home
RSS
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. Brampt

    The Jews didnt have and dont have the belief of life after death, only the pagans had like the egypcians and the Babylonians...its kinda ironic that these "christian churches " believe in life after death...heaven or hell!

    May 20, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • Colin

      That is correct. The idea came from the early Christians who were proselytizing to pagans. The problem they had was that reward for obedience to Yahweh in the Jewish Bible was that the Jews got to live peacefully and prosper in the land of Israel. Nowhere in the Old Testament, and I mean nowhere, is an everlasting life in heaven proffered as a reward for living a life devoted to God on Earth ( It was only after the Bar Kochva revolt of 132 C.E., a century after Jesus’ death, that the idea of any kind of afterlife got much traction in Judaism itself. )

      Ensuring that Jews lived and prospered in far off Israel was hardly a significant inducement for pagans throughout the Roman Empire to convert to Christianity, so the early Christians had to develop an alternative. The result was the notion of an everlasting life in heaven based on faith in Jesus Christ, with the requirement of living a sin free life later added on.

      Somewhat surprisingly, this concept of “going to heaven” as a reward for living a sin free life developed too late to make much of a mark in the New Testament either, with the result that the book a billion odd Christians endeavor to live by in order to “go to heaven” nowhere unambiguously makes such a promise.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • 1word

      Our God is Love, Love is the Key, no man can truly love another without the help of God. You will always love in a selfish manner, it will always depend on how someone else treats you. The Christians believe in Heaven because we experience the Love of God. The Christian church are the only ones who believe in Jesus Christ.

      John 14:6
      Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

      God Bless!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • WrshipWarior

      Jesus in John 6:40 answers your question: "And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

      May 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  2. Truth

    So according to the boy's experience, Jesus had a blue eyes, so he is of white race? Then what does that make of other races, Asian, Black, Indian, etc?
    For those people who says that race doesnt matter, then would you have the same level of faith, belief, love if Jesus was Asian, or even black?

    May 20, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • Brampt

      Cant you see that the kid is a red.neck?? So of course Jesus had to be a red.neck!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  3. Brampt

    Why do you need to go to heaven??

    Mormons haven the golden plates... Evangelicals keep on ripping people off with their so called "gods money" theory...Catholics are loaded of money...

    Their already receiving their reward in full!

    May 20, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • 1word

      Money isn't everything. How we treat others is of the most importance. We can spend our lives hating people, or we can spend it loving people. Either way, we all will die and after that we all will find out for ourselves! I know I have experienced the Supernatural and I know in my Heart Jesus is real because I possess his Holy Spirit.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Dippy

      It's "they're," not "their."

      May 20, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • Brampt

      1word- You dont need to experience the supernatural thing...dont others in diferent churches experience supernatural as well? Even Mediums, and all the people doing witch craft experience the supernatural...

      May 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • In Answer

      You ask why do we need to go to Heaven? Because, Brampt, the alternative is pure Hell!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
  4. meg

    Reasons not to believe in Jesus:

    #1 – Justin Bieber
    #2 – ok actually we can just stop there...

    May 20, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Bieber is just the second most embarrassing Canadian. He has a long way to go to surpass Harper.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  5. 1word

    God is real, Heaven is real. The key is love, Christians have direct access to Christ. He is the way, but he is compassionate to those who love and are good people. I believe my God is merciful to those who fail to accept him, if their good people. The thing about accepting Christ, he gives you the power to love those who hate you.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      How do you know? Did an old book tell you?

      May 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • LinCA

      @1word

      You said, "I believe my God is merciful to those who fail to accept him, if their good people."
      You guys really have got to get your stories straight. What is it? Do I get to go spend eternity with the cool kids, or will I suffer in heaven?

      May 20, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • Brampt

      Sorry, no heaven for you!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • 1word

      LinCA

      Everything you do and say is being recorded, Jesus said blaspheming the Holy Spirit will not be accepted.
      Luke 12:10
      And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.

      That old book I used to find Christ is the most important Book you will ever read. The only way to truly love as Christ, is to accept Christ so he can empower you.

      The KEY IS LOVE!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      1word, please make sure your imaginary buddy's recorder is set correctly so that he doesn't miss this: Fuck Of Jesus!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Colin

      The key is love, hey? According to the Bible, God:

      • Forced friends and family to kill each other for dancing na.ked around Aaron's golden calf.
      • Burned Aaron's sons to death for offering him strange fire.
      • Burned complainers to death, forced the survivors to eat quail until it literally came out their noses, sent "fiery serpents" to bite people for complaining about the lack of food and water, and killed 14,700 for complaining about his killings.
      • Buried alive those that opposed Moses (along with their families).
      • Burned 250 men to death for burning incense.
      • Rewarded Phinehas for throwing a spear though the bellies of a mixed-faith couple while they were having s.ex.
      • Ordered, assisted in, or approved of dozens of complete genocides of competing tribes, Canaanites, Philistines and Amalekites.
      • Accepted human sacrifice in the cases of Jephthah's daughter and Saul's seven sons.
      • Helped Samson murder thirty men for their clothes, slaughter 1000 with the jawbone of an as.s, and kill 3000 civilians in a suicide terrorist attack.
      • Smote the Philistines of several cities with hemorrhoids.
      • Killed a man for trying to keep the ark of the covenant from falling and 50,070 for looking into the ark.
      • Approved when David bought his first wife with 200 Philistine fo.reskins.
      • Killed King Saul for not killing every Amalekite as he told him to do.
      • Slowly killed a baby to punish King David for committing adultery.
      • Killed 70,000 because David had a census that he (or Satan) told him to do.
      • Sent a lion to kill a prophet for believing another prophet's lie, another lion to kill a man for not smiting a prophet, and some more lions to kill people that didn't fear him enough.
      • Killed 450 religious leaders who lost a prayer contest with Elijah and burned 102 men to death for asking Elijah to come down from his hill.
      • Sent two bears to rip apart 42 boys for making fun of Elisha's bald head.
      • Killed 27,000 Syrians by having a wall fall on them, sent an angel to kill 185,000 sleeping soldiers, and interfered in human battles to kill a half million Israelite and a million Ethiopian soldiers.
      • Killed King Ahab for not killing a captured king, and then sent King Jehu on a series of mass murders to kill all of Ahab's family and friends who had ever "pis.sed against a wall."
      • Killed Jehoram by making his bowels fall out.
      • Killed Job's ten children in a bet with Satan.
      • Killed Ezekiel's wife and told him not to mourn her.
      • Killed Ananias and Sapphira for not giving Peter all their money.
      • Killed King Herod by feeding him to worms.

      I can only hope he hates me.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • LinCA

      @1word

      You said, "Everything you do and say is being recorded, Jesus said blaspheming the Holy Spirit will not be accepted."
      Can I get a copy of those recordings? I have a dispute to settle, and it would be really handy if I could take a look at what happened.

      You said, "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him:"
      So, saying that Jesus was nothing more than a deluded Jew who was lied to about who his sperm donor was, is fair game?

      You said, "but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven."
      But, hang on a minute. That's a trick. Isn't your triune god manifested as father, son, and the holy spirit/ghost? Aren't they one and the same? And by blaspheming the son, don't I also blaspheme the holy ghost/spirit?

      May 20, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
  6. HotAirAce

    Looks like The Bluff has prematurely shot his load. . .

    May 20, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Colin

      Austin Bluff, come back. Your penetrating questions have us all stumped.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • LinCA

      @HotAirAce

      You said, "Looks like The Bluff has prematurely shot his load. . ."
      I bet it's past his bed time.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      He may be having a hard time deciding which "costume" to put on – Chad, Topher, The Real Austin, Herbie?. . .

      May 20, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
  7. RS

    Heaven is God's Kingdom on a restored Earth that will be one big Edenic paradise. The reason people don't talk about Heaven is because they don't read the Bible carefully. Did you know in Heaven you will build houses and inhabit them? That animals won't eat each other. That "the Earth abideth forever". Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to understanding those whose name is written in the Book of Life, and where they will spend eternity. In the exact same place God created Adam and Eve, before they fell and brought the curse of sin and death on mankind.

    May 20, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Colin

      That's fascinating. How do you know such things?

      May 20, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      And what do you build houses with in heaven? Sacred siding? And if you hit your thumb in heaven when you're building your house, and you say "Jesus Christ that hurt!!" does Jesus show up and say, "You called?" ANd does your heavenly house have a bathroom? Do you pee in heaven? What about poop? Would that be Holy Sh!t?

      So many questions!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Explain why a god would create a talking snake to ruin its best creation?

      May 20, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  8. David Laidig

    Very interesting that the Lionlylamb absolutely refuses to admit and acknowledge the information in Genesis 6 vs 1 thru 4

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

      @David Laidig

      You said, "Very interesting that the Lionlylamb absolutely refuses to admit and acknowledge the information in Genesis 6 vs 1 thru 4"
      You must be new here. If you come here more often, it'll become clear that lionlylamb is quite a few fries short of a Happy Meal. Getting him/her to engage in a discussion is futile.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      David L,

      I have read Genesis 6 and the first "8" verses. What David, is in these "8" verses you don't understand? Don't short change yourself now. Please tell us your perspectives regarding said verses. My perceptivities are yet fully made manifested. I need further input.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      LinCA,

      Like the eggs your carrying around in your basket aren't sometimes scrambled?

      May 20, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  9. MormonChristian

    If you want a church that talks about Heaven and where we go after we die, I invite you to check out the Mormon church. We believe all men and women are eligible for heaven and if you live a life of love and following your conscience, you will find yourself there. Heaven is made for us to be with families and those we love. We have the opportunity while in this life to choose how we live and spend our time, and how we care for others. This life is the time to prepare to meet God.

    May 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Colin

      Mormonism is the belief that a being powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, revealed the secrets of life and death to a failed conman in his big black hat.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • @OD

      The deference between science and religion is that science talks to you no matter if you believe in it or not. Einstein couldn't believe in his own findings yet they turned out to be true. With religion you have to constantly remind your self that God exists don't you? Why do you think that is?

      May 20, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • nope

      iiiiiiii got dee golden plates!

      May 20, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Hey, Mormon – can I join? I already have the magic underwear!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Brampt

      With all the money that your "Apostols" have, their already living in heaven!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Nick Adams

      I second what MormonChristian says. The Mormon church has taught extensively about heaven and the afterlife ever since it was established. If you'd like to hear our beliefs on the afterlife, visit Mormon dot org, a Mormon church, or contact the Mormon missionaries.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Colin

      The belief that an infinitely old, all-knowing sky-god, powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, chose a small nomadic group of Jews from the 200 million people then alive to be his "favored people" provided they followed some rural laws laid down in Bronze Age Palestine equals Judaism.

      Judaism PLUS a belief that the same god impregnated a virgin with himself to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to negate a rule he himself made equals Christianity.

      Christianity PLUS a belief that the secrets of the Universe were revealed to a failed conman in upstate New York, that aliens from other planets mated with humans who will one day be gods, that post mortem baptisms send people to a heaven, that the Israelis colonized America and that magic underwear will protect you from evil equals Mormonism.

      I must admit Mormons taught me something. I didn't think it could get any stupider than Christianity, until I learned of Mormonism.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • whatthe?

      So Colin your comment is completly putting down pieces in the Mormon faith that don't exist. Mormons don't believe in the trinity like most mainstream Christians. Jesus is the son of God, the are both completely separate individuals. This is why mainstream Christianity doesn't stomache them as well. So no, Mary was pregnant with the son of God, or mormons say also the son of Heavenly Father too. Mormons do speak alot about heaven, and its particurly why death does not faze them so much. They do believe all men might be saved to so measure of awesome glory, or light but their is an element of justice–as Adolf Hitler glory might be a less then perhaps Mother Theresa.
      really, if you did search it correctly, you would find Mormonism in its basic form, to be extremly logical. And this explanation is just one of the many that picks apart your complete lack of knowledge, and misunderstanding on the subject.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  10. DD

    Except its not heaven. The circle of life keeps turning.

    May 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  11. Trish

    Our church talks about heaven all the time, and the Bible is clear on who goes and who doesn't. Just because you might not like the answer, doesn't make it untrue!

    May 20, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " ....the Bible makes it clear..."
      The problem, Trish, is that various denominations, using the EXACT SAME book you do, accuse each other of not being the right kind of Christian and are thus condemned.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Trish

      You said, "Our church talks about heaven all the time, and the Bible is clear on who goes and who doesn't."
      And the odds that the bible has any chance of being right on the subject, or any subject, are indistinguishable from zero.

      You said, "Just because you might not like the answer, doesn't make it untrue!"
      I couldn't care less who you think goes to your heaven. There isn't a shred of evidence supporting the notion of your god. The odds it exists are virtually zero. The likelihood there is a heaven, or a hell, is even less.

      Even if there is a god that resembles yours, and it was picking who got to spend eternity with it, I'd gladly take hell, any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Steve

      @LinCA
      Perhaps you already gone to hell. Let us throw you a rope from above and help you out of your miseries !

      May 20, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Steve

      You said, "Perhaps you already gone to hell."
      If you consider how many christians are trying to make life difficult, you may be on to something.

      You said, "Let us throw you a rope from above and help you out of your miseries !"
      If you are serious about helping people out of their miseries, start by keeping your religion to yourself. Start by allowing everyone to enjoy the same protection of the law. Stop trying to shape other people's lives based on your fairy tale.

      Stop trying to claim that you know what your imaginary friend wants from me, or anyone else. Your imaginary friend is yours, and yours alone. It only exists in your head, and nowhere else. You are free to live your life according to how you think your imaginary friend wants you to, but you have no right to expect anyone else to be just as deluded as you.

      May 21, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  12. David Laidig

    BTW the star of david is comprised of two triangles. When folded up they form a square. The Hajj in Mecca is a cube. It was built by Adam as a model of Heaven. The flood destroyed all but the foundation. The Hajj was rebuilt by Ishmael. Sheer coincidence I'm sure. "Preachers" do not talk about this as it does not affect the contributions into their plate. They do not talk about Genesis 6 vs 1>4 either. Just a bit too much for the flock to handle.

    May 20, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Genesis 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
  13. Austin bluff

    Silence from the atheists. YOU HAVE NO ANSWERS

    May 20, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Colin

      The same thing as believers, we wish them the best and will do our part to help. What the hell does that have to do with the liklihood of the Judeo-Christian god existing?

      May 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • hooop

      Maybe they're simply not interested in reading the story... :-S

      May 20, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Austin bluff

      That is a response but what is your answer to why? YOU have no better answer

      May 20, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • HAH!

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

      May 20, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Colin

      Why what? Why did a tornado hit? Because of differentials in air pressure coupled with rising moisture and high ambient air temperatures. Whay, in your view, did your sky-fairy send this twistr?

      May 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohaim

      Be careful, Colin. Children of the corn can be like crazy ants in your pants.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      I missed your answers? I'll stick with being a good human without a lot of mumbo jumbo, thanks.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Austin bluff

      Leave it to you to respond by dissing some Christian view, and then say tough luck it is just meteorology SHAME on ypu

      May 20, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Colin

      Ok Austin Bluff, why do you think your sky-fairy killed these innocent people?

      May 20, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Are you suggesting a non-meteorological reason ?

      May 20, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Karin

      Actually, there are some studies currently being conducted by (neuroscientist) on this very subject. As to what is happening in the brain when one has lost conscientious. As to answers from atheist on the subject. Not sure what a non-belief in a god would have to do with waking up from an unconscious state and having a memory of a bright light...
      For me, as an atheist, my answer is "I don't know". A lot more honest than depositing a religious claim and owning it when there is absolutely no supportive evidence.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  14. lionlylamb

    Much of mankind puts themselves upon idyllic pedestals pushing asunder the Gods; toward them becoming nothing but dreams of ones' subconscious practicalities. It stands to reasoning that faithlessness is nowadays outpacing faithfulness becoming the dominant rationalities of the mortal ambiences. Sensualistic physical pleasures are washing away religious rationalisms. Religious naysayers are uprooting the historical ancestries laying waste to their forefathers' long held beliefs. Todays' religious devotees are fast becoming but a singular chapter in our booked histories. W h o r e d o m now rising upon the seas of humanisms is drowning out the frugally enamored religious vessels of celestial human life figured atomic manifestations. Death awaits all! For in death will the noxious atomic tares be gathered away from the sired cosmic goodness to be piled up high and burned, nevermore to be of passing away life's manifesting cellular threads!

    May 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • evolvedDNA

      LL..ever since you folks can no longer kill those who question your understanding of life, you appear to be loosing some ground, I agree. A good education is like a bran muffin to the religious constipated views.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • The real Tom

      ones' subconscious practicalities.... mortal ambiences.... religious rationalisms...booked histories.... seas of humanisms ....drowning out the frugally enamored religious vessels of celestial human life figured atomic manifestations....the noxious atomic tares ...sired cosmic goodness .... life's manifesting cellular threads!

      Absolute manure, piled higher and deeper.

      Meaningless drivel and moronic babble.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
  15. Austin bluff

    I don't need to hear atheists what. Chrs Tina's will say....I want to know what atheists will say? What understanding or comfort do you give that is better?

    May 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  16. David Laidig

    The word Heaven refers to one of two cubular vehicles. The old Heaven is 4.7 miles cubed. The new Heaven is 1,500 miles cubed. When either one of them shows up in our Solar system, NORAD will be the first to know. If one of them shows up, everyone will know it. And all the silly, stupid, ridiculous, insane, moronic, religious beliefs will go into the trash.
    This as everyone realizes that THEY are real, undying beings with whom we WILL do as they say.

    May 20, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Whoa! Sir, put down the dube! Step away from the J!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  17. Austin bluff

    What is your answer?

    May 20, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      What's your answer to my question about why you reject the argument that the gay struggle for equal rights is the same as black's.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Colin

      Wow, I just learned that 7 little children were killed an elementry school. God was very accurate in targetiing it wasn't he? What a rotten basta.rd.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  18. Austin bluff to Branium

    Tell me cranium, what words do you have for OK right now? Can you tell them it is just science?

    May 20, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Austin bluff to Branium

      You said, "Tell me cranium, what words do you have for OK right now? Can you tell them it is just science?"
      If you are a believer these tornadoes ripping through the Mid West can really mean only one thing. The people who live there must be worshiping the wrong god. Why else would it destroy the lives of innocent children? Some 80% of the affected people are christians.

      If you need any more evidence that that christians got it all wrong, all you need to do is look at how tornado alley and the bible belt overlap. It is also the area most affected by hurricanes. If there is a god, it is telling you something.

      Of course, instead of wasting time with prayer, trying to appease a non-existing creature, you could get your head out of your ass and get a grip on reality. There is no better time than the present to shed infantile beliefs that do very little else than hold society back. Let's get rid of these silly superstitions and focus on providing every child in this country a decent education. An education that doesn't feed them bullshit from your fairy tale.

      If you want this country to get to the 21st century, it's time to kick religion to the curb.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Ifyou are referring to the tornadoes in Oklahoma, yes it's just science. Well, some very bad luck for sure and maybe some building codes that might need to be changed.

      What die the Bluffer think it is?

      May 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Sorry, what does The Bluffer think it is?

      May 20, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Those tornadoes have clearly been designed by some intelligence. Look at how precise they are. Look at how powerful they are. They do the job of destruction so well, so efficiently, there is no way that such things could just happen without a designer.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  19. drama

    because the same reason why CNN every put something good in there NEWS its always bad thing

    May 20, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Athy

      Want to try that again in English?

      May 20, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Me fail English? That's unpossible!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  20. Austin bluff to SCIENCE

    Tell me science what comforting words to you have for those in OK right now? What does science say about this?

    May 20, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Science says it wins in Tornadoe Alley vs The Babble Belt.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62
Advertisement
About this blog

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