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. Carlos Chino

    Reblogged this on Carlos Chino.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  2. Apple Bush

    I see only one possibility for what happens after we die: nobody knows.

    However based on the available evidence, nothing happens.

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

      One of the most observationally valid comments thus far. The reality is that what happens after death should have NO bearing on what I do and how I live my life. Any other behavior is just poorly-reasoned speculation.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Bush, Jesus knows and wrote His truth to all of us (the Bible).

      Luke 16


      May 20, 2013 at 4:02 am |
  3. ronindavid

    I only see 2 real possibilities of what happens after death. The first is it will be exactly what it was like before you were born. After all, you didn't exist before your birth so you weren't alive. I remember clearly that it didn't bother me at all. Not existing for billions, millions, or a few thousand years (whichever you believe) wasn't a big deal at all. The second is the whole heaven/hell thing. Well, heaven is eternal happiness essentially. Except, here's the problem. None of us want to be happy all the time. We WANT to be sad or feel other emotions other than being joyful. Can you seriously imagine how much being happy all the time would suck? For one thing, it wouldn't even be special. Being happy is only a great thing because we can feel sadness. Basically, your existence would be pointless as the very things you feel would be stuck in one of two extremes (heaven=happy/hell=misery). The only way I see us existing in this state without going insane very, very quickly is our consciousness is altered...something many religious people believe happens. Very few believe that you will go to heaven being basically who you are now. So here's a really valid question. What does it matter in the end where you go if there is existence after death? If you are something else, it isn't you anymore anyway. So who cares? If my consciousness is transformed into another life-form of some sort (or spirt or whatever) I'm no longer me. So I could care less whichever the two it turns out to be. Whether I blink out of consciousness or transformed into something else entirely, this life is obviously all I'm getting so I'm just gonna ride it out for long as it lasts and not worry too much about death.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • lol??

      ronindavid sayz,
      "I only see 2 real possibilities..................'

      The dialectic is hard to shake. from wiki,

      "...........Although sometimes only loosely affiliated, Frankfurt School theorists spoke with a common paradigm in mind, thus sharing the same as*sumptions and being preoccupied with similar questions.[3] In order to fill in the perceived omissions of traditional Marxism, they sought to draw answers from other schools of thought, hence using the insights of antipositivist sociology, psychoanalysis, existential philosophy, and other disciplines.[1] The school's main figures sought to learn from and synthesize the works of such varied thinkers as Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Weber and Lukács........"
      The Monroe Doctrine could not stop em.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
  4. Buck Rogers

    When you die, you return to dust which is a biblical and scientific fact. No one is 'floating' in Heaven – yet.... On the other hand, when you fake spaceflight to con the masses with 'astro-evolution', you get a sweet hairdo 'floating' in space thanks to NASA.....


    May 19, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      "...a biblical fact..."

      hehe...good one...

      May 19, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
  5. Colli T

    Heaven isn't supposed to be our focus. We're supposed to be reaching out to any and everyone, spreading the message of God's love - through him there is peace, joy, and hope in face of a world full of adversity. Someone who keeps the truth to their self and hopes to ride this thing out until they get to Heaven is going to be in for a surprise, because they're living in disobedience to God.

    May 19, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Instead of hopping around spreading words, try actually DOING something...

      May 19, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • sam stone

      by what authority to you purport to speak for god?

      May 20, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  6. Dyslexic doG

    Perhaps this is the basis of Christianity.

    A bronze age shepherd in the middle east had a near death experience and suddenly convinced people he was the son of God. Decades and centuries later, other people wrote a book about it and here we are in 2013 with a mass delusion.

    May 19, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • Jo Black

      I had a near shepherd experience once, but I don't want to talk about it.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • lol??

      I perceive you are a sheepdog that developed a taste.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  7. lionlylamb

    When one talks about the scientific theorem of our evolutionary trails, just exactly how did the animals branch away from vegetation or plant life? Where exactly are these missing links? The same can be asked regarding insects and mammals. Could it be said that there were no missing links for the establishments of plant life and mammalians and insects? Could it be reckoned that life's soups within all mannerisms toward the evolving of celestial life formations were so established distant and apart from each other's genetic underpinnings? The established moments of Creationism is a perceptivity of base rooted thoughts underlying testimonial concepts such as varied cosmological issues of the atomized and celestial and even cellular relationships unto self-similar variations of outward perplexities upon all celestial shorelines making due notes upon cellular divisions perceptive congenialities. Which came first, the plant seeds or the plants?

    May 19, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • telecomjunkie

      More jibberish

      May 19, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Magnus

      I believe this is commonly referred to as "word salad."

      May 19, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • evolvedDNA

      LL ..you appear to be non-conversant with the subtleties of evolution.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      I'd be willing to place odds that you were never the teacher's pet. Also I'd take a bet that your intelligence rating is way below the normal averages.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Martin

      Just curl up for some extensive reading, lionlylamb. http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

      May 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • acounselorsperspective

      Please look up Hox genes. You may find the answer to your cosmic questions there.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      you REALLY should read a book that's not from a Christian book store! All the questions are plainly answered if you read actual scientific texts. Looking for scientific information in Christian texts is like looking for news on FOX News!

      May 19, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Colli T

      "So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air." – 1 Corinthians 14:9


      May 19, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      And I'd be willing to bet you know little to practically nothing regarding the subtleties of atomic, celestial and cellular cosmologies and their interdependencies. So then, a stalemate?

      May 19, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • DamienFish

      "what came first, the plant seed or the plant"

      Well actually it was algae that came first. All plants arose from algae.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • Glenn

      They are an intelligent people always making it sound so plausible. Two thousand years later, the only they have proven is their ability to be consistently wrong. The eagles will always fly and we must always watch and listen. I will always be just a bear. These are only two of the animals in the forest as the Muslim will attest to.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      Algae you say is the seed to plants "missing link"? We have many forms of algae today. Why hasn't evolution shown its' face from today's algae formations? Where then are today's evolved from algae prodigies?

      May 19, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • redzoa

      @LL – Here's an easy place to start. Start reading, and then move on to the sources, then on to those sources' sources. Eventually you'll run into a primary literature pay-wall, but if you go to your local research university, you'll likely have access not only to the scientific literature, but also to actual experts who conduct actual research on these topics. It's not hidden away, this information and the means by which it was discovered is literally right there for the taking . . . well, don't steal any equipment, but you know what I mean . . .


      May 19, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • jargonwhat

      "Which came first, the plant seeds or the plants?"

      Well, considering that flowering plants evolved around 25 million years after stegosaurus and apatosaurus went extinct, I'd have to say the plants came first.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • DamienFish

      Re: the algae questions. Read this :


      May 19, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Science

      Cut a bucnh of chondrites................add dust from cuttings to distilled water.................let it sit out in sun foe about

      a week or 2..................green sh-it all over the place !!!

      Carbon-14 just add water = life !

      May 19, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Jo Black

      I hope this was a cut n paste. I hate to think of someone having to write that more than once.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • Science


      May 19, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Colli T,

      My writings are not written for people with a third grade education. Even college students might have a hard time fathoming my Word. Hell, the general public is hardly of any intelligence worthy of fathoming my Word. BTW, the difference between writing and voicing is one who voices is apt to ill understanding by the audience while writing is a permanency.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Marc Parella

      I know what each word in your post means separately, but combined with the other words you choose, I have no clue what you are trying to say. A good writer conveys ideas, not words.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You leave it there for us, lionlylamb, a permanence. But between words is a continuum of meaning, nuanced ideas that weave through truth as we try to know it. Your words are only little isolated little signs that point out the stops on the way. Jean-Talon, Fabre, D'Iberville... Where can we find the bottom of things, lionlylamb. Where?

      May 19, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • evolvedDNA

      LL.. " And I'd be willing to bet you know little to practically nothing regarding the subtleties of atomic, celestial and cellular cosmologies and their interdependencie". but then neither do you.. I understand the beauty of the atomic forces and the way they are manifest in all matter through out the entire universe., the way that the atoms within our bodies were forged in the dying heart of stars eons ago. Science, not religion has given you that understanding.. Your understanding appears to still require a miniature god, whereas we have all moved on.

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

      Well, one could point out that we share 60% of our DNA with all fruits and vegetables, and that we originated from a 2.5 million-yr-old plant/fungus phyla that no longer exists. But it's probably much easier on your brain to go to any city aquarium, which will be stocked with plenty of plant/animal hybrids. Or scope out the newest pantanimal hybrid added to the lists: the Mesodinium Chamaleon.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
  8. Cboro

    My church talks about heaven.

    May 19, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "My church talks about heaven."
      The article is about what some believe is proof of heaven.

      Many churches talk about heaven. They simply assert it exists, based on some interpretation of their fairy tale. The article suggests they don't talk about the supposed proof for it.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  9. Bill

    “Conservative Christians aren’t the only ones going to heaven," said Price, "and that makes them mad."
    False false false.
    Absolutely not true.
    "Conservative Christians" experience joy for everyone going to heaven.Yes we believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. However, the Bible is clear that people are only responsible for what they have been told and understand.
    Those who have not been told the truth of the Gospel are not responsible for accepting its message. They will be in heaven. Children are not responsible. They will be in heaven.
    Only those who outright reject Jesus and the Gospel will not be in heaven but then, since they rejected it, they dont want to be there anyway.

    May 19, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Someone, Chad I think, posits that if we all understood the Bible we'd accept all of it. The implication is that we do not understand. So, we're in the clear, right?

      May 19, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Shadrach

      Price needs to go church more often other than his Christmas, Easter sunday visits to the church. He should also read the Bible more regularly and make an attempt to understand the word.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • lol??

      God is a perfect judge. He judges the heart and knows its condition of gospel acceptance. How could He not know?? He already made the claim.

      Jer 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, [I] try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, [and] according to the fruit of his doings.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • lol??

      Be glad you're not a judge at SCOTUS.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Vic

      There is a Limited vs. Unlimited Atonement Debate amongst Christians based on universal atonement verses from Scripture!

      Here are two examples:

      1 John 2:2
      "2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

      1 John 4:10
      "10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers."

      New American Standard Bible (NASB)

      May 19, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Vic


      That was 1 Timothy 4:10

      May 19, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Colli T

      And the saddest thing of all is knowing that some people will not end up spending eternity with God, where they belong.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "That was 1 Timothy 4:10"
      Sounds more like 4:20.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Colli T

      You said, "And the saddest thing of all is knowing that some people will not end up spending eternity with God, where they belong."
      Don't worry. I would much rather spend eternity in hell, than a day with your god and its followers.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Roger that

      Those who have not been told the truth of the Gospel are not responsible for accepting its message. They will be in heaven.

      Then stop telling them about it. Burn all the Bibles and all future generations will be saved. Yay!!!

      May 19, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Vic

      @LinCA "....."

      Actually, it is 1 Timothy 4:10

      The chapter wraps up at 4:16.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      "Out of my brain on the 5:15 ..."

      May 19, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • lol??

      Vic, what's the debate?? If someone buys you a car and you don't pick it up at the dealer because you don't believe it, did you gain possession?? Get any benefits from the payment??

      May 19, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • Jo Black

      I reject both, but I am glad they make you happy.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Bill, you say "Those who have not been told the truth of the Gospel are not responsible for accepting its message. They will be in heaven."

      So...Bill...by your logic, the inhabitants of the world should do everything in their power to avoid you Bible-spewing loons, right? I mean, if I don't KNOW about Jesus, then I get a free pass! Finally, we agree on something. So tell me...if you truly care about your fellow humans, then why do you Christians go out of your way to spread 'his' word? I mean, you are intentionally putting all these peoples souls at risk!!! WHY would you do that?!? (chuckling)

      May 19, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Those who have not been told the truth of the Gospel are not responsible for accepting its message. They will be in heaven. "

      So, why do believers insist on spreading the word? Is that not the equivalent of spreading the possibility of hell?

      May 20, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • skytag

      Still waiting for one of you believers to provide the first shred of evidence everything you just said has any basis in reality.

      May 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  10. 1curious58

    This is why the churches don't talk about heaven. They know that it's a lie that all good people go to heaven. They are just placating their congregations.
    Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 -"the living conscious that they will die but the dead know nothing..."( note Ecclesiastes 3:19,20)

    John 3:13 – Jesus said in the 1st century that no one went to heaven except he himself. What does that mean then for Moses, and the other faithful followers of God? They were all asleep in death, not somewhere else like heaven.(note John 11:9-14)

    Genesis 3:4 – The one that started the lie is Satan and the lie continues to this day. (note Deuteronomy 18:10-13)

    Ezekiel 18:4,20 – The soul doesn't live on, but dies. Plain and simple! The only way a person gets everlasting life in heaven is because they have been chosen to rule with Christ Jesus as joint heirs and part of the Kingdom heavenly government.(Note Revelation 14:1,3, 4)

    Psalms 37:9-11,29 and especially note Jesus' words at Matthew 5:5 – The rest of mankind will inherit the earth to make a paradise, which is God's original purpose for mankind that will soon be fulfilled! (Note Genesis 1:26-28)

    May 19, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Bill

      What Jesus said was "No one has seen the father but the Son."
      He also said "I go to prepare a place for you."

      May 19, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Bill

      And I forgot one thing.
      Nowhere in scripture does it say anything about going to heaven if you are "good". In fact, no one is "good enough" to get into heaven on their own merit.
      However, even the worst of sinners can go to heaven if they acceopt the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of their sins and accept Him as Lord of their life.
      Jesus died for all the of the sins in my past and my future.
      For this reason, even a man like Ted Bundy is in heaven. Good man? No. But forgiven? Yes. While in prison he repented and accepted Jesus.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Magnus

      And he will never return. You don't have a place in heaven. You don't have an afterlife at all. It ends. End of story.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • Matt

      SO many people don't understand that, even though it's such a basic Biblical concept. When you die, nothing happens to you, your just dead til the second coming. Nobody is suffering in hell, or hanging out in heaven, because God IS fair. It doesn't take a whole lot of reading to come to that conclusion. Not meaning to ramble haha 🙂 the point is just that I agree with your excellent points.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • jargonwhat

      "For this reason, even a man like Ted Bundy is in heaven. Good man? No. But forgiven? Yes. While in prison he repented and accepted Jesus."

      How nice of God to send Ted Bundy to heaven but send actual good people like Bill Gates and Einstein to hell.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Do you suppose a Hindi would rely on the same "proofs" for his beliefs in heaven? I am willing to bet not. Soooo....which one of you is right? I mean, you can't both be right, so how do you know yours is correct?

      May 19, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Bill. Dude. You're psychotic. Get help.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • lol??

      Moses is asleep??

      "Mat 17:2-3 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him."

      Somebody must have had some lucid dreaming training.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • lol??

      1c58 sayz, ".................Ezekiel 18:4,20 – The soul doesn't live on, but dies. Plain and simple!............"

      Does not compute at all Did you quote the wrong scripture??

      May 19, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • Science

      lol??.................still stuck inj the sand box ?.......................Come out now lol?? and see the truth !

      You know the red horn-y devil thingy ?

      May 20, 2013 at 7:09 am |
  11. Suzanne

    Flip-Side- When we enter this world...
    I remember part of the physical struggle of my birth but most clearly the dawning awareness that I was no longer 'with God' or in a state that I might compare to light particles. I was in a body and no longer in extreme closeness or oneness with God. When I was very young I cried over this at night and was at a loss for why God had left me here in this world. (Worth noting my parents were not religious, didn't say grace, baptize me etc.)

    Years later, when my son began talking, he told my what he knew of his birth. His recollection coincided with medical events he was unaware of- when he had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck "he was looking at Jesus". When the cord was removed and he was turned "he turned and saw me for the first time". A short time later (he was 3 or 4) he was angry with me and told me he was going to 'go back into God's box'. These are concepts that were not discussed with him, just his description of his existence. (He knew the names God and Jesus obviously and that 'God made us and loves us' but that's it at that age).

    I can't offer a scientific explanation other than to wonder about our souls/consciousness/neurons operating like energy changing forms as we cross from pre-birth to life and into death.

    Any one else have a birth memory?

    May 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Magnus

      You sound psychotic.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • DamienFish

      Probably stuff he saw on TV.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Glenn

      I remember being a small child on my grandfather's farm. Looking across the field, I could see and hear a freight train moving by. I remember thinking "They have one of those here, too. It was important that I remember". So I did. Years later when I was able to recognize the train as another phallic symbol, I was able to place myself back in the womb and my memories made sense.
      Children can carry memories into this world but whether or not they are all accurate or part imagination I cannot say.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Suzanne

      DamienFish: perhaps he was influenced by the Teletubbies. That was one wierd show. I don't think they dabbled in obstetrics or the divine though...

      May 19, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • acounselorsperspective

      I think all men remember the birth experience because they spend the rest of their lives trying to get back in.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Suzanne

      That's pretty cool Glenn. It might be that in between accuracy and imagination we can find personal translation.
      Even Freud said "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" Symbols are fascinating.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • C

      Very sweet story .Interesting that both you and your son remember so much. He is fortunate because you understand him and he will feel that you respect him and what he says to you.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:54 am |
  12. DamienFish

    So will heaven be full of all the other intelligent beings who have died over the past 14.8 billion years? Some calculations suggest that just our galaxy is the home to millions of inhabitable planets, and there are 500 billion other galaxies in the Universe. The Universe is literally teeming with life, and has been for many billions of years. Would make quite a interesting place, putting all those spirits there.

    May 19, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • DamienFish

      Unless of course you think, out of all the billions and billions of past civilizations we are the only "chosen' ones. LOL!

      May 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Chad

      @DamienFish "The Universe is literally teeming with life, and has been for many billions of years. Would make quite a interesting place, putting all those spirits there."

      @Chad "actually, I dont know if God chose to put life on other planets as well or not, but what makes you so sure life exists elsewhere?

      May 19, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • DamienFish

      @Chad: energy from star + planet at right distance = life. Each star has a very very small chance, but with so many stars...its an ocean of life.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • Magnus

      It is a statistical certainty. It might take us a while to verify, but I have no doubt that there are other life-forms out there.
      Considering the large range of environments in our own biosphere where life can survive, the number is likely to be larger than anyone expects. Sapient life is more problematic and will, I'm sure, be more rare than non-sapient life due to complexity.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:32 pm |

    medium to being alive is through understanding, not physically. if one understands to be alive, he is alive, but the one understand to be dead, they are dead. medium to understand is knowledge, and the one who has no knowledge of subject of human existence, lives or not, he is a hindu, dead.

    May 19, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Answer

      slam, boom. No, heaven, for, trash, muslim.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Are Hindus actually people the way you and I are, Muslim?

      May 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm |

      Ya, but with mind set of a Atheist, self centered by nature, animals. living by fear and hindu soul, filthy desire.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      OK, let's look at it this way: you are in a life raft where you have been for over 20 days without food. You and your companions will starve to death if something is not done soon. Your companions are two Muslim children and one Hindu. Now, do you kill and eat the Hindu, or at least feed the Hindu to the children, or do you all starve?

      May 19, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • Magnus

      From what I understand of Muslim culture, he will rape all three of the children and eat the Hindu first then the others, using only his right hand. If asked, he will say they disappeared overboard in the night and burp in their faces.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
  14. lol??

    The underlying apostasy of rapturists is that the circu*mcision, after the flesh, are still God's chosen. WWwwwwhhhhhoa, sounds like Esau pushin' off his born again birthright!! Great way to become hated by God.

    Hbr 12:16 Lest there [be] any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright...

    May 19, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
  15. Colton


    May 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
  16. DamienFish

    I'm not counting on it. I think after death will be much like before birth – ie – nothing.

    May 19, 2013 at 9:59 pm |

      Spirit, the dark matter, back to basics. but not evaporated.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
  17. lionlylamb

    Virtual relativisms are nowhere nearing any augmentation of religious relativity. Neither are naturalistic evolutions. Religions are humanities' considerations of the egoistically spiritual endowments of conditioned soulfully individualized relevancies. Beliefs in the Godly domains' kingdoms are a no-brainer for me. These Godly kingdom domains are universal constructs of human physiologies.

    Common folk people who choose godliness as being their life's crux will find failure after failures in a world getting ever filled with growing faithlessness. Nothing good can ever come from ever mounting humanisms of faithlessness. Atomic Cosmology. Impossible to know? Celestial Cosmology. Impossible to know? Cellular Cosmology. Yet again, impossible to know? I do not 'pretend' in my knowing understandings of such Cosmologies. Many posters here are immature in things they dribble here. Many "adults" are still nothing more than being infantile nuisances meant to irk others' emotional states

    One has to have a need for resonations of their ill-worded namesakes. The faithless ever will harken upon those whose faiths are centralized in there being but One Father of All Living Manifestations! There are many Gods and even many more sons (even daughters) of the Gods. The Gods of Celestial Creations are of one nature and the sons of the Gods within atomized cellular creations are of another nature. Which of these Gods and/or Gods’ sons/daughters creatively evolved one's physiological bodies? Whose Celestial Gods and sons/daughters of the Celestially Manifested Gods are for and whose son/daughter gods are found against us? For the sons/daughters of the Celestial Gods living within atomic manifestations are our bodies' husbanded fathers and the Gods of Celestial Creations are not of our bodies' physiological creations. The human deviltry of socialized humanisms seems to be for the Celestial Gods while hardly anyone pays any attention to our bodies' cellular sons/daughters of the Celestial Gods. Go figure!

    May 19, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Lyin'Lamb, it's all gibberish. Are you speaking in tongues, or just drunk?

      May 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • Science

      Takes a couple of times a loony ?

      You know creationists...........ID believers...............The Bone !..............E =mc2

      Messed-Up Bible Stories – 2 – Adam and Eve


      How did feathers evolve? – Carl Zimmer


      Dinosaur Egg Study Supports Evolutionary Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs: How Troodon Likely Hatched Its Young


      Star Dust we are


      Holy Hallucinations 35


      Prehistoric shark captured on film


      Thai Researchers Discover 100-Million-Year-Old Crocodile Fossil





      May 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Colton


      May 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • lol??

      Science, are you into social science?? You're such a bully with all those vids.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • The real Tom

      LL, lay off the weed. Your posts are nothing but a bunch of misused and made-up words strung together.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • marine6624


      May 19, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Perhaps you meant relative virtualisms, lionlylamb. It's a common mistake.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Yeah, he screwed up "crux" and "crutch", too.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Bob

      LL, looks like you have a regular stream of ardent followers! Keep On, Keepin' On!

      May 19, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      Speaking in tongues? Writing maybe but speaking not now. I don't imbibe anymore on alcohol. Been sober since September of 2009. I am 58 and have lived a comfortable living. I have the rest of my life to fathom mankind's most unfathomable. Atomic Cosmology, Celestial Cosmology and Cellular Cosmologies are issues I think about day and night. Even some of my dreams are of the spatial cosmologies.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  18. Peteyroo

    This is all such nonsense. Heaven does not exist. No God. No Jesus. It's all wishful thinking.

    May 19, 2013 at 9:53 pm |

      But truth absolute GOD, exists, prove it other wise if you can hindus, deniers of truth absolute GOD.

      May 19, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Dear "Islam", I give you one of my favorite quotes...

      what you've just said ... is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this forum is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul...

      May 19, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
  19. keb carerra

    It's a tough call , but right it's near death when this happens. But why do anything about it ? Why do you have to get the word out ? Smells of proselytization with sales in the millions , more nonsensical christians sounding the alarm about heaven. Please relax it might be real but I got to tell that young boy that maybe only one of Jesus eyes was blue or maybe the heavenly family got blue eyes .

    May 19, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
  20. skytag

    This is so dumb. Every memory we have is stored somehow in our brains, both memories of real experiences and memories of dreams. What evidence is there that any of these "memories" of heaven are anything more than memories of dreams?

    May 19, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      The dreams of all lifetimes have been encapsulated made ready to be lived when one crosses over into the beyond,

      May 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • skytag

      @lionlylamb: Meaningless nonsense. Give me one shred of evidence of any kind to support anything you believe about an afterlife.

      May 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • QDV

      Skytag, you mean that the word of Moses the raven about Sugar Candy Mountain isn't good enough for you?

      May 19, 2013 at 10:19 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.