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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. Richard Hode

    Eternal bliss? Well, that's too F'ing bad. I had hoped, once I'm dead, not to have to deal with any people any more, ever again. I don't want to have to see god, or Jeebus, or any sky being, or any loved ones, or anybody at all, for ever and ever. Finally I would get a break from all the execrable b u l l s hiite with revolting people and all the c r ap I have to deal with, in a place I didn't ask to be born in in the first place. So now it seems, if there is an afterlife, that I am perpetually stuck having to deal with god d a mn people, gods, and other things I don't want to deal with – trapped like a rat in existence when all I really want is to finally get away from the horseshiite. Eternal bliss – I need it like another hole in my head! I wish Alexander had asked if there was a way to skip the harp music and the lights and go straight to oblivion. If any of you believers find out, please send me email, you gullible turkeys. I am so tired of all of you that I could die (if possible.)

    May 19, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Y .ou have no choice, you will fall to truth absolute GOD, like it or not, every one and every thing is dependent on truth absolute, even a particle to be. Escape if you can.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • Colin

      Fortunately for you Richard, you have already won. You were dead for th last 13,720,000,000 years. You will live for about 70 and then return to your state of non-existence. Make the most of the thin sliver you have.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • Julie

      Great! You make me laugh. Thanks.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Saraswati

      There may very well be no after life, but what I find sad is that you will likely never even enjoy the life you have. If you have one shot on earth, why make it so miserable with such a cr@ppy atti.tude to the rest of humanity?

      May 19, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Richard Hode,

      You didn't ask to be born? Then why were you born if you weren't asking to be born? We were all wanting to be born but we lost our bearings in the process of ascending from the atomic cosmos to be a part of the celestial cosmos.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • veritas

      I am so with a bro....

      May 19, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      pardon sir!! use of period between "Y" and "ou" like Y .ou in my above post was to draw your attention, but seems like Hindu atheists, secular s, filthy denier of dark matter, don't care.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Oracle of Wifi

      hey, bro, WASSSUPP! You'd be surprised how many people feel exactly as you do. Me for one. I've seen at least a half-dozen others for sure. The problem is most people don't share so openly like you did. We're out here. We are also sick of ppl's shiit.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Barry

      Yikes! Did you skip your meds today, or what?

      May 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • irp

      Although I understand your "sickness" of people, isn't our life purpose to contribute something to this world? Perhaps you need a change of mind. You know, if we will have to go by the "sickness" of people, no civilization would exists no woman would want to be a mother or a man a father.

      May 19, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • Magnus

      Purpose in this world? Says who? You? Your book of debunked mythical hoax-lies-propaganda? Your goldfish? Who?
      If we have a purpose, why is it so impossible to determine what it is? It doesn't exist. Your god doesn't exist either.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  2. Nathan

    On an unrelated note and referring to Ritchie's story, why would the medical team pile on blankets for a person with that high a fever? Makes no sense to me.

    May 19, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • fiddeus

      Nathan, I do not have a definitive answer, but these are two possibilities:

      1) The blanket may have been a cooling blanket, sometimes used in modern times to lower a patient's body temperature. A patent for a thermoregulatory blanket (US Patent 2110022) was applied for in 1938, less than one decade before Ritchie's story is set.

      2) An old treatment for fever was to add blankets to a febrile patient to cause a fever to rise and eventually "break" (fever is understood as the body's effort to kill pathogens within by heating them to death). I'm not sure if this treatment was ever used by doctors, and if so, if it was used up through WWII.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  3. AB negative

    Me and God are gonna shack up for all eternity, once I die a few more times and get things right.

    May 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • rofl

      Enjoy being reborn trillions of times as bacteria, bugs, and slime mold. We'll see you in about two billion years, okay? Bye.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • lol??

      Hinduism is all about hopey changey, too.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
  4. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    Can someone tell me IF is followed by THAN or THEN? so in plain english, IF I die THAN I go to heaven or THEN I go to heaven?

    I am getting tired of non-stop complains of hindu atheists.

    May 19, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      There is this thing called a dictionary....

      May 19, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • AB negative

      I hate complains.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Seriously?

      May 19, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • und so weiter

      Since you are dumber THAN a turd and worse THAN a case of terminal hemorrhoids, you can pretend to be as intelligent as a cretin, IF you are able to.
      IF you are truly as stupid as you appear, THEN you will find that we will continue to ignore your worthless attempts at levity.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
  5. mr X

    religion in itself is just silly..... stop following false prophets and realize the truth. Only physical scientific proof should be accepted. ( for the heck of it ) If there was majic in the world, it has long since disappeared, lol

    May 19, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • lol??

      You ain't been listening to your gubmint god either. Show sum respect, dude.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • jim

      not so fast, a recent report from Britain says 1 of 7 scientists confess to falsifying data for publication for financial gain or recognition.(grants) what a great use of your tax dollars). also the "piltdown man" might be a good fellow to research for all you science worshippers.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • und so weiter

      All those hoaxes were uncovered by scientists working to determine the truth.
      This is much different than any religitard, who refuses to determine the truth and only swallows whole the lies they have been conditioned to accept without question, like unicorns in the Bible. A scientist examines the question of unicorns and finds it to be a hoax. Bible idiots think magic is everywhere and don't even try to determine what or how magic even works or if any of it is true.
      Checkmate religitards!

      May 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • lol??

      The unicorn BS must have been swallowed hook, line, and sinker by the A&A's at their socie universities. from wiki

      "....Unicorns are not found in Greek mythology, but rather in accounts of natural history, for Greek writers of natural history were convinced of the reality of the unicorn,......"

      May 19, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Jim, Piltdown man is connected to science exactly as much as PT Barnum is. It wasn't science who locked up Galileo for claiming the earth wasn't the center of the universe...that was religion.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
  6. required

    The net result being that another 100, 1000 or more people agree heaven exists and a train load of deniers deny it on a blog.

    More confirmation that reading the bible would have been a better use of the time, believing Jesus and telling others the good news before their times up.

    There were a few good comments on here, but they were with bible verses... so right back to the bible.

    May 19, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      I like bible verses! Like these that tell how "god" created evil!

      Isaiah 45:7
      "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, AND CREATE EVIL: I the LORD do all these things."

      Amos 3:6
      "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be EVIL in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?"

      May 19, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      1 Samuel 15:3
      King James Version (KJV)
      3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
      -----–
      Now there's something to aspire to and be proud of...right?

      May 19, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So what you are saying, required, is that you don't wish to think about anything the disputes what you want to believe.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:07 am |
  7. AB negative

    God either hates people are is just not aware of us.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • LinCA

      @AB negative

      You said, "God either hates people are is just not aware of us."
      Or, even more likely, doesn't exist.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • lol??

      God is triune not dialectic, you moron.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      If God doesn't exist then it isn't aware of us. Same thing.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • Steve

      @G. Zeus Kreiszchte. Isaiah 45:7 – create evil or woe however you might translate it means God permits evil for the sake of a greater good.

      May 19, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  8. Akio Maruta

    If you are interested in this issue, please read the works of Chico Xavier. He is a respected Brazilian medium who psychographed more than 400 books, some of them translated into English such as : Life in the Spirit World, The Messengers, Missionaries of the Light. Awesome!

    May 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      LOL !

      May 19, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • Todd

      There was a story I read about some Russian atheist that died in 2001 . He claims the only reason for life is to create as many kids as you can. Not having kids is like murder/suicide. Also, he says there is no heaven or hell. There is a destination where your soul awaits final trip. On the way from Earth to that destination, is where the Devil like creatures attack you, and angels guide and protect you from them. He suspects those evil creatures are dead animals, cats, dogs, sheep, cows chicken, whatever. Depending on how you led your life here on Earth determines whether or not the angels will help. They help out good strong souls and evil/weak are left to fend for themselves. While you can travel alone, you most likely won't make it in one piece, due to tricks on the way. Once you get to the DESTINATION, you wait for the GOD to take you. Nobody knows how long it will take for God to end this experiment and takes us. He said he saw Prophets, and are there to greet you and show your relatives to you, but they are not GOD. And your dead relatives don't talk back. They are like in suspended animation. He did see angel Lucifer and prophet Jesus/Muhammed, according to him, he is the same guy. He also saw people of all colors and religions. No kids and no animals. Souls just had HEADS. No bodies. Communication with Jesus/Muhammed and Lucifer was direct, with no talking. According to him, all souls, good and bad will leave once GOD comes down and take us all. Not even Jesus knows when that will happen or why all this is for. Again, this was some guy that died from cancer and came back to life 2-3 days later. About 5 years after that experience, he was shot and killed. But in the mean time, he managed to get married and have kids. He said all the religious books were written by Lucifer. He said, don't eat meat. Dont eat sugary food. Only plants are okay to eat. The fatter you are the harder it is to separate your soul when you die. He said if you kill other people, you take their sins and they get a free pass for whatever evil they did. Suicide is the same thing. He said that angels and prophet take souls like HIS every few hundred years in hopes that they will explain to people how to prepare. So have kids. Avoid stupid things. He said if you do bad things, no amount of prayer will help when you die. Angels wont come to rescue. It does happen that evil souls avoid the torture and make it to quiet destination but its rare. Those that end up stranded before the destination are tortured until GOD takes all the souls. Again, GOD needs souls and the only way he can justify new ones is by humans having kids. Everything has rules. Also when you die, you will see Lucifer on the way. Don't ever look at him in the eyes. Apparently Lucifer is an extremely beautiful human like creature, 8ft tall, with perfect body. Dead Russian, couldn't tell if it were a male or a female. It was dressed as a modern male, but face was so beautiful it was impossible to tell is Lucifer was male or female. Another thing, when you travel, don't EVER refer to yourself. DONT EVER SAY : I AM or I WILL or whatever with I. WHenever you do, angels run from you. All souls will be collected, both good and bad. There is just not enough angels/soldiers to help guide all of them to the rest area. Apparently souls are very expensive and prized by GOD. Nobody knows why souls are needed but they are.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • jim

      todd? I took some of that stuff back in the 60s and WOW was that good.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      respected and medium is an oxymoron...unless you mean respected by morons.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
  9. Andrew Vrba

    Nothing brings out the "enlightened" atheists quite like a subject that has absolutely nothing to do with them.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • tallulah13

      What's the matter, Andy? Hate the First Amendment? And why shouldn't atheists be interested when a headline falsely claims "proof of heaven"?

      May 19, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Is is impossible for an atheist to nearly die, have his/her brain starved of oxygen, proceed to hallucinate, and then live to tell about it?

      May 19, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Enlightened, educated in truth absolute and atheist , self centered are opposition to each other, truthful shines in light of truth absolute GOD, and a hindu atheist ,ignorant self centered is lost in hind, darkness of his hindu soul, filthy desire.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • cease fire

      Holster your piece, quickdraw. You're assuming that atheists NEVER become believers and that your gawwwwwd (represented as welcoming and loving, let's not forget) would not ever recognize them? That's the trouble with being a member of a fundamentalist group built around team spirit and excluding, ridiculing other's beliefs (including other Christian congregations). Maybe not as extreme as Westboro, but from the same branch...

      May 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  10. Jesse

    God did not make man in his image. Man made God in his. The "bible" was written by man by primitive people with an agenda. All this talk of afterlife is humanity's inability to accept "the end of life" and to help those who lose loved ones deal with it. Religion has been used throughout time to control the masses and enrich those higher up in the heirarchy of religion. According to doctrine...God loves all, yet will torture all thru eternity if you do not give blind obedience and worship and seek his forgiveness. I certainly see the pettieness of humanity in that.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • lol??

      Standard commie socie pap crap.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • rofl

      lol?=Hamsta

      May 19, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • Miss Demeanor

      RE: gawwwwwd made man in his(gawwwwwds) own image..
      So.... we're ALL sociopaths who wouldn't even bother to lift a little finger to save innocent newborns from criminals, disease, accidents, disasters and sick people? And this gawwwd allows these things because, though he is perfect and created a perfect world, mankind (whom this sociopath made and could have made ANY way he wanted AND could have foreseen how mankind would turn out) is a disappointment. Interesting concept for a novel... I'll call it "The Bible... God's Revenge". Thanks... I've already written it, so you get no royalties.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • snappie

      The "bible" was written by man by primitive people with an agenda

      the ancients had an agenda? i c.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  11. Julie

    How desperately and pathetically religious zealots grasp onto the most ridiculous notions. Trying in vain to justify their beliefs. Embarrassingly terrified of death. Something that is just a natural progression and final ending to life. Mathematicians have predicted that the religious will be a small vey minority in the States within the next 100 years. It can't come soon enough.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • pedro bundol

      In Amman Jordan there is a story of a Muslim who died and met the 72 houris in the Afterlife. But Mohammad told him he cannot yet partake of the feast as he has some obligations to do on earth to finish. He is back now and still cursing his fate.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  12. Will n Atlanta

    There's one thing for sure, whether you believe in Heaven & hell or not; one fine day, you will find out for sure. Just make sure you have made the right choice before that day arrives. God said that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      What about the countless humans that lived and died on this planet before Jeebus was even around? That's around 28000 years according to the fossil record. What about the Neanderthals that were here before modern man? Do they count? You know that Neanderthal DNA can be found in modern human DNA?

      May 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Or not.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • AB negative

      Try 200,000 years. Billions of modern humans lived and died prior to Jesus.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Humans have worshiped literally thousands of gods throughout history. There has never been a shred of evidence to support the existence of any of them. Nor is there any evidence to support the existence of a satan, a heaven or a hell.

      And god did not say " every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." Humans wrote that, because they were trying to recruit new members for their specific cult.

      There is no reason to believe that death is anything other than the cessation of life. It's sad that so many adults need to cling to the myth of immortality instead of embracing this one life that we do get.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      A team led by Fernando Mendez, a researcher in Hammer's lab, analyzed more than 240,000 DNA base pairs on the African-American's Y chromosome. A comparison of the differences between the mystery genetic signature and previously known signatures led the team to conclude that the most recent common ancestor for the entire group lived about 338,000 years ago.

      That goes further back than the fossil record goes for anatomically modern humans, Hammer said. "The fossil record speaks to 195,000 years or 200,000 years," he said. It also goes further back than the previous date for the most recent common ancestor based on Y-chromosome analysis, which is in the range of 142,000 years.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      I may stand corrected, then. No problem. I was just referring to the outdated information that said modern humans appeared on the scene around the same time Neanderthals disappeared, which was supposedly around 30,000 years ago. Thanks for the update.

      I have also read that Neanderthal DNA is found in all members of the human family except those from sub-Saharan Africa.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • und so weiter

      Anyone notice how the "Clan of the Cave Bear" enshrined the neanderthals as proto-Jews?
      And these days all this DNA science has every smelly rabbi desperately digging to find some support to their Jew-supremacist worldview, but it turns out they are mongrels like the rest of us. No chosen by god, no magic, no support for anything in the Torah, no Moses, no wandering in the desert, nothing supported by any facts at all.
      They think they need to kill and burn birds to please their mad god of hate. They are nuts.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • senahid

      Even I am Muslim and I don't agree on Jesus being god, I applaud your post.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      And you heard god say that?

      May 20, 2013 at 12:00 am |
  13. Will n Atlanta

    People who don't believe in God or in the afterlife, there is a reason you don't believe. The bible says that faith "comes by hearing the Word of God"; so if you haven't been reading the bible or hearing the word in a bible believing Church, then it absolutely stands to reason that you do not believe. It's totally understandable and God addressed it. Now, just because you don't believe; doesn't make you right; it just makes you misinformed.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      God loves me and wants to spend eternity with me.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Will n Atlanta

      You said, "People who don't believe in God or in the afterlife, there is a reason you don't believe."
      Yes, there is. It's called "complete and utter lack of evidence in support of such silly notions".

      You said, "The bible says that faith "comes by hearing the Word of God"; so if you haven't been reading the bible or hearing the word in a bible believing Church, then it absolutely stands to reason that you do not believe."
      Actually, most atheists here started off as believers. Reading the bible, and doing it for comprehension, is one of the better ways to understand why it is complete bullshit.

      You said, "Now, just because you don't believe; doesn't make you right; it just makes you misinformed."
      Placing your belief in the folk and fairy tales of ancient desert dwellers makes you gullible. Believing in imaginary creatures places you squarely among the five year old.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  14. Joseph Chandler

    Moby Schtick, Saraswati, it's not my claim ( I don't in either) that there's heaven and hell but the claim of every major cultures. If there's only heaven as these book peddlers suggest then that implies ( and 2 seem to not see that) we will all go to heaven. Every one of us- including Hitler, Bin Laden, and the Tsarnaev brothers

    May 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Saraswati

      If there is only heaven and no hell either everyone goes there or there is something else that happenes to them that isn't heaven or hell. Either one could fit with a logical world view if you tweak the story just right.

      This isn't really my argument since I don't promote the heaven idea, but a lot of people, including many Christians, believe in a heaven only view. The word heaven means something slightly different to people who believe this way than to those who believe also in hell. It does not denote a place of reward but just the place of eternal life for all or even a place that can be temporary between reincarnations or periods of growth. I think you only logically need an opposite scenario to call hell if you think it is a reward for some sort of "freely" performed activities and if you believe that there is a single life on earth whose purposes is a test of some sort to decide where a spirit goes. For a variety of reasons discussed numerous times elsewhere that idea doesn't really make sense with our current understanding of human psychology

      May 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  15. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    To be consistent with my sadistic nature, I, the LORD thy GOD, shall torment my peon creation by allowing some to have near-death experiences, making them believe they're on their way to heaven....but NO, WAIT! HA HA HA! Sorry, suckers! You have to go back to lousy earth and live longer.

    You religious fools believe in this crap?!

    May 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • AB negative

      If God was real I would beat the fuck out of him for being such an asshole.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
  16. Will n Atlanta

    Those who believe in the father (Jesus Christ) are joint heirs wit Him. Heirs of the most high God and we shall inherit His kingdom. Praise God!!! I cannot wait to see Jesus who died for me on the Cross! Thank you Yeshuwah.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Another ghoul who is thrilled that an innocent man was tortured to death. What a sick cult.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Human sacrifice is inhuman. You are sick.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:02 am |
  17. wolfRayet

    Lets see, all these people are saying this because:
    1) they are selling books
    2) want to become famous and be written about
    3) Naive
    4) just plain turn off their brains when thinking about a god
    I don't want that surgeon operating on me, if he doesn't know the difference between death and a hallucination.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  18. Joel

    God's heavenly kingdom will one day descend upon the "new earth" and God Himself will dwell with man. This will be the eternal state. God the Father, Yeshua the Son( El Elyon-Son of the Most High) and the Holy Spirit of God, in the eternal city, eternal Zion, or Jerusalem, dwelling with those who have been redeemed from this fallen world in which we are now living. The entire Tanakh (Old Testament) and New Covenent all point to this, and speak of this eventual outcome. I know that I will be a part of His eternal kingdom because Yeshua atoned for my sins, and I am no longer seperated from God by sin. May you also find peace with God through Yeshua/Jesus. Shalom

    May 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Julie

      Do you realize you are just regurgitating centuries old nonsense. It makes you makes you appear to be psychotic.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Your professing Faith is well received by the Lord Christ Jesus who has saved all of this world's Life Manifestations from eternal damnations when this world's sun one day goes super nova and envelopes the world with searing heat. Be you become one of the blessed by the Lord!

      May 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Joel, if jesus died to clean you of sin, you have never sinned because you were cleaned of the sins 2000 years before you were born. You can't sin and be preemptively cleaned of the same sin.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:04 am |
  19. Noah

    What happens when we die? Nothing. For all time. In fact, time probably had to have a beginning but doesn't necessarily have to have an end. So the state of non-existence between the dawn of time and birth is but a fraction of an instant compared to the endless abyss that awaits. There is no escape from the darkness. Humans do well to fear the unknown and delude themselves with imaginary light.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • lol??

      Too bad for dust ball liars.

      Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times [the things] that are not [yet] done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

      May 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • wolfRayet

      @ Noah
      Nice writing, but the truth is no one knows what actually happens.

      @lol??
      Your quotes are pure dribble. Nonsense from beginning to end.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Saraswati

      You don't know what happens any more than the Christians or Buddhists do, though you may have ruled out just one more scenario than they did as unlikely.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  20. Julie

    Why would anyone, ever, believe something that absolutely can't be proven? This neurosurgeon never died. So how could he know what happens after death? It is scientifically impossible to prove there is a heaven, but its not scientifically impossible to prove that seizure's and a coma may cause brain damage.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • lol??

      Why did you have to prove your warped thinking?? Oh, I see. You think Keynesian economics is proven.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Magnus

      lol, except that Keynesian economics IS proven strongly enough that you might as well put on clown make-up and run into traffic for saying such a stupid thing. Keynesian economics works and works well. Pretending it doesn't is retarded.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • wolfRayet

      @ lol??
      So far Keynesian economics, has worked pretty good. If they did that instead of doing nothing like Hoover did with standard republican classical economics, there probably wouldn't have been a depression.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • lol??

      Killing you softly with LUV songs, killing you softly with Inflation
      Secret taxes belong in a cave.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Magnus

      Inflation is how your house payment becomes affordable over time. My parents had a monthly house payment of 85 bucks.
      When they first bought the house, it was a strain, but as inflation raised wages, it became less of a problem.
      Inflation is the friend of the person in debt, not the creditor. If you hate inflation, you love seeing people go bankrupt.
      I bet you don't know the first thing about economics anyway, since you hate inflation like a dittohead.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      lol must prefer the LAFFER (LAUGHER) CURVE.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:07 am |
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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.