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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. faithforunfaithful

    hmmm....i love these stories. I also love how people say "where was he when". excuse me, but he promises life in his world, not in this one. yup, he is punishing those of us left, not the ones he takes. If heaven exists the way it is said to exist, is it not way better than here? If I didnt believe in an afterlife, i would not be able t have my children with a clear conscience knowing i would never see them again. BUT, thats my choice and my decision. How many miracles happens every day that people ignore? no one gives god credit, but when something bad happens u all want to know where he is??? u dont believe in him, so u know where he is....My heart goes out to everyone affected. The pain they are enduring must be horrible. I will donate to help those in need, because arguing about whether god exists or not, is not helping at all. and trust me, u atheists are more mean that us catholics when it comes to choosing our beliefs. Makes me wonder if u actually believe what you say or that you are so angry with god you refuse to believe in him.

    May 21, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • faith

      dig it

      May 21, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Len

      Life here on Earth may have it's depressing moments, but it also has it moments of wonder, beauty, and bliss. Like pretty much all believers in heaven you're assuming that you'll be one of the few who will be going there, but you might be going to the other place too. You don't claim to know God's judgment, do you?

      So, if it's a choice between living our lives as we actually do, with it's ups and downs, I much prefer that to the idea of being herded towards two doors, one leading to Guantanamo and another leading to Hollywood.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • faith

      Len
      Life here on Earth may have it's depressing moments, but it also has it moments of wonder, beauty, and bliss. Like pretty much all believers in heaven you're assuming that you'll be one of the few who will be going there, but you might be going to the other place too. You don't claim to know God's judgment, do you?

      So, if it's a choice between living our lives as we actually do, with it's ups and downs, I much prefer that to the idea of being herded towards two doors, one leading to Guantanamo and another leading to Hollywood.

      lol

      May 21, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  2. 2013

    “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.”

    Sure he did. Just like all the jews from back then.

    May 21, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Jesus was originally from Arkansas...

      May 21, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • faithforunfaithful

      why read this article???

      May 21, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Why do you care why we read it?

      May 21, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  3. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    I had to share...

    ◦Lucifer's Evil Twin – "Some of the most brilliant people I have ever met have been also the most religious" I think you need to expand the pool of people you actually know."
    May 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |

    ◦Larry Smith – Satan's Evil Twin-I have met people that are brilliant that live their life to defy God also. As you sew, so shall you reap. I hope you find God someday because Satan doesn't treat his followers very well.
    May 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |

    1. The origin and meaning of Lucifer is not christian. 2. However, Jesus was once referred to as Lucifer (it does not mean what you think it means). 3. lastly, if a person doesn't believe in your nonsense religion, how does that translate to them being a Satan worshiper? ... what an ass-clown, I do not fear your empty proxy threats.

    May 21, 2013 at 8:02 am |
  4. Science

    Whom ever is doing the deleting on article below................you know..............thanks.........have a great life !

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/5/5/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority#

    Peace

    May 21, 2013 at 7:42 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Science

    Whom ever is doing the deleting on article below................you know..............thanks.........have a great life !

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/5/5/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority#

    Peace

    May 21, 2013 at 7:36 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Hey faith.......Chadie...........the peach........... did you learn or hear from that Discovery show about the LAND BRIDGE ?

    How many years ago did we cross into North America ?

    Also is place maybe for International RR ?

    May 21, 2013 at 6:35 am | Report abuse | Reply

    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

    Peace

    May 21, 2013 at 6:06 am | Report abuse | Reply

    May 21, 2013 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |

    May 21, 2013 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |

    May 21, 2013 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |

    Science

    Whom ever is ............you know .................has no morals or ethics !

    Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like. ............with the comments on this blog.

    The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

    The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

    Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

    May 21, 2013 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |

    May 21, 2013 at 7:59 am |
  5. Brian

    "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." "

    Really. These robbing, lying, killing SOBs are upset that anyone will make it into heaven! Ya wanna know why? Their control of others slips when it's revealed anyone can go, and are not able to be controlled by threats of hell.

    May 21, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • faith

      must b da season of the w i t c h

      May 21, 2013 at 8:29 am |
  6. Katie

    Our society is in a very bad place. Poverty, warfare, starvation, over population, violence, global issues, etc... If we all really believed in a Heaven and the church always spoke about how wonderful it would be I think we could add suicide to the list of global issues we already have... If people 'knew' there was something better, many would choose to go there.

    May 21, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • richunix

      Katie,

      With all the hate and disparity we see, it is still a wonderful place to live. Find what happiness you can and spread it around with the smile on your face and then you can view this world through a new set of eyes.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      The world is a harsh place. Always has been. Poverty, warfare, disease and oppression have existed since the dawn of man. Survival has always been a struggle for most. Until very recently most chilldren didn't make it to age 5 and many women died giving birth. Living standards in western civilizations are higher now than in all recorded history. We live longer, healthier and happier now than in any time in our past. We've eradicaed small pox. Polio and malaria only affect the poorest 3rd world countries.
      The idea that we live in a time that is plagued with more severe problems than times past is illusory. News and media is heavily biased toward reporting the bad stuff. Good news isn't news worthy. 100 years ago people were almost completely ignorant of events beyond their home town. Most people never travelled beyond a days horseride from their birthplace for their entire lives. People were isolated and insulated from the hardships experienced by others in contrast to today.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • faith

      elect dodo gawwwwwwwwwwwwwd

      May 21, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  7. dantex777

    I find it fascinating that all these people who claim to be logical free thinkers, like to hang around in the religious section of CNN wasting their precious time on stories of fiction, and not focusing them on more important things that would benefit themselves.

    May 21, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      What could be more important that helping to drive a stake into the heart of superst-itious nonsense that has caused more bloodshed, strife, and grief than anything else in history?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • richunix

      People learn by the sharing of ideas and what a better place.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • dantex777

      If you think coming onto a wordpress blog and saying some words will stop man from wars and irrational thought is about as logical as a religious person convincing you there is a God.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:21 am |
    • Science

      dantex777.............numbers work.

      http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/5/5/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority#

      May 21, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • @chad

      The day that religion stops playing a role in politics, is the day you should expect non-believers to keep to themselves about it. Until then, we’re not going anywhere.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • Hey! You!

      So why are you here? What are you trying to achieve?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      You may be right, but one has to try. If more and more people realize that it is acceptable to speak out against the religious status quo, then atti-tudes and beliefs will slowly change. There is a huge amount of religious inertia; you don't stop an ocean liner on a dime. But, bit by logical bit, religion will be eroded away.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • faith

      u can c the inertia b comin back to us nazis

      May 21, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • faith

      i dated inertia for 6 months in college. to die 4

      May 21, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  8. Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

    Where was your God in Oklahoma City? And please – don't start with the malarky about, God was in the Emergency Responders bit. By doing so you are saying that God chose to injure and kill a bunch of people, and to destroy families, in order for some people to demonstrate that they can be kind and supportive and heroic to the victims.

    If God could have stopped or diverted the tornadoes, but chose not to, he is evil and immoral. If God doesn't have the power to do so he's irrelevant.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:52 am |
    • richunix

      Is God willing to prevent evil, but is not able?
      Then he is not omnipotent.

      Is he able, but not willing?
      Then he is malevolent.

      Is he both able and willing?
      Then whence cometh evil?

      Is he neither able nor willing?
      Then why is he called GOD?

      -Epicurus 33 CE

      May 21, 2013 at 7:18 am |
    • believer

      God had a better plan for those lost.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      @ believer – and that plan includes the pain and suffering and horror of those injured, of those who have lost loved ones, of the parents of those children killed in school? Does your god REQUIRE that pain and suffering and horror in order to bring about his plan for those killed?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • dantex777

      Curious how there being no God makes the situation of children dying from this any better?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • naijaG

      If heaven is real and as beutiful as people have described above, why would God not let those children and adults come to him through death from a tornadoe. Remember you have to die first to reach heaven.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "God had a better plan for those lost."

      And what plan would that be??? Innocent children lost their lives and you somehow think your imaginary friend had a better plan...was it to make the parents suffer emotional torment for some mistake they might have made? Was it because they're listening to their teachers who teach them the truth in science class?? Your imaginary friend, if it exists (and that's a very big 'if') is a vindictive prick...why worship such a horrible thing???

      May 21, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • faith

      i no. he was at sambos eating fried chicken

      May 21, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • Austin

      The Glory of God is forgiveness and eternal life. Isaiah 63:9 ►

      In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

      We can get ready for the Lord without growing old and rejecting Him for the sake of a tornado.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Job 1:21

      I came naked from my mother’s womb,
      and I will be naked when I leave.
      The Lord gave me what I had,
      and the Lord has taken it away.
      Praise the name of the Lord!

      May 21, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • faith

      u go girl

      May 21, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • faith

      she was busy. sambo was havin a cow and dodo was teasing her so she had to break it up

      richunix
      Is God willing to prevent evil, but is not able?
      Then he is not omnipotent.

      Is he able, but not willing?
      Then he is malevolent.

      Is he both able and willing?
      Then whence cometh evil?

      Is he neither able nor willing?
      Then why is he called GOD?

      May 21, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • sam stone

      austin: do you seriously desire ETERNAL life?

      May 21, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  9. 2013

    Because it's not real.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:41 am |
  10. Hawk

    This is just a reminder to Christian preachers; preach what you read in the bible, don't twist the rules to get more people in the pews. Don't ignore what your conscience tells you (even if A school you attended told you to interpret the text different).
    Don't ignore countless near death experiences either (I wouldn't call them fact, but I would say they are possible).
    An important read for preachers: "Placebo" by Howard Pittman.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:23 am |
    • Science

      Hey faith..................the peach........... did you learn or hear from that Discovery show about the LAND BRIDGE ?

      How many years ago did we cross into North America ?

      Also is place maybe for International RR ?

      May 21, 2013 at 6:35 am | Report abuse | Reply

      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

      Peace

      May 21, 2013 at 6:06 am | Report abuse | Reply

      May 21, 2013 at 6:53 am |
    • faith

      he's my sister's boyfriend's brother

      May 21, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • lol??

      "...............don't twist the rules........." Rules?? Rules operate from the outside in. The spirit operates from the inside out. Don't get upside down on this.

      May 21, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  11. Science

    ETHICS.......and MORALS..............whom ever is doing the deleting has NONE

    Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

    The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

    The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

    Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

    May 21, 2013 at 6:17 am | Report abuse |

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/comment-page-109/#comment-2355282

    May 21, 2013 at 6:21 am |
  12. Reality

    Only for the new members:

    As per Father Edward Schillebeekx, the famous contemporary Christian theologian, God (if one exists, my addition) does not know the Future. From his book, Church: The Human Story of God,

    "Therefore the historical future is not known even to God; otherwise we and our history would be merely a puppet show in which God holds the strings.

    For God, too, history is an adventure, an open history for and of men and women."

    And if God does not know the future, Mohammed, Jesus, Isaiah, the Robertsons and the Grahams surely do (did) not.

    In two sentences of profound common sense, Schillebeeckx has reduced much of the OT, NT and Koran to the wishful thinking of many ancient scribes.

    Schillebeeckx also has a different take on hell. He reasons that god does not tolerate imperfection in his spiritual realm. Therefore, any soul dying in mortal sin will simply disappear since hell the imperfect state does not exist. No hell, no Satan.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:15 am |
    • richunix

      Good morning, always glad to see your on

      May 21, 2013 at 6:35 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      Isn't this a bit like a scholar debating how fast the tooth fairy flies, and whether the tooth fairy only takes incisors and not molars. Anyone can write anything about fictional characters.

      Sure, write that God doesn't know the future. So what?

      Establish that God exists; then we can have a conversation about God's characteristics.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:02 am |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' / Agnostics’ Creed 2013 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (References used are available upon request.)

      May 21, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  13. saggyroy

    The last part of the message from the spirit guide: “There is nothing you can do wrong." I guess that is open to interpretation. It's usually the mindset of religious zealots. The bombers, child molesters, the bigots.....

    May 21, 2013 at 6:10 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      Bingo, Saggy – you've encapsulated the danger of religion PERFECTLY. With God on the side of a religious nut, ANYTHING becomes not only justified by necessary. 9/11 is a perfect example. Those hijackers, I believe, felt that they were on a holy mission sanctioned and commanded by their god.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • faith

      ain't it the truth!

      May 21, 2013 at 8:35 am |
  14. Michael Siddle

    I read the book and all credibility was lost when he started talking about a living family friend acting as a spirit guide. Pure nonsense all of it!

    May 21, 2013 at 5:58 am |
  15. Marcus

    People don't die, then go to Heave, then return to earth. It's fake. Once your soul leaves your body, it goes to one of two places–Heaven or Hell. Period. People who say they have been to Heaven may BELIEVE they have done so but they have not.

    May 21, 2013 at 5:54 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      Marcus – you state this as if it were a fact. Can you back up your assertion with concrete, verifiable, reliable, credible evidence?

      May 21, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • 2013

      100% wrong! ALL sous go to Narnia.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:54 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      I thought all souls went to Sarnia. No – wait – only the truly evil ones. Ever been to Sarnia? (Insert shudder here). Hell on Earth.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Marcus: By your logic death doesn't occur but yet we know for certain that there is nothing to substantiate your claims that after physical death anything more happens. You need to get your face out of a buybull and do some research. There is no such evidence for a soul or heaven or hell or jesus or angel's or your god (or any god).
      How old do you think the earth is? Do you really believe that it was okay for your god to impregnate a 14 year old without her permission or the permission of her parents? Do you really believe it was possible for a global flood to have happened? Where else in history can we find a person that came back to life after 3 days?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • faith

      i went to my cousin's house

      May 21, 2013 at 8:36 am |
  16. fellow the Bible

    I am a Christian I am curious to ask you question. Buddas Muslim Jewish Islam will go to heaven???? They do not believe Jesus... Please tell me about this. Thanks

    May 21, 2013 at 5:19 am |
    • Marcus

      If you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior you will go to Heaven, regardless of your "religion." But there's more than just 'believing in Jesus.' The devil believes in Jesus. Demons believe in Jesus. You have to ask him into your heart and life to get into Heaven.

      May 21, 2013 at 5:56 am |
    • mattski

      It's all about belief. They believe they will go to their version of heaven, just like you believe you believe you will go to your version of heaven. Some people believe they will advance to a higher astral plane, and some believe they will come back to earth as a cow or a microbe. Some believe they'll just go away and the lights will go out forever, some even believe the greys will come pick them up in an interstellar taxicab. See how belief works? They're just beliefs. And the article above could be describing "proof" of all of them, or none of them.

      May 21, 2013 at 5:57 am |
    • richunix

      The earliest Christian, starting with Jesus, did not believe in the modern version of heaven and hell, as a place that your soul goes when you die. Sadly this was a later Christian invention. The early Christian were Jewish and apocalypticists. For further reading, you need to read up on Ebonite’s and the Orthodox corruption of the scripture.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:00 am |
    • John C Finley

      Christ was asked how we should be saved and he replied with two statements: One is to love God and the second is like unto it, Love thy neighbor. Christ said nothing about believing in himself only the two Christian Commandments. Love God, Love thy neighbor.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:44 am |
    • 2013

      "muslim" and "islam" are the same thing and they believe in jesus.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:59 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Marcus: Not everyone has heard about jesus, so what happens to them when they die? Why is it that christians are so special?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      @ fellow – a quick answer – no, they will NOT go to heaven, because there is no heaven (imho)

      May 21, 2013 at 7:19 am |
    • sam stone

      "If you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior you will go to Heaven, regardless of your 'religion.'"

      other than christians, who accepts jesus as personal lord and savior?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • faith

      richunix
      The earliest Christian, starting with Jesus, did not believe in the modern version of heaven and hell, as a place that your soul goes when you die. Sadly this was a later Christian invention. The early Christian were Jewish and apocalypticists. For further reading, you need to read up on Ebonite’s and the Orthodox corruption of the scripture.

      lol

      May 21, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • faith

      they go to mcdonalds

      May 21, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • lol??

      TP sayz,
      "...................Not everyone has heard about jesus, so what happens to them when they die?............" You should ask your hubby.

      May 21, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  17. BO

    What is with this article? Every church I've ever attended spoke proudly of the reward of heaven.

    May 21, 2013 at 4:42 am |
  18. Adrian

    You cant die you just cant what those of us don't understand is that when we came into "this world" this is just an experience we chose to have on our souls eternal journey, that we have fallen under amnesia. Nothing in the universe is solid because the very nature of the universe and building block of all matter is the atom, and in the atoms core it is hollow. This is scientific fact having said that the vibrational frequencies affect matter differently,in this dimension we appear to be solid, but we are not what so ever, this human body is merely a suit allowing our spirit to navigate and expereince this realm in order for growth spiritualy or some people chose to live this life out of free will. But the one constant is our conciousness we are multidimensional beings, our spirit is light energy energy cannot be destroyed only transform. People seem to think all we are is a walking carcas evolved from a sperm and an egg, what they dont realize is that our dna has other parts to it that we havent figured out yet 99 percent to be exact , this is proof if you toss out ignorance that we have other aspects to our seleves we havent figured out yet, we are all creators as we create our own reality every day knowlingly or unkownlingly, its those who have this knowledge who have chosen to manipulate man into beleving we are nothing less then a peice of flesh with no destiny or purpose who have made men there slaves and have been controling this reality for years. I have had many OBE's and astral project on a weekly basis and could tell you from standing out on a mountain top that death is an illusion life is continous and there is so much more than meets the eye. Call me crazy but we all know on an intuitive level that there is no escaping what we do on this earth we will have to answer for everything we have done, when you pass on and relize that you are still alive.

    May 21, 2013 at 4:13 am |
  19. Bostontola

    I don't get why there would be a choice to believe if god(s) created us. Why not build the belief in? People not indoctrinated in god belief don't believe. The cultural passing down of the god virus is quite powerful. Children will believe what their parents tell them, for good survival reasons. Tell them there is a god, and they will defy all logic to defend the notion. It clearly has sociological power or it would have faded much earlier.

    May 21, 2013 at 4:11 am |
    • _

      Jesus died for those that believe him and repent of their sins. You can analyze whether or not to believe him, until the day you die... and you'll miss out. Do you really believe all those witnesses lied? They were often killed or put in prison for their belief. At the height of the people then believing Jesus, he told them he'd be executed. Why'd he tell them that? Then soon after, the crowd turned against him when others lied to them, the same ones they trusted to tell them the truth about God. What they had, told them who he is, if they had just studied it and figured it out... similar to you... if you'd just study the bible and figure it out.

      May 21, 2013 at 4:47 am |
    • sam stone

      sin is a concept made by man to instill guilt

      without guilt, christianity is dead in the water

      May 21, 2013 at 7:55 am |
  20. GOOD NEWS

    Heaven is absolutely Real.
    So we shall immediately be awakened in a parallel Universe, when we die here.
    Here is the ultimate EVIDENCE:

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    May 21, 2013 at 4:08 am |
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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.