Afterlife Journey by A Neurosurgeon to Proof of Heaven

Is Heaven Real? Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife by Dr. Eben Alexander try to proof that the heaven is real.

Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists.
A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that NDEs feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.

Then, Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back.

This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. No scientist or person of faith will be able to ignore it. Reading it will change your life.

Since its publication in October 2012 Proof of Heaven has sold over two million copies in English alone. Consider as an example of its success the fact that it has amassed over five thousand reviews at in nine months. The success is striking, but it isn't a miracle. Proof of Heaven has all the elements of a bestseller: a fast-paced, engaging read, a credible witness, and an extraordinary visit to the afterlife. If heaven is on trial, neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander aims to be the star witness.

The day was November 10, 2008. Alexander was admitted to the hospital whilst suffering severe pain and convulsions. As he continued to decline rapidly the doctors eventually diagnosed an extremely rare case of E. Coli meningitis. Soon after arriving at the hospital, Alexander fell into a coma. After six days in the coma with his brain under continual assault from the E. Coli bacteria, it was all but assumed that Alexander would either die, or live the rest of his life comatose as a PVS patient. (In Appendix A one of the attending physicians, Scott Wade, states that the morality rate under those conditions exceeds 97%. (p. 184))

And yet, on the morning of the sixth day even as the family was attempting to prepare for the inevitability of death, a rainbow appeared in the sky and Alexander spontaneously revived. Even more incredibly, within two months he had recovered fully. As Alexander says, his case of illness and recovery is N of 1. That is, it is a case without precedent, in a category by itself. (See chapter 17.)

This recovery is extraordinary enough. But it is not the recovery that drives the story. Rather, it is the claims Alexander makes about his journey during those days in a coma. According to Alexander, during this period he left his body, and his own sense of self, behind and journeyed into another world. The journey began in a dark, foreboding sphere of groans, threatening faces appearing from the gloom, and noxious smells. But then Alexander broke free into another world of ethereal beauty, flying over bucolic fields with angelic figures darting about in the skies above (this is the Gateway). Eventually he climbs into a higher sphere (which he calls the Core) where he communes with God himself. And from the setting of the fields to the Core Alexander is accompanied by a beautiful woman. It is easy to capture the echoes of Dante's Divine Comedy here with the move from Inferno to Purgatorio and on to Paradiso, accompanied by the lovely Beatrice.

Unfortunately, Alexander falls short in terms of how the book is presented as a "proof"; it does not add to the above literature on the deeper structure of reality. Here are some people objections to his case:

1) His heaven is remarkably anthropomorphic. Trees, waterfalls, butterflies, and puffy clouds?? Really? A bit cliched wouldn't you say. He mentions the vastness of the universe and other beings. So my question is, to use a science fiction example, if you were from Vulcan or Klingon, would this be your idea of heaven?

2) Who gets to experience this heaven? The apes differ from us by only a few percent and certainly process information through their neocortex and are conscious beings. Do they get to heaven? Anyone who lives with a dog knows they are conscious and love; the coin of the realm in Alexander's heaven. Do they get in? Obviously trees get into heaven, but do mosquitoes?

3) There is one sentence where he mentions his past use of LSD. LSD use results in flashbacks even years later. Could the infections have simply caused such a flashback? Of course, he would respond that his neocortex was shutdown, but as I mentioned before, he gives no hard evidence that this was measured in any definitive way.

The core of Alexander's claim is that he lapsed into a coma during the week and lost all higher brain function. Thus, his dramatic heavenly experiences must be supernatural in nature. But these points are disputed by one of the attending physicians, Laura Potter. According to Dittrich, she reported that she put Alexander in a medically induced coma. This contrasts with Alexander's suggestion that the coma was produced by the meningitis.