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. EdL

    Many of us want to go to heaven when we die, some hope to be with their parted pets. I wonder if we will see the Islamists there who blew themselves apart as suicide bombers to arrive there early. For myself I am not sure I really want to spend eternity there but this is certainly better than going the opposite way. Eternity is a long time. I'm afraid after the first few million years or so I may come to believe enough is enough, even though the streets are paved with gold.

    May 26, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  2. Lord Jesus is the most powerful figure known to mankind

    Everything that is happening is pointing to the end of the world. God is
    coming sooner than most people believe. In His right hand is eternal
    life. if you desire to live and love existing, repent and put your faith
    in the Son of God (LORD Jesus Christ). He is our only hope. If you do
    not believe these words, that is fine. If you do believe and would like
    to learn more visit www . theeternalwisdom . com, this website will inform
    you on how to receive the free gift of salvation. May God bless you and
    may His mercy and grace be with mankind.

    Romans 5:8-"But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners."
    3:16-"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only
    Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have
    eternal life."
    Matthew 5:6-"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

    ...Please choose life...

    May 26, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Superman is the most powerful figure known to mankind.

      May 26, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  3. rev.spike

    Look, I am Southern Baptist. I grew up United Methodist. I went a Catholic school for a time. I have friends in nearly every denomination around, and ALL of them talk about Heaven all of the time. Our trouble is that we don't talk about Hell nearly enough. Frankly, that is what Rob Bell got in trouble for, not for his understanding of Heaven, but for his tragic misunderstanding about Hell. Furthermore, as far as major authors dealing with Heaven: C.S. Lewis, Tom Wright, John MacArthur, John Piper, Francis Chan, Irwin Lutzer, etc etc have written extensively on the topic. Any seminary you attend will not teach a course on Heaven, but it would be included in any introductory theology course, and in particular for pastors at the practical level in 'death and dying' courses.

    It amazes me, the bestselling book in human history talks of Heaven in so many places, and sits on the shelf gathering dust. But, if we can write a book about our personal journey, it sells like hotcakes.

    Call me skeptical. Ok, you are correct.

    May 25, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • rev.spike

      lastly, it is hard to speak definitely of those things which Scritpure insists are mystery: 9 However, as it is written:

      “What no eye has seen,
      what no ear has heard,
      and what no human mind has conceived”[b]—
      the things God has prepared for those who love him—

      May 25, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Lower bardos

      As a former occultist I"ve seen alot of visions of the "lower astral" or "hell". I always try to be fair and say I have no proof they were not neurological in nature. That being said it is still worthy of discussion. People have negative experiences as much if not more than they have positive experiences.

      May 26, 2013 at 6:57 am |
  4. faith

    report kfc

    more evidence in their ads they have developed and are cloning boneless chickens

    do your part to get these criminals locked up

    May 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  5. faith

    report science anvil tom

    they r criminals.

    they are perverts

    the r sick


    they will be jailed for longer terms

    report them now

    they r criminals

    they need their sentences extended

    call now


    May 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • LinCA


      It's past time to double up on your medication. A nice straightjacket might be in order, too. Your diminished capacity is showing.

      May 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Science



      Hey faith................the legal end .

      Learn About the Law
      Find a Lawyer
      FindLaw Answers
      Legal Forms

      Legal Pulse

      CNN logo CNN 3 weeks ago
      When Christians become a 'hated minority'
      Hey Buffy..............from Bing.

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


      Have a great life.


      May 26, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Thank you for your feedback. We will look into it. |

      May 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  6. Science

    Hey Chad,faith the peach and all creationists what color JELL- O you stuck IN. ? Star Dusts (chondrites) and water !

    Scientists Offer First Definitive Proof of Bacteria-Feeding Behavior in Green Algae

    May 23, 2013 — A team of researchers has captured images of green alga consuming bacteria, offering a glimpse at how early organisms dating back more than 1 billion years may have acquired free-living photosynthetic cells. This acquisition is thought to have been a critical first step in the evolution of photosynthetic algae and land plants, which, in turn, contributed to the increase in oxygen levels in Earth's atmosphere and ocean and provided one of the conditions necessary for animal evolution.



    Game over NO ? No god(Hey Chad,faith the peach and all creationists what color JELL- O you stuck IN. ? Star Dusts (chondrites) and water !

    Scientists Offer First Definitive Proof of Bacteria-Feeding Behavior in Green Algae

    May 23, 2013 — A team of researchers has captured images of green alga consuming bacteria, offering a glimpse at how early organisms dating back more than 1 billion years may have acquired free-living photosynthetic cells. This acquisition is thought to have been a critical first step in the evolution of photosynthetic algae and land plants, which, in turn, contributed to the increase in oxygen levels in Earth's atmosphere and ocean and provided one of the conditions necessary for animal evolution.



    Game over .................god(s) did NOT create US !


    May 25, 2013 at 5:43 am |
  7. AB

    Good afternoon,

    Could someone who knows the Bible explain why God would allow these individals a temporary trip to heaven (I'm assuming if they were in heaven they were deemed righteous) and then send them back to this imperfect Earth? If any of these people become an unrepentant axe-murderer why would God risk the chance of them not getting back into heaven? Or do they have a lifetime pass to go back no matter what they do here?

    May 24, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I think it's God's idea of a practical joke. He's known to be quite the prankster.

      Like when his son Jesus told his followers that to be one of his apostles, they had to walk away from, even hate, their wives, their children, the mother and father, and sisters and brothers, and follow him.

      He was kidding! He a kidder! You see how he does that?

      May 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Saeed H H Alyousuf

      The Qur'an is very clear about that:

      By Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall

      069.001 The Reality!
      069.002 What is the Reality ?
      069.003 Ah, what will convey unto thee what the reality is!
      069.004 (The tribes of) Thamud and A'ad disbelieved in the judgment to come.
      069.005 As for Thamud, they were destroyed by the lightning.
      069.006 And as for A'ad, they were destroyed by a fierce roaring wind,069.007 Which He imposed on them for seven long nights and eight long days so that thou mightest have seen men lying overthrown, as they were hollow trunks of palm-trees.
      069.008 Canst thou (O Muhammad) see any remnant of them ?
      069.009 And Pharaoh and those before him, and the communities that were destroyed, brought error,
      069.010 And they disobeyed the messenger of their Lord, therefor did He grip them with a tightening grip.
      069.011 Lo! when the waters rose, We carried you upon the ship
      069.012 That We might make it a memorial for you, and that remembering ears (that heard the story) might remember.
      069.013 And when the trumpet shall sound one blast
      069.014 And the earth with the mountains shall be lifted up and crushed with one crash,
      069.015 Then, on that day will the Event befall.
      069.016 And the heaven will split asunder, for that day it will be frail.
      069.017 And the angels will be on the sides thereof, and eight will uphold the Throne of thy Lord that day, above them.
      069.018 On that day ye will be exposed; not a secret of you will be hidden.
      069.019 Then, as for him who is given his record in his right hand, he will say: Take, read my book!
      069.020 Surely I knew that I should have to meet my reckoning.
      069.021 Then he will be in blissful state
      069.022 In a high garden
      069.023 Whereof the clusters are in easy reach.
      069.024 (And it will be said unto those therein): Eat and drink at ease for that which ye sent on before you in past days.
      069.025 But as for him who is given his record in his left hand, he will say: Oh, would that I had not been given my book
      069.026 And knew not what my reckoning!
      069.027 Oh, would that it had been death!

      May 25, 2013 at 2:38 am |

    • I often dream about flying pigs, Saeed. What I really need to know from the Qur'an is whether the pigs will be OK.

      May 25, 2013 at 2:45 am |
    • Saeed H H Alyousuf

      The Quran is a book of Guidance for the human beings (not the pigs):

      By Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall

      016.043 And We sent not (as Our messengers) before thee other than men whom We inspired – Ask the followers of the Remembrance if ye know not! –
      016.044 With clear proofs and writings; and We have revealed unto thee the Remembrance that thou mayst explain to mankind that which hath been revealed for them, and that haply they may reflect.
      016.045 Are they who plan ill-deeds then secure that Allah will not cause the earth to swallow them, or that the doom will not come on them whence they know not ?

      May 25, 2013 at 5:50 am |
    • rev.spike

      AB, I will be in the minority of evangelicals that I know personally when I say this, but I am not so sure that God *does* allow people to go to Heaven for a time and then bring them back. There are only a handful of such accounts in Scripture, Paul in 2 Cor 12, John in the Revelation, and perhaps a few others in the Prophets like Ezekiel and Isaiah. It strikes me that none of the accounts mentioned above have any similarity to the Bible's reports of Heaven whatsoever. We tend to shy away from challenging peoples' experiences, but if they are about God, and they do not line up with orthodox teachings of the Bible, then we should discount them.

      Secondly, if God is taking me Heaven, I am reasonably certain that no amount of medical intervention will stop that. This thing where people are sucked back into their bodies does not hold up. In the Bible, when people see Heaven, they are 'taken up' in visions or dreams, not via defibrillator.

      I hope this helps.

      You might also check out two sites:


      There are some great resources there. Blessings on your journey.

      Jer 29:11-13

      May 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  8. Emmaus Walk


    May 24, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  9. Ram1Jam

    the word church in this context should be capitalized (Church), as you are referring to the Christian Church as a whole, not an individual congregation.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  10. Science

    Better than Comedy GOLD................it is THE PEARLY GATES !.............what a JOKE !

    Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

    By Dan Merica, CNN




    Bigem foot print in Texas .

    iDscovery Channel Mega Beasts – Great American Predator


    May 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  11. pjr

    Heaven is real for those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus alone. You can not practice sin and expect to see the streets of gold. Do not be fooled, if your loved ones were believers, then they are with Jesus...........you can read what the bible says about those who do not have a faith-based relationship with Jesus. If they are believers and you are also, then and only then, will you see those who Jesus has called home.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  12. faith

    our nazi god hating fascist know nothing uneducated pukes r so convinced jesus was not who his followers say he was, they will never pray asking for him to reveal himself to them cause he might just be real.

    the gospel according to lil fatty sambo, dodo, tom moron, akira al quaeda, the entire group of murdock

    May 24, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Um.... what?

      May 24, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Faithful

      Really? Hope my God has mercy on your soul.

      May 24, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • The real Tom

      faith, see a shrink.

      May 24, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • fintastic

      a post from a 12 year old

      May 29, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Most 12 year olds write better than that and more coherently.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Austin

      He Faith, Hi Tom, Hi EnJay

      June 1, 2013 at 7:59 am |
  13. Chad

    @enjaySea "memory requires a living brain, so if patients remember an experience, then they must have been alive"

    That is a circular argument. We can demonstrate that it is by seeing if we can assert the premise yet deny the conclusion.

    Premise "memory requires a living brain"
    NegatedConclusion ""the patients were NOT alive during the [memory] experience "

    Since they are directly contradictory statements, the argument is circular!!

    @EnjaySea ""Those two statements are not directly contradictory.

    @Chad "really? 🙂

    please do explain then if memory requires a living brain how is it that that the patients were NOT alive during the [memory] experience.

    Good luck!

    May 24, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • faith

      u must remember. these geniuses know god can't be light cause he invented light

      May 24, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Your formulation of: "if memory requires a living brain how is is that that the patients were NOT alive during the [memory] experience." is an invalid representation of the "contradictory" version of either my premise, or my conclusion.

      The direct contradiction of "memory requires a living brain" is "memory does not require a living brain."
      The direct contradiction of "the patients were alive during their experience" is "the patients were dead during their experience". Neither one of those contradictory statements even remotely resembles the invented contradiction that you posed.

      Here's my contention with the near-death experience as being proof of the afterlife. I am not convinced that the patients were dead at the time of their experience, because their brains were still recording memories, and they were successfully revived - both of which indicate to me that they didn't cross the line into absolute, irreversible death.

      This is my opinion. And there's no way that you can make my opinion disappear through semantic contortions.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Keep in mind, Chad also keeps posting various "studies" that say the patient was clincally dead (not the same thng as brain dead) and that they had memories of the after life and "out of body experiences" but fails to point out (or even understand) that the studies never succesfully link the out of body exerpience happening during the moments of brain inactivity.

      Chad is attempting to tie this two things together and failing.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      There is no way to verify that any memory came from the section of time when the brain was not operating. The memories attributed to that time frame may have been made before or after those moments.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I'm not sure what you mean by that Cpt. Obvious, even though your name suggests that I should have been sure.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Yes, Chuckles, thanks. I'm familiar with the comfortable definition of death that the Near-Death-Experience proponents are fond of utilizing: vital signs have reached zero.

      I prefer Webster's definition: "a permanent cessation of all vital functions : the end of life".

      Revive a patient, and I'm going to say that person wasn't completely dead. Close, but no cigar.

      May 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Hey Chad, after rereading my response to you above, although I know what I mean by it, I don't think it really, truly explained what I'm trying to say, so see below for a more detailed explanation, with examples, and I'm sure you'll see what I mean.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Let me be even more clear Chad, because I like your circular reasoning detector. It does absolutely indicate that the premise and conclusion of an argument are just rephrasing the same thing (circular reasoning), and I want to be sure we both agree how it is supposed to be used. Let's take a look at a circular and linear argument:

      George Bush was a great orator, because he gave very good speeches.

      Astronauts have photographic proof the earth is round, so we now know that the earth is round.

      Now let's use your test:
      George Bush was a great orator.
      George Bush gave bad speeches.
      Direct Contradiction

      Astronauts have photographic proof the earth is round.
      We don't know whether the earth is round.
      The second statement causes the argument to fail (of course, because we reversed it!), but it doesn't contradict the first statement.

      To directly contradict the first statement, the last statement would have had to be something like "Astronauts never took any photographs of the earth." or "Astronauts have photographic proof that the earth is flat." Those would be direct contradictions of the first statement.

      So now you may look back at the "contradiction test" that you formulated on my argument, and you'll see that although the second statement breaks my argument (of course, because you reversed it!), it doesn't contradict the first statement, and that means that the argument is linear.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Science

      Agree ...............mama k

      A box does not work well for thinking.


      Hey faith/chad... and sally too........Thanks have a great life.





      Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

      By Dan Merica, CNN








      May 25, 2013 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |

      May 25, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Science

      Hey faith .chad too....use link below........enter email share story

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


      May 26, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |

      May 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Chadie................lmfao !!!

      Quarterback's next play: Going long with the Bible – CNN Belief ...


      Feb 01, 2013 · Since we've got Chad buybull ... Jurassic Park came out. Now that it has been found, ... You have nothing but a 2000 year old stone age book written ...

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/19/proofs-of-heaven-popular-but-not-with-the-church/comment-page-52/?replytocom=2366421#respond............to chad

      June 1, 2013 at 7:47 am |
    • Science

      Oops Chadie link just posted is LISTED on Bing !

      June 1, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Austin

      He is Risen. The Holy Spirit is a sanctifying spirit that bears the truth of God's word on one's heart. The Holy Spirit sustains the ministry with authority.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • Science

      Oops you to Austin ..................make sure to share the truth.

      Hey all creationists ...........chadie too....the truth below !

      The fairy in the sky DID NOT create US !

      Ancient life...............3.5 billion years ago.............NO god(s) or horn-y red devil (666 the beast) never has been

      Disappearance of Stromatolites, Earliest Visible Manifestation of Life: Ancient Enigma Solved?

      May 28, 2013 — The widespread disappearance of stromatolites, the earliest visible manifestation of life on Earth, may have been driven by single-celled organisms called foraminifera.



      The University of Sydney.........................geology..............the dirt guys.

      Precious opal veinlets in a sandstone from central Australia.


      Answer to opal mystery shows Red Centre's links to Red Planet

      31 May 2013

      The dramatic geological events that created opal, Australia's national gemstone, have been described for the first time by a University of Sydney researcher.


      + the damn fossils ..............works better than the BIBLE !

      Scientists Recover Wooly Mammoth Blood ..................cloning could happen maybe

      Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @01:52PM
      from the wooly-mammoth-vampires-very-excited dept.


      New study restores famed fossil to "bird" branch

      Wednesday May 29, 2013 | Alicia Chang for The Associated Press


      AND chadie has a link on Bing

      Quarterback's next play: Going long with the Bible – CNN Belief ...


      Feb 01, 2013 · Since we've got Chad buybull ... Jurassic Park came out. Now that it has been found, ... You have nothing but a 2000 year old stone age book written ...

      June 1, 2013 at 8:02 am |
  14. http://tinyurl.com/cfax2au

    Awsome article and right to the point. I don't know if this is in fact the best place to ask but do you people have any thoughts on where to hire some professional writers? Thanks in advance 🙂

    May 24, 2013 at 5:35 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Look no further than the religion blog's comment section for excellent writers. Here's a sample of @faith's writing, just to show you the dazzling quality I'm talking about:

      god is terrible. he made gravity. that is unfair. if you jump out of a plane, god kills you u by forcing u to fall 2 ur death all cause he likes to kill people with his precious toy, gravity. well, i ain't gonna kiss his butt. y didn't god make me with anti-gravity feet so he couldn't kill me if i jump off the empire state building? who do he think he is, sambo?

      May 24, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  15. Saeed H H Alyousuf

    Brooklyn did fail twice to answer my question:

    For how long are you, or anyone else that you know, qualified to vouch for the future existence of yourself, and of the universe?



    This means that belief in the future existence of self and of the universe is not possible without belief in the creator of the universe. Therefore, the real human life is not possible without belief in the creator of the universe and in the afterlife.

    May 24, 2013 at 4:18 am |
    • fintastic

      "Therefore, the real human life is not possible without belief in the creator of the universe and in the afterlife."

      Yet here we are .... with no god, no heaven, no heII, no debil dude.........

      May 29, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  16. faith

    god is terrible. he made gravity. that is unfair. if you jump out of a plane, god kills you u by forcing u to fall 2 ur death all cause he likes to kill people with his precious toy, gravity. well, i ain't gonna kiss his butt. y didn't god make me with anti-gravity feet so he couldn't kill me if i jump off the empire state building? who do he think he is, sambo?

    May 24, 2013 at 1:33 am |
    • faith

      maybe he thinks he's dodo

      May 24, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Saeed H H Alyousuf

      No, it is not unfair, faith. Since he did give you the life, he does also have the right to take it back from you.

      May 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • fintastic

      Faith's parents gave her life.... no god required...

      May 29, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  17. faith

    lewis acknowledged screwtape was his most popular work. he added it was the most difficult he wrote. y? y didn't he enjoy riding about such a beguiling figure given his wonderful imagination? he said he had to force himself to think in reverse, to look at life and the gospel backwards, negatively, twisted and dark, like satan.

    the same kind of reversed, negative, bizarre, twisted sick thinking consumes these nazi god-hating fascists. that is all they can do. no joy, happiness, simple pleasures, no spontaneity, no fun, nothing lighthearted, goofy, nothing but endless dark, sad, angry, twisted insults, degrading and bitter questions that r really sermons deprecating all things christian.

    lol. and they go 2 hell to boot

    May 24, 2013 at 1:01 am |
  18. Salero21

    These stories are not sound Evidence of Heaven.

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

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

    May 23, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • biobraine


      May 24, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • fintastic

      This is crapola....

      May 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  19. Ed Jones


    May 23, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  20. Joe

    Just read the Bible to know about Heaven.We don't need books like 'Proof of Heaven' to know about Heaven.

    May 23, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Adam

      You misuse the word "know" quite perversely, Joe.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • fintastic

      Of course not, we just make it up as we go courtesy of the bible.. the book of this means that, also known as the book of pick-n-choose

      May 29, 2013 at 5:12 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.