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. KT

    Ecc chapter 10:This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, re full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope[b]—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

    5 For the living know that they will die,
    but the dead know nothing;
    they have no further reward,
    and even their name is forgotten.
    6 Their love, their hate
    and their jealousy have long since vanished;
    never again will they have a part
    in anything that happens under the sun
    11 I have seen something else under the sun:

    The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong,
    nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant
    or favor to the learned;
    but time and chance happen to them all.

    12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:

    As fish are caught in a cruel net,
    or birds are taken in a snare,
    so people are trapped by evil times
    that fall unexpectedly upon them
    Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom
    ECCLESIASTES 7 :15In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:

    the righteous perishing in their righteousness,
    and the wicked living long in their wickedness.
    16 Do not be overrighteous,
    neither be overwise—
    why destroy yourself?
    17 Do not be overwicked,
    and do not be a fool—
    why die before your time?
    18 It is good to grasp the one
    and not let go of the other.
    Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.[

    May 20, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      May I suggest the King James version of the Bible. I believe the King James versions a very good translation. This doesn't match anything that Ecclesiastes Chapter 10 says in my bible.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I just love Dueling Babbles!

      May 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • sam

      Ah, so many bibles, so many translations. Go figure.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • jim

      larry, check out some others and read what other scholars say about the king james. the most error filled "version", not even a translation but there are many like the New English Translation, the Bible in Living English, The Jerusalem Bible, The New World Translation, etc.just to name a few that are much more understandable and these are just a few of the many translations that have been taken directly from the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. do some research and enjoy. j

      May 20, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  2. lionlylamb

    Far above this earth's celestial cosmos of universal spatial relationships, further then one will ever see, and beyond our abilities to roam is where God is and does live. Deeply within the atomized confines of all living manifestations, far from our microscopic truancies, does live all of God's sons and daughters. We are the celestial divisions, the buildings within which God's sons and daughters do dwell and take refuge in safe harborage far from the sun's rays of noxious potencies. Those who are against God and God's sons and daughters and even against this world's religious people are and will be found guilty of blasphemous conditioning brought about by r e p e t i t i v e commentaries via the spoken and/or written wordage forsaking the mindsets of true believers in God, Christ our Lord and savior of all life manifestations. I, for one do believe in God and God's 1st born son who was born before the cosmos ever came into existence!

    May 20, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  3. cedar rapids

    'In fact, a friend of mine says that he's read a book that says we checked human DNA against that of apes...and guess what – our DNA shows no evidence of anything ape-like in it.'

    Actually that would be impossible as every living thing on the planet has some similar DNA.

    May 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Harald

      Exactly, we actually share a significant part of DNA with every living organism on earth. This is something that obviously contradicts the belief of the faithful that God somehow placed all the living organisms independently on this planet (which wouldn't even make sense by the way).

      May 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      What is the name if the book? The Babble?

      May 20, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  4. Norm

    “Conservative Christians aren’t the only ones going to heaven," said Price, "and that makes them mad."

    Oh yes....I bet it does.
    But now I'm wondering if THEY go to heaven.
    I just can't imagine God letting them in.
    They're so nasty.

    May 20, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      I am a conservative Christian. I believe in all of God's teachings. Including when Christ taught us that we should love our enemies. Do you think anyone who loves their enemies would be mad that they may get to live in heaven? That doesn't sound like love to me. I would argue that anyone that is angry that many non-Christians will get to heaven is not a TRUE "conservative Christian". Christ said of one of the people being crucified next to him that he would see him in paradise. This was a thief, not a believer.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Vic

      We only know little much about God's Divine Justice and how it works! God is Just and will sort things out accordingly!

      May 20, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  5. Vic

    In response to comments on Religiosity & IQ Scores:

    Correlation and Causality are two different things! Higher IQ scores might correlate to less belief in God and vice versa but neither causes the other!

    Also, socioeconomic conditions as well as testing methods have a lot of bearing on performance on those tests, to mention a few!

    "Dissatisfaction with traditional IQ tests has led to the development of alternative theories, all of which suggest that intelligence is the result of independent abilities that contribute to human performance."

    "Even at the scale of the individual, IQ may not directly cause more disbelief in God. Dr David Hardman of London Metropolitan University says: "It is very difficult to conduct true experiments that would explicate a causal relationship between IQ and religious belief." He adds that other studies do nevertheless correlate IQ with being willing or able to question beliefs"


    Also, a lot of people in the Academia and the Scientific Community refrain from publicly disclosing their personal religious convictions, and they identify themselves as Nones!

    Given all of the above, studies can not really generate actual statistics regarding Religiosity ranking based on IQ scores; therefore, such studies are rendered inaccurate!

    May 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Vic


      May 20, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  6. hjezek@hotmail.com

    @Jim: you are contradicting yourself. An atheist can't give his life to Satan because Satan is just another fantasy made up by the church. Atheists – obviously -don't belief in Satan.

    May 20, 2013 at 4:32 pm |

    im very open minded individual raised in a christain religious household but my views and personal encounters with life has led me to believe religion is way to messed up in todays world right now for me to play blind. The points made my DHW make the most sense and athiest are defninitely attempting to act like they know that what the believers believe in is non sense by being affirmitive but in reality you dont know either. so why fault someone for believing in it. whether consciously or unconsciously in your life you have believed in things you dont even no the answer to so why cant we. We do have souls something created things everything can not just conviently exist for earth to conviently populate people at the right temperature for humans to live and all that THAT IS WHAT I CAN'T BELIEVE there is a creater dont know what or whom but that is my god. I believe in that. i mean you guys believe in logic right? so how is not believing in a creator logical? we are constaly procreating but SOMEONE HAD TO START THIS . and someone had to start them so why can't that creator be our god? for athiest to say god exist what started us then? I WOULD love to hear that POV.

    May 20, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • December

      "so how is not believing in a creator logical?"

      So, what or who created God?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • John Bigbooty

      I just...want you to try again, with punctuation and spacing and stuff.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Athy

      Another example of a religious person with a low IQ.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      December, "what created God". This is a very logical question that anyone who has ever considered religion very seriously must have asked themselves. I have a question for you and others on this website. Where does space and time begin and end? Neither have a beginning or an end. So it is with God.

      God has told us this through his prophets. We can not comprehend this entirely in our mortal state because everything on this physical world is temporary even our physical bodies. However, God is eternal meaning no beginning and no end. We cannot understand this and thus have to rely on faith. However, I think it takes more faith to believe that God, matter, space and time have a beginning or an end.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • December

      Thanks Larry, I agree with you. The 'old atheist' in me asked that question – because I don't necessarily think God is 'logical' like the original poster claims.- at least from the human being point of view.

      It is hard for me to understand God – who is unlimited – because I am so limited.

      But that is ok. That is how God has made me and I am grateful to be a part of His creation.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Harald

      You make a lot of assumptions.
      What is a soul ? From a scientific point of view there is no such thing as a soul. This is just made up by religion.
      You also don't seem to understand that the burden of proof is on the one who stipulates an idea. So if you believe there is a God then YOU have to prove his existence and not an atheist his non existence.
      Just because you don't understand how something exists without an creator doesn't mean you have to invent a creator. An atheists just admits that there are no answers to certain questions and keeps searching. Science is good in eventually answering our questions although it may take a while. Just be patient !
      Your logic of "something had to create all there is" is not logical at all. If there is a creator, who created the creator and who created the creator's creator and so on. This question obviously leads nowhere.
      Believing in a God is probably the most illogical behavior one can find in humans

      May 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Harald

      @Larry, this is not true. Space and time came into existence at the moment of the big bang. And, if the universe at some point collapses again into a singularity, as some physicians theorize then time and space will vanish again.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • December

      Harold –
      You are a soul. You have a body. You are a creature. You have a creator.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Moby Schtick


      You are merely an animal and the product of evolution. There is no proof or evidence of any souls or creators, and since ther is no proof, it would be stupid to believe in them.

      I prefer the honest answer of "I don't know why there is something and not nothing, and I don't know how life began," to the absurd LIE of "big invisible sky wizard did it with magic spellz."

      May 20, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      Harald, believing in a creator is no more illogical than believing that we exist. The fact that you and I are talking about whether God exists means that we exist and that we are aware enough to argue about how we exist. We can't explain that logically. The only explanation is that something or someone exists that has more knowledge than we are capable of gaining about our origins. That is God.

      How do we know that God exists? Believe it or not the scientific method works for me. I read what knowledge God has given me through the scriptures and prophets and apply it in my life and see if it increases my happiness and my awareness. Each time I improve myself by following his commandments (which were given for our happiness by the way), my life takes on more happiness and more meaning. Each time I sin through not following what is taught, my life is not as meaningful or as happy. Also, as I have asked to become closer with God and understand his ways more, I have had miraculous things happen in my life.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • December

      @ to the absurd LIE of "big invisible sky wizard did it with magic spellz."

      You think that is what I believe?

      That is stupid of you.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Harald

      December, yes, I have a creator.....my parents.
      As to the soul, no we don't have souls. Living organisms in general and humans in particular are amazing machines that developed in incredible level of complexity throughout billions of years of evolution. Nevertheless, everything comes down to chemistry. You die and everything stops. There is nothing that separates from your physical body.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Harald

      Moby, the thing is we have to look at evidence. The more evidence there is for a particular theory, the more likely this theory has merit. There are few, if any, things we should consider as absolute truth.
      When it comes to God, I must say that the scientific evidence for his existence is zero (or close to zero) and as long as that doesn't change, God isn't something that's important. It's just another product of fantasy that go hand in hand with so many others.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • December

      @ Harald

      God is more concerned about your soul (which never dies) than your body (which dies).

      There is more to this world than meets our eyes.

      Luckily I know God is real – and I know his way is much better than your belief that life is just a chance and product of mindless evolution.

      How can you look at the wonders of evolution and not see intelligence? There is a power greater than your parents – and you can have access to it.

      That power is God.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Moby Schtick


      Is your god not big? invisible? uses words to create? Where is the description inaccurate?

      May 20, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Harald

      Larry, unfortunately you have a misunderstanding what logic and the scientific method are.
      But I don't even want to convince it that the God concept makes no sense. If it adds value to your life, then so be it. I'm in the lucky situation that I don't need a third party (God) to make the best out of my life. I see God as some sort of crutches. Some people need them and others don't.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'everything can not just conviently exist for earth to conviently populate people at the right temperature for humans to live and all that '

      oh for crying out loud. You have the order reversed. The world is not how it is in order for us to live on it. We are how we are because evolution shaped us to live on the Earth.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Harald

      December, I see the wonders of evolution but I'm also a biochemist who understands HOW life has evolved over billions of years. You understand how much time 3 billion years are ? That's a lot and gives countless opportunities for trial and errors. Of all these trial the once that adapted the best and reproduced won over others less successful organisms. This natural selection coupled with mutations eventually led to the complexity of life we see today on our planet. There is absolutely nothing mystical or spiritual about that. It's chemistry at it's best. Even what we call consciousness is just the results of chemical reactions in our brains. While highly complex and only partially understood, there is no "magic" to it nor does it require the insertion of some supernatural being.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • December

      @ Moby Schtick

      Yea, I just simply believe a "big invisible sky wizard did it with magic spellz."

      You got it. Spot on.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • December


      It is all perspective, I guess.

      There are plenty of competent biochemists and scientists who believe in God. And they don't describe it is a "magic".

      Or do they say that love is just some kind of chemical reaction.

      According to scripture – love is so powerful it will outlast this planet, the biochemistry you study and life as we know it.

      Love lasts. It is more than a mere chemical reaction.

      It is much better.

      Thank God.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Yes, Dec, it is "spot on." If it wasn't, you'd demonstrate how the description was inaccurate. That's why I use the phrase--to show believers just how stupid is their foundational belief.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • December


      I know. That is what all believers think. You got it. Nothing faulty with your idea at all.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Can't explain where the description is wrong, can you? HA!!!!

      (And no, various other believers have other ideas that cannot be described in those terms).

      May 20, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • December

      @ "big invisible sky wizard did it with magic spellz."

      I'm confused...

      Where in Christian theology does this appear?

      Can you tell me how you drew this conclusion so I can have some insight on what you are talking about?

      @ "big invisible sky wizard did it with magic spellz."

      ...this sounds like a third grader's understanding of God.

      I think you have been watching too many cartoons.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • December

      @ Moby Schtick

      What grade are you in?

      May 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  8. B.

    Apostle Paul's traveled around preaching the gospel (Isaiah 33:23-24). He went to heaven. He talked about it.

    May 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  9. Robert

    I think the main reason religion doesn't talk about heaven and near-death experiences is because its afraid that by doing so it will lose some of the control. Religious organizations get people to do things because of the rewards their dogma promotes and that by not doing them you're condemning your soul. For the most part, religions teach good things that are a vital part of being a moral person. It's just not the end-all, be-all approach to attaining lasting heavenly glory. It's not a pre-requisite, if you will, to getting into heaven. That takes a lot of wind out of the sails of religions.

    As for science skeptics of the near-death experience, the hardest part of their argument I have is that in a normal state, the unconscious brain depicts images in a dreams that are disjointed, don't make any sense when awakened and in most cases are forgotten or at best partially remembered. Not the case with NDE's. A clear, concise accounting of the experience is retained and, in many cases, consistent with the experience shared by others who have had an NDE. Not many people say they've had the same dream. Now, in death, when the brain is dying and synapses and neurons are firing at random, why would anyone have the most lucid of dream experiences? Such chaos in a dream state would certainly make even less sense if even any of it could be recalled after the experience.

    May 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      Robert, that was very logical and the most unbiased response I have seen all day. Either people are biased on the side of religion or they are biased to justify their actions that hurt their God-given conscience by saying there is no God. I admit I am biased on the side of faith. Faith in God who created me. Faith in all the assurances I have been given as a result of exercising my faith to try to do God's will and love ALL others (even unbelievers).

      Those that are fighting so desperately to say that God doesn't exist and that life ends at death are exercising vain faith in their religion of "No God" because their conscience tells them there is a God and that their actions will pain them for a long time after death. If they can convince themselves that death is the end, then they can justify continuing to live in a way that hurts themselves and others.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • December

      Have you been to a church lately? What kind?

      I guess my church is so focused on helping others that we don't have time for promoting the dogma and abuse of authority by religious leaders you imagine we suffer from. I'll let them know they are doing it wrong.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      December, any church that is that focused on serving others either has an inspired pastor or an inspired church or both. Do you mind telling me which it is in your case? And if it is the latter (inspired church). Please tell me what Church that is.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • December

      I go to a midwestern ELCA church.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • lol??

      While you A&A's were so "concerned" about the salt takin' over, you neglected the gwowing powers of the Beast. Are y'all nutzo?? False prophets, antichrist Beasts, and the dragon in the middle livin' high off the hog from the clash. There's yer dialectic and the fruits of the loss of freedom.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • December

      Awesome pastor and awesome members.

      There are lots of churches like ours in my community.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  10. jim

    OK sam, john and friends i just stopped by to play with the mindless for a little while and you did not disappoint, I will come back when the sane are taking part, thanks, j

    May 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • John Bigbooty

      Never gonna happen here. Thanks for stopping by to act like a pud, tho.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Harald

      @Jim: sane is in "Jim" ?......lol......Who do you think shows more sanity ? The one who believes in fairy tales or the one who builds his life on reality ?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • jim

      harold, just saw your reply and sorry i missed it earlier but to believe in our Creator is not a fairy tale. how can you look around and see the beauty and variety on this earth and not be awed at the tremendous diversity and details that go into animal, vegetable and mineral that we get to enjoy every day. the physical universe, the earth itself, the human brain, the living cell. if you return here let me know if you would like a serious sincere discussion and this from the "jim" not Jim, James, james or others who like to entertain us with their impersonations of the "sane"

      May 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  11. GBon

    A church that does not about heaven (?)...that is the ultimate goal in life. Make it to heaven!!! As catholic, that is the number #1 incentive...look forward to eternal life. That is the invitation that we all have...

    May 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      That cannot be a goal in life, because you must leave life to attain it.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  12. Harald

    There no scientific evidence that any kind of afterlife exists. Whatever people recount after having had a near death experience could easily be something completely different such as brain anomalies caused by lack of oxygen or chemical imbalances, etc.
    Even if we assume that there is an afterlife, it most likely would be something disconnected from belief or even from the fact of a person being "good" or "bad".
    The simple idea of only Christians go to heaven is not only preposterous but also false. It' preposterous because it automatically would exclude people that never even were exposed to Christianity and false because other religions also maintain concepts of an afterlife, regardless whether or not they call it heaven.
    For all practical purpose I suggest to make the best out of our earthly life. If there is nothing after death then we never will know it anyway and hence never will be able to have any regrets. If there is an afterlife it most likely will be so vastly different from our current life in which case it doesn't really matter what we did or not did in our current life.

    May 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • lol??

      "............It' preposterous because it automatically would exclude people that never even were exposed to Christianity....."

      God is a perfect judge and able to judge anything, including capacities. You have a small god.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      Harald, we are comprised of both body and spirit. Our spirit leaves our body at death and represents who we really are (our soul). Before we were born here we lived with God in heaven as his earthly children. We came to earth to get experience and to prove ourselves who we really are when we are not constantly in the presence of our Father in Heaven. It is much like when we leave to go to college without our parents constantly there to wake us up and feed us breakfast. Our character is tried.

      Those that don't have the gospel of Jesus Christ will have the opportunity to accept all of God's blessings after they die. You are right, it would not be just for only those who knew the gospel on this earth to make it to heaven. That is a false teaching of many churches.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • aaauuummm

      Did you even read the article?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Jeremy


      You said "The simple idea of only Christians go to heaven is not only preposterous but also false. It' preposterous because it automatically would exclude people that never even were exposed to Christianity and false because other religions also maintain concepts of an afterlife, regardless whether or not they call it heaven."

      Here is the simple answer to your statement. If you'll recall in the bible, during the three days between Christ's death and his resurection he was in the Sprit World. What did he do there? He taught the gosple. There are connections all over the bible about missionary work in the here after. It speaks of the gosple being taught to those who never heard of Christ. It even speaks of "baptism for the dead." It would not be fair for God to condem someone to Hell because they had never received the gosple. Thanks to the Lord that problem has been solved over 2,000 years ago.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • lol??

      Smith, what's with all the water baptizing for the dead. You spend a bunch on your genealogy searches.

      "1Ti 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: [so do]."

      May 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Harald

      Larry, this is your view of affairs. There is no scientific evidence to support this idea, hence, from a scientific point of view it's meaningless.
      Beside, you talk from the POV of a Christian which in itself shows a lot of bias considering there are many more religions and philosophies around than just Christianity.
      In order to evaluate religion you have to get rid of bias which, for a faithful is virtually impossible.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Madtown

      Here is the simple answer to your statement. If you'll recall in the bible.............
      Holy cow! It's almost bewildering, some of this stuff. The question was rightly posed, how can only christians go to heaven, when so many other of God's creations would be excluded BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO ACCESS TO CHRISTIANITY. Emphasis on "access to christianity, and with that in mind, Jeremy answers by referencing the bible. LOL!!! Um Jeremy, the bible is irrelevant to someone who's never heard of it. It doesn't matter what it says, if Harold has no idea it exists. Sheesh......this is either supremely entertaining, or supremely maddening. Maybe both.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Harald

      Jeremy, to take into account what you are saying requires a literal interpretation of the bible. For me, the bible is just a convoluted set of stories that more often than not are not even connected in time and space.
      The bible, beside being a cultural heritage has no meaning at all for me.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I'm with Harald and not all that rubbish that comes after his post. Why believe in invisible and undetectable body parts (souls) and diseases (sin) and beings (gods). How silly. If a thing is invisible and undetectable, it's also irrelevant.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • lol??

      So moby, are you redefining sin?? From http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sin

      "a : an offense against religious or moral law" Do you have any morals, with or without law??

      Not one of the defs mentions diseases.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  13. nino

    more fairy tales from the church........live your life, don't follow cults!!!

    May 20, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • lol??

      which church, the mobster church, or the "Save the Whales" church??

      May 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • MJBillings

      Go back and read the article.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  14. lol??

    They already have an affinity for round S*E*X*.

    May 20, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  15. Mike Hunt

    And Shaved?

    May 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  16. derp

    Dimwit fuktards who believe in myths and "near death experiences".

    Nobody comes back from the dead.

    You are either dead, or not dead.

    May 20, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • lol??

      You don't have to stay dead.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • joep

      Aren't we a little ray of sunshine today.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  17. LB Colorado

    P.T.L.(Praise The Lord) my church does talk about heaven, gives sermons on it and believes it is what it is. It is not about what we think it is or should be, it is what God wants it to be – heaven is NOT a democracy. He reigns with sovereignty and majesty. If it is my imagination, I am happy and have peace with the place called heaven. Heaven is the real beginning of the eternal life as it starts with Jesus Christ – Lord and Savior. I am sure I will get so much mean spirited responses – do what you got to do.

    May 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • sam stone

      why do you feel you have any authority to speak for god?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      why do you feel you need a savior?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • jim

      sam? who told you to speak?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • John Bigbooty

      @LB – so what do people do there all day?

      @jim – don't be such a bitch.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Athy

      LB, why do you feel you need to grovel on your knees and praise the lord? Even if there was a god (and there isn"t) why would he want everyone to worship him? To me, that's the ultimate in silliness.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • sam stone

      i did not speak, jim, i typed

      May 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • jim

      sam, you accuse others of the same but you never have a knowledgeable answer to anything so I thought I would show you what you type like.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Harald

      I suppose you are aware that such claims contradict every law of nature ?
      But then, a believer doesn't really care about reality. That's the difference between faith and science. Faith doesn't require any proof. You can believe in anything you want, from the tooth fairy all the way to 3 headed dragons and Gods. The limit is only your imagination.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      what have i accused others of, jim?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • jim

      speaking sam speaking. remember?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      jim: i am merely asking people who claim to know the mind of god what authority they have to do so.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • sam stone

      i am not suggesting they do not speak
      i am not taking away their freedom to post whatever they wish

      May 20, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      LB didn't claim to speak for God sam. That's just your snipey little comeback for people who post their beliefs

      May 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • sam stone

      "LB didn't claim to speak for God sam"

      So, those who claim to know what god feels about something are NOT purporting to speak for god?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Squeezebox

      @Athy, what's the point of creating something if it doesn't serve you? If you made an android, wouldn't you want it to worship you as it's god? So if there is a god (50/50 chance), why should't he expect everyone to worship him?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      sorry, billl, that is not my snipey little comment to those who post their beliefs. that is my snipey little comment for those who dress up their belief as facts.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      LB states that "heaven is not what we want it to be, it's what God says it is." I think even the atheist here could agree that heaven, by definition, what God says it is. I don't see any "feelings" positioned as facts and LB even states,"If it's my imagination, I'm happy with that."

      So, snipey.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I've nothing against snipey. Use it myself from time to time. I just think you missed the mark here and it's kind of overworked don't you think?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  18. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    @HotAirAce – I agree that he's disgusting... but I bet he's still a "good" christian...

    May 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  19. Reality

    A 21st century summary of the human condition:

    o Think infinity and recycling with the Big Bang expansion followed by the shrinking reversal called the Gib Gnab and recycling back to the Big Bang repeating the process on and on forever. Human life and Earth are simply a minute part of this cha-otic, sto-cha-stic, expanding, shrinking process disappearing in five billion years with the burn out of the Sun and maybe returning in another three- five billion years with different life forms but still subject to the va-ga-ries of its local star.

    What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, biology, biochemistry, archeology, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)

    1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

    2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

    3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

    4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

    5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

    6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 trillion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

    7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode cataclysmically at any time ending life on Earth.

    8. Many of us are part Neanderthal and/or Denisovan.

    Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 trillion years?

    And for $199, you can find out if you are part Neaderthal- not kidding:

    As per National Geographic's Genographic project:

    For your $199 and a DNA swab:

    "Included in the markers we will test for is a subset that scientists have recently determined to be from our hominin cousins, Neanderthals and the newly discovered Denisovans, who split from our lineage around 500,000 years ago. As modern humans were first migrating out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago, Neanderthals and Denisovans were still alive and well in Eurasia. It seems that our ancestors met, leaving a small genetic trace of these ancient relatives in our DNA. With Geno 2.0, you will learn if you have any Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA in your genome."

    o More details from National Geographic's Genographic project: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/

    "Our spe-cies is an African one: Africa is where we first ev-olved, and where we have spent the majority of our time on Earth. The earliest fos-sils of recognizably modern Ho-mo sapiens appear in the fossil record at Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, around 200,000 years ago. Although earlier fossils may be found over the coming years, this is our best understanding of when and approximately where we originated.

    According to the genetic and paleontological record, we only started to leave Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. What set this in motion is uncertain, but we think it has something to do with major climatic shifts that were happening around that time—a sudden cooling in the Earth’s climate driven by the onset of one of the worst parts of the last Ice Age. This cold snap would have made life difficult for our African ancestors, and the genetic evidence points to a sharp reduction in population size around this time. In fact, the human population likely dropped to fewer than 10,000. We were holding on by a thread.

    Once the climate started to improve, after 70,000 years ago, we came back from this near-extinction event. The population expanded, and some intrepid explorers ventured beyond Africa. The earliest people to colonize the Eurasian landma-ss likely did so across the Bab-al-Mandab Strait separating present-day Yemen from Djibouti. These early beachcombers expanded rapidly along the coast to India, and reached Southeast Asia and Australia by 50,000 years ago. The first great foray of our species beyond Africa had led us all the way across the globe."

    May 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • jim

      just send me your $199 or I will settle for much less and I will call you a Neanderthal or a Piltdown or whatever you wish. just send the money or go to church and give them the money and have a hope. or not but do not listen to the atheists who you know are giving their life to satan and he does not even care if they know.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • John Bigbooty

      Hey jim – there's no such thing as satan. That advice is free. You're welcome.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • jim

      jb, see he has you fooled too just like i said.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Larry

      Very well said. I've had some interesting discussions with various believers and they stumble on the question of heaven. What does one do there? If the answer is to sit at the feet of a god and to worship him/her/it forever, what kind of "supreme being" would want that? Wouldn't it get a bit tiring after a billion years or so? Wouldn't one have to be a bit crazy to want all these lesser beings all around, talking about how wonderful you are? For crying out loud folks, look at what you believe carefully. Be careful not to believe what you want to believe. Look for verifiable truth. You won't find it in religion.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      maybe jim is satan?

      May 20, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • jim

      cedar? start with "maybe" and end with a ? let me know when you have some verifiable evidence and I will debate from my vast storehouse of knowledge on the subject.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  20. Brother Maynard

    This article makes me wonder if H0m0 3r3ctus is in heaven.
    I mean when in the course of human evolution did god say " Thou are advanced enough to join me in heaven "

    May 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • derp

      That would require a belief in evolution.

      Which the christards do not have.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Athy

      Only the best homo erectuses (or would it be homo erecti?), the ones who groveled and worshipped enough, made the cut.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:16 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.