t conservative Christians but claim that they, too, have been welcomed by God to heaven.

“Conservative Christians aren’t the only ones going to heaven," said Price, "and that makes them mad."

There was a time, though, when the church talked a lot more about the afterlife.

Puritan pastors in the 17th and 18th centuries often preached about heaven, depicting it as an austere, no fuss-place where people could commune with God.

African-American slaves sang spirituals about heaven like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” They often depicted it as a place of ultimate payback: Slaves would escape their humiliation and, in some cases, rule over their former masters.

America’s fixation with heaven may have peaked around the Civil War. The third most popular book in 18th century America – behind the Bible and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” – was "Gates Ajar," written in the wake of the war, Miller says.

The 1868 novel was “The Da Vinci Code” of its day, Miller says. It revolved around a grieving woman who lost her brother in the Civil War. A sympathetic aunt assures her that her brother is waiting in heaven, a bucolic paradise where people eat sumptuous meals, dogs sun themselves on porches and people laugh with their loved ones.

“This was a vision of heaven that was so appealing to hundreds of thousands of people who had lost people in the Civil War,” Miller said.

Americans needed heaven because life was so hard: People didn’t live long, infant mortality was high, and daily life was filled with hard labor.

“People were having 12 kids, and they would outlive 11 of them,” said Smith, author of "Heaven in the American Imagination." “Death was ever-present.”

The church eventually stopped talking about heaven, though, for a variety of reasons: the rise of science; the emergence of the Social Gospel, a theology that encouraged churches to create heaven on Earth by fighting for social justice; and the growing affluence of Americans. (After all, who needs heaven when you have a flat-screen TV, a smartphone and endless diversions?)

But then a voice outside the church rekindled Americans' interest in the afterlife. A curious 23-year-old medical student would help make heaven cool again.

The father of near-death experiences

Raymond Moody had been interested in the afterlife long before it was fashionable.

He was raised in a small Georgia town during World War II where death always seemed just around the corner. He constantly heard stories about soldiers who never returned from war. His father was a surgeon who told him stories of bringing back patients from the brink of death. In college, he was enthralled when he read one of the oldest accounts of a near-death experience, a soldier’s story told by Socrates in Plato’s “Republic.”

His fascination with the afterlife was sealed one day when he heard a speaker who would change his life.

The speaker was George Ritchie, a psychiatrist. Moody would say later of Ritchie, “He had that look of someone who had just finished a long session of meditation and didn’t have a care in the world.”

Moody sat in the back of a fraternity room as Ritchie told his story.

It was December 1943, and Ritchie was in basic training with the U.S. Army at Camp Barkeley, Texas. He contracted pneumonia and was placed in the hospital infirmary, where his temperature spiked to 107. The medical staff piled blankets on top of Ritchie’s shivering body, but he was eventually pronounced dead.

“I could hear the doctor give the order to prep me for the morgue, which was puzzling, because I had the sensation of still being alive,” Ritchie said.

He even remembers rising from a hospital gurney to talk to the hospital staff. But the doctors and nurses walked right through him when he approached them.

He then saw his lifeless body in a room and began weeping when he realized he was dead. Suddenly, the room brightened “until it seemed as though a million welding torches were going off around me.”

He says he was commanded to stand because he was being ushered into the presence of the Son of God. There, he saw every minute detail of his life flash by, including his C-section birth. He then heard a voice that asked, “What have you done with your life?"

After hearing Ritchie’s story, Moody decided what he was going to do with his life: investigate the afterlife.

Raymond Moody revived interest in heaven by studying near-death experiences.

He started collecting stories of people who had been pronounced clinically dead but were later revived. He noticed that the stories all shared certain details: traveling through a tunnel, greeting family and friends who had died, and meeting a luminous being that gave them a detailed review of their life and asked them whether they had spent their life loving others.

Moody called his stories “near-death experiences,” and in 1977 he published a study of them in a book, “Life after Life.” His book has sold an estimated 13 million copies.

Today, he is a psychiatrist who calls himself “an astronaut of inner space.” He is considered the father of the near-death-experience phenomenon.

He says science, not religion, resurrected the afterlife. Advances in cardiopulmonary resuscitation meant that patients who would have died were revived, and many had stories to share.

“Now that we have these means for snatching people back from the edge, these stories are becoming more amazing,” said Moody, who has written a new book, “Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife.”

“A lot of medical doctors know about this from their patients, but they’re just afraid to talk about it in public.”

Ritchie’s story was told through a Christian perspective. But Moody says stories about heaven transcend religion. He's collected them from Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and atheists.

“A lot of people talk about encountering a being of light,” he said. “Christians call it Christ. Jewish people say it’s an angel. I’ve gone to different continents, and you can hear the same thing in China, India and Japan about meeting a being of complete love and compassion.”

It’s not just what people see in the afterlife that makes these stories so powerful, he says. It’s how they live their lives once they survive a near-death experience.

Many people are never the same, Moody says. They abandon careers that were focused on money or power for more altruistic pursuits.

“Whatever they had been chasing, whether it's power, money or fame, their experience teaches them that what this (life) is all about is teaching us to love,” Moody said.

Under 'the gaze of a God'

Alexander, the author of “Proof of Heaven,” seems to fit Moody's description. He’s a neurosurgeon, but he spends much of time now speaking about his experience instead of practicing medicine.

He'd heard strange stories over the years of revived heart attack patients traveling to wonderful landscapes, talking to dead relatives and even meeting God. But he never believed those stories. He was a man of science, an Episcopalian who attended church only on Easter and Christmas.

That changed one November morning in 2008 when he was awakened in his Lynchburg, Virginia, home by a bolt of pain shooting down his spine. He was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, a disease so rare, he says, it afflicts only one in 10 million adults.

After his violent seizures, he lapsed into a coma — and there was little hope for his survival. But he awakened a week later with restored health and a story to tell.

He says what he experienced was “too beautiful for words.” The heaven he describes is not some disembodied hereafter. It’s a physical place filled with achingly beautiful music, waterfalls, lush fields, laughing children and running dogs.

In his book, he describes encountering a transcendent being he alternately calls “the Creator” or “Om.” He says he never saw the being's face or heard its voice; its thoughts were somehow spoken to him.

“It understood humans, and it possessed the qualities we possess, only in infinitely greater measure. It knew me deeply and overflowed with qualities that all my life I’ve always associated with human beings and human beings alone: warmth, compassion, pathos … even irony and humor.”

Holly Alexander says her husband couldn’t forget the experience.

“He was driven to write 12 hours a day for three years,” she said. “It began as a diary. Then he thought he would write a medical paper; then he realized that medical science could not explain it all.”

“Proof of Heaven” debuted at the top of The New York Times bestseller list and has sold 1.6 million copies, according to its publisher.

Alexander says he didn’t know how to deal with his otherworldly journey at first.

“I was my own worst skeptic,” he said. “I spent an immense amount of time trying to come up with ways my brain might have done this.”

Conventional medical science says consciousness is rooted in the brain, Alexander says. His medical records indicated that his neocortex — the part of the brain that controls thought, emotion and language — had ceased functioning while he was in a coma.

Alexander says his neocortex was “offline” and his brain “wasn’t working at all” during his coma. Yet he says he reasoned, experienced emotions, embarked on a journey — and saw heaven.

“Those implications are tremendous beyond description,” Alexander wrote. “My experience showed me that the death of the body and the brain are not the end of consciousness; that human experience continues beyond the grave. More important, it continues under the gaze of a God who loves and cares about each one of us.”

Skeptics say Alexander’s experience can be explained by science, not the supernatural.

They cite experiments where neurologists in Switzerland induced out-of-body experiences in a woman suffering from epilepsy through electrical stimulation of the right side of her brain.

Michael Shermer, founder and publisher of Skeptic magazine, says the U.S. Navy also conducted studies with pilots that reproduced near-death experiences. Pilots would often black out temporarily when their brains were deprived of oxygen during training, he says.

These pilots didn’t go to heaven, but they often reported seeing a bright light at the end of a tunnel, a floating sensation and euphoria when they returned to consciousness, Shermer says.

“Whatever experiences these people have is actually in their brain. It’s not out there in heaven,” Shermer said.

Some people who claim to see heaven after dying didn’t really die, says Shermer, author of “Why People Believe Weird Things.”

“They’re called near-death experiences for a reason: They’re near death but not dead,” Shermer said. “In that fuzzy state, it’s not dissimilar to being asleep and awakened where people have all sorts of transitory experiences that seem very real.”

The boy who saw Jesus

Skeptics may scoff at a story like Alexander’s, but their popularity has made a believer out of another group: the evangelical publishing industry.

While the church may be reluctant to talk about heaven, publishers have become true believers. The sales figures for books on heaven are divine: Don Piper’s “90 Minutes in Heaven” has sold 5 million copies. And “Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back” is the latest publishing juggernaut.

Colton Burpo says he saw heaven and describes the color of Jesus' eyes.

“Heaven is for Real” has been on The New York Times bestseller list for 126 consecutive weeks and sold 8 million copies, according to its publisher.

The story is told from the perspective of Colton Burpo, who was just 4 when he slipped into unconsciousness while undergoing emergency surgery for a burst appendix.

Colton says he floated above his body during the operation and soared to heaven, where he met Jesus. Todd Burpo, Colton’s father, says he was skeptical about his son’s story until his son described meeting a great-grandfather and a miscarried baby sister — something no one had ever told him about.

Todd Burpo is a pastor, but he says he avoided preaching about heaven because he didn’t know enough about the subject.

“It’s pretty awkward,” he said. “Here I am the pastor, but I’m not the teacher on the subject. My son is teaching me.”

Colton is now 13 and says he still remembers meeting Jesus in heaven.

“He had brown hair, a brown beard to match and a smile brighter than any smile I’ve ever seen,’’ he said. “His eyes were sea-blue, and they were just, wow.”

Colton says he’s surprised by the success of his book, which has been translated into 35 languages. There’s talk of a movie, too.

“It’s totally a God thing,” he said.

Alexander, author of “Proof of Heaven,” seems to have the same attitude: His new life is a gift. He’s already writing another book on his experience.

“Once I realized what my journey was telling me," he said, "I knew I had to tell the story.”

He now attends church but says his faith is not dogmatic.

“I realized very strongly that God loves all of God’s children,” he said. “Any religion that claims to be the true one and the rest of them are wrong is wrong.”

Central to his story is something he says he heard in heaven.

During his journey, he says he was accompanied by an angelic being who gave him a three-part message to share on his return.

When he heard the message, he says it went through him “like a wind” because he instantly knew it was true.

It’s the message he takes today to those who wonder who, or what, they will encounter after death.

The angel told him:

“You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”

“You have nothing to fear.”

“There is nothing you can do wrong."

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Art • Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Culture & Science • Faith • God • Heaven • History

soundoff (4,945 Responses)
  1. ryananneb

    Parents are the ones who should teach their children about religion and not so much the church.
    If the parents teach them the difference between right and wrong and how to become law abiding citizens, how to pray and have faith in God they will have gone along way towards forming character and putting them on the right path.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Factoidlover

      I'm afraid that teaching children how to truly think and behave morally and to observe and participate in political and legal affairs as contributing citizens will more likely lead them to reject the poor moral teachings that a belief in God offers.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  2. HotAirAce

    If an atheist had said the following, believers would be howling in protest:

    "“It’s a tough topic for a pastor,” said Miller, a former religion columnist for the Washington Post. “If you get too literal, you can risk sounding too silly. If you don’t talk about it, you’re evading one of the most important questions about theology and why people come to church.”"

    Too silly indeed.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  3. Colin

    N&W1000 – again, what happened to the dinosaurs?

    May 19, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Science

      THey Colin...............you know for who !

      hai Researchers Discover 100-Million-Year-Old Crocodile Fossile

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwD_hjq_V7U&w=640&h=360]

      May 19, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  4. Will

    Here's why:

    1. We have next to no idea what Heaven is like. "No eye has seen, no ear has heard what the Lord has prepared for those who love him."

    2. We would rather listent to sermons about love, forgiveness, kindness, and learn more about God than to hear how great Heaven is going to be. Sure, it's encouraging every once in a while, but there are more important things to do here on Earth that we as Christians need to focus on.

    Blake didn't have have to write a blog about this, he could have just asked me.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Brooklyn

      we can create whatever fantasies we wish to.. We just don't need to teach those as fact to small children

      May 19, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  5. acounselorsperspective

    Can we please hear from an atheist who has experienced a near death experience please? How many of you have come back from an experience like this and said, "Oh, that was only a neurological event involving the visual cortex, nothing more than a bunch of random neurons firing off and releasing enormous amounts of Dopamine and Serotonin into the synaptic cleft."

    May 19, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • I Am God

      Typical clueless rantings. Name an Atheist who has had a near death experience and went on to claim it was God's will?

      May 19, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Victim of catholic priest pedophilia

      I did, at age 9,, nothing there

      May 19, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • acounselorsperspective

      Well then, I guess he or she wouldn't be an Atheist any more. Perhaps Atheists don't have near death experiences.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  6. Sweenbass

    When it comes to matters concerning all of the books that people consider to be "holy" (Bible, Koran, Gita etc...)

    Are there some interesting stories in those books? Some stories are & some are not. the ones that you think are interesting may not be the ones that interest me but that's personal taste.

    Do those aforementioned books contain philosophies that people can use to help improve their lives & the lives of others? Of course that is true of all those books & more

    When it comes to questions of a spiritual nature (A deity, A life force or soul, existence after natural death etc...) however, the best that those books can do is speculate. That is because they were written by people.

    Some people wish to hang their spiritual hat on a speculation that one of those books offer. I do not.

    Is there a spiritual component to the universe? I don't know.

    However, I have not read anything in any of those books that convinces me that the speculations in them are anything but that.

    That is why i refer to myself as an agnostic.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  7. Dave

    Of course churches aren't talking about heaven. They are now political organizations who spend the vast amount of their time pushing a tax-exempt agenda for the Republican party.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  8. Gant

    If humanity is God's noblest work, the less said about it, the better.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  9. Just Call Me Lucifer

    I ask Jesus if he wants in on a weekly card game...dude never calls back. What do you make of that?

    May 19, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • Pinolera

      Would you reply to someone who is mocking you? We're to approach Him sincerely. "God is not mocked...your sin will find you out." What is sin? A missed opportunity to do right!

      May 19, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • G to the T

      Pin – I'll give you a hint, its not god he's mocking...

      May 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  10. gardengirl

    I like Robert Monroe's take on this. He claimed he could go out of his body at will and during these experiences could see people who had died and found they went where they believed they would go. So, Christians who believed they would go to Heaven went to a 'heaven' and those of other beliefs went to those places. Those without beliefs went to a park like setting. It was quite interesting.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • HotAirAce

      And he was able to prove is claims how? Or was he just being funny, and I missed it?

      May 19, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  11. realitycheck

    Fact: The holy bible is the most evil book man has written. Simply read it. And pay attention.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Just Call Me Lucifer

      Quran?

      May 19, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  12. N&W 1000

    My advice to atheists, evolutionists, etc...is the following:

    1. Give yourself some name like Billy Cerebellum, or Dick Cranium, or Johnny Brain, when posting on threads.

    2. NEVER read the bible for yourself.

    3. Make sure your only knowledge of scripture is a second or third hand source, and, make sure that source misunderstands what it is trying to explain to you.

    4. Make liberal use of name calling when you cannot answer a debate opponent's question.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • I Am God

      My advice to you, actually get out of the church once in a while and into reality.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • Religion

      I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24.

      The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Colin

      Hey N&W, what happened to the dinosaurs?

      May 19, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Religion

      When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9.

      The problem is, my neighbours. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

      I know you've thought a lot about these things. Thank you for your guidance on these matters.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • Religion

      I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7.

      In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

      Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of these matters.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • N&W 1000

      What happened to the dinosaurs?

      I believe they died?

      May 19, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Colin

      How long ago?

      May 19, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • dave

      My advice to you is to stop living your life based on bronze age fables and mysticism. The burden of proof is on those who claim an after life and a god exists, and there is zero empirical evidence to support the assertions of any religious doctrine.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Religion

      Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations.

      A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

      As a Biblical scholar and a man of God, I'm sure that you've given this a lot of thought.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      I believe dinosaurs evolved into birds.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Bob in Beaufort

      Now, about the dinosaurs: Just everybody knows that the reason that they died out is because they wouldn't fit through the door of the Ark.

      Yeah, right!

      May 19, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Religion

      N&W

      I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath.

      Exodus 35:2. Clearly states he should be put to death.

      Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

      Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • .

      Just when you thought Topher was the stupidest young earth jesus freak N&W shows up.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • dave

      Knowledge of scripture is second or third hand? Are you kidding me? The only ancient historians to offer any corroboration to the gospels, who themselves were written, not by eyewitnesses, but many years later(second and third hand), were Josephus and Tacitus, did so 200 years after the fictional life of Jesus, and only for political reasons. Do some research and get back to us.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      I haven't named called once while addressing you, I chose the name because it is in itself an insult because so called christians like to name call far more than you want to admit, and honestly a rose by any other name. I have read the bible many times and many other religious texts so do not think my opinion is one of ignorance. In fact ignorance is the basis of all religion. My information comes to me from a lifetime of study, interaction with many religions and peoples from everywhere on the planet you can name.
      You again are bearing false witness, and making prejudicial leaps based on your own ignorance. You asked for answers to your questions, I provided intelligent, researched answers.
      I know you are used to being fed propaganda, and it may be difficult for you to grasp the concepts that I have presented, but this entire post is nothing but a child lashing out when someone disagrees with them. If you want to have an intelligent discussion, act as if you were intelligent.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Pinolera

      Right on!!! They pathetically ignorant of the Bible. It's very disturbing just how clueless they are. I wish people who know nothing would say nothing.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  13. Lydia

    Beautiful article,
    Thank you for writing it.

    May 19, 2013 at 10:59 am |
  14. Birchwood

    Religion was created by mankind...... Believe as you will, if atheism is your desire you are hollow in thought with no belief; being 70% water and live in this manner..............If a person chooses to have their personal relationship (worship) with a Creator it is their private business, they do not need a priest as an intermediary... Humbly, each is able to do as they please, for we are all going somewhere when leaving earth.

    May 19, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • TC

      Atheism was created by mankind since physical proof of a spiritual world is not possible and totally illogical.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • dave

      Life based on delusion? Pass.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • dave

      One cannot have a personal "relationship" with something that doesn't exist.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Atheism does not mean no belief. I have many beliefs, just none involve gods.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  15. Colin

    Hey N&W1000, I have a friend who works for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. He was telling me how a new strain of Bird Flu has evolved with a resistance to the strongest vaccines we can throw at it. The best immunologists in the World believe it evolved in parts of India or China where the regular contact between chickens and humans allows easy vectoring to humans.

    Luckily, you have corrected me. Evolution is a lie. All life was created in its current form by a Bronze Age sky god they called “Yahweh,” who we now call “God”.

    So, the Center for disease Control will immediately stop researching the evolution of disease and close down, so their researchers can go home and read their Bibles to find a cure for bird flu there.

    Thanks N&W1000, you have saved the taxpayer even more money!!

    May 19, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • N&W 1000

      Well, I have certainly performed my community service for the day!

      May 19, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  16. caesarbc

    It is all BS. No one is physically capable of coming back from death to explain what they think heaven is. After a stroke, I am not ready to believe anything someone says. It's like asking a highly intoxicated drunk man the mysteries of the universe and then having him drive you home. The bottom line is, people are gullible.

    May 19, 2013 at 10:58 am |
  17. Tim Jordan

    This is the same con game religion has been selling for literally millennia. The hallucinations are from hypoxia and nothing else. What's the harm for people believing in comforting fairy tales? In America, the religious right uses fear-mongering to convince otherwise sensible and kind people to build mega churches that are rife with scandal and corruption. Catholics tolerate pedo-priests and their fellow travelers. Would you still follow your religion if they didn't believe in an afterlife?

    May 19, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Pinolera

      Hypoxia? Are you kidding me? That's the most ridiculous explanation on the face of the earth. If you don't believe me, visit any hospital where there are plenty of hypoxic patients for you to observe. Then come back to this site and tell us how many of these patients had hallucinations that made sense, were linear and story-like, and that they could actually remember when they were back to normal. Ridiculous!!!

      May 19, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  18. Colin

    N&W1000, I have a friend who is on an archeological dig in the Republic of Georgia. He emailed me about how they had found the remains of the earliest ho.mo sapiens outside of Africa, dating to a couple of hundred thousand years ago. There is an entire research team there from Oxford University’s paleontology department, the most respected in the World.

    Fortunately, you have informed me that Adam and Eve lived only 6,000 years ago with man already totally evolved (and with a talking snake). So, I am going to write to the team and tell them to all fold up their tents and go home and read their Bibles. The answers to the natural history of the human species are all in there.

    Thanks buddy, you have save them a lot of unnecessary effort.

    May 19, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • N&W 1000

      You are welcome, but, again, you do not understand what you are even talking about, and liberally misrepresent other's points.

      You are apparently a dishonest person.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Colin

      Do you want me to show you where you accepted the geneology in Luke from Jesus back to Adam, a period of about 4,000 years? Does that not make the human race about 6,000 years old? So, what did I mistrepresent?

      May 19, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      N&W.
      How do you account for neanderthal DNA in humans?

      May 19, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  19. Religion

    N&W

    Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight.

    I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

    May 19, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • N&W 1000

      Religion, you are a dishonest person too; or,very ignorant.

      The Church does NOT live under the law of the book of Leviticus; IF you had read the book of Hebrews, you would have known Paul exhorts us to "Boldly approach the THRONE OF GRACE, that we may obtain MERCY from God.

      so there.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • G to the T

      N&W – I'm confused. Do you follow the words of Jesus or the words of Paul? In my research they disagree quite often...

      May 20, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  20. us_1776

    Newsflash: There is no heaven.

    They promise you thin-air in order to steal what you really have.

    And still leave you with a reason to live.

    .

    May 19, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • N&W 1000

      No, they only steal it if you are dumb enough to give it.

      Think about it.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:05 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.