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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. Jesse Franklin

    Some desire to talk about going to Mars while others desire to talk about going to Heaven. And just when are we going to learn how to discuss cordially about living on earth in peace with each other if so many desires to go to Heaven and or off to Mars? Perhaps, if we first learn how to live on Earth, Mars and Heaven could wait or at the least, can't Heaven and or hell wait or at best be furloughed or sequestered? First things first. let's get Earth's stuff corrected and then but wait: Why would someone want to take Earth's psycho-social garbage and fecal to either hell, Heaven and or to Mars?

    May 20, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  2. JM

    It seems rather silly to not think about death and the afterlife. We are all getting older...and golf and shopping are hardly the meaning/point of life. Botox isn't going to stave off death; it just makes people seem sillier still (trying to look 25 when they are actually 80). The fact that this isn't the end of the story (and that we will be reunited with our loved ones) is truly good news.

    May 20, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  3. Landru

    I am Landru

    May 20, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  4. Landru

    Landru only wished to create a way to help his failing society achieve peace

    May 20, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  5. Childish

    "I HAD A NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE AND FOUND OUT I HAD THE WRONG RELIGION!" – said no one ever.

    May 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • meh...

      I strongly disagree - based on my own personal experience.

      Religions are based merely on opinion (and we all have the ability to change our minds.)

      May 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Childish

      So you're saying that you had a NDE and found out that you should have been Hindu? Or Jewish? Are you saying you had a NDE and found out that all that you believed was incorrect?

      Forgive me if I am dubious.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • meh...

      No, I'm saying I had a NDE and during this moment I was able to look outside the usual way of perceiving the world (which is typically ego-centric). I realized that EVERYTHING I believed up to that moment, I only believed because I was taught to believe - by either others or myself.

      I'm not here to argue. I cannot possibly write anything that would ever make you understand. I can only hope that some day you get past the need to label everything. (The labels peel-off when we die.)

      May 20, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Childish

      I can tell you're not here to argue as you are typing sentences but not actually saying anything of substance to the point.

      The point I made was that people have their existing belief framework, and when they have an experience they explain it within their existing framework. This is why Christians typically will interpret their experience within the boundaries of their rationalization mechanisms and so will a Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu, etc. A true non-believer may also explain their experience with their rationalization mechanisms, such as saying there was nothing, or they had a dream. This is nothing new. It's how people work.

      But what is the truth? A individuals professed experience may be true to them, but is there an actual place that exists that they travelled to, or did it all happen within their own mind? Evidence leaves room for the latter but not the former. The fact that people tend to see what is allowable within their own rationalization mechanism (Christians see Jesus, Muslims see Mohammad, Trojans see Apollo, etc) fits with it happening in your own mind, not as some universal truth. In addition, the brain is the product of cognitive function. Once your brain fully dies your consciousnes can no longer function. Your neurons are no longer firing. You're consciousness is now in the same state it was in prior to your conception... not functioning.

      Actual evidence supports no afterlife. Is there one? I don't know, but I do know where the evidence is and where it is not. The evidence supports that our consciousness is a product of our brain and our brain is a functional arrangement of particles constructed after conception by our DNA. Prior to our brain being in it's functional state the particles it is made up of still existed, however not in their present brain form. So, like a computer that doesn't yet exist there is no operating intelligence, yet once constructed the computer can then begin operation. Once the computer is destroyed it will never again perform those functions. In other words, "we"-as in our minds-did not exist prior to our conception and will return to that state after death. That's where the evidence is. Me, I do not like that fact, but I like the idea of deceiving myself even worse.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Childish

      Allow me to correct myself. Cognitive function is a product of our brain, not vice versa.

      Also, your experience is still being explained within your rationalization framework. Even if you didn't tie your experience to a particular religion, one you favor, etc you are still explaining it within what you're willing to accept.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  6. caesarbc

    "Heaven" is a place not for the dead, but the living. All you have to do is convince someone it exists and then suddenly – it exists!

    tautology.

    May 20, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  7. JJ

    it's not heaven. Trust me on that one. I too died, and saw far more than this person did. The simple proof is that no one has ever come back from a death experience saying they saw hell. End of story.

    May 20, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Landru

      Do tell. Was it Five Guys?

      May 20, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Actually, there are stories of hell-experiences too.

      But it still isn't proof of either.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • iconoclast1919@yahoo.com

      That is not true. There are people who have come back and said they experienced hell and it changed their lives permanently for the better when they were back. You must not know as much as you think you do if you don't know that.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
  8. Smoke and mirrors

    Easy answer? Our spiritual leaders are spiritually IGNORANT!

    May 20, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  9. Landru

    Sorry to burst your bubble. Proof of heaven (afterlife) is not proof of divinity.

    May 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Yakobi

      "Landru, guide us!"

      May 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Landru

      Yakobi, you will be absorbed.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Yakobi

      For the good of the body, I submit.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Landru

      The one TRUE religion eh! I wonder if anyone else gets it.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
  10. Universalism doesn't get you to heaven

    Blake you asked,Why doesn’t the church talk about heaven anymore?
    –How often do you go to church? If you were a regular church goer you would've heard about heaven.

    May 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • The way

      The way to heaven is Jesus, because Jesus said , "I am the way"

      May 20, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  11. AtheistsMorons

    Yep i knew i would here hours later and would still find those same atheists morons again babbling their big mouths and fighting against something they don't believe in. What a bunch of morons, they are fighting against something they just don't believe in, and yet they are calling stupid those who believe on God. How more stupid can they be. Can't you morons atheists see that when you are fighting against something you don't believe in its like a mentally ill person who see cowboys in his fridge. you are not much different than that person. Go get a life and a job and leaves these blogs to people with the ability and freedom to post about their beliefs. And don't forget to take your medications.

    May 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • .

      Blah blah blah, blah blah blah, you're so special, blah blah blah.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • sam

      Is this your best asshole impression, or the standard issue? I mean, don't hold back or anything. You can tell us how you feel.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • jim

      Wow! I actually agree with sam. not much else to say.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Landru

      The more religious, the more hate.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      "a mentally ill person seeing cowboys in his fridge">

      How charming. A cogent, well-thought out, coherent post – for a religitard.

      Since you, oh great and wise and noble believer, are so much more than we atheist worms, please, please enlighten us with your superior knowledge and provide us with with sufficient credible, reliable evidence to prove that there is a god.

      We're all ears.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Landru

      I don't know. The ears might trigger a demon appearance

      May 20, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • AtheistsMorons

      Ha ha ha ha, you morons are unbelievable. You're laughing at people who believe in God and yet you fight against the invisible. How much more stupid can you be? You have the guts to call yourselves intelligent and above any one else. And you turn around spending your life fighting against something that don't exist, what a bunch of low lifers and morons on top of that.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Why are you here, then, AtheistsMorons? If you know that this is what you'll find, why don't you go somewhere else? The fact is that you like having someone to rail about. You live for the end of your workday so you can come here and yap about people who are here writing while you're at some lousy job you hate. It's my belief that you're so jealous you can barely see straight.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • AtheistsMorons

      Ha ha ha, i'm not jealous at all. I just find it unbelievable to see the same names showing up again and again on every blogs on CNN about a religious subject. Can't you morons see how ridiculous you are.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  12. Chris

    These stories have the smell of BS. Sure, Jesus with blue eyes. Right. They have may never 'told' the kid about his grandfather, but that doesn't mean he wasn't listening to other conversations him. Same with the 3 year old girl. Her mom probably said it one time and that stuck with the child. My daughter is capable of remembering random things too that she knows means a lot to me. The others, 'moving towards a light...seeing a beautiful world...', well what is it, a light or a world? Why do some atheist experience similar 'lights?' Maybe because that's what our body and minds do, project brightness when things start to shut down. Anyways, I'm not buying it.

    May 20, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  13. DeeCee10000

    . . . .(yawn). . . .

    May 20, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  14. Ceilo

    A message by Rev. Graham
    How do you go to heaven? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” [John 14:6]. The Bible says, “There is [no] other name . . . given among men, whereby we must be saved” [Acts 4:12]. You can’t get there except through Christ. The Bible says it’s a narrow road–very narrow, Jesus said. “Except [you] repent, [you] shall . . . likewise perish” [Luke 13:3]. Has there ever been a moment in your life when you really turned from sin to God? Has there ever been a moment when you really received Christ into your heart? “[For] as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” [John 1:12].

    May 20, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Acts 4

      Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

      May 20, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  15. History

    I couldn't even believe that Jesus had blue eyes. This sounds like American Jesus being in heaven, but not the historical Jesus of Nazareth.

    May 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  16. thedoctor

    "Proof of heaven?" I'm still waiting for it. Just because someone has a "near-death" experience, doesn't prove anything. Lack of oxygen to the brain or severe mental stress are much better explanations of the depth of the experience. Carl Sagan said it best, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."

    And let's face it, it's easy to sell books if you claim you can prove what almost everybody wants: the chance to live forever in heaven.

    May 20, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  17. what1ever

    I can't believe that I just read this drivel. Everyone else in the world must think that Americans are borderline mentally handicapped.

    May 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Borderline?

      Only the religious nutbars.

      Oh, and the gun nuts.

      I suppose the folks who think universal health care is creeping socialism and evil.

      And everyone who helped make the Kardashians famous.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  18. lionlylamb

    Far above this earth's celestial cosmos of universal spatial relationships, further then one will ever see, and beyond our abilities to roam is where God is and does live. Deeply within the atomized confines of all living manifestations, far from our microscopic truancies, does live all of God's sons and daughters. We are the celestial divisions, the buildings within which God's sons and daughters do all dwell and take refuge in safe harborage far from the sun's rays of noxious potencies.

    May 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  19. Kalos

    All those who claim to have seen heaven are money-minded. They tell their stories for profit. Probably they had night mares.

    May 20, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • steve

      Night horses? Awesome.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  20. bill

    Love your comments Yakobi. This little Disney afterlife movie script and the old santa claus god in the sky just make me laugh. I went to the Saddleback church a month ago just to check out what I've been missing. Just a bunch of brain-washed people off with the fairys.

    May 20, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
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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.