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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. Victor

    I had a life after death experience while I was alive and the other person died. I was sleeping in my bed then I jump out of bed like someone called my name around 1:00am. I turned on all the lights in the house cause i was home alone. Got a feeling like something was bothering me like something was wrong but didnt know what it was and couldnt go back to sleep. I told myself stop bugging out cuz i dont believe in no ghost. Dont know why i even told myself that. I layed there till i eventually fell asleep. Then I got a phone call around 4 am and it was my best friend mother calling me to tell me he died last night at 1:00. Someone shot him and he bled to death in his family store robbery. They tried to rush him to the hospital but he died on the way. As soon as I hung up the phone, i mean exactly when I hung up the phone... things started falling off the shelf in the house. Coincidence? shiet my ass... those stuff in the house could of fell off the shelf anytime but choose to do it right then and there. No religion talk, no science talk, but that night something happen. Just saying , might be more going on in this world then what all these scientist and people are telling us....and yes this is a true story and i am as sane as it gets. I guess some people have to experience it for themselves to take this type of topic serious.

    May 20, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  2. Vic

    You never know! There is a Limited Atonement vs. Unlimited Atonement Debate amongst Christians regarding everybody going to heaven or not, based on Universal Atonement verses from Scripture!

    Here are two examples of everybody goes to heaven:

    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 Timothy 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 20, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Lay off the stupid exclamation points, Vic. Nothing in your posts is worthy of them.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • Colin

      I love it when Christian cite one of the 3 undoubtably forged letters fraudulantly attributed to Saint Paul. They are effectively saying, "look, a successful conman said...."

      May 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      "... especially of believers." doesn't look like a free pass to me.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • Doc Smith Salem Ohio

      To: The Real Tom – You sound a lot like I was. Go to Sunday School and learn – if you have a good teacher you learn things that no one told you before, or that you failed to see. The teacher makes the difference! But, for good understanding I recommend an NIV Study Bible for clear understanding and reference notes that explain the text.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      HAHA Good one Doc. You must believe a goat can evolve into a sheep.

      May 21, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • midwest rail

      B.D. – your own doctrine maintains that everyone is worthy of salvation, and illustrates such even at the crucifixion. Do you disagree ?

      May 21, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • The real Tom

      Doc, I WENT to Sunday School AND church, for decades. None of it ever answered the questions I just asked you. If you can't manage to answer them, I must assume you don't have the answers either.

      May 21, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  3. Scott Greene

    Pastor Luke Barnett of Phoenix First Assembly of God in Phoenix Arizona taught a great 2 part series on Heaven.

    https://tommybarnett.org/products-page/luke-barnett-sermons/

    May 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I admire someone who can put together a lecture series on something no one has any way of knowing anything about.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      it's easy if you have faith, where faith means pretending to know something you don't.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
  4. Scott Greene

    Check out this two part series on Heaven preached by Luke Barnett, son of Pastor Tommy Barnett at Phoenix First Assembly in Phoenix, Arizona.

    https://tommybarnett.org/products-page/luke-barnett-sermons/

    May 20, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
  5. Doc Smith Salem Ohio

    So, there is nothing you can do wrong. I believe that there is a LOT you can do wrong. You have a chance in this life to to be good, to do good, and to provide comfort to your family and you fellow man. We all need love and help – we are NOT in this alone, we are ALL in this together. I am a Christian, and I believe that the Lord God loves us all, and that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and by belief in him we will receive eternal life in heaven. But do NOT think you can do no wrong, unless you believe in a religion of death. I beileve in a religion of life, which requires belief in Jesus and the writings in the Bible, even the parts we struggle with as human sinners. Keep in mind that this is God's game and you will be used as required in His time. Remember us God, but your will be done as it pleases you. In Jesus name, Amen.

    May 20, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • Heretic

      I'm good. Without God.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      And I believe you are mentally ill.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Sounds like Stockholm syndrome.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I guess I've seen this a few times. A believer who thinks we are pieces in a game being played by God.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • Roger that

      One problem with your belief is that 71% of the people on this planet disagree with you.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Why would an omnipotent god create fallible beings and then punish them for not believing in and worshipping him? If it's all just some cosmic video game, why bother to do anything at all? If it's all up to a god who, according to you, operates without any rules or reasons, then why does anything matter?

      If that's the best you can do, Doc, I'll say no thanks.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Athy

      Doc, you are seriously deluded. Do you honestly believe that preposterous story? You must have been thoroughly brainwashed in Sunday school and just never recovered from it.

      May 20, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • lol??

      Fallible? Eternity is a long time. One way of lookin' at it is God appears to like free people to relate with.

      "2Cr 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord [is], there [is] liberty."

      The race had to be taught what that means.

      May 21, 2013 at 1:02 am |
  6. Brampt

    Explai me this:

    Acts 2:34: “David did not ascend to the heavens.”

    Matt. 5:5: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”

    Matt. 6:9, 10: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”

    John 3:13: "Moreover, no man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man.

    Dan 12:13: "“And as for you ( Daniel), go toward the end; and you will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.”

    May 20, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Scott

      The term heaven has two basic meanings in the scriptures. (1) It is the place where God lives and the future home of the Saints (Gen. 28:12; Ps. 11:4; Matt. 6:9). (2) It is the expanse around the earth (Gen. 1:1, 17; Ex. 24:10). Heaven is clearly not paradise, which is the temporary place for the faithful spirits of those who have lived and died on this earth. Jesus visited paradise after his death on the cross, but on the third day, he informed Mary that he had not yet been to the Father (Luke 23:39–44; John 20:17; D&C 138:11–37).

      The earth becomes a celestial world: Revelations 21-22
      http://www.lds.org/manual/new-testament-student-study-guide/the-revelation-of-saint-john-the-divine/revelation-21-22-the-earth-becomes-a-celestial-world?lang=eng

      Also read 1 Corinthians 15:40

      Visit LDS.org for more answers.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Scott

      When Christ returns (2nd coming) this earth will be translated and will become Heaven.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Do you think he'll show up anytime soon? He is about 1,900 years late already.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I wouldn't want to give you the impression that I think LDS doctrine is a crock of shit, but I do think it's a work in progress. Heaven has this property: if anyone knows anything about it he is dead. And when you are dead you don't come back to describe what it's like. You don't come back. Ever.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  7. Banjo Ferret

    Not to point out the obvious, but subjective "experience" and pseudo-science are not proof of anything. Ferretianism is the one true religion. Repent and secure your purple energy bubble! (banjoferret d c)

    May 20, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • TheBob

      You have angered the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster. Repent now and pray for His Noodly Appendage to touch you. Or else you will cast into a chasm of boiling Red Sauce for all of Eternity. REPENT NOW!

      May 20, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • C.S. Lewis

      I repent of not having a purple energy bubble, please send me my purple energy bubble.
      I have enclosed five cents and sealed the envelope with a kiss. All hail the Banjo Ferret!

      May 21, 2013 at 3:00 am |
  8. thegadfly

    I don't believe in an afterlife, I believe in a life. I don't believe in reincarnation, I believe in incarnation. Do you know where you will spend eternity? Right here.

    The you that is sitting here reading this is eternal. The seven-year-old you that sat against some tree and wondered what it was like to be grown up is eternal. The dying you a few minutes, days, or years from now is eternal. The past isn't "back there" and the future isn't "somewhere". It all exists right now, and it all exists forever. It always has, and you have always been a part of it.

    But you are not doomed to repeat the same pathetic life again and again. The universe has many more dimensions. You have many more dimensions. The eternal you has many pasts and futures. You'll see.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • TheBob

      You had me until "eternal". Nothing in the universe is eternal, no matter how badly we humans wish it were.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      TheBob,

      I disagree. "Nothingness springs eternal"!

      May 20, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
  9. Karin

    A more sound approach to this article is found here; http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-near-death-experience-isnt-proof-heaven

    May 20, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Karin,

      If your scientific site is speaking about brain scan images well, such scanning toys cannot as yet fathom with little clarity into the very depths of a brain's secretive workings of atomic cosmology which is not yet becoming a revelation to those seeking to understand the finite chasms of inner spatial dimensioning issues.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • Rationalist

      @lionlylamb – skipped your meds again today, didn't you?

      May 20, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      TheBob,

      Not tonight but thank you for wanting to play nursemaid. I don't do nurses very well. Sorry,,,,

      May 20, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • The real Tom

      You don't write very well, either.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      My bad! Was meant for Rationalist

      May 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Tommie child girl!

      I haven't written anything lately ever since I found typing to be a better way of creating my Word scripture.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Fikken Dü

      Thank you, Karin! Good link.

      May 20, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  10. 1word

    It was nice chatting with you guys. Remember this, God loves you and all he wants is a chance to show you how much he loves you. Once that happens, you will imitate his love to your neighbors. God Bless.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      So your god can't love its creation unconditionally?

      May 20, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • Brampt

      Explai me this:

      Acts 2:34: “David did not ascend to the heavens.”

      Matt. 5:5: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”

      Matt. 6:9, 10: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”

      Rev. 5:10: “You made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.”

      John 3:13: "Moreover, no man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man.

      Dan 12:13: "“And as for you ( Daniel), go toward the end; and you will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.”

      May 20, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • lol??

      Santa,
      "Sorry! The word "unconditionally" doesn't occur in the KJV."

      You might try Walt Disney from holywood.

      May 21, 2013 at 12:42 am |
  11. SoCalMusic.TV

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C364jI-ZicI&w=640&h=360]

    May 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  12. 1word

    Heaven is real, and God is real. God Bless, love you guys!

    May 20, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  13. Brampt

    This people hear voices and speak to angels....So what? even people that practice Spiritism can do that...it sounds to me there all in the same business!!!

    May 20, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  14. Matt-Mark-John-Jesus

    If you are told something over and over in church, you tend to believe it.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      You know what people think? Practice and more practice? Keep on practicing, you'll get it sooner or later! Unless you are a quitter.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  15. RJ

    It's all about faith. Either you have the faith to believe that God exists or you don't, very simple.

    Either way is fine.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Major Tom

      Sorry, no. Either way is not fine. One way leads to peaceful coexistence and compassion for your fellow human being. The other compels you ram planes into buildings and behead innocent little girls.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  16. TheBob

    Because even the church knows heaven and hell are bulls**t.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • One Man Among Others

      Why? Because you say it is?

      Maybe it is you who has the narrow mind which is full of bulls–t. Even a lit bulb is amazing to one who is ignorant. I'm sure a lit bulb amazes the hell out of you.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Is a lit bulb anything like a light bulb?

      May 20, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • cognus

      sqeptiq,

      Yes, if it is left in the closet with the communion wine. All hail Dischordia!

      May 20, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  17. Science

    Kepler or not, we'll find life in space..

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/20/opinion/urry-kepler-malfunction/index.html?hpt=op_t1

    Evolving Planets Get a Bumpy Ride

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120305131756.htm

    Where Does All Earth's Gold Come From? Precious Metals the Result of Meteorite Bombardment, Rock Analysis Finds

    Not by the horn-y red thingy CHAD !

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110907132044.htm

    Cloning stem cells: What does it mean?...............no fairy in the sky needed .............faith/chard

    By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/18/health/stem-cells-cloning/index.html?hpt=he_c2

    Carbon -14 CHARD

    May 20, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  18. HUH!

    Word of God specifically warns not to believe every spirit. Only Jesus Christ leads into eternal life. Satan has his ministering spirits who know what to do to deceive the masses.....
    Check out those words
    The angel told him:

    “You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”

    “You have nothing to fear.”

    “There is nothing you can do wrong."

    They sound so good. But are they true? Not all of them! One needs to look deeper at the message of this "angel"

    May 20, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  19. 1word

    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.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • Colin

      Jesus wasn't much for family relations was he? “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.”; Jesus.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • 1word

      Colin, Jesus word is a sword. The world is controlled by the Devil. So when you have someone in a home who accepts Christ and you have others who have not, you will see things differently. That can cause a strife, it did in my house. So this is one of the main verses I experience that proves God's words is Truth.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • 1word

      Light and Darkness cannot dwell in the same space. The Light however can dim to allow a little darkness. Jesus Words is Light and Life, those who don't want to hear them are in Darkness.

      John 8:12
      Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      About this Devil of yours, how exactly does it control anything? Is it like God, with no particular location, or does it have an office somewhere?

      May 20, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • Brampt

      This people hear voices and speak to angels....So what? even people that practice Spiritism can do that...it sounds to me there all in the same business!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • 1word

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The Devil is the prince of this world, if God is real you better believe the Devil is real. When the Devil and the Angels rebelled against God, God sent them to here. There are a lot of humans on the earth to be controlled by evil spirits. Jesus came to save us from that, when we give our lives to Christ, we receive a more powerful spirit and that's the Holy Spirit.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      "If God is real you better believe the Devil is real" I tried to parse that, even sought input from my Yorkshire terrier. We concluded that we should pass on believing any of it.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
  20. Brampt

    Why is their so many interpretations of how Jesus looks if the bible already gives a discreption?:

    Rev 1- "Moreover, his head and his hair were white+ as white wool, as snow, and his eyes as a fiery flame;+ 15 and his feet were like fine copper+ when glowing in a furnace; and his voice+ was as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars,+ and out of his mouth a sharp, long two-edged sword+ was protruding, and his countenance was as the sun when it shines in its power

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

      Jesus can appear as who he wants. You never know that homeless cripple man you walked by on the street could have been Jesus. God has all power in his hands, so he can appear and do whatever he wants. That's why he's GOD!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      1word "God has all power in his hands, so he can appear and do whatever he wants."

      So why did he send a tornado through a school in Oklahoma? Or why didn't he stop it? Those children must have been really naughty. Or most likely god doesn't exist. The one word is "bullshit"

      May 20, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • Brampt

      1word – you havent known the True God...

      May 20, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • RJ

      This is the definition of what God looks like.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • 1word

      Brampt

      "1word – you havent known the True God..."

      Actually he lives in me. I know him intimately, I actually speak to him and I've had visions of him in my dreams.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Brampt

      1Word- I dont dought you had visions...Even Mediums have visions and dreams, they can even talk with the dead in the afterlife, just like you!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Steve

      God allows woe in order to bring forth greater good.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
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About this blog

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