Proof of Heaven

Frequent readers of this blog know I believe in near-death experiences (NDEs). To me they confirm the existence of an immaterial essence—call it the self, spirit or soul–that survives the destruction of the body.

This can never be proved (or disproved) scientifically since science is the study of the material and measurable. The very useful “scientific method” doesn’t apply to what lies outside the empirical. We encounter this realm in other ways, e.g. spiritual disciplines, meditation, prayer, drugs, and, infrequently, NDEs.

Thousands of NDEs have been reported and written about but none has caused more commotion than that of Dr. Eben Alexander, author of Proof of Heaven. That’s because he’s a respected neurosurgeon who has worked at leading hospitals and taught at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Alexander didn’t believe in NDEs until he had one during a week-long coma in 2008. As he told Newsweek:

Yet in spite of the complete absence of neural activity in all but the deepest, most primitive portions of my brain, my identity—my sense of self—did not go dark. Instead, I underwent the most staggering experience of my life, my consciousness traveling to another level, or dimension, or world.

Since telling my story here, I’ve been amazed and profoundly gratified at how powerfully it has resonated with people all over the world. But I’ve also weathered considerable criticism—in large part from people who are appalled that I, a brain surgeon, could possibly make the claim that I experienced what I did.

I can’t say I’m surprised. As a scientist, I know that the consensus of my tribe is that the self is created through the electrochemical activity of the brain. For most neurosurgeons, and most doctors generally, the body produces the mind, and when the body stops functioning, the mind stops, just like a picture projected on a screen does if the projector is unplugged.

Science can explain the causes of death but its instruments can’t go beyond the veil. For that we have the testimony of countless eyewitnesses. Their experiences don’t all agree, nor should we expect them to. But some carry more weight than others.

You couldn’t find a more qualified test subject for an NDE than Dr. Alexander, yet many of his peers dismiss his observations because of their a priori assumptions. On the other side, many religious people discount him because some details of his experience don’t match their doctrine.

I applaud his professionalism and courage and recommend his book.


“NDEs are border incidents where travelers are turned back
for whatever reason
but not before glimpsing
the Elysian Fields.”
–Mike Hamel

6 thoughts on “Proof of Heaven

  1. There is a yahoo group of near death experiencers which have 2200 odd members. Many of the members are near death experiencers. Memembership is open to all irrespective of their experiences. Also gives many first hand description of NDE.

  2. Love this post; thanks for mentioning this! I agree with you and I also applaud the author for disagreeing with his peers; what else could he do in light of his personal experience? So glad he had the gumption to document it!!

  3. I recently read the book, and totally agree with you in recommending it to others.

    Are you on the mend from your latest bout with pneumonia?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s