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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. Vic

    This Universe & Life In It ARE "Prima Facie" EVIDENCE Of God

    May 22, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Nope, cause you can't prove it, you can only say it. Epic Fail.

      May 22, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      Another tick mark in the fail category for Vic.

      The universe is evidence that the universe exists. Life in the universe is evidence that there is life.

      Don’t read too much into it.

      May 22, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "Man is a marvelous curiosity ... he thinks he is the Creator's pet ... he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn't it a quaint idea." – Samuel Clemens

      May 22, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • sam stone

      Wow, Vic.....Prima Facie....sure is impressive

      Also a pretty low standard of evidence, but don't let logic interrupt your godly self-flagellation

      May 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  2. lordkid

    People, Both Heaven and Hell is REAL...Ask JESUS CHRIST to come into heart, Confess that YOU are a SINNER,and ask Him to forgive you of your SINS and OBEY HIM, then YOU will be allowed to go Heaven, forever...Worship, pray and Obey....

    May 22, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • sam stone

      lordkid: if heaven and hell are real, prove it.

      May 22, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • sam stone

      also, do you think that puttting random words in caps makes your warning any more valid?

      May 22, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      lordkid,

      If you have any evidence to support your claim then present it. You will be the first person ever if you have any credible evidence.

      May 22, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • sam stone

      honey badger is right, lordkid.....if you come up with PROOF of heaven and/or hell, you will be famous.....and rich....

      people will fall at your feet for your sage advice

      there will be no greater way to bring people to the lord than to present proof.

      you have it, right?

      or, are you just another person who just regurgitates what they have been told?

      May 22, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • stop screaming

      are REAL

      this might help you, lordkid:

      1 Peter 3:15-16: “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you and accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”

      May 22, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      I'm not asking for proof, I'm asking for evidence. Proof is much harder to come by than evidence, and they cant even provide reliable evidence to support their claims.

      May 22, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • stop screaming

      Agreed, HBDC.

      May 22, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Sounds silly... Not buying it...

      May 22, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • sam stone

      HBDC is right. I was incorrectly using the terms interchangibly

      May 22, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • tallulah13

      Your opinion is duly noted, lordkid. Perhaps someday, when you are lordadult, you will look back on this and realize that empty threats and promises only convince the very young, the mentally challenged and the ignorant.

      May 22, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Pete

      If I wanted to toady to some dictator I'd move to North Korea. Even with the Kims I'd have more security than with your guy. What kind of American are you? Don't you love your freedom? All that would disappear should King Jesus take over the world, ending all democratic government.

      May 22, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • fintastic

      @Tallul.... ..."...Perhaps someday, when you are lordadult,..."

      LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      May 29, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  3. faith

    tom has been putting long hours where she works

    May 22, 2013 at 6:35 am |
    • The real Tom

      Oh? Do you know where I work now? Do you know what I do? What do you do, faith, besides troll?

      May 22, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • fintastic

      Faith.... shove it.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  4. GOOD NEWS

    Heaven is absolutely real.

    When we die here, we'll continue to live in a parallel Universe.

    Here is the ultimate Proof:

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

    May 22, 2013 at 5:45 am |
  5. Mike

    DUH. People are just figuring this out? The Christians will be in for a surprise when they transition over and come to realize that their God isn't the only one and isn't as all powerful as the priesthood claims. Not that it will really matter all that much. They'll be with their deity and everyone they know that's a believer and is dead. Would take a bit of a road trip to see the rest of them.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:32 am |
  6. floyd

    NDE = NON-death experiences = pfftttt

    May 22, 2013 at 3:19 am |
  7. Salero21

    All of these stories put together are not Evidence of Heaven.

    Actually, anything and everything that is sufficient to know about Heaven is in the Scriptures. And that is precisely where these stories meet their challenge. They describe a Heaven that is in conflict and in contradiction with the Bible, the Scriptures. Furthermore these stories promote one particular set of beliefs about Heaven that is totally inaccurate to say the least and Anti-Biblical in the worst case. And that is the common belief, that everyone who dies goes to Heaven, especially those who are/were the relatives and family members of the person who allegedly went to Heaven and came back.

    Not everyone who dies is going to Heaven and as well as there is a Heaven, there is also a Hell.

    As a matter of Biblical accuracy, the teaching is that there is nobody in Heaven or Hell yet! All who have died are waiting either for the First Resurrection that of the Just and saved or for the second resurrection which is that of the unjust. After the FIRST Resurrection those who died believing in God and in Jesus Christ God's only Son will then enter Heaven will be in Heaven. That has not happened yet!

    May 22, 2013 at 12:54 am |
    • EX catholic

      🙂 😉

      May 22, 2013 at 12:54 am |
    • His panic

      🙂 😉 Totally!!

      May 22, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • In Other Words

      Totally unreliable not trustworthy! Everything we need to know for now about Heaven is in the Scriptures the Bible.

      May 22, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • skytag

      I'm still waiting for one of you to provide some evidence that anything of a supernatural nature described in the scriptures is real.

      May 22, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • Quest ion

      Isn't the Bible enough? 😮

      Why pretend to add this things? 😛

      How what, when, where, who and why? 😉

      What need there is for all of this stories if we have the Bible? 😮

      May 22, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • fred

      skytag
      Did you read the Bible?

      May 22, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • sam stone

      salero: your stories only resonate with those who agree with you.

      i do not fear hell, i do not seek heaven.

      i think both are man made concepts

      as is god

      May 22, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • James

      He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

      May 22, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  8. Reality

    I dreamed that I went to heaven then I woke up. Does that count as proof there is a heaven?

    May 21, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • lol??

      Yes, and it's subject to judgment.

      May 22, 2013 at 12:49 am |
    • Athy

      Of course. That cinches it. No question. I'm now a believer.

      May 22, 2013 at 1:20 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Well, most Christians believe in the writings of John the Revelator, who is apparently doing nothing more than describing a dream. "Wow, that was a fantastic dream. I should really write that one down," says John.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:49 am |
  9. faith

    "Doc Vestibule
    If it is written, it is true.
    Therefore – talking snakes, donkeys and flaming foliage."

    hey birdbrain, where did you learn to talk?

    May 21, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • faith

      but you're right, the one who created the universe could never make a snake talk–have u heard from lil fat sambo lately? lol

      May 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • faith

      My name is faith.... I am an ignorant troll....... please ignore my posts.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  10. lol??

    If one actually gets raised from the dead, it looks like Jesus will probably tell ya to keep it to yourself..Otherwise it might not last too long.

    "Jhn 12:10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;"

    May 21, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  11. blubfishblub

    Is the exercising throwing a dummy that looks like ME over the roof.

    May 21, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • one

      I don't want to be enemies with you. You are getting over your head a little so sit back and relax. (I used to teach yoga a while ago)

      May 21, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
  12. faith

    redzoa
    Not sure if I'm following, but I'd offer from the agnostic perspective, there's simply no way to justifiably reach a conclusion in the absence of further evidence. Similarly, from the atheistic perspective, the absence of positive supporting evidence for any form of mysticism leads to a reasonable conclusion that there is no divinity behind this existence. IMHO, the appeal of these views are first, intellectual honesty, and second, an appreciation and responsibility for the existence we have. I'm certainly not depressed in not knowing what is unknowable, nor am I depressed in not clinging to belief in the vain hope I might escape mortality by kissing the invisible rear-end of some schizophrenic and narcissistic cosmic tyrant. I love this life and the people I'm fortunate to share it with. And if that fails, I have a wide variety of single-malts and an endless supply of adult websites to comfort me.

    do u want humiliation quick and consuming or in bits and pieces, dodo?

    try this,

    "there's simply no way to justifiably reach a conclusion"

    y is that, my dear? u simply don't find justification. u r not all people. justification engulfs u, surrounds u, is before, beside and all around and inside of u for all to c, all the time.

    u haven't hurt enough my love

    May 21, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  13. Kay

    The "Heaven is For Real" book is pretty obviously a hoax perpetrated by the boy's father who is very conveniently a pastor and likely saw a great way to make some money. When the boy grows up and gets away from his father, I'm sure we'll hear about how he was coached on what to say and that the whole thing was made up.

    May 21, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Pete

      The boy, Colton, was only 4 when it happened, plenty young enough for the story to appear to be a real memory as he aged. Kids that age have often mistaken scenes from TV shows and movies as real memories. I wouldn't doubt that he still believes this.

      May 21, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • Whatever

      Yeah,

      Of course, leave it up to the pastors kid to describe Jesus' eyes being sea blue, lol. I am sure when he gets older he will add more and more to the story, so one day he can write another book.

      May 22, 2013 at 1:00 am |
  14. Julie

    When politicians mention the word "God" I get sick to my stomach knowing its the epitome of phoniness. From that point onward I know that everything they say is a potential lie.

    May 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Saraswati

      A politician referencing God can definitely make you want to tune out in its phoniness, but for me a reference to "the American people" is a sure fired way to get me to switch channels.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • AtheistsMorons

      @Julie

      Those politicians you're talking about are atheists hiding behind religions. They know they can brainwash a nation by using God. So the lies that you mentioned are lies from atheists themselves in a religious disguise.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Really? With God one can brainwash a nation? I thought in addition to God I'd need about thirty bucks to get my dry cleaning done.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • one

      Is "Od" better?

      May 21, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • AtheistsMorons

      Tom Tom, even if i would do a drawing you wouldn't get it. You're too narrow minded to understand anything. Go get a job and a life you loser.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • blubfishblub

      Please don't talk about Od. He is my Grandfather and I don't want to talk about him so how about "Gd".

      May 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • one

      Sorry. I didn't know that. 😦

      May 21, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • one

      Anyway I have a life of sitting on the couch eating Doritos and boy Doritos are the best. 🙂

      May 21, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • blubfishblub

      How about I stick Cheetos in your big mouth "One". You are one person with a big mouth. 😛

      May 21, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      "They know they can brainwash a nation by using God."

      As do preachers

      May 22, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • AtheistsMorons

      I am a really a retarded christian........ my nose makes it own bubble gum!

      May 29, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  15. AtheistsMorons

    Now i hope people can come here and talk about their faiths and beliefs without being pestered by those atheists parasites. CNN need someone like me to clean the place up.

    May 21, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I don't expect this series to be factual but do hope that it will be somewhat entertaining. . .

      May 21, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • AtheistsMorons

      I would even do it for free if CNN would permit me to do so. You parasites are really annoying and we really don't need you. You bring nothing positive to this world anyway. Go get a job and a life, it won't hurt you working a little bit.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • blubfishblub

      I hope you see I have a job and it's only an 8 hour FUN job.

      May 21, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • AtheistsMorons

      I'm glad you do, i hope it's not an 8 hours job spent lurking on CNN for religious blogs lol

      May 21, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • blubfishblub

      No! Really this is like the second or third time I have been on.

      May 21, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • blubfishblub

      Anyway if that was my job it would not be any "FUN" at all.

      May 21, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • one

      The possibility of a FUN job is big. From being lazy eating Doritos (which is what I do) to having a job that you REALLY like.

      May 21, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • one

      And the way you say the Cheetos thing to me YOU probably have a job eating CHEETOS all day.
      But take words of wisdom that Doritos are way better.

      May 21, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • blubfishblub

      Huh? No! Why would I eat Cheetos for 8 hours I would be FAT. I exercise unlike YOU.

      May 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • one

      I do exercise I exercise 2 hours a day.

      May 21, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • skytag

      More proof Christianity is a fraud.

      May 22, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • sam stone

      come and get us, pen-day-ho

      May 22, 2013 at 8:49 am |
  16. Cielo

    We still sing I'll fly away, Revelation Song, When the roll is called up yonder, Heaven came down and other songs in the churches. Looks like you haven't gone to a church in a long time, Blake!

    May 21, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Quartet

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEGLGFbPM-8&w=640&h=360]

      May 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • one

      Nice. 😀

      May 21, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • one

      Is this on Youtube? I bet it would get 1,000,000 views a day. If not even 100 then what a pity. 😦

      May 21, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • one

      BECAUSE IT TOTALLY ROCKS. 🙂

      May 21, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  17. AtheistsMorons

    Listen those atheists losers, the pretends to have educations and all kind of degrees and PhD's like i've read on these threads but those losers are here night and days without sleep. Having PhD's my bottom end, if you think we believe that people with all these educations and degrees and PhD's would spend their time posting child like comments on an internet blog, well you're out of your mind, no one will believe this. You're just a bunch lunatics pretending to be higher and more intelligent than the other people here who are trying to have a matured conversation. You are just parasites and very annoying in this society and no one really needs you, really. the less we hear from you atheist morons the better we are. Go brag your proud atheist flag somewhere else where you'll find someone who cares,that is if you can find anyone who cares.

    May 21, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      You sound like a kind and loving and tolerant person. I want you to bear my child.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • AtheistsMorons

      I am not more or less tolerant than you losers are. But i am even less when i see your stupid lies on here.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      And which stupid lies would those be, you big burly hunk of Neanderthal, you!

      May 21, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • AtheistsMorons

      The list would be way too long to name them all. But i can start will the lies you losers are spreading around by saying that you have all kind of Education Degrees and PhD's. That's bull crap, no one with that amount of education will spend their nights and days without sleep lurking CNN for a religious blog so you can babble you big mouths. You are nothing else than low lifers with no jobs and no life. You're just a bunch of parasites that this society really don't need to have.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • one

      I never said that because I don't.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • one

      And are you including YOURSELF?

      May 21, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • one

      But it's so true that I have no job so thanks for mentioning it 🙂

      May 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • AtheistsMorons

      You're welcome lol

      May 21, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I spent a good part of the afternoon brainstorming with people who hope to develop better treatments for infections involving drug-resistant malaria. Now those are parasites. Religion is a rather stubborn parasite too. Ideas that waste resources, and sometimes lives. We should be no less dedicated to dealing with religion than we are with malaria, surely.

      May 21, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • lol??

      Over use and under use of antibiotics, tsk tsk. Don't forget TB, tommy. OH, oh, the hospitals that had to be shut down!! Science just can't seem to get it right, but they get the moolah!

      May 21, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      says the guy who can barely write english... we're so sorry for being smart... we'll try to be dumb it done to 6th grade level and use more trailer-park idioms for you...

      May 22, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  18. lionlylamb

    All souls go back to Satan and all spirited beings go onto the heavens!

    May 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Science

      Bullsh-it !................loony !

      #https://www.facebook.com/RichardDawkinsFoundation/posts/10151583537145155

      May 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  19. Arthur Bryant

    John 12:16 A man appeared on a flaming pie and said "You shall be Beatles"!

    May 21, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  20. EX catholic

    Any and all of these stories put together are sound Evidence of Heaven.

    Actually, anything and everything that is sufficient to know about Heaven is in the Scriptures. And that is precisely where these stories meet their challenge. They describe a Heaven that is in conflict and in contradiction with the Bible, the Scriptures. Furthermore these stories promote one particular set of beliefs about Heaven that is totally inaccurate to say the least and Anti-Biblical in the worst case. And that is the common belief, that everyone who dies goes to Heaven, especially those who are/were the relatives and family members of the person who allegedly went to Heaven and came back.

    Not everyone who dies is going to Heaven and as well as there is a Heaven, there is also a Hell.

    As a matter of Biblical accuracy, the teaching is that there is nobody in Heaven or Hell yet! All who have died are waiting either for the First Resurrection that of the Just and saved or for the second resurrection which is that of the unjust. After the FIRST Resurrection those who died believing in God and in Jesus Christ God's only Son will then enter Heaven will be in Heaven. That has not happened yet!

    May 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • His panic

      Those who trust in God and in Jesus Christ, God's only Son will not Panic. All others will panic. Animals panic faithless people do panic but not those who trust in God and in His Only Son Jesus Christ.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      I am not a believer, yet I will not panic. I may, however, picnic. Yummie!

      May 21, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • one

      I agree 🙂

      May 21, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • His panic

      In due time all will panic, you will panic but those who trust in God and in Jesus Christ God's Son will not panic.

      May 22, 2013 at 12:52 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.