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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. HeroesAre Rare

    Breakaway Christian religions all left the Catholic Church to form splinter groups. They don't teach about Heaven because they would then have to teach about HELL and they won't DO that. Why would they raise any expectations that their "flocks" would then have to accept personal responsibility for their actions??????

    The Catholic Church does teach about Heaven and Hell. And before you start – I know and accept that there is evil EVERYWHERE, even in the churches. However THAT doesn't alter the teachings of the Church – they come from Jesus.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  2. gary

    drive carefully for there is no heaven ... or hell or god or angels, or demons, no dragons or leprechauns. All ancient myths and folklore.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • think

      It is not a question of myth, but of discernment. Every person worships a god or gods; the question is, which one do you serve?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  3. Mensaman

    I can not believe that people in this day an age believe in this.
    I recall that once people felt that you entered heaven through pearly gates and you stood on the clouds in white robes with white wings and you would play the harp.
    It's as silly as gay marriage.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  4. gerd liebschner

    we better make a heaven on earth ,it's the only one
    we'll ever see.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • think

      And when your totalitarian instinct to apply rigorous, scientific logic of eugenics, machine domination, and spiritual dismemberment of the human race has succeeded, what then? Will you have your heaven? Will you be remorseful of the evil you have committed in your own name?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  5. Barbara

    Why is it, that whenever one of these folks "sees heaven" it is ALWAYS, ALWAYS a Christian?? Why haven't any Jews or Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus, etc come forward saying, "I died and went to heaven and guess what guys – we're doing it wrong!"

    Because this is a cash cow, devised by the Christians to get more to join up. Too bad it's not working out the way they'd like.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • think

      Why is it that rabid atheists always, always conflate genuine Christianity with pop culture book selling Christianity nonsense masquerading as Christianity? Why, indeed...

      May 29, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      There's actually an account written by an ATHEIST who would NOT talk or think about God. He "died" on the operating table and recounted how he was in a dark place and ugly creatures attacked him and were trying to peel the skin off is face. He was terrified and called out "Oh God" Then a voice said "Give him one more chance"
      To the doctors amazement, he slowly recovered – and became a Christian minister.

      But why WOULDN'T [mainly ] Christians experience this more often? After all they DO believe in Almighty God?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  6. gary

    ancient myths and folklore

    May 29, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  7. Jeff

    When you die, your brain rots and the thoughts and memories that made you the person that you were are destroyed forever. It is impossible for you to exist anywhere else, let alone some perfect "heaven". Without your thoughts and memories, what are you? Without your brain, you are simply gone.

    May 28, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Explains why everyone wonders whether "faith" is a real person.

      May 28, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • George Karlson

      Who's to say what happens to thoughts? Have you ever seen a thought be destroyed?

      May 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • think

      if you begin with the circular logic that all things are material, therefore there can be no transcendent spiritual life, you have trapped yourself in a logical corner. If we exist as transcendent beings of a spiritual nature who are temporarily occupying these bodies, there is the logical possibility that we will persist. However, a point of fact, while some religions may teach that people will remember things from the past in the "afterlife," not all do. The essence of a person's substance in this case is not defined by what you remember (according to mortal needs), but rather by who/what you become (in a glorified eternal state).

      May 29, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      And you know this .....how?
      That's a pretty arrogant statement from a little pipsqueak who hardly knows his a$$ from his elbow?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  8. Science

    .Chad where was it.............250 million years ago

    http://www.businessinsider.com/chris-hadfield-himalaya-satellite-photo-2013-5?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Science%20Select&utm_campaign=1-SCIENCE_SELECT_NEW&utm_content=emailshare

    May 28, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  9. Heaven?

    Ah, satan uses the same vocabulary but its own dictionary!

    May 28, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Heaven?

      Eben' heaven is a figment of his own imagination. Nothing biblical about his heaven.

      May 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      Our Lady of Fatima – the miracle of the sun. 1917 witnessed by 70,000 people. After which Portugal became a Catholic country.

      And before you start spluttering about Mass hysteria of Catholics and lies by Catholics....... 95% of the 70,000 witnesses who converted were Atheists and Communists. The reporter who recorded the account was Communist/Atheist. And it was THEY who converted!

      Look up Gabriel Gargam and Jack Traynor – 2 of the biggest miracles of Lourdes in France – although other miracles are still happening there all the time. My aunt was a voluntary worker on Jack Traynor's ward!

      In BOTH places Our lady chose poorly educated children to pass on her messages for ONE reason only – because they were not influenced by educators so passed on her EXACT messages. She SHOWED the 3 children in Fatima HELL – but promised them before they saw it that they would never go there. It isn't pretty!!!!
      She spoke to the 3 and to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes about HEAVEN/. Both places exist.

      Please read about those two men – it's a real eye-opener. God Bless.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  10. sam yaza

    yeah well i seen the Sanzu River when i did, i also seen Avalon throw a dream.

    May 28, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
  11. Zool

    "He found himself soaring toward a brilliant white light tinged with gold into “the strangest, most beautiful world I’d ever seen.”
    Well that's it, it is real, some bdude was dying and glimpsed heaven, I'm sold.
    Now....
    BOW!!!!!
    YIELD!!!!!
    KNEEL!!!!!
    AND GIVE ME YOUR MONEY, ERRRR UMMM, IMEAN DONATIONS!!!!

    May 28, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  12. Science

    And............Biggest JOKE under the SUN.................NO heaven or horn-y red devil..........never has been !

    Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

    By Dan Merica, CNN

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/23/heaven-for-atheists-pope-sparks-debate/comment-page-43/#comment-2372761

    PS Do a simple search for Prof. Higgs.............the church hates that = true Comedy Gold !

    May 28, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      http://www.godandscience.org/Apologetics.........................Scientists are closer to proving that God created the Universe.. I dare you to read it ALL. Don't come back to me with a response using one phrase you scanned out of context either!

      You won't accept the truth yhough bexause as Jack Nicholson said in "A few good men" ......Sonny you couldn't HANDLE the truth!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, they aren't "closer to proving god created the universe."

      Just because you found some fundie site that says so doesn't make it true. I saw a kitten playing the Moonlight Sonata on You Tube!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • faith

      thanks 4 the proof

      Science
      And............Biggest JOKE under the SUN.................NO heaven or horn-y red devil..........never has been !

      Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

      By Dan Merica, CNN

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/23/heaven-for-atheists-pope-sparks-debate/comment-page-43/#comment-2372761

      PS Do a simple search for Prof. Higgs.............the church hates that = true Comedy Gold !

      June 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      HAR,
      "Don't come back to me with a response using one phrase you scanned out of context either!"

      There's nothing there worth quoting; it's all circular logic.

      June 4, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  13. What does the word "God" mean?

    I know a religious person will already have an answer but many of you atheists and agnostics will understand what I mean.

    What does the word "God" actually mean?

    Does it mean Krishna? Vishnu? Allah? Jesus? Sure. I mean it could.

    Does it mean the FSM? If you're a pastafarian why not.

    Could it mean a piece of tape? If there is one guy in guam praying to a roll of tape then yes..it could mean that too.

    Maybe to some it's the earth itself or the universe?

    Is it just three letters?

    Thank "I.K.J." it's Friday.

    It's very obscure when you think on it.

    May 28, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • think

      The essense of meanings are not found in an abstract groping for the perfect definition of a word. Rather, what matters is the substance of what you are aiming to describe.

      So, to put it in more introspective phrasing, what or who is true "God"? That is the question you should ask yourself, and it is in fact the essential question of all religions and their various opinions. If God lives, is he merely a product of the harsh mortal elements we see before us, or is he the master of them all with a plan for salvation and grace? Or something else entirely?

      We can explore this question without entering into the logical fallacy of trying to prove that a word means nothing, simply because you apply it to many wrong definitions.

      A rose by any other name smells as sweet...

      May 29, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      There is only ONE God. He created the Universe. Apart from Christian groups that are not Catholics – they all arose out of separation from the Catholic Faith. Other religions came into being because it in human nature to look up to something. With some it was the Sun, others invented their own deities.

      But the ONE God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die horribly for ALL people – good and bad. He LOVES all people – good and bad. All we have to do is accept Jesus' teachings. It's as easy as that.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
  14. Theophobia

    Here's something I think merrits discussion. I see so many of you saying there is no reason to believe in any gods. And that's logical full force.
    But how many of us have heard from one source or another..there is an invisible being somewhere that is watching you, that knows your every thought and that will torture you in horrible ways forever once you are dead.
    Honestly that is the scariest idea imaginable and no matter how much logic you put on it that fear goes nowhere, that fear is real.

    May 27, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • sam stone

      fear is an effective tool

      May 28, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • fintastic

      Like watching a monster movie....

      May 29, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • think

      Your definition of God is a heresy, because that's not who God is. God does not exist to watch over your every move seeking to trap you so that he can forever torment you. Rather, God seeks to forgive you for your every move, and with a willing heart, welcome you into an eternal spiritual kingdom of grace. The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, based not on perfect people, but on imperfect people whose contrite hearts have been transformed by grace.

      If you reject this kind of grace and love, it is not God who will torture you for eternity. It is you who will torture yourself. But do not think that you can logically demand God permit evils to coexist with grace and peace for eternity. It is a demand for God to erase his own love and peace, which is intended for those who seek Him, and not for those who reject Him. You have a choice.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      God is perfect love. Satan is absolute evil. Perfectly reasonable since Physics and Science both say everything has it's opposite starting with the magnetic poles.

      If you are lucky enough to accept and love God in return then WHY on earth would you FEAR Him? You need to widen your horizon and stop focussing on the NEGATIVE all the time.

      I'm a Catholic and I can honestly say that I have NEVER feared God. Been in AWE of Him, sure, but that's not fear.. I have feared my own FAILINGS and been ashamed but I've always believed in God's mercy, and thanked Him for sending Jesus to die to save us from OUR sins. I and my family and friends have such PEACE, I wish you ALL had it – every one of you. Look at the specific messages in Jesus' suffering:=
      The Agony in the Garden –==- True Sorrow for sins
      The Scourging at the pillar -- Purity and respect for ours and others bodies
      Crowning with thorns --=- Moral courage to do what is right and to bear persecution
      Carrying the Cross ---Patience in serious suffering
      Death ---Final perseverance and hope of Heaven.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
  15. Science

    GOOD NEWS...............faith the peachy one......chad too.......you know !

    http://www.ibtimes.com/atheists-fight-gideon-bibles-books-christopher-hitchens-richard-dawkins-georgia-state-parks-
    1271125

    Science books and education TRUMPS the 666 beast and the red horn-y devil !

    May 27, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      Log on to http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics and LEARN what science has to say about the creation of the Universe. You might open your eyes and learn something.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  16. GOOD NEWS

    Heaven is absolutely real;

    we shall immediately be awakened in a parallel Universe, the moment we die here!

    Here is the Ultimate Proof:

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

    May 27, 2013 at 4:43 am |
    • Science

      Hey GOOD NEWS

      The legal end from Bing!

      Search
      Learn About the Law
      Find a Lawyer
      FindLaw Answers
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      ...

      FindLaw
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      CNN logo CNN 3 weeks ago
      When Christians become a 'hated minority.............

      When Christians become a 'hated minority'
      The point where religious speech becomes hate speech is difficult to define, though, scholars and activists say. The Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama is a nonprofit civil rights group that combats and monitors hate groups. Three years ago, it... Full Article at CNN

      http://legalnews.findlaw.com/article/0bj7cdy2zIcqA?q=law+OR+lawsuit+OR+legal+OR+%28court+AND+law%29

      Faith-Healing Churches Linked to 2 Dozen Child Deaths

      by Vince Lattanzio posted on May 25, 2013 02:45PM GMT

      http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/5/25/faith-healing-churches-linked-to-2-dozen-child-deaths#

      Have a great life. and Memorial day !

      Peace

      May 26, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply

      May 27, 2013 at 7:11 am |
    • fintastic

      Cool-aid anyone?

      May 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      No, no, no! You live your life according to God's laws. Not difficult to understand since we all have to live according to CIVIL laws which were based on the 10 Commandments anyway.

      The laws of God help to keep us and others around us safe from evil; the laws of the land help us have a safe society. Not difficult to understand because we've all SEEN what happens when society uses guile and lies to perpetrate evils like abortion?

      It's no use looking for MAN MADE answers on the internet – Go to the NEW Testament written by 4 eye witnesses and learn the truth. It's listening to MEN that's got the world in the state it's in!

      May 29, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  17. jwi

    Pastors should preach about heaven, because Jesus came to give us eternal life so that we could live with Him forever in Heaven. They should also preach what Jesus preached: "Except a man be born again, he shall not see the Kingdom of God." You must be a born-again Christian to go to heaven. You must have your sins washed away and be clean and holy in God's sight to be there. Make no mistake, not everyone will be going to heaven. Faith in the Son of God and His finished work on the cross for you, acceptance of Jesus as your only Savior is the only way to heaven according to God Himself. "He that has the Son has life, he that does not have the Son of God does not have life."

    May 27, 2013 at 1:47 am |
  18. navigate to this web-site

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    May 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  19. look what I found

    An interesting dialogue is worth comment. I believe that it's best to write more on this subject, it might not be a taboo subject however typically persons are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

    May 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  20. dropbear

    Big name preachers and churches havent stopped talking about heaven out of fear of ridicule. the proof in this is the amount of times they talk about the great hell-fire. Theyve stopped talking about heaven because the topic of hell is what gets attention, comments, and appeals to an uneducated populace.

    May 26, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • dropbear is a loser

      Rnow you are just using religion as an excuse to show your contempt for the general public who wasn't born into your aristocracy.

      You jerks don't even see that those with less education (religious or otherwise) are human beings some of whome are starving to death on the street and some of whom are currently being shot at. You justify yourself in your contempt by telling yourself that "they" are not also people.

      May 26, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • dropbear

      It was not meant out of contempt. I was merely pointing out that fear tactics have been the go to strategy for those trying to rally the support of the less educaged and poor (which are usually found in large numbers). This can be seen in many refugee camps all the way to rural America. You are seriously putting words in my mouth. And unless going tobschool on loans makes you an aristocrat, Fail.

      May 26, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
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About this blog

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