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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. JonathanL

    So much of our perceived reality is in the mind only. Most or all people see first what they hope, wish, want to see. Our memories are selective and so are our immediate perceptions. There is no God, or heaven, or miracle (of they type that totally ignore the laws of physics), but we so want to believe these things exist that we actually do. We imagine, dream, and hallucinate in some cases, and disregard the doubts (since you don't want to be outted like a doubting Thomas), negate the facts (it is easy now that we invented faith based reasoning where science is an unpopular bad cop, and logic a mere nuisance. This is much ado about nothing, really nothing. Maybe we should look instead for reality, instead of these archaic and primitive fantasy lands. Hey, you can see a plastic virgin mary crying blood with an aura, while floating off the ground everyday at high noon or something? Good luck with that, but I would recommend having your eyes checked.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:52 am |
  2. tony

    If there is only one true god, then there is likely only one heaven. So if a loving god raises all his good children into heaven, it will be full of the good of the already dead.

    Given that the already dead over the last 250,000 years outnumber the living by a thousand to one, and that Christianity didn't come along until a little over 2000 years ago . . .

    Meeting another Christian in Heaven, when you get there is going to be a one in several million chance. . . .

    May 20, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Kind of like now

      May 20, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • Science

      Billy....wow!

      http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/5/16/pope-francis-on-atheism#

      Well what happened to the angels...................last xmas ?

      May 20, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • sam stone

      1000 to 1? So, you are claiming that there have been 7 trillion people alive?

      May 20, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Science

      Do NOT walk under that ladder Bill OK .................................you know !

      or is the horn-y red devil you /church creted going to get you ?

      May 20, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Science

      Oops.................who created BILL ?

      May 20, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      The PRB (Population Reference Bureau) has an estimate of 107,602,707,791 people that have ever lived since 10,000bce.

      May 20, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  3. cedar rapids

    Christians want to become communists when they die.
    They want to go to a place where there are no rich or poor, no wealth or earthly possessions. Everyone is equal.
    There are no needs or wants, everything is provided by the authorities in charge.
    They spend their days praising said authority, who will always remain in charge.
    And if anyone dares stand against that authority they will punished by being sent to a fiery gulag for eternity.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • SurelyUjest

      Excellent!!!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  4. SurelyUjest

    Just because people share a similar feeling and journey while they die doesnt prove the existance of a heaven or hell. It proves when we pass away their is a very calm feeling and a surrendering to the peace of death. I do believe in an afterlife but not heaven or hell. Like everything else in nature our bodies are made up of energy our spirit is energy it belongs in the universe, it started here it will return to the universe. Regarding the young child speaking of "jesus" and the color of jesuses eyes etc. My 8 yr old son get's NO talks from me about any of the major religions but he does hear about it from classmates, school, cartoons movies etc. They put things together the way society wants to shape their minds. It is no surprise to me that a young child could build a story about Jesus just by connecting the dots. Lets be real, their are many things we do not understand and where our spirity goes after death may be one of them. The images of heaven and hell are man made and created by man to control the masses in to following a man made doctrine.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  5. Colin

    Believing a thirteen-year-old's version of what happened when seeing Jesus as a four-year-old.

    Yeah.......that's about how much evidence your average Christian needs to swallow the supersti.tious bulls.hit they do. All this book proves is that there are at least 8 million complete morons in the USA. And it proves that point beyond reasonable doubt.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • tallulah13

      These anecdotes involving children just make me laugh. Aren't people aware that children are sponges? I bet that 3-year-old overheard someone comment that the hospital was where "Jesus brought her back", and simply repeated the comment to her mother.

      As for the 13-year-old, he's had 10 years to practice his spiel, one that has gotten him a lot of attention. I'm sure his original experience was very confusing, and that he overheard a lot of comments at the time and used them to make sense of his ordeal. He was a baby. He didn't know any better.

      I'm also sure that while he is convinced that what he "experienced" was real, all memory of that original event has been overwritten by the more profitable story he tells now.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • DR75

      Tallulah

      That 3 year old was 8 weeks old when it happened. No way she heard that and absorbed it at 8 weeks old. Obviously you didn't read the story close enough.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • tallulah13

      The child made the statement when she was three. Plenty of time to overhear something. Perhaps you should think before you comment.

      May 20, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  6. Mack

    So, like, 10 people claim to have seen heaven during a near-death experience and, like, all the others haven't so heaven is deemed real? Sounds like people *really* want there to be a heaven so they'll believe anything.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  7. Ken

    It's interesting that it isn't talked about since one book can encourage so many to say so much other BS.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  8. derp

    “His eyes were sea-blue, and they were just, wow.”

    Yes of course. A middle eastern jew with blue eyes. I suppose mary migrated from Sweden before being knocked up by god.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • cedar rapids

      and I bet he says he was white as well.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:44 am |
  9. WHAT? really?

    Your mind floods its self with DMT, the very small but powerful amounts you have naturally in your body, And all that you will see is either heaven or hell depending on how you view your life. So in short your tripping while you die.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  10. necrom23

    "After all, who needs heaven when you have a flat-screen TV, a smartphone and endless diversions" – what a smarmy know-it-all comment from the author..

    May 20, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  11. Johnny 5

    Dead things no longer go places. That's why it's called death. This is the only life you will ever have so go out and enjoy it the best you can.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • James PDX

      I'm pretty sure dead things do go someplace. A long car came and picked up my father and drove him somewhere and that dead possum is no longer on the road in front of my house.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • john kerrigan

      I agree. I don't believe in life after death. I believe in life BEFORE death. We come from nothing and will return to it. So don't sit around waiting for the big party when you croak. 'CAUSE IT'S NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:51 am |
  12. jimi

    God = poop

    May 20, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  13. Billy

    At May 19, 2013 at 10:33 pm, Vic wrote "There is a [blah blah blah] Debate amongst Christians based on universal [blah] verses from Scripture!"

    No shit.

    1 John 2:2
    "2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

    1 John 4:10
    "10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers."

    New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    http://www.biblegateway.com/
    May 19, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    May 20, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Billy

      Since I pasted too much I should include his correction – his second verse he later said was from That was 1 Timothy 4:10, not John. But who cares – they can't give you a straight story on anything.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  14. MKWater

    Church doesn't talk about heaven because they know there is no such place. Their main goal is to part you from you paycheck and that's more easily done with terrifying tales of fire and brimstone.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  15. BillyD

    are122, although I personally believe that science explains God's design, I do believe that your argument is flawed. The argument of science failing to explain everything is inherently flawed because it assumes that science is coming to a crest. It may just be that science hasn't matured enough for us to understand what we feel science can't explain. Science will eventually reveal many things we believe to be unexplainable. How much and when is debatable. Not being able to describe an answer yet doesn't mean an answer is unattainable though.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • john

      If God is the great designer, who designed God? I mean, where does it all end? As for the old testament? WHAT A HOOT! who was the real auther Stephen King?

      May 20, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  16. shiney

    Why do most people not hear about Heaven? – it's really quite simple because most people are too busy filling the ball diamonds and football stadiums, or sitting out in their fishing boat, or hunting on Sunday instead of going to church. I go to church every Sunday (AM/PM services) along with Sunday School, as well as Wednesday night service & I hear about it all the time, along with other topics too. GO TO CHURCH PEOPLE!! FIND A GOOD CHURCH & GO!! In addition, crack an old King James Bible & read it for yourself too.... My pastor also say "the Bible will teach you two things – how to go to Heaven & how to live until you get there"..

    May 20, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • James PDX

      I refuse to attend the church of a bigoted god. Remember that God forbade the handicapped from entering his house because he said they would defile it. Instead of an all-powerful god healing all of the crippled and handicapped with no real effort required, he allowed them to continue to become crippled or be born handicapped and then held it against them. No, I will not worship a deity who doesn't want my crippled aunt or my autistic nephew in his house. I deserve a better god than that.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Ronnie

      Hey Shiney, here are some other things the Bible teaches:

      Upon conquering a rival tribe, Moses himself admonished his people to kill all the non-virgins, but keep all virgins as s.ex slaves;“Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the LORD in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys. And Kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Saint Paul was of a similar mind: "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ." (Ephesians 6:5).

      Not only that, but Lot had se.x with his own daughters – twice.

      So, thanks for the advice. This weekend, I am going to kill a neighbour, take some slaves and fvck my own daughters. Thanks Shiney, biblical advice is invaluable as a guide for living.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • James PDX

      Ronnie, don't forget that if you want some really hot young virgin to be your subservient wife for the rest of her life, all you have to do is r*a*p*e her and pay a small fine to her father. Gotta love a good old fashioned misogynistic deity.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      @ Shiney – I followed your advice – cracked the bible, followed its advice. I found Deuteronomy 21: 18-21 compelling – the part about stoning your unruly child to death? Great advice!

      Ummm – only one tiny problem. I'm now in jail on murder charges. Can you please send your god to bail me out?

      May 20, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • Which God?

      I'd rather be anywhere else, doing something interesting, with family and friends, that sit in church. You are brainwashed, and need your religious fix. Does god help you with your bills, too?

      May 20, 2013 at 10:53 am |
  17. Romney2012

    A chicken in every pot
    Two cars in Every garage
    fourteen slaves for the dirty work

    May 20, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  18. James PDX

    What happens to us after death is a very important question. In fact, it's so important that it's probably the number one reason why mankind created their myriad of gods. Death is scary and difficult. God(s) and heaven are our security blankets as death reduces us back to scared little children. But it's time we all grew up and accepted the fact that there likely isn't life after death – and that's OK. The thought of eternal life makes us complacent. If people truly believed that this life is all they get, perhaps they would be inspired to do more with their lives.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  19. dl

    I'm switching religions – Islam offers a better heaven

    May 20, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • James PDX

      Only if you martyr yourself. But with as many Muslim martyrs as there are, and Muslim women marrying so young, you might first want to question where those 72 virgins are going to come from and what you're going to do with 72 virgins when you are no longer corporeal.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • BillyD

      James, I agree with Robin Williams. Anyone who has had one virgin is like, "I don't know." lol

      May 20, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  20. ImLook'nUp

    And then one Sunday, you take an afternoon nap and become aware that you have stopped breathing. Not only have you realized that you cannot make your body breathe, the actual event of passing away in your sleep is quite, how shall I put it....simple. It's you, separate from your body, but not. No more do you need that body tootling you around. And then God speaks, "Not yet" and your body is taking in breath to revive itself. What a lovely voice He has! And when He speaks, information comes in volumes.

    I am thankful for that experience and am aware that not everybody gets to have one. I was "saved" before this happened and still live my life knowing that God is eternal.

    May God bless those who walk in faith. May God reveal Himself to those who do not believe.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • James PDX

      Therein lies the rub, as God clearly does not reveal himself to everyone and give all an equal chance to believe. I guess that's just more of God playing favorites with his children. You'd think he would have learned his lesson after that whole Cain/Abel debacle.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • tallulah13

      Sounds like sleep apnea and a very arrogant subconscious.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • ImLook'nUp

      @ James PDX

      God does give all of us an equal chance to believe, though He may not personally reveal Himself. My faith was in place before that moment of (almost) passing. My "Knowing" for sure, was not.

      So for me, many years of walking in faith were the blind steps and I took lots of those... Many years of "Knowing" are the living steps and onward they go.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:12 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.