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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. Sam Stone

    I'm gay and i hate atheism, i think atheism is an evil sect. All atheists are stupid.

    May 23, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Do you have any other misconceptions that you'd like to share with us?

      May 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Salero21

      Not necessarily atheism is stupidity in Full bloom but some atheists are clever enough to keep their stupidity under the radar. Not your case however.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Salero21

      My skydaddy jeebus says you're going to burn! burn baby!! ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !!!!!

      May 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  2. Hibernia86

    People who are dying often have strange dreams as their brains shut down. This is not proof of heaven.

    May 23, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Science

      No heaven.

      May 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  3. Reality

    "The Two Universal Sects

    They all err—Moslems, Jews,
    Christians, and Zoroastrians:

    Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
    One, man intelligent without religion,
    The second, religious without intellect. "

    Al-Ma'arri
    , born AD 973 /, died AD 1058 / .

    Al-Ma’arri was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.[1][2] He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion and rejecting the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth."

    Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/resalat-al-ghufran#ixzz1lI6DuZmZ and http://www.humanistictexts.org/al_ma'arri.htm

    Death's Debt is Paid in
    Full

    Death's debt is then and there
    Paid down by dying men;
    But it is a promise bare
    That they shall rise again. "

    Al-Ma'arri

    May 23, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  4. faith

    atheists know there is no god! could u b more arrogant and stupid? all the evidence cries out there is a god and nothing suggests otherwise and these wackos realized atheism was their answer.

    May 23, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Science

      Do you have any..............faith/chad?

      Where do morals come from?.....................NOT THE BIBLE>

      By Kelly Murray, CNN

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/12/where-do-morals-come-from/#comments

      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 ?.................faith chadie and Good news..........not

      Free learning videos go viral

      By Salman Khan, Special to CNN

      http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/07/24/khan.video.learning/index.html

      http://www.youtube.com/user/TEDtalksDirector

      The DINOSAUR ?...............Chomp Chomp !...Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the

      HELL out of the way.....................Stem Cell research !

      Allosaurus Fed More Like a Falcon Than a Crocodile: Engineering, Anatomy Work Reveals Differences in Dinosaur Feeding Styles

      May 21, 2013 — The mighty T. rex may have thrashed its massive head from side to side to dismember prey, but a new study shows that its smaller cousin Allosaurus was a more dexterous hunter and tugged at prey more like a modern-day falcon.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521152638.htm

      Evolution wins............No red devil either !

      Evolving Genes Lead to Evolving Genes: Selection in European Populations of Genes Regulated by FOXP2

      Apr. 18, 2013 — Researchers have designed a method that can universally test for evolutionary adaption, or positive (Darwinian) selection, in any chosen set of genes, using re-sequencing data such as that generated by the 1000 Genomes Project. The method identifies gene sets that show evidence for positive selection in comparison with matched controls, and thus highlights genes for further functional studies.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418124905.htm

      Oldest of the old.............the RCC ...........BedVrooooom.............and the red devil................not funny !

      Science books........videos.............trumps the 666.................beast.................or red horn-y thingy....does it

      NOT ........peachy ?.............but below IS..............please help .........thank you.

      A project of DC Entertainment to support Save the Children, Mercy Corps and IRC

      http://www.wecanbeheroes.org/

      The Greatest Action Movie Ever (G.A.M.E.)

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUuHV3cEzZ8&w=640&h=360]

      Again Chadie................SPLAT = E mc2...............(U-Pb)...........dating process for link below

      http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00461/uraninite.htm

      And a little carbon – 14 from chondrites..............and water =

      WHAM-O........horn-y planet and life.

      Mom and Dad............did it faith !

      http://www.discovertheforest.org/...............To Grandmas house we go

      Hey Vic

      Do a simple search on Prof. Higgs.

      It is what creates the mass for our asses !

      May 23, 2013 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |

      Jeff

      That's not occam's razor. Occam's razor is that the hypothesis WITH THE FEWEST ASSUMPTIONS is the MOST LIKELY.

      Seeing as you are assuming an all powerful, all present, all knowing deity with no origin and no supporting, observable and repeatable evidence, creation through God is no where near the most likely.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |

      ME II

      @Vic,
      The ICR is obviously biased and not scientific.

      "Principles of Scientific Creationism

      The physical universe of space, time, matter, and energy has not always existed, but was supernaturally created by a transcendent personal Creator who alone has existed from eternity."
      "The first human beings did not evolve from an animal ancestry, but were specially created in fully human form from the start."

      "The Bible, ... is ... infallible and completely authoritative on all matters with which they deal, free from error of any sort, scientific and historical as well as moral and theological."
      (http://www.icr.org/tenets/)

      May 23, 2013 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/22/this-oklahoma-atheist-isnt-thanking-the-lord/#comments
      Red Rover............something NEW............you asked !

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEowVBEQl88&w=640&h=360]

      https://www.zotero.org/colleengreene/items/XW3H99PB

      I'm a Dinosaur – Ultrasaurus The Ultra Cool Dinosaur

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

      http://www.youtube.com/user/HooplaKidzTv

      Peace

      May 23, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • sam stone

      theists know there is a god! could u b more arrogant and stupid?

      May 23, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • EnjaySea

      I disagree with you faith. I don't see any evidence whatsoever of your deity. Having said that, I'm more closely aligned with the agnostic point of view which rejects any unsupported belief.

      I don't believe god exists and I don't believe god doesn't exist. In the absense of evidence one way or the other, I don't make the mistake of "making up an answer" to something that can't as yet be answered.

      But I try to talk about this in a polite way. Maybe you should give that a try, if you want people to admire your religion.

      May 23, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • biobraine

      "I don't believe god exists and I don't believe god doesn't exist. In the absense of evidence one way or the other, I don't make the mistake of "making up an answer" to something that can't as yet be answered"

      So you don't believe (leprichauns/unicorns/ghosts/goblins/vampires/etc.) exist and you don't believe they don't exist either.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • fintastic

      Really faith? we're stupid?...... well then, why not show scientific evidence that god exists?

      We're waiting.................. and FYI... it's not the bible, the bible is the claim, not the proof.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  5. Empirical Evidence

    The reality of the Afterlife exists whether skeptics and others wish to believe or not.

    http://www.victorzammit.com

    A copy of his emailed Friday Afterlife Report, that is sent out every Friday, should be most convincing and informative by Australian lawyer, Dr. Zammit, who has devoted much of his time and life on the serious study of this matter.

    May 23, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Empirical Evidence

      Incidentally, this is a Free report that contains many interviews with leaders in this fascinating field!

      May 23, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Does he have any photos?

      May 24, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • fintastic

      Christians love to lie!

      May 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  6. GOOD NEWS

    Heaven is absolutely real.

    If you believe, you shall live.

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

    May 23, 2013 at 5:53 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 ?.................faith chadie and Good news..........not

      Free learning videos go viral

      By Salman Khan, Special to CNN

      http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/07/24/khan.video.learning/index.html

      The DINOSAUR ?...............Chomp Chomp !...Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the

      HELL out of the way.....................Stem Cell research !

      Allosaurus Fed More Like a Falcon Than a Crocodile: Engineering, Anatomy Work Reveals Differences in Dinosaur Feeding Styles

      May 21, 2013 — The mighty T. rex may have thrashed its massive head from side to side to dismember prey, but a new study shows that its smaller cousin Allosaurus was a more dexterous hunter and tugged at prey more like a modern-day falcon.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521152638.htm

      http://www.youtube.com/user/TEDtalksDirector

      Evolution wins............No red devil either !

      Evolving Genes Lead to Evolving Genes: Selection in European Populations of Genes Regulated by FOXP2

      Apr. 18, 2013 — Researchers have designed a method that can universally test for evolutionary adaption, or positive (Darwinian) selection, in any chosen set of genes, using re-sequencing data such as that generated by the 1000 Genomes Project. The method identifies gene sets that show evidence for positive selection in comparison with matched controls, and thus highlights genes for further functional studies.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418124905.htm

      Oldest of the old.............the RCC ...........BedVrooooom.............and the red devil................not funny !

      Science books........videos.............trumps the 666.................beast.................or red horn-y thingy....does it

      NOT ........peachy ?

      May 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |

      Peace

      May 23, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • sam stone

      blah, blah, fvcking blah

      May 23, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  7. Yeah Right

    If you consider that heaven will be filled with the nuttiest Christians imaginable, that many of your loved ones will not only not be there but you will know they are being tortured forever, and that for the rest of eternity you will do absolutely nothing other that to be an ubersycophant kissing gods wonderbutt, well, that sounds like hell.

    May 23, 2013 at 2:16 am |
    • lol??

      Fantasy.

      May 23, 2013 at 2:32 am |
  8. Believe

    Breece Loo says: "no one ever came back from the dead." If you read the Bible, Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus and also Lazarus from the dead. And Jesus himself was resurrected after his death. These are not imaginations. They are recorded, factual occurrences as written in the Bible. The Bible has persisted through time like no other book on earth. It was written by men who witnessed these events, and they recorded them as they saw them. Why would people believe what miscellaneous news agencies or Wikipedia or other sources write today (there was another comment above about internet = fact check) and not believe what people recorded long ago? There is no difference. Matthew's words are corroborated by Mark's, Luke's, John's, Paul's, and other disciples of Jesus. The Bible states that by the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses shall all truth be established. We follow that same principle today regarding our news, our scientific experiments, etc. We regard truth to be whatever is corroborated by multiple sources. The Bible contains the recordings of true occurrences. Denying those is like denying that the Battle of Gettysburg happened in July 1863 in Pennsylvania or that Columbus discovered America in 1492. Whether you like it or not, it did happen. You weren't there, but we have the events recorded in history. You can read about it by many different witnesses, historians, scholars, etc. By the same token, there are countless witnesses, historians, scholars, and even living prophets and apostles among us today, that solemnly declare that God lives, that Jesus is the Resurrected Christ (our Lord and Savior), and that They both live today. I also add my testimony to all on this webpage that God and Jesus are real and They live. I know so because I have felt their comforting presence and have had countless prayers answered over and over again. I understand that there is nothing tangible in my testimony, but that does not change what I know to be true in the least bit. No one, I repeat no one, can ever convince me that God and His heaven do not exist. I have my own witness and countless other witnesses around me. I invite each one of you to get on your knees, humble yourselves. This is the problem. One cannot even begin to believe without humility. A freshman college student cannot even begin to understand calculus unless he puts some bit of trust in his/her professor or in the author(s) of the textbook. We cannot gain any understanding of calculus unless we put in the time to study it. I invite all of you to do the same. Read the Bible, and sincerely ask God to confirm to you His reality and divinity. I promise you that you will gain a testimony of God's Reality and Divinity if you will do this sincerely and with true intent.

    Do the same with the Book of Mormon. Read it, ask God if it is true, and if you ask with sincere and true intent, He will manifest the truth of it to you. You will have the undeniable confirmation within you confirming it to be true.

    May 22, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      These are not imaginations. They are recorded, factual occurrences as written in the Bible.

      Stating that they are facts do not make them facts. Men wrote the Bible. Men have a tendency to lie and exaggerate. I don't believe something just because it's written down, regardless in what century it was written.

      Matthew's words are corroborated by Mark's, Luke's, John's, Paul's, and other disciples of Jesus.

      Have you ever studied New Testament literature? Matthew's words were certainly not corroborated by Mark, Luke, and John. His words were retold by these writers who all wrote their words well after Matthew's book had already been written. They were just recycling the same stories they had read in Matthew.

      And Paul certainly didn't corroborate Matthew's words. Most of Paul's writings took place well before Matthew, and never mentioned all the various and amazing - and certainly invented - miracles that Matthew throws into the later story. Paul only mentions the resurrection.

      You might want to do some of that "modern reading" that you so blithely dismissed, before lecturing us about the ancient texts.

      May 23, 2013 at 1:51 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Correction: (I should have read some of those modern texts myself before mouthing off). Mark was the first of the gospels, and the others retold his stories.

      But my point is still the same. They gospels don't corroborate each other - they plagiarize each other.

      May 23, 2013 at 1:59 am |
    • lol??

      enjoyseas sayz,
      "....................Men have a tendency to lie and exaggerate. ................"

      So take a hike pal.

      May 23, 2013 at 2:08 am |
    • sam stone

      wow, believe.....it's written in a book, so it's fact, eh?

      May 23, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • fintastic

      Yea, this book says this book is accurate.......... whew... ignorance...

      May 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  9. Reality

    AND THE INFAMOUS HEAVENLY, ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

    Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

    "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    Some added references to "tink-erbells".

    newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

    "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
    Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

    "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

    And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

    "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

    "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

    "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

    For added information see the review at:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel

    May 22, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • lol??

      Your pal enjoseas sayz,
      "..............Men have a tendency to lie and exaggerate. ......"
      Take a hike obsessive liar.

      May 23, 2013 at 2:10 am |
  10. faith

    GodFreeNow
    For the record, according to your book, God created light on the first day... which means technically god is of the dark, not the light. I refer you to the first chapter of your holy book.

    nah. according to your book, god is light and there is no shadow of turning with him

    Some of us, that you see as haters of the light actually believe that the true light or "enlightenment" of man comes from knowledge.

    some of you are consumed with bitter hatred. knowledge is the answer? the most educated populace in world history murdered 100,000,000 people in the 20th century

    "You literally cannot light your house tonight, or sit in front of your glowing computer without it." powered by something you've never seen.

    "What we know is defined by why we have evidence to believe" you have no evidence how the universe arrived or why or if it meaning or if it will be here tomorrow.

    "and what we can then test theories against." test why u r present. test if u will see the sun rise. test how we got here. test why we hate. love. r jealous, envious, kind, living, y we as a species have long dreamed of immortality and believe life here is just the beginning.

    "We're not haters of the light." u hate light.

    "On the contrary, it's the "dark ages" and lack of consciousness of the human beast that disturbs us." u should b disturbed by u dodo. sambo, akira, tom, b terrified. no? not yet? buy a good mirror and study the image

    May 22, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      I know facts aren't really important to you, so I wonder about even taking the time to comment on your post.

      1) if god is light, then how can he create light. Creation is something from nothing, correct? So which is the lie, that god is light, or that god created light? You don't need a physics degree to understand that light is finite. It is a dying source and when you fast-forward the universe, it will be dark. The only thing eternal is darkness. All of the trillions upon trillions of suns struggle to create the faintest light in the darkness of space.

      2) you said, "some of you are consumed with bitter hatred. knowledge is the answer? the most educated populace in world history murdered 100,000,000 people in the 20th century"
      The most educated populace in the history of the world is the one we are currently living in. Since the 70s, the average IQ has gone up over 1%. You statement is as much devoid of common sense than it is evidence.

      3) you said, "you have no evidence how the universe arrived or why or if it meaning or if it will be here tomorrow."
      The question "Why" is not the ruler of the domain of evidence. Rather it is the question "How?" My 3 year-old daughter has already mastered the simplicity of the endless loop of the self-satisfying question, "why?" It will take the rest of her life to master "how?" We do actually have evidence of "how" the universe arrived as well as evidence of "how" it will be here tomorrow. Nonsense is just another way you distract yourself from seeing the truth of existence. Wallow in it if you will, but don't expect people to respect your ignorance. If you want evidence, try google. I will not waste my time with educating the lazy or voluntarily deaf.

      The rest of your post devolved into babble, but I will pass along a bit of self-help information to you... Be the person you wish to be seen as. From all accounts of your post, if you were the person you wished to be seen as, then I must conclude that you are ignorant, and stubbornly disconnected from reality. I seriously doubt this is how you wish others to see you. Having a differing opinion is great. Debate is great. Heated discussion is great. Just take a minute to educate yourself on some of these things before posting. It makes the process more enjoyable for everyone. I enjoy repartee and I'll gladly engage you, but I'd rather we found ourselves on more equal footing.

      May 23, 2013 at 2:32 am |
    • faith

      u r so stupid, u cannot understand the simplest logic.

      god is light. that is not all god is, u stupid moron.

      by definition god is eternal. u idiot.

      by definition before he created the universe, there was nothing but him. the light he created is for us to see by.

      lol

      dodo, nice try.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • faith

      2) you said, "some of you are consumed with bitter hatred. knowledge is the answer? the most educated populace in world history murdered 100,000,000 people in the 20th century"

      "The most educated populace in the history of the world is the one we are currently living in. Since the 70s, the average IQ has gone up over 1%. You statement is as much devoid of common sense than it is evidence."

      idiot, when u compare the 20th century with other centuries, the people who lived during that span of time were better educated than all others who lived during that same span of time in previous centuries. Education doesn't change the heart of man. it can refine him, increase self-awareness, teach compassion, but to change a person's true nature is god's specialty.

      May 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • faith

      "Tom, Tom, the Other One
      Murderers and pedophiles who believe are preferred over absolutely anyone who does not."

      180 degrees wrong. they prefer him

      May 24, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • faith

      "The most educated populace in the history of the world is the one we are currently living in. Since the 70s, the average IQ has gone up over 1%." dodo

      IQ has what exactly to do with knowledge?

      what an ignorant fool

      May 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  11. Arvoasitis

    If we take these "death" experiences as real, we must take the bad with the good. I recall hearing some decades ago (so the details are not entirely clear) of the experience of a young South African girl (I forget whether she was 9 or perhaps 11) who died on the operating room table but was revived. She, too, reported approaching the brilliant light and what she took to be heaven when a group of angry white people rushed out, called her a derogatory name (I think it was something like "Blackie) and said people of her kind weren't allowed in heaven.
    So, I see nothing in these "death" experiences to defer me from concluding that if heaven exists, it is populated by white, racist bigots.
    (By the way, the hospital staff denied making any statements that could have been the basis for her experience.)

    May 22, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  12. EnjaySea

    For those who may have followed an argument I had with Chad about this article, here is the real disagreement I had with him. The side-track about what entails circular logic had nothing to do with the actual claim being argued, namely that:

    Patients who were clinically dead recalled memories of experiencing the afterlife. Therefore, the afterlife exists.

    Here are my problems with the conclusion. I don't accept the premise that these patients were indeed dead for two reasons, and because of one additional corroborating phenomenon.

    1. They were revived. The definition of death that I accept, is the irreversible cessation of bodily functions. These patients' cessation of bodily functions were reversed, which indicates to me that they weren't completely dead.

    2. They remembered their experience. Although mystics will tell you that the soul can live and remember things without the benefit of a living brain, I don't currently accept that. What I accept is that thought and memory are functions of a living brain.

    Finally, other subjects who never were declared clinically dead, but only had experienced a loss of blood flow to their brains, have also consistently reported the same experiences.

    I'll believe the conclusion only after I can be convinced that the original premise is genuine.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Vic

      http://www.lifebeyonddeath.net/book

      May 22, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Vic, Dr. Eben Alexander was in a coma. He wasn't dead. Consequently, his experience can be easiliy explained as a dream.

      What else have you got?

      May 22, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • lol??

      You got nuthin seasick except,
      ".....Men have a tendency to lie and exaggerate. ................"
      So buzz off, liar.

      May 23, 2013 at 2:12 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Do you have anything constructive to say lol??, or are insults the only thing you've got in your bag of tricks?

      May 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  13. eben's heaven popular , except it contradicts with the truth

    Blake-
    Why are there no scriptural references in your article about heaven? How can you talk about "heaven" without making mention of what is written in the Bible?

    The article starts off with 'God help me' and ends with 'angel told me'. We can see why quoting what the angel said is important in Eben' heaven.
    Did you expect the church to endorse Eben' heaven?!? Looks like there are lots of contradictions to the truth in Eben' heaven.

    The pastors talk about eternal life, not sure where you got the notion that pastors have stopped discussing eternal life.

    All in all, this article is about your perception about heaven rather than the HEAVEN, as we know it from reading the scriptures!!

    Afterall, heaven is a place where you worship your creator,if you are not willing to believe in him and have made that choice to be separated from him,
    it was your decision to be separated from God.Be wise and make the right choice!

    John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  14. stubbycat

    The heavenly state would be more manifest in the here and now but for the fact that we accept the belief of being only material fleshly limited beings instead of the spiritual image and likeness of the divine Mind which Jesus knew and embodied. Many people throughout history have glimpsed the heavenly state here and now- a state free from evil, matter and darkness. One would experience more of heaven here but for the penchant that mortals have for living the illusions of the human game and denying the truths of immortality that will set them free.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      wow... that most be some seriously good weed. I'm jealous... I won't be able to smoke any until I'm 65.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  15. AtheistsMorons

    Hurry up atheists, you only have 9 pages left to hit page 60.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      What's the matter, got tired of yankin' it? Dude, you're not even a good troll. You're B-game at best.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  16. Vic

    Did anyone check the hyperlink under “Proof of Heaven,” in the fourth paragraph of the above article?!

    Here is a shortcut to what I am leading to:

    http://www.lifebeyonddeath.net/book

    May 22, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Vic

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/19/proofs-of-heaven-popular-but-not-with-the-church/comment-page-50/#comment-2358273

      May 22, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Science

      Red Rover............something NEW............with your unicorn VIC...............Chomp Chomp.

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEowVBEQl88&w=640&h=360]

      https://www.zotero.org/colleengreene/items/XW3H99PB

      I'm a Dinosaur – Ultrasaurus The Ultra Cool Dinosaur

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

      http://www.youtube.com/user/HooplaKidzTv

      May 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  17. God

    From my perspective:
    – The universe exists. It exists, one supposes, for a "reason". The human mind cannot accept that "Ex nihilo, nihil fit" may not always hold. So be it.
    – What I do not get, and help me out here, what's the difference between it being made by me, or an infinitely dense point-glob of quantum flux randomly going boom? Seriously, what's the big deal? One is true, and one is not true. But what's the value-add in holding on to this idea that I am responsible for this mess?

    – Likewise; humans exist. They have minds and feelings and what-not. Something presumably underpins this cognition. Two hypotheses: what gives rise to cognition is a soul, or it's a brain. Why all the emotional investment in it being made of "soul" (whatever that is).

    Just my two cents: Call me crazy, but I think you all used to just guess at how I set everything up back before I gave you science. I really didn't anticipate all the emotional hubbub that would come up when your old hypotheses would be shown to be untrue. I mean, really, what difference does it make? The universe came from somewhere, your minds are made of something, etc. Why do you care so me darn much just where and what? I would think that you'd be happy to just be here for crying out loud. And that you would have shown just a little appreciation when I gave you a way to actually satisfy your curiosity and get a peak behind the curtain. But noooooo! Ingrates. Hmmm, maybe time for a comet or flood or something.

    May 22, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  18. Knights Who Say...

    KNIGHT: There! Look!
    LAUNCELOT: What does it say?
    GALAHAD: What language is that?
    ARTHUR: Brother Maynard, you're our scholar!
    MAYNARD: It's Aramaic!
    GALAHAD: Of course! Joseph of Aramathea!
    LAUNCELOT: Course!
    KNIGHT: What does it say?
    MAYNARD: It reads, 'Here may be found the last words of Joseph of
    Aramathea. He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail
    in the Castle of uuggggggh'.
    ARTHUR: What?
    MAYNARD: '... the Castle of uuggggggh'.
    BEDEMIR: What is that?
    MAYNARD: He must have died while carving it.
    LAUNCELOT: Oh, come on!
    MAYNARD: Well, that's what it says.
    ARTHUR: Look, if he was dying, he wouldn't bother to carve 'aaggggh'.
    He'd just say it!
    MAYNARD: Well, that's what's carved in the rock!
    GALAHAD: Perhaps he was dictating.
    ARTHUR: Oh, shut up. Well, does it say anything else?
    MAYNARD: No. Just, 'uuggggggh'.
    LAUNCELOT: Aauuggghhh.
    KNIGHT: Aaauggh.
    BEDEMIR: You don't suppose he meant the Camauuuugh?
    KNIGHT: Where's that?
    BEDEMIR: France, I think.
    LAUNCELOT: Isn't there a Saint Aauuuves in Cornwall?
    ARTHUR: No, that's Saint Ives.
    LAUNCELOT: Oh, yes. Saint Iiiives.
    SEVERAL: Iiiiives.
    BEDEMIR: Oooohoohohooo!
    LAUNCELOT: No, no, aauuuuugh, at the back of the throat. Aauuugh.
    BEDEMIR: No, no, no, oooooooh, in surprise and alarm.
    LAUNCELOT: Oh, you mean sort of a aaaagh!
    BEDEMIR: Yes, but I– Aaaaagh!
    KNIGHT: Oooh!
    KNIGHT: Oh, no!
    [roar]
    MAYNARD: It's the legendary Black Beast of aaauuugh!
    ARTHUR: Run away!
    ALL: Run away! Run away!
    [roar]
    NARRATOR: As the horrendous Black Beast lunged forward, escape
    for Arthur and his knights seemed hopeless. When, suddenly, the
    animator suffered a fatal heart attack. [ulk] The cartoon peril
    was no more. The Quest for the Holy Grail could continue.

    May 22, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  19. Honey Badger Don't Care!

    Hitch 22:

    "Faith is the surrender of the mind; it’s the surrender of reason, it’s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals."

    May 22, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • fintastic

      Reading "Hitch 22" right now!

      May 29, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  20. Honey Badger Don't Care!

    As the great prophet Hitches once said:

    "That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

    May 22, 2013 at 11:27 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.