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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. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    If just about everyone is supposed to go to HELL (according to all of the major, hate-filled, Abrahamic religions...i.e., Christianity, Islam, Judaism), then why are there not a majority of near-death experiences being reported as "having just barely escaped the lake of fire" or some such garbage? What a hoax!

    May 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      hinduism, absurdity of a hindu secular, ignorant self centered.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      There have been. Google it to find out!

      May 19, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Even if there "have been", it doesn't account for the fact that just about all of the damn NDE's you hear about are described as being peaceful, going through a tunnel toward a bright angelic light, seeing loved ones and feeling good and blah blah blah. Ever wonder what happens to your brain when it is starved of oxygen and nutrients...and I mean in a strictly scientific way? Do you know what a hallucination is?

      May 19, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Ami

      Judaism does not beleove that non-jews go to hell. Only Evil people stay in "Sheol" after death. All good people are in heaven in the afterlife, just their proximity to G-d"s presence is based on how rightious they were during their lives.
      Please do not attribute the Christian or Islamic beliefs of hell to Judaism.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      G. Zeus,

      Do you know 'anything' about Atomic Cosmologies? Celestial Cosmologies? Cellular Cosmologies? These three cosmologies of spatial relevancies is all that there is needed to know about when one wants to confront cosmic relationships.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Asked of lionly... " Do you know what a hallucination is? "
      If you've read any of his posts, the answer should be obvious.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      OK, Ami, I beg your pardon on the eternal resting places of the goyim. But it is undeniable that the latter two cults were ripped off of Judaism. And of course, Judaism itself was probably adapted from who knows what pre- or co-existing religions from Persia, Greece, Egypt...

      May 19, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      For more info on hallucinations, please read Aldous Huxley's "The Doors of Perception."

      May 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Maybe people who have the hell experience are so ashamed they don't talk about it? That's how I'd justify the skewed numbers if I were trying to make a case for the hellfire worldview anyway.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  2. lionlylamb

    Virtual relativisms are nowhere nearing any augmentation of religious relativity. Neither are naturalistic evolutions. Religions are humanities' considerations of the egoistically spiritual endowments of conditioned soulfully individualized relevancies. Beliefs in the Godly domains' kingdoms are a no-brainer for me. These Godly kingdom domains are universal constructs of human physiologies.

    Common folk people who choose godliness as being their life's crux will find failure after failures in a world getting ever filled with growing faithlessness. Nothing good can ever come from ever mounting humanisms of faithlessness. Atomic Cosmology. Impossible to know? Celestial Cosmology. Impossible to know? Cellular Cosmology. Yet again, impossible to know? I do not 'pretend' in my knowing understandings of such Cosmologies. Many posters here are immature in things they dribble here. Many "adults" are still nothing more than being infantile nuisances meant to irk others' emotional states

    One has to have a need for resonations of their ill-worded namesakes. The faithless ever will harken upon those whose faiths are centralized in there being but One Father of All Living Manifestations! There are many Gods and even many more sons (even daughters) of the Gods. The Gods of Celestial Creations are of one nature and the sons of the Gods within atomized cellular creations are of another nature. Which of these Gods and/or Gods’ sons/daughters creatively evolved one's physiological bodies? Whose Celestial Gods and sons/daughters of the Celestially Manifested Gods are for and whose son/daughter gods are found against us? For the sons/daughters of the Celestial Gods living within atomic manifestations are our bodies' husbanded fathers and the Gods of Celestial Creations are not of our bodies' physiological creations. The human deviltry of socialized humanisms seems to be for the Celestial Gods while hardly anyone pays any attention to our bodies' cellular sons/daughters of the Celestial Gods. Go figure!

    Proof those Gods exist? Evolution is Godly proof! God's kingdom domains are of Life's Inner Chasms! God did establish the kingdom domains (our bodies) to be of evolutionary celled-in orders. The final branching of this world's evolutionary trees of cellular cosmologies was for placement of mankind. As to just exactly how things evolve, it is with God's brethren who live deeply within all Celestial Life’s biology, who make a tweaking of celestial life's mechanized physiologies to better be served by Celestial Life for its’ Inner Hosts' sakes.

    May 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Speaking of traumatic brain injuries!

      May 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • urmomlol

      Stop trying to sound smart. You're doing it wrong.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      urmomlol,

      Tell me then, How can one "sound smart" when one is writing? Silly bird! Stay in your nest until you have the wings to fly!

      May 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • urmomlol

      I'd start by not posting incoherent, badly-written nonsense, and then work from there.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      urmomlol,

      Just because you have not the intelligence to decipher my Word does not mean others can't!

      May 19, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Athy

      Name one, just one, who can.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • Dippy

      Easier yet, name one who would even want to.

      May 19, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Joey

      I don't read them, I tried before, and it is just random words strung together so now I don't even try anymore. I think someone described his posts as the result of running his post through about 6 different language translators on google, and this is the end result

      May 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  3. Helovesusall7

    Refer to this website for the truth. Please I beg you all...www.thewarningsecondcoming.com

    May 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • snowboarder

      second coming? that is some crazy stuff.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • snowboarder

      that is hilarious. they are selling a book warning of the second coming. the second coming of a financial windfall for them, maybe.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • The KEY

      Heathens, don't continue to be in denial about Christ. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." - JAMES 4:7 (KJV)

      May 19, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  4. alpg49

    Most Christian denominations claim the afterlife is totally outside our earthly experience, and it is futile to speculate on it. Period. Case Closed.

    May 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • lol??

      Where'd they find that in the book??

      May 19, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  5. HeavenSent

    Acts 2:38

    ...Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Do not attempt to communicate with my camel-toe without anecdotes. The Lord is ready to spread His love on your face.

    Amen.

    May 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Honey Hush

      HS
      I do not permit a woman to a$$ume authority over a man; she must be silent. STFU.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  6. snowboarder

    heaven in a product of the imagination of superst itious men afraid of death and the unknown.

    May 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • lol??

      Yeah, vain imaginations won't help. 'Specially fer dust balls.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      Life is a product of the imagination, as is death.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @don, i am quite certain that is false.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Correctlycenter

      The Lord God Almighty created the heavens and the earth. This is real. Every design has a designer. Clothing, cars, homes, buildings and smartphones were designed by someone. And so, God created all in the heavens and the earth. Christians have the confidence and belief to know they are going to an even better place where God and His people dwell–in heaven...

      May 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @center, simply supersti tion. every religion believes their god is the right one. the creator.

      your god is just another of the myriad god invented by men.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Athy

      Who was god's designer?

      May 19, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      @snowboarder

      Reality is only what we believe to be true. Are you suggesting that what you perceive as real is true for all alert creatures?

      May 19, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @don, that isn't what you said. you said life is a product of the imagination. that is demonstrably false.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      @snowboarder

      You may demonstrate what you wish, it is still a product of your imagination. Even now, I cannot be certain of your existence.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " Even now, I cannot be certain of your existence. "
      One can imagine there are many things you are uncertain of.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • lol??

      Donald Shimoda sayz,
      "Life is a product of the imagination, ......................" You just want a law that sayz Christians are imaginary so you can kill em and take their stuff. Just like a woman aborting a child and takin' his inheritance.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @don, yet even without your knowledge your life can be verified by others. life is a biological occurrence, regardless of perception. stop pretending to be philosophical.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  7. One one

    God has trouble making up his mind.

    "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life."

    "Yahweh said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the surface of the ground; man, along with animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them." Gen 6:7

    May 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • lol??

      If you didn't like yer first baptism, you ain't gonna like the second.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  8. Donald Shimoda

    Who is more self-centered that the Christian; believing that God talks to them and wants to spend eternity with them. God is busy with His chores. That is, if I am not God, for I am not busy at all. I just don't care.

    May 19, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  9. Miss Demeanor

    If gawwwwwwd honestly transformed himself into a human, to experience life just the way we do, and then he was killed, well, unless He was faking it, he would be 100% human and utterly unable to restore himself... sooooooo.... the story is BS. Sorry. I guess he was kind of like Dubbya... couldn't think ahead far enough to plan for the consequences to his action. Jeebus told me this

    May 19, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      also, why would an all knowing god need any experiences?

      May 19, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • lol??

      Miss, your XX is stopping you from understanding. Have yer XY explain it to you, if possible.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  10. Biblical Truth

    "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is anti-Christ, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also." - 1 JOHN 2:22-23 (KJV)

    May 19, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • AB Negative

      If Jesus was real I would beat the shit out of him for being so stupid.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

      2 Corinthians 13:5

      Amen.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      If there is a god, he surely did not give man reason so that he could refuse to use it.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • "Ye shall not round the corners of your heads,

      neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard."
      Liviticus19:27

      May 19, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Honey Hush

      HeavenSent
      Timothy 2:11
      I do not permit a woman to teach or aszume authority over a man; she must be silent. STFU.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • The KEY

      @AB Negative and others: "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." - MATTHEW 12:36-37 (KJV)

      May 19, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  11. One one

    I don't buy it. They talk about eternal life after death all the time. It's fundamental to their pitch. Namely, "if you buy what I'm selling, you get to go to heaven. But if you don't, you burn in hell".

    May 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • lol??

      You can get anything that you want at Alice's restau,rant, if you don't mind ranting.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Correctlycenter

      The message of the gospel is powerful. Some get it and their lives are changed by the Lord. Many others will deny it and make excuses. It's your eternity...

      May 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  12. STFU

    if these guys who claim to have seen or experienced heaven, why don't they kill themselves and go back? Why do they want to hang around longer on Earth?

    May 19, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • One one

      They would say because god still has a mission for them on earth. I've heard it all before.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

      Matthew 24:13

      Amen.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  13. The path to heaven...

    But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it
    Matthew 7
    Not all roads lead to heaven...

    May 19, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, there is no rational reason to believe that any road leads to heaven. Logically speaking, all roads lead to death and the end of personal existence.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Athy

      Yeah, one road leads to my girlfriend's house. Another one leads to my favorite bar. I don't think any of them lead to heaven.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      @athey: You need a better girlfriend and a better bar.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • The path to heaven...

      That is addressed to Rob Bell

      May 19, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • The KEY

      Non-Believers: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." - JOHN 5:24 (KJV)

      May 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  14. Great Report

    Concerning the afterlife, you might wish to get Dr. Victor Zammit's free Friday Afterlife Report sent each Friday by email by going to http://www.victorzammit.com He is a lawyer who practiced at the Australian Supreme Court. Fascinating information!

    May 19, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • lol??

      Westboro Baptists have legal eagle roots, too.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  15. jungleboo

    "While the church may be reluctant to talk about heaven, publishers have become true believers."

    Not surprising in the least..

    May 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      They believe strongly in the accountant's report. That's their heaven.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  16. MormonChristian

    If you want a church that is comfortable talking about what happens when we die, I invite you to check out the Mormon Church – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We believe that all people who have ever lived are eligible for heaven and that those who have lived a good life and are loving people, will accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the next life. God loves all His children and wants us to return to Him. We can be with those we love. This life is the time to learn all we can and prepare to meet God.

    Read the LDS websites and scriptures if you want to learn more about our beliefs and concept of Heaven.

    May 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Athy

      No thanks. It's just more mythology. No proof whatsoever.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • One one

      If I become a Mormon and follow all the rules will I get a better deal in heaven than what the other religions offer ?

      May 19, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Brooke Willson

      Yes, you and your family get your own planet to be gods over. But if you don't convert, don't worry - all those LDS genealogical databases are used to baptize you after you're dead, and then marry you to a good dead Mormon so you can help rule a planet, too. Of course, you can't check the reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics on the golden plates Joseph Smith dug up and then dictated, using magic see-er stones, to a secretary on the other side of a curtain (so he wouldn't be struck dead) into the Book of Mormon, because they were inconveniently taken back to heaven.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Correctlycenter

      Mormonism was created from Joseph Smith who choose to contradict the true word of God and rewrote the bible. God's word talks about false prophets and what happens to those who re-write scripture...

      May 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  17. myweightinwords

    In my life I have known a woman and a man who had NDEs.

    The woman was raised in an atheist family, her only knowledge of Christianity that which we get in mass media and one or two weddings she'd attended in Christian churches. Her NDE was one of peace, of quiet, of a place of acceptance and love. There were no "people" per se. It was more a sensation of movement to someplace else and being "held in love" (her words).

    The man was raised a Catholic, went to church every week, etc. His NDE was dark and scary, every perceived sin he had ever committed laid out before him, showing him what an evil, evil person he was and showing him a dark and violent place.

    On the other side of a coin, I knew a little girl who at 5 years old would tell this elaborate stories about "where she lived before" to anyone who would listen. Her kindergarten teacher believed her enough to research her story, because she was afraid the little girl had been kidnapped. What she discovered was that the name the girl said used to be her name belonged to a six year old little girl who had died shortly before she was born. All of the details she provided were correct.

    I also know someone who has a teenage boy, who when he was little would talk about being a soldier in a big war, about being scared, and alone because everyone around him was dead. To this day he doesn't like to be alone, especially in the dark, and noises similar to explosions and gunshots freak him out.

    None of these stories prove anything. But, they are intriguing.

    May 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I have heard intriguing stories about claimed reincarnation. As you say, hardly proof, but interesting.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      South of Seattle there is a lady who claims to channel a warrior from 40,000 years ago named Ramtha. More fantasy BS.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        Channeling is not the same thing as an NDE nor a past life memory.

        It's whole other belief.

        One with no more proof than most beliefs.

        May 19, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  18. The KEY

    You truly need to Break Demonic Chains and Join the On-Going Movement with God's TRUTH against the lies of the adversary and his followers. Read your Bible, Do Good Unto Others, Give your Life to Jesus Christ and Become Saved. Be Free from Satan's hold over your life!

    May 19, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Athy

      And you need help in learning the rules of capitalization.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • tallulah13

      In Stephen King stories, all the religious fanatics have the same issues with incorrect capitalization. The scariest thing about King's books is how accurately he portrays religious insanity.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Athy

      They spend too much time on their knees and not enough time in the classroom.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • The KEY

      "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified." - I PETER 4:14 (KJV)

      May 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • I know an Islamic martyr who had an NDE

      He said it was horrible. Instead of 72 virgins
      He got a 72 year old virgin

      May 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  19. Charles Darwin

    There are sooooo many sinners in church including the ministers,priests etc. that they are afraid of thinking what is going to happen to them after they die so they choose not to talk about it.
    Also, the muslims have a better heaven with 77 virgins waiting for them. Ain't heaven just great?

    May 19, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Athy

      Only 72 virgins. Sorry.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Brooke Willson

      It's true. The church is filled with sinners, including the clergy. That's why we gather every week to confess, ask for forgiveness and for help to be more faithful.

      And the problem with that is what? At least we're being honest.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Athy

      The problem is that it's superstitious nonsense.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      So, just how long do these virgins remain virgin? If you use up the 72 do you get more?

      May 19, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Athy

      No. After using all 72 you have to start double dipping.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  20. shane

    Maybe the seizures caused the visions... I don't know, just a hunch.

    It seems a bit unwise to look for answers regarding the nature of reality from someone who recently suffered a head injury. But then again, most people operate as if they have recently suffered a head injury themselves.

    May 19, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
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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.