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Showing 1-25 of 308 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 10, 2012, 4:59:24 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 10, 2012, 5:01:51 PM PDT
B. T. Lee says:
I have had vivid dreams, wherein I have no recollection of my waking life, and I actually have "memories" of life events that never occurred in waking life. These dreams, when I have had them, often leave me in a very confused state when I wake, as I attempt to reconcile the "dream memories" with my memories of actual events that have taken place in waking life. I am also struck by how, within the dream a lifetime can pass by in the span of only a minute or so of REM activity in the "real world".

Now, to tie this in with the discussion on the book: I listened to an hour long conversation with Dr. Alexander on YouTube (for skeptiko.com), and even when asked directly, he could not provide any proof, or evidence, that this NDE he is documenting actually took place during the time in which he was in the coma. By his own admission, he states that he does not understand how it is even possible to remember any events that might have taken place during that time (i.e., new memories could not have been committed). Does it not stand to reason, that knowing that time can have little meaning in a dream state, even in the most realistic (or "hyper-realistic") dreams, that this all could have happened during a set of neurological events before or after the actual coma?

Being a materialist myself, I actually hold the premise of the dream-state to be the closest I can conceive of, or hope for, as an afterlife. I hope that those moments right before brain death are filled with lifetimes of events, rekindled memories of loved ones and pure bliss, so that I may fade into oblivion none-the-wiser that the lights were about to go out--that those moments might feel like forever in the instant before true death. I think that it is entirely plausible that this might have been exactly what the doctor experienced, but that he had the good fortune to come out of it. I also know that memories are malleable, and the time he spent attempting to recall what had occurred could have reshaped the original memory. (There are actually plenty of examples of this occurring all the time, with no intention of deception. This is one reason why eye-witness testimony is not given as much weight in court as many would think.)

So, admittedly I have not read the book (it is not out yet) but if the good doctor's interview on YouTube is any indication, there is no "proof" here, only wishful thinking and false hope for those that can't fathom an existence without a hereafter.

Posted on Oct 11, 2012, 4:45:35 PM PDT
Fraz says:
The doc is not cashing in on his experience...believe me writing a book does not guarantee success and it's very difficult. After my NDE I also wrote a book. I felt it was important to put out there exactly what happened to me and what my thoughts were about it. I'm not a doctor or someone the public would judge as "credible"...I'm just a person who was an atheist, had an experience (negative and positive) and I know without a doubt that God does exist, Heaven is real and so is hell.
I don't take any profit from my book but put it into the hands of Mom's like me that have lost a child, who have suffered terrible life circumstances and I look them in the eye and tell them that God does love them if only they will believe. That there really is a better place and that we can live the rest of our lives with hope.
Kat Dunkle
Falling Into Darkness...Xulon Press.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2012, 5:04:39 PM PDT
B. T. Lee says:
I think you have the wrong discussion. I am not questioning his motives in terms of profits: people are free to make as much or little money they can telling stories. I am questioning how he can call these experiences he reports "proof" of an afterlife. He can call it whatever he likes, but by using "proof" in the scientific sense, there needs to be more than recalled memories.

Posted on Oct 12, 2012, 8:31:49 AM PDT
B. T., I'm a bit puzzled by the word "Proof" in the title also. I don't doubt the reality of his experience, but its a bit difficult to see how he could prove that it was real (perhaps if it were possible to bring a chunk of heaven back). Those who have had such experiences never doubt them. There is no confusion over whether it might have been a dream, imagination, bit of undigested dinner, or something else. In fact, the encounter with spiritual reality tends to cast the validity of this present life into doubt ... it seems like a shadow, temporal, faded and passing away. As you are probably aware, there is one person who does claim to have presented scientific proof of life after death. That would be Jesus. He went to great lengths to make the specific point to his followers that he had actually been thoroughly dead, but was afterward thoroughly and materially alive. That is, he made a point of showing them that though his body was somehow different, it was still a material body that could be touched, could eat, drink, etc. (That is, not a vision, ghost or something of that sort). But his body was also somehow different in that he could do things like walk through walls, suddenly appear and disappear, etc. His followers wrote this all down, and tried to convince everyone they could to believe what they had seen. Some believe them, and some don't. But I certainly think this would meet the standard of scientific evidence.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2012, 9:30:52 AM PDT
Fraz says:
That's a very valid point B.T. The only valid thing I can point to is that "recalled memories", don't usually change peoples lives. Even the most horrid nightmare or dream ever changes ones life. But these experiences in virtually every case cause the person to become "religeous" and like myself an announced atheist, this conversion came instantly. I knew, without any doubt that God did exist. My experience happened 40 years ago and I'm still doing all I can to fulfill the words and reason I feel I was sent back. I knew God said: "Bring people to me". I would point you to some of the "Appologetic writers" that literally put science and the Bible together. Very interesting and allows an open mind to see proof that our existence came from something other than "green slim".

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2012, 11:11:17 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 12, 2012, 11:19:55 AM PDT
B. T. Lee says:
Doug Miller:

Assuming the legitimacy of the Jesus story, and there are plenty that question it on valid grounds, the "scientific evidence" presented by Jesus, unfortunately ends there. Part of the scientific process is positing a hypothesis (i.e., a person, clinically dead for three days, can be revived), experimentation (e.g., Jesus's death and burial), collecting of evidence (e.g., confirmation of death, confirmation of resurrection), and finally, reproduction of the experiment with expected results.

If Jesus were at all interested in providing scientific evidence, he would have provided not only observational proof by his followers, but documentation on how to reproduce his experiment. Maybe he would have even written something down himself, rather than rely on someone 30-50 years after he died to document his crowning achievement based on (at best) second-hand information.

Bottom line: If it is a physical event, as you claim the death and resurrection to be, then it is a natural occurrence (something that can be explained by natural phenomenon). If not, it is supernatural by definition and beyond the material or scientific realm. Whether or not that makes the event valid in your world view is a matter of your personal faith, which is not to say that has to be valid in my view. We should not be trying to use scientific language to describe supernatural phenomenon as it is a waste of time and a weak attempt to convert rational, scientific folks over to religion using pseudoscience. Faith is faith; science is science.

Posted on Oct 12, 2012, 5:07:13 PM PDT
V. anderson says:
why don't any of these nde reports mention animals? it is now accepted scientifically that many animals possess consciousness and the ability to make decisions and some kind of awareness of themselves to a greater or lesser degree (like many humans I know...). any theory of the universe and god like beings needs to address the fate of all who die. in my humble opinion!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2012, 5:24:38 PM PDT
Fraz says:
Dr. Bruck Greyson, a neuroscietnist at the University of Virginia studied my NDE and many others over a 20 year period...he has had people that encountered animals. So, they have been reported.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2012, 7:38:04 PM PDT
V. anderson says:
I wouldn't want to exist without other animals...

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2012, 9:45:59 AM PDT
BT, thanks for the thoughtful reply. I mostly agree, and I definitely was incorrect in calling the evidence presented by Jesus to his followers "scientific" proof. The new testament writers use the words "evidence" and "proof", but the words are used in relation to the kinds of evidence that are produced in a courtroom. The resurrection of Jesus is declared as a unique event, and therefore cannot be repeated experimentally. (Although Jesus has promised that his followers will receive a body similar to his at some point in the future ... at a time of God's choosing).
You are certainly right that Jesus was not interested in providing scientific evidence of his resurrection, and I should not have implied that he was. His disciples report that he did provide convincing evidence (evidence that would be valid in a court proceeding of the time) to them of his resurrection, and that he expected other people to believe their report. He expected people to believe based on the testimony of his disciples, and the testimony of the Jewish scriptures which had been written down before the time of Jesus. No further proof is promised.
Most important decisions in life, even the lives of rational, scientific folk, are not based on empirical evidence. Marriage, children, career, etc., involve making decisions that are not based on repeatable experiments. (Some try repeating the marriage experiment, though). I sat on a jury in a capital case one time. We had to make a decision that would determine the course of someone's life based on evidence and arguments. The decision to believe Jesus is more like one of these sorts of decisions, and should not be represented as having the easy clarity of the results of a repeatable scientific experiment.
Getting back to books on NDEs, sometimes the person having the NDE does present evidence of the reality of their experience. I'm specifically thinking of a couple of reports in which the person described leaving their body (in a hospital operating room) and then being present in another room in the hospital and able to relate in detail events that took place there. For those involved, this is often very convincing evidence that the NDE reported was not something which was confined to the inner workings of the person's brain, but rather a real event which took place. This is not a proof in the scientific sense, and yet can be very convincing proof to a rational person that something took place which cannot be explained by our current material understanding of the universe.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2012, 10:03:24 AM PDT
Fraz says:
A very good reply Doug. I would like to add that most people returning from a NDE also have "dramatic" changes to their lives. When Dr. Greyson (Neuroscientist from the University of Virginia) contacted me it was because the experience I had was Negative and not the blissful one most NDE's experiece. It did however convert me instantly to the realization that changes were needed in my life. I also knew their was a God (which I didn't believe before) and that Heaven and hell were very real. All I can point to is that the experience changed my life forever. It's been over 40 years and I'm still as aware of the experience as the day it happened. Those who knew me before and after are also well aware of a dramatic change in my life. I certainly had nothing to gain materialistic from my conversion but I believe I've gained tremendous insight and compassion that I never had before. I have tried many times to validate my faith, the bible and Jesus Christ but like you said their is no "easy clarity" to these. Jesus urged us to walk by "faith". That's not always easy to do. anyone that has truely just thrown their hands up in surrender to God and given their lives over to His way understand the "conversion experience". Something does happen. I'd urge readers to just give it a try so they might understand and unlock the "mystery" of God. It's really all He's ever asked us to do.
Kathy Dunkle

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2012, 9:00:20 PM PDT
Anne Rice says:
I think we have to forget the title.
The title was a bad choice.
I have read the book, I scored an advance copy, and it is a terrific book.
Well worth reading.
But Proof of Heaven?
Again, we need to look beyond the publishing package.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2012, 9:02:10 PM PDT
Anne Rice says:
I'll check out your book, Kathy.
I follow the NDE field, and I know what you
are saying here.
Dr. Alexander is actually taking a huge professional risk
with this book. People don't generally come to neurosurgeons to
hear talk of "Heaven."
They want a doctor to operate, period.
I have read the book and it is substantive, well written and profoundly moving.

Posted on Oct 14, 2012, 10:16:26 AM PDT
Kathy, thanks for the kind words. I have read and heard quite a number of accounts over the years from people having an NDE that involved a terrifying encounter with hell. Because of your own experience, you have probably read and heard some of the same people I have. I think these accounts are usually less popular, because they certainly aren't as comforting as a tour of heaven. However, anyone who reads the new testament will quickly find that both Jesus and the apostles spend a lot of time warning people that there is an afterlife, and that some people will spend that afterlife with Jesus and some will spend it apart from Him.
B.T. says in his first post "wishful thinking and false hope for those that can't fathom an existence without a hereafter". For those who have seen hell (I haven't) and for those who believe Jesus' warnings about hell (I do), an existence without a hereafter is not a terrifying thought. An afterlife outside of God's kingdom is the terrifying thought. Which is one reason we believers encourage others to investigate Jesus, open their hearts to Him, and be reconciled to God through Him. We can be placed into God's kingdom now, and are assured we will remain there after death.
B.T. has definitely straightened me out on some things I said which were not correct. However, I do disagree with a few things he has said. The most important is that he seems to be saying that you can sort of pick your own world view, and it doesn't really matter in the end. He believes that when you die, you are dead and that's that. If someone else wants to comfort themselves with the false idea of a happy afterlife, fine for them if they need that crutch. I suppose it wouldn't matter if those were the only two options. However, if the truth is that we will be held accountable for our lives, and there is the possibility of spending an afterlife in a place of punishment and separation from God, then selecting the world view that corresponds to this reality becomes very important.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012, 11:24:38 AM PDT
Anne Rice says:
~V. anderson, many NDE accounts do mention animals, especially those
coming from little children.
Animals have figured in numerous adult accounts as well.

Posted on Oct 14, 2012, 2:12:15 PM PDT
Fraz says:
Ah Doug...the "great deception" of Evil. "I'll just do nothing". I pray BT thinks about this. I'm sure all of us can agree that the best things in our lives are the things where we have something invested, right? What could be more important than investing in our eternity? Again, you have nothing to lose by asking God to come into your life and "show" you the way. It's not a trick...it's a truth of the Bible and it does work, I promise you! But it's hard to do that...why? Because our "free will" fights agains it. The Bible tells us that our "flesh" fights against the spirit. So let me ask you this...let's just say I'm right. Is it worth risking your eternity?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012, 2:37:24 PM PDT
Fraz says:
Thanks Anne..It took me 20 years to write!

Posted on Oct 14, 2012, 4:15:43 PM PDT
Anne Rice says:
Frankly, I look to the NDE accounts to offer
a more beautiful and optimistic idea of the divine,
as something we all share.
I think they are a good antidote to the darkness and pessimism
and harmful effects of the Christian belief system.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012, 4:28:50 PM PDT
V. anderson says:
I love your viewpoint. are you the writer?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012, 4:45:38 PM PDT
Anne Rice says:
Yes, I am a novelist.
I read Eben Alexander's book. I found the chapters on God
to be beautiful.
I find the Christian belief system dark and destructive.
As soon as I came to really grasp what it taught, I left it.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012, 4:55:02 PM PDT
Fraz says:
Oh Anne, I feel terrible that you look at the Christian belief system as dark and pessimistic and harmful. I certainly agree that as in most "religions" abuses happen but as a Christian I see victory over death, a celebration of life, a purpose for living and absolutely know the beauty and optimism of the divine! You can't possibly live in this world and not see evil all around? It's the world and evil that cause the darkness, pessimism and harmful effects on people, not Chrisianity. I hope you can at least consider this. You are right in the fact that there are those out there under the guise of "Christians" that condemn, hurt and devour....but that certainly wasn't Jesus. He came as the Bible say's "that we might have LIFE and have it more ABUNDANTLY'. Jesus was all about Loving one another, equality and puting others first.
I didn't mean to get off track as this discussion is about proof of the afterlife that the doc felt he has. In his mind like in mine...an experience will trump any knowledge given by anyone. We both had an experience....I saw both sides...I can't deny that happened.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012, 5:05:10 PM PDT
Anne Rice says:
I think Alexander's chapters on the divine are beautiful
and profound. His emphasis on unconditional love is the heart
of what he is offering as his experience.
Christianity has long taught that the vast majority of humans created go to Hell. I see this as dishonest, dishonorable and poisonous.
I cannot support the Christian belief system.

After 12 long years as a Catholic/Christian, I left.
A thorough knowledge of the bible (I don't claim to be an expert,
just a conscientious student of Scripture) underscored my rejection of the belief system.

I think Alexander has it right: God loves us; and God is in all of us.
Yes, there is evil in the world but there is much more good than evil.

Sadly, most Christians can't believe that. It goes against their apocalyptic Hellfire mindset.

Posted on Oct 14, 2012, 7:40:13 PM PDT
B. T. Lee says:
Wow, quite a lot has transpired since the last time checked in on this thread. Anne, I am a fan of your work, and though I am sure our thoughts on the existence of a divine presence are at odds, I agree with your opinion on the poisonous nature of Christianity. To illustrate I would like to address some of the fallacies being regurgitated in the posts here. I am not going to debate any of the NDE reports, or attempt to downplay the significance that an event of these types might play in the lives of the experiencer, but I do disagree vehemently with the use of overused and invalid arguments for belief in the divine. These attempts, I think help to illustrate Ms. Rice's position regarding Christianity.

The argument is of course a variation on Pascal's wager, which to paraphrase, states that there is no harm in believing in God, even if he does not exist, but there is harm in not believing if he does indeed exist. This argument claims that non-believers like myself, whom are non-believers despite the pressures of society, family and our shared culture; whom have come to our disbelief after much personal reflection, are to abandon our reason, and pretend to believe in something that we know at our core to be false. It is also disingenuous, to think that an omniscient god would be fooled by such deception by non-believers pretending to believe. So what do Christians have to gain in this?

No. I am content in trusting my rational faculties enough, that if I were to die and be proved wrong, that I could honestly stand before an omniscient god and say, "I have lived a decent life, and shown compassion and love, and been virtuous, without the fear of being judged in the afterlife, so I have nothing to apologize for making full use of the rational mind you bestowed upon me." If your god is truly a good one, I don't think he would judge me poorly if my only sin was disbelief in something which thus far has evaded all rational scientific inquiry. Besides, the vast majority of his follower's are cruel, ruthless zealots. What kind of example are they setting here?

I think, to the contrary, all good people should live as though there is no afterlife, as the fear of hell does not seem to influence the behavior of the disproportionately large percentage of Christian prisoners. (Atheists, by comparison make up only about 0.2% of the prison population; a great deal less than in general population.) Here is the link to the study's results, in case you are curious: http://www.holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012, 8:58:52 PM PDT
Anne Rice says:
Beautiful post. I agree with you.
I do not think that non-belief can conceivably be a sin.
I don't think it's a choice.
You believe what you believe.
You can choose to lie about it, or pretend, etc. But
either you believe or you don't.
It's no more a choice than sexual orientation.
Christians have insisted over the centuries that non belief is
a sin so that they can justify torturing and executing those who
reject their faith. This is tragic.

And I so agree with you. We must lead the best lives that we
can, and we should live honestly.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012, 9:12:12 PM PDT
B. T. Lee says:
Thank you, Anne. That is high praise coming from you.

If only more believers were as rational as you are, the world would be a far better place.
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Initial post:  Oct 10, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 13, 2014

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Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife
Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander III M. D. (Paperback - October 23, 2012)
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