dove-heaven-carousel

HEAVEN IS REAL

Blinding white lights, the famous tunnel, bright colours, angels and all-encompassing love.

Now according to an American neuroscientist you can add to the Heaven checklist butterfly wings, lush green valleys, pink puffy clouds and a beautiful woman with golden tresses and high cheekbones telling him he can do no wrong.

Seriously?

In this video interview with Newsweek’s editor-in-chief Tina Brown, Dr Eben Alexander, a Harvard scientist, maintains he went to Heaven and back during a seven day coma as a result of severe bacterial meningitis.

 

He said the experience gave him a scientific reason to believe in “consciousness after death.”

“While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: a dimension I’d never dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than happy to explain was a simple impossibility.”

Dr. Alexander is promoting his book (surprise, surprise) called Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.

Much is made of his being a Harvard scientist and the son of a Harvard scientist, as though his scientific background once precluded him from having any faith-based beliefs.

Are the two mutually exclusive?

Dr Alexander writes: “I considered myself a faithful Christian, I was so more in name than in actual belief. I didn’t begrudge those who wanted to believe that Jesus was more than simply a good man who had suffered at the hands of the world. I sympathized deeply with those who wanted to believe that there was a God somewhere out there who loved us unconditionally. In fact, I envied such people the security that those beliefs no doubt provided. But as a scientist, I simply knew better than to believe them myself.

“In the fall of 2008, however, after seven days in a coma during which the human part of my brain, the neocortex, was inactivated, I experienced something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death.”

In his interview with Tina Brown, Dr Alexander describes journeying on a butterfly’s wing through a place of beauty before encountering a beautiful girl who told him he was loved and cherished and that he had nothing to fear. Tina Brown doesn’t ask Dr Alexander about his religious beliefs but says critics maintain his account of heaven sounds like it is “replicating an acid trip.”

Paul Raeburn writing in The Huffington Post about Dr Alexander’s claims says: “This is religious belief, nothing else.”

What do you think?

Should we expect scientists to be less susceptible to faith-based beliefs?

 

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Do You Believe in a God?

I’m Glad I’m an Atheist

Rape Pregnancy God’s Will

 

Follow us on

29 Comments

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Me

    I think, keep an open mind, I’m agnostic. I don’t believe in man made religion but there is much that we still don’t know. No one knows what happens after we die and there has been a lot of fascinating study done in the ‘near death’/’died and revived’ area. I say don’t knock it til you’ve read up on it – and maybe your mind might be changed if you had a similar experience, as many have.

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Me

    p.s. I have read Dr Alexander’s book which came out last week. I am skeptical but still open to the idea. His experience has lots of similarities to other near death reportings; I was concerned about his claim that he had gone further/to a higher plane than others (could be some ego involved) and also he admits to having experienced a kind of mania/madness which people often experince post coma/intensive care. I quite like that there never seems to be irrefutable evidence, there are always reasons to doubt – I guess we will all find out after we die!

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Helen

    I think Dr Alexander has suffered hallucinations and perhaps a mild acquired brain injury as the result of his coma.

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Marnie

    I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive. I believe that the earth did evolve as the scientists have proven but at some stage it was ‘given to man’ , a very primitive man whose body became host to a soul. As man evolved with the help of the souls he learned quickly but he had no guidelines to live by. The superior being of the souls sent many guides and taught man how to live often through parables (much as we would teach a young child). I smile as I imagine them being taught
    “God made all the earth”
    “wow! how long did it take him”
    ” Umm, seven days”
    “What did he make first?”
    ” Well, let’s see, I reckon he would have had to make light first or he couldn’t see what he was doing”
    “How did he make light?”
    “He just said ‘Let there be light’ and there was light so he thought, that was good, now what else do I need”
    *****
    We don’t need to prove each other wrong, we just need to look for ways where both can exist together.

    • Reply October 29, 2012

      Wendy Green

      I love your story Marnie – it sounds so cool!

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Rachel @ The Kids Are All Right

    Why can’t this just be a sub-conscious imagining? I am not entirely sure what I believe, but I don’t understand why “near death experiences” aren’t ever considered a type of dream.

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Rhoda

    Seems to be a lot of religious nonsense coming out of the US at the moment.

    Perhaps he’s never had an hallucinatory dream before.

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Julie

    nothing like picking up a few dollars whilst on sick leave – and feeling high, and transferring that high to so many Americans who are in the doledrums, no health access and need some form of hypnotic suggestion to escape to an after-life.
    You would think he would be embarrassed admitting a goddess figure showed up……duh The brain is marvellous how it imagines and creates, and helps us to deny reality!

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Jenny

    It sounds like wishful thinking which has been transformed into a state of dreaming during his coma. Wish it were true, but I am highly skeptical!

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Laurie Kidd

    Wouldnt it bengetting a little crowded

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    jo

    I have worked as a chaplain for many years and I have heard this sort of thing before from patients and friends, atheists and cynics among them. I tend to think you can judge the validity of these type of experiences by the psychological and spiritual changes that occur in the person’s life afterwards. If it is was just an hallucination or drug induced brain change, dream etc. – the psychological after-effects would not last as long as they do, and I think the fact that the scientific mind of this doctor is able to appraise such an experience so clearly, indicates that something extraordinary happened. When will people realise that there is no conflict between spiritual belief and science, only varying levels of experience in people’s lives that inform their beliefs. And when will people realise that even those who wrote that the world was created in 7 days understood that as myth, as did Persian antiquity before them?

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Joanne

    while I am here and alive why would I worry about or think about death,,,,, when your dead your dead, and cant do much about it, I dont understand people who spend so much time worrying about going to heaven, if there is one you will find out when you die,,,,,,,,,and if there isnt one well your dead and you wont know about it. Near death experiences I believe are just like a dream state that the mind goes into, and people mistake it for being in heaven. I think whatever you want to believe is fine,,, if makes you happy well keep on believing, as long as you dont push your beliefs down peoples throats,,

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    ro.watson

    There has been “grace” in hard times and “soft” ~ I am grateful when something picks me up and/or grounds me from my recent distressed knowledge and gives me a “different perspective” or “point of view” that eases the way~ for me and others with me…

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    sflyons

    Sounds like a nice way to spend a week. Where can I pick up a couple of tabs of this bacterial meningitis stuff?

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Calamity Jane

    I say read this famous Neuroscientist’s response …

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/this-must-be-heaven

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    DJ

    I saw this interview and the ‘beautiful girl’ Dr Alexander encountered was supposedly his dead sister whom he had never met.

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    presacttly

    “it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death”

    Uh, no it didn’t. One personal experience does not a scientifically valid hypothesis make.

    Pure trojan horse for relgiious belief. Sheesh, when does this stuff stop??

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Bettina

    If there is a heaven, I ain’t going there. One night I had an episode of sleep apnoea and I experienced the grimmest, most dread feeling; it was really horrible! There were no warm and comforting images, no lights; just an awful sense of nothingness and death. The next day, I went and bought a firm pillow and I have trained myself to sleep with my chin up, and not tucked into my chest, because sure as hell, I do not want to repeat that experience for a very long time!

  • Reply October 30, 2012

    sue bell

    Right on Presacttly, there is no way this can give a person a scientific reason to believe. It is one person’s experience and desire to believe. There are hundreds of near death experiences reported all with the same warm feeling, light and happiness. It is the result of the brain shutting down, oxygen deprivation and final neural synapses. It is nice to think that your brain can make the dying process seem unfrightening, but it is all in your brain.
    I too am tired of, and getting angry at, the acceptance of myth and fantasy over scientifically validated knowledge and in particular the media’s obsession with giving equal time to science and non scientific views as we see too commonly with the global warming fiasco of a debate.
    It’s three hundred and something years since the Enlightenment and we are going back to the dark ages of ignorance and superstition.

  • Reply October 30, 2012

    Tony W

    All lies and jests
    Still a man hears what he wants to hear
    And disregards the rest

  • Reply October 30, 2012

    MY LIFE WITH GHOSTS

    [...] HEAVEN IS REAL [...]

  • Reply October 30, 2012

    Shazza

    Calamity Jane, thank you so much for that link.

  • Reply October 30, 2012

    Kasey

    I’m happy that the majority of the commenters here are sceptical of this scientist’s story. I am not a passionate atheist but I certainly do not believe in heaven. The thing that worries me is that lots of people (particularly in the US) would just eat this up. There would be very little criticism of the “science” because so many Americans are passionately religious. And quite a few are totally fanatical and delusional! I agree with Joanne’s comments on here. For me, I am quite content to believe that we are simply a very evolved animal, and that when we die, our consciousness dies too. I do believe that there are senses we have not yet tapped into- and some things scientists do not understand yet. Something else which concerns me is that a person with a scientific qualification can use big words to describe something and pass it off as legitimate science. I have never believed scientists to be infallible because they are humans – not oracles. And to answer the question posed at the end of the article, I’m sure there are scientists who “believe” possibly in the way Marnie talks about. But mostly it is mutually exclusive.

    Big topic Hoopla! xx

    • Reply November 3, 2012

      Wendy Green

      What proof can you share that Heaven does NOT exist, Kasey? If you’re going to rely on science in your argument, then you must be able to provide proof that there is no Heaven and therefore, no God …. Hmmmm?

  • Reply November 3, 2012

    Sue Bell

    To prove a negative is very hard, therefor to prove there are no gods is as difficult as proving there are. Therefor Wendy Green you need to prove there are gods, not by here say or personal experience but by science that is able to be replicated. Neither will quoting the bible be acceptable as it is just a book of myths from much earlier civilisations and cultures. I suggest you read The Universal Hero by Joseph Campbell to get an understanding of this. As an atheist I have read the old testament. What I despise is superstitious people putting their values on myself and my country. Meanwhile I will live my life free of superstition and fear, continuing to be kind and compassionate and as fair as I can be and I will continue to sleep in on Sundays.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Wendy Green

      I’m sorry, Sue, but I don’t have to prove anything :)

  • Reply November 3, 2012

    Sue Bell

    p.s. there are no souls either, just birth and death and an interesting time in between.

  • Reply November 3, 2012

    Tony W

    “p.s. there are no souls either, just birth and death and an interesting time in between.”

    Reminds me of a scene from Bottom:

    Eddie: Look, you get born, you keep your head down, and then you die. If you’re lucky.
    Richie: Oh come on. There must be more to it than that.
    Eddie: Well, there’s the telly…

  • Reply November 4, 2012

    annie also

    Once upon a time, long long long ago before telescopes or microscopes, before the understanding of bacteria and atoms, of cosmos’ and galaxies there lived a man in the sky. He was there so that you would be beholden to the man on the ground who had your life in his hands. If you sneezed you were blessed as the thought of your heart stopping was horrific. If you threw spilt salt over your shoulder you would ward off bad things.

    The height of narcissistic, arrogance is to believe YOU will ‘live on’.
    Do you best here and now. Stop frightening people, stop hurting, maiming, wishing ill will on others coz they aren’t like you.
    Be kind read a good book take a walk no and then and try to think how it is here and now for those who are less fortunate and do your best to alleviate pain, suffering and be reassured that when you are dead those who you were kind to will remember you kindly, those you loved will talk about you with love and those you gave birth to, will carry on your legacy of kindness. THAT is your eternal life…that which you do here and now that will be remembered and praised.

    The experiences of these people ( and I have read much on life after death experiences) can be explained by chemistry in the brain.
    Live, love and enjoy and most of all be kind.

Leave a Reply