“Proof of Heaven”

 

Eben Alexander, M.D.

 

I recently read Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.  Written autobiographically by Eben Alexander, M.D., a Duke University-trained neurosurgeon who spent many years affiliated with Harvard Medical School, it recounts a rather unconventional near-death experience (NDE) that was caused by a rare kind of bacterial meningitis.

 

Alexander describes himself, before his NDE, as an agnostic with regard to religion and a skeptic of anything not demonstrable by science.  He had heard of NDEs, but had paid little attention to them and was serenely confident, when he thought about them at all, that they represented merely the neurochemical coping mechanisms of a dying brain — real, that is, but pointing to no actual world beyond the brain itself.

 

“My experience showed me that the death of the body and the brain are [sic] not the end of consciousness, that human experience continues beyond the grave. . . .  The place I went was real.  Real in a way that makes the life we’re living here and now completely dreamlike by comparison.”

 

Dr. Alexander speaks repeatedly of the “astonishing clarity,” “vibrant richness,” and “ultra-reality” of his experience.  And yet, “while I was in coma my brain hadn’t been working improperly.  It hadn’t been working at all” (emphasis his).

 

Important claims.  Fascinating to read from a neurosurgeon.

 

 

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  • Bryan Kerr
    • danpeterson

      Yes. I’ve seen Sam Harris’s rebuttal. It will be interesting to see whether and how Dr. Alexander responds.

  • Ginny B

    Important “claims” indeed, not to be confused with important truths or reality. But go to his website and you may purchase his book in paperback, audio or hardcover and yes, his work will no doubt rocket to best seller status. I like Sam Harris thoughts on this man’s experience.
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/this-must-be-heaven

    • danpeterson

      Yes, I’ve read Sam Harris’s rebuttal. It will be interesting to see whether Dr. Alexander responds, and, if so, how he does.

      You seem somewhat exercised. Do his claims threaten you in some way?

      Moreover, you seem to insinuate that there’s something wrong with an author’s hoping to sell his books. But I can see nothing wrong with it at all, and rather suspect that Sam Harris, too, has wanted to sell his. Even if you bracket the desire to make some money — which is, in my view, entirely respectable — authors just simply want people to read what they’ve written. At least I do, and I’m guessing that, in that regard (if in no other), I’m not entirely freakish.

  • JL

    How does one’s brain conjure up a sister one has never known or seen? I have yet to experience an NDE myself, and I have not yet read Dr. Alexander’s book, so I can’t speak to the other phenomena he claims to have experienced, but when I saw the 20/20 episode where Dr. Alexander explained that he recognized his sister as the person in his NDE when he received a photo of her four months after the event, that speaks to me of something other than brain chemicals. Since I am a believer in the afterlife for other reasons, that will label me as cuckoo to the naysayers for whom I feel sorry for in their lack of knowledge in the Plan of Salvation.

    • danpeterson

      That’s right. I didn’t mention the sister, but she’s a remarkable aspect of Dr. Alexander’s account.

      I suppose that what he says about her proves that he’s lying, since she’s probably not just a mistake . . .

  • Ginny B

    I would find it fascinating and “earth shattering” if his vivid remembrances, so beautifully written about, were to correspond exactly with the remembrances of the countless others who have made claims of going to the “other side”. Without such corroboration, it’s simply creative writing. Threatened by his claims? No. Something wrong with making money selling books? No. Writing that his experience is proof of heaven? Absurd.

    Were you to claim and write about an out of body experience where you were lead through the Celestial Kingdom by the Angel Moroni, for example, given your credibility and writing skills, you would no doubt have a best seller.

    • danpeterson

      You seem curiously bothered by the possibility that his claims might be true.

      And your reasoning is curious.

      If, for example, his account precisely matched thousands of others, wouldn’t you (and others similarly inclined) instantly dismiss it as derivative, even plagiarized? (It is, in fact, similar in certain essential points to many thousands of reports from other people. I’m betting, though, that you dismiss them.)

      And why, exactly, would an uncorroborated account be mere “creative writing”? A true account would, it seems, be true with or without corroboration; merely adding a back-up witness doesn’t, as such, change the truth-value of a sentence.

      Let’s suppose that Howard Carter scrambled through the tiny opening into Tutankhamen’s tomb, looked around, and then came back with a report about its contents before anybody else got in. Would his report have been mere “creative writing”? Would it have suddenly become accurate once a second witness had made his way into the chamber and returned with a corresponding report?

  • K. Outzen

    I found Sam Harris’ article to be snarky and rude, signs of someone whose only goal is to discredit and create controversy rather than shed light and truth. If Mr. Harris was not threatened by Mr. Alexander’s sharing of his “version” of the truth, then why so vehemently oppose the sharing of it?
    I was in a coma after being hit by a car when 12 yrs. old. There was a snippet of the story that I felt very compelling because it was very similar to my own experience.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    The Latter-day Saints have been compiling NDE experiences for over a hundred years, long before they became a widely known phenomenon. There is one example in my wife’s family. They are a subset of revelatory experiences that include visits from deceased family members.

    Because these are revelatory experiences, there are some Protestants, in addition to atheists, who are vehemently upset by them, because they feel NDEs threaten their claim that the Bible is the sole revelation of God to mankind, forever and ever. It is ironic because the one overarching message of the Bible is that God speaks to men and women, often in answer to prayers, the promise that prompted Joseph Smith in James 1:5 being just one example. So do you maintain your dogma that the Bible is the only revelation, or do you believe the Bible when it says it is NOT? I guess they will be even more upset when Jesus Christ returns to earth and starts saying things that are not already written in the Bible.

    • danpeterson

      LOL. You’re right. There’s an exceptionally rich LDS tradition of NDEs. Very, very interesting.

    • Krystal

      Raymond, I was a mormon for 20 years. My best friend was excommunicated from the church because she experienced a dream about the golden plates. They said women were not prophets and only the men could have prophetic dreams, and it was obviously the devil speaking into her mind while she slept.
      Anyway, I was thinking that the author of this book might be Mormon. I could’nt find anything other than an unusually high number of people from utah are selling this book on amazon. I am going to read the book and I sincerely hope it’s not Mormon propoganda disguised. I swear they will do anything to rip people off. Much to my chagrin, my daughter joined the mormon church. I am going to have her search this guy. I am truly hoping he’s legit. I hate adding funds to the corporate coffer of the Mormons. I don’t buy coca-cola products for the same reason or watch television sponsored by them.
      I really hope this man is not Mormon because I am an agnostic with strong atheist leans. I’d like to read a reasonable account of an NDE. I myself have had NDE and astral projection experiences, visions, dreams…turned out I have temporal lobe epilepsy and you have no idea how REAL this stuff can seem. I’m wondering if his temporal lobe did’nt seize ? I’m wondering if he can prove it did not. It would be nice to find an account I can’t explain away. many of my own experiences contained outside, real world, phenomena that manifested immediately or days after…far too much to be coincidence. I chalk that up to quantum physics. I really really would however, love to believe there is an afterlife. I keep searching. Even though my own experiences were real and in some cases tangible…how can I consider them “proof” ? Ironically my experiences have “proven” life after death to other people close to me.

      • danpeterson

        Krystal:

        Color me extremely skeptical that your best friend was “excommunicated from the church because she experienced a dream about the golden plates.” There has to be more to the story than that. Simply having a dream — of any kind at all — isn’t grounds for excommunication.

        “They said women were not prophets and only the men could have prophetic dreams.”

        I have really grave doubts about this, too.

        “I was thinking that the author of this book might be Mormon.”

        He’s definitely not.

        “I swear they will do anything to rip people off.”

        Oh yes. We’re eeeeevil. All of us.

        “Much to my chagrin, my daughter joined the mormon church.”

        Good for her!

        “I hate adding funds to the corporate coffer of the Mormons.”

        The author of this book isn’t a Mormon, and the publishing house isn’t Mormon. You can relax.

        “I don’t buy coca-cola products for the same reason”

        LOL. The notion that the Mormons own Coca Cola is an old myth. It has no basis in reality.

        “or watch television sponsored by them.”

        I can’t think of any television sponsored by . . . Them.

  • http://www.healpain.net Darrell Stoddard

    I recommend an especially insightful review of Dr. Alexander’s book by Mike Adams: To see it,
    Google: ‘Proof of Heaven’ documents existence of afterlife, multiverse, intelligent life beyond Earth, multidimensional realities by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
    Here are the opening paragraphs:
    (NaturalNews) There’s a secret that’s much bigger than politics, health freedom, science or even the entire history of the human race. That secret remains entirely unacknowledged — even condemned — by the scientific community, and yet it is the single most important secret about everything that is. Yes, everything.
    That secret is simply this: We all survive the physical death of our bodies. Our consciousness lives on, and upon our death in this Earthly dream, our consciousness transcends this physical reality and experiences an existence so amazing and powerful that the human language cannot even begin to describe it. This is the message from Dr. Eben Alexander, author of the newly-published book, “Proof of Heaven.”
    We “see through a glass darkly” in this life if we see at all. Read Reviews of the motion picture “17 Miracles” on amazon.com for more beyond the veil experiences that were more real even than life.

  • http://www.moregoodfoundation.org Gale Boyd

    I have also just read Dr. Alexander’s book and of course found it compelling. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I see it confirming our doctrines right and left. But my favorite part of this account was the reception of pure knowledge unimpeded by the physical, earthly (and earthy) self, the way nearly infinite answers followed instantly every question. I am sincerely looking forward to this experience.

  • Phil

    Thanks for sharing this, Dan. I’ve ordered a copy of this book and am anxious to read it. I have been fascinated by this subject ever since reading “Return from Tomorrow”, by George Ritchie.

  • Robyn

    I loved this book. I’ve read some books over the years about NDE , none were written so well or had the vocabulary to get us nearer to understanding his experience. I’ve passed a few copies around and we are going to get together and discuss it. In Barnes and Noble, San Diego, it was flying off the shelves!


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