According to a Yahoo poll, 74% of the people who participated believe heaven exists. Now, I’m not going to talk about this from a neuroscientific perspective; the much more eloquent and qualified Sam Harris has already done that. However, I will speak of this from another perspective—a human perspective. Dr. Eben Alexander has two sons and a wife—plenty good reason to fabricate such a story with money in mind. Any good father would think of his family after a near-death experience. Yes, he’s a successful neurosurgeon; surely he doesn’t need the money…right? Neurosurgeons earn anywhere between 250,000 and 700,000 annually. That may sound like a lot, but had he passed away, they would have likely received his pension, annuity, etc. Perhaps that creeps over a million or so, but when someone faces death, what may seem like enough isn’t enough. I find it more probable that he invented this story in order to write a book and profit off the gullibility of religious zealots—specifically Christians. However, there’s another problem with his story:
Although 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.
A lukewarm Christian? A skeptic? One can’t be too certain after reading that. If what he’s saying is true, how did he enter heaven? Doesn’t god spit out the lukewarm (Revelation 3:16)? Aren’t them who disown Jesus disowned before the father and his angels (Luke 12:8,9)? What about his vision? He was on a butterfly wing. He saw arcs of light and called them “angels”. Why didn’t he see cherubim (also known as the four living creatures) (Ezekiel 1:5-10; Revelation 4:8) and seraphim (Isaiah 6:2-4)? Why didn’t he see thrones? Why didn’t he see the 24 elders (Revelation 4)? What about the son sitting at the right hand of the father? His version of heaven doesn’t even sound like the Christian version—like the versions purportedly put forth by Isaiah, Ezekiel and John! Yet they believe him. Here’s what I gather from all of this: 1) a man will do anything to ensure that his family is secure 2) people forget theology because they’re so desperate for an afterlife and proof of its existence. Does heaven exist? He may want it to exist; you may want that too, but the fact remains, heaven is the epitome of wishful thinking.