Last week an article was brought to my attention by Ester Zuckerman in The Atlantic Wire: The ‘Proof of Heaven’ Author Has Now Been Thoroughly Debunked by Science I had not yet read Eben Alexander’s book “Proof of Heaven A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife” (Simon & Schuster). So… before I read the article, I figured I had better read Eben’s book. I quickly downloaded it to my Kindle, and spent the next day reading. Voila! 24 hours later I’d finished it, which for me is speed-reading.
In the short article, Zuckerman points out the continued discussion about the validity of Alexander’s NDE. She reviews the questions pointed out prior in a few magazines, while noing this is not the first time that Alexander’s text has come into question.
Then, Zuckerman cited two articles. In the first, short article in Scientific American, Michael Shermer’s “Why a Near-Death Experience Isn’t Proof of Heaven – Did a neurosurgeon go to heaven?” Zuckerman writes, “Shermer explains how the author’s ‘evidence is proof of hallucination, not heaven.’” Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, sums up his article by saying the reason people turn to supernatural explanations is that the mind abhors a vacuum of explanation. Or that all such experiences are mediated by the brain but seem real to each experiencer. “To me, this evidence is proof of hallucination, not heaven,” he writes.
The second article, “The Prophet”, is in Esquire magazine. In my view, it is very well researched and written by Luke Dittrich. The article calls into question not what Alexander experienced so much as how he did. Dittrich’s article begins December 18, 2012, on the set of Fox & Friends, when Alexander states, “It’s a very real phenomenon, of reliving all of the events of one’s life and reliving the pain and suffering that we’ve handed out to others. But from their point of view.”
This is something I would totally agree with, and it is completely the life-changing event I review in my mind daily.
I was thankful I had read Alexander’s book before reading The Esquire article. It was written in the cleaver format, one paragraph about Dittrich’s research into Alexanders credibility, and the next a chapter from Alexander’s book. The writings were woven back and forth. As they show, there certainly is room to question Alexander’s account. For some reason Alexander, does not want to make his medical records public and debunk the naysayers. At the end of the article, Dittrich quotes what the Dalai Lama said during a public appearance with Alexander:
“Now, for example, his sort of experience.” He points at Alexander. “For him, it’s something reality. Real. But those people who never sort of experienced that, still, his mind is a little bit sort of…” He taps his fingers against the side of his head. “Different!” he says.
The Dalai Lama laughs a belly laugh, his robes shaking. The audience laughs with him. Alexander smiles a tight smile.
“For that also, we must investigate,” the Dalai Lama says. “Through investigation we must get sure that person is truly reliable.” He wags a finger in Alexander’s direction. When a man makes extraordinary claims, a “thorough investigation” is required, to ensure “that person reliable, never telling lie,” and has “no reason to lie,” the Dalai Lama concludes.
When asked what I thought after reading Alexander’s book, I first replied that there was much I could not relate to, since I am not a neuroscientist or medical doctor. I do relate to the time in my seven-week coma, and then of course there a few spots that are very much like my NDE experience. However, I sometimes had a hard time determining which were his authentic NDE experiences, and which were experiences he had in his coma. Furthermore, Dr. Alexander was never officially pronounced dead. I agree that each of us have our own unique NDE experiences, just as we each have our own experiences in life.
In writing my book A Taste of Eternity, I’ve become acutely aware of the fact that when I describe my “Taste of Eternity”, I must be willing to and be able to provide proof or evidence. I also accept that many people will think me odd, and I agree that many may have the view of the Dalai Lama. I personally would not only want, but expect any publisher interested in my book to see and review my medical records. I personally would want all my claims to be vetted first.
OK so these are the kinds of attacks and criticisms one must come to expect when stepping out of society’s box and publicly claiming that you have gone to, experienced, and seen heaven. Everyone will have a different opinion. Look at these words from the author of Life After Life, Raymond Moody, MD, PhD:
Dr. Eben Alexander’s near death experience is the most astounding I have heard in more than four decades of studying this phenomenon… one of the crown jewels of all near death experiences… Dr. Alexander is living proof of an afterlife.”