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A scientist’s case for the afterlife…

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.

Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.

Alexander’s story is not a fantasy. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.

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.

Topics: Christian Afterlife, Based on a True Story, The Afterlife, Spirituality , Death, Heaven, Near-Death Experiences, Christianity, and Miracles

Published: Simon & Schuster on
ISBN: 9781451695205
List price: $11.99
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Fascinating. It's so interesting to have scientifically minded folks (Jill Bolte Taylor and Eben for example) experience things so that it can't be so easily blown off.
I wish the book had gone more into what he learned while "there" but I'm well aware that that is a far bigger topic and not easily captured. Perhaps a future book.
Great read to go along with studies that are documented in such books as Lynne McTaggart's The Intention Experiment.more
Dr. Alexander's book is brief, but his message is powerful. A neurosurgeon, who, in the midst of a life-threatening illness experienced what so many individuals have - a near death or life-after-death experience.

As a chaplain who attended patients in comas and had the fortune/blessing to hear their stories after they woke, I was heartened to learn that Dr. Alexander's journey was similar to theirs, for I have heard this story many times.

The writing is clear, concise and without empurpled prose to make it more dramatic or more than it should be. Dr. Alexander tells his story, and the stories he was told by those who witnessed his illness and sat by his side, in a straightforward manner. This is a testimony of belief. Honestly, I would feel secure if I was receiving treatment from someone with his faith, rather than a practitioner who viewed life from only a scientific, analytical mindset - that once you draw your last breath the lights go out, end of story, game over. That's it. Like Francis Collins' work, "The Language of God," "Proof of Heaven" shows that science and faith are compatible. They need each other. People who hold religious beliefs will be encouraged to embrace both science and faith after reading this account. I must say, however, that Dr. Alexander's description of his illness and what he went through made me squeamish at times, and I actually had a nightmare about it. It did not diminish my own Christian beliefs.

My recommendation - read this book.

more
This is a neurosurgeon's retelling of his near death experience during the time in which he suffered from bacterial meningitis and was in a coma for a week. I'm not sure why I wasn't more affected by this book, but I found it rather dry reading. I am a profound believer in both the spiritual and physical balance in humans, but this book did not overly inspire me.more
I wanted to like this book. I wanted to believe it. The author seems so sincere. Who would not like to think that there is something beautiful beyond death, that there is nothing to fear, that we can do no wrong and we will be unconditionally loved? Yet, my determination was severely tested by the author’s presentation. When Eben Alexander describes his (NDE) Near Death Experience, in 2008, brought on when he descended into a coma from a rare form of an e-Coli Virus,from which there was little hope of his recovery, he fills his tale with a rather large view of himself. He often apologizes for this, but kind of arrogance is, nevertheless, ever present. I felt as if he believed someone had elected him to the top post, to sit at the right hand of G-d. His explanations were often too technical or needed to be accepted based on his word or blind faith. Because he is a man of science, he came with good credentials, but the book left me wanting more. I needed some substance and the book felt thin in that department. If people coming out of comas go into psychotic states, hallucinating, why is it not possible for them to go into a psychotic state and also hallucinate entering into it? If scientifically it is impossible when the Neo Cortex is compromised completely, perhaps the science is wrong. Surely we know little enough about the brain and how it works to simply believe that what he experienced was real and not a dream state of some kind. He had been unhappy in prior years. His family life and professional life had suffered. He was adopted and was unsuccessfully searching for his roots, until a recent contact with a sister proved somewhat fruitful, and he learned of other siblings. He learned that his parents had married and he had a sister who had died. Perhaps his NDE was merely wish fulfillment, on his end.When describing his NDE , he speaks of the Realm of The Earthworm’s-Eye View, a place of misery, The Gateway, a place of celestial beauty, where he met the beautiful girl on the butterfly’s wing, and The Core, where he felt communion with a greater being, where he felt close to the Creator, to Om, to G-d, to Jesus. Although he justifies the validity of his experience with claims that these are concepts that are new to him, it seemed doubtful to me, a non-Christian, so how could it not be so to him, even if he was not a religious Christian at that time? Are those concepts not universally reminiscent of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and/or Limbo?Eben realized, as an adoptee, that he had always somehow felt abandoned, unloved and when he thought about his NDE, he wondered why he was the only documented case of a person who had an NDE that had not been aware of who he was, during the experience, and the only one who had not met anyone who had died during his life who would lead him through and comfort him, as others had. Why had his father not come to comfort him, to tell him everything was all right; he had not been able to please him and he wanted his forgiveness. These thoughts reinforced his feelings of abandonment. He began to question the legitimacy of his own experience.When he was still a doubter, in 2008, shortly after his recovery, he went to church and was asked to light an advent candle. Walking up, the music and scenes and sights before him seemed more beautiful than they had in the past, and he was overwhelmed. Since his illness, it would seem that this environment had more meaning for him, and he was brought to tears. The experience evoked memories of his NDE. Eben began to realize that we are so much more than our physical bodies. Still unsure of himself, there was one final act that convinced him he should spread the word about his experience in order to enlighten the world. As a scientist, he believed his word would be more credible than the word of others who had had similar experiences. So when he received a picture of a deceased sister, sent to him by his biological sister he realized she looked oddly familiar. Soon he realized, the last piece of the puzzle had fallen into place. He had met someone he knew. The girl on the butterfly wing in her angelic form was, he believed, his dead sister. He had been reading a book by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in which a young girl relates a NDE to her dad and explains that she met her brother, but she had no brother…her father confessed that a few months before she was born, her brother had died. This revelation about his own dead sibling, gave him renewed hope and faith in his own NDE.Eben believes that consciousness resides some place other than the brain. Paraphrasing, he says, “we live in the dimension of the familiar, but the grander universe is here, now, with us, in a different frequency.” He believes you don’t have to die to access this frequency, “to access the truths behind the veil”, you just have to learn how, but don’t try to hard, for that will defeat you. Meditation is a useful tool. To understand the grander universe, you have to be part of it, become one with it.”Eben himself admits that his experiences are very hard to describe and it is evident in his writing which is unclear, at times. I found that there was too much information, too technical at times, but there were not enough facts to make it credible. He says his experience in the Core was greater than his ability to understand it, to put into words, that he was able to absorb knowledge at a faster rate, immediately understand things that would take months, even years in ordinary time. In this place, time didn’t matter. So, although he couldn’t explain it, are we to accept his explanation and beliefs on blind faith? Why was he chosen to pass on this message? I thought the connections he made could be coincidence rather than providential. He had been scientific in his thinking, but now he was more spiritual.Eben wrote that the Creator allows evil to exist because we have free will, but who is the Creator? He says we are all part of the divine, part of G-d, who is all loving and forgiving. He says the divine is always with us, and our job is to grow toward the divine. If we are all part of this G-d, this OM, then who is it or what is it? I have trouble with blind faith. The book feels too Christian in its concepts to be universally accepted. I believe Eben is being a bit presumptuous when he assumes we can all achieve this divine state. Can Jews or Muslims, or Budhists or Hindus achieve this state without disavowing their own faiths?After his experience, he founded ETERNA, a non-profit organization to serve the greater good, to advance research into spiritually transformative experiences. The organization offers comfort and spiritual guidance to those going through difficult times with illness, etc. (Eben believes that you have to earn your entry into the higher planes of the realm he visited. Perhaps, he wants to earn his own by being G-dlike, good and compassionate.)There simply was no PROOF OF HEAVEN, for me. The pieces fell into place, all too conveniently. However, I encourage other readers to draw their own conclusions. Your own background may alter your view and you may find greater inner peace than I did, when you read about what happened to him from the onset of his illness to the time of his recovery and then also learn a bit about his past. As a physician, he also has checkered history which warrants investigation. Perhaps this is all about Alexander’s need for love, compassion and forgiveness. He believes, from his NDE, he learned that everyone is loved, they have nothing to fear, and they can do no wrong. That is the strongest message he received. That is also his strongest need, so perhaps it was his own wish fulfillment during his coma, rather than an ”other worldly” experience. At the end of the day, though, do we all have to be Christians to have this experience, to attain this afterlife?I have told little about his experiences, so the reader may draw their own conclusions as they read the book.more
Read all 23 reviews

Reviews

Fascinating. It's so interesting to have scientifically minded folks (Jill Bolte Taylor and Eben for example) experience things so that it can't be so easily blown off.
I wish the book had gone more into what he learned while "there" but I'm well aware that that is a far bigger topic and not easily captured. Perhaps a future book.
Great read to go along with studies that are documented in such books as Lynne McTaggart's The Intention Experiment.more
Dr. Alexander's book is brief, but his message is powerful. A neurosurgeon, who, in the midst of a life-threatening illness experienced what so many individuals have - a near death or life-after-death experience.

As a chaplain who attended patients in comas and had the fortune/blessing to hear their stories after they woke, I was heartened to learn that Dr. Alexander's journey was similar to theirs, for I have heard this story many times.

The writing is clear, concise and without empurpled prose to make it more dramatic or more than it should be. Dr. Alexander tells his story, and the stories he was told by those who witnessed his illness and sat by his side, in a straightforward manner. This is a testimony of belief. Honestly, I would feel secure if I was receiving treatment from someone with his faith, rather than a practitioner who viewed life from only a scientific, analytical mindset - that once you draw your last breath the lights go out, end of story, game over. That's it. Like Francis Collins' work, "The Language of God," "Proof of Heaven" shows that science and faith are compatible. They need each other. People who hold religious beliefs will be encouraged to embrace both science and faith after reading this account. I must say, however, that Dr. Alexander's description of his illness and what he went through made me squeamish at times, and I actually had a nightmare about it. It did not diminish my own Christian beliefs.

My recommendation - read this book.

more
This is a neurosurgeon's retelling of his near death experience during the time in which he suffered from bacterial meningitis and was in a coma for a week. I'm not sure why I wasn't more affected by this book, but I found it rather dry reading. I am a profound believer in both the spiritual and physical balance in humans, but this book did not overly inspire me.more
I wanted to like this book. I wanted to believe it. The author seems so sincere. Who would not like to think that there is something beautiful beyond death, that there is nothing to fear, that we can do no wrong and we will be unconditionally loved? Yet, my determination was severely tested by the author’s presentation. When Eben Alexander describes his (NDE) Near Death Experience, in 2008, brought on when he descended into a coma from a rare form of an e-Coli Virus,from which there was little hope of his recovery, he fills his tale with a rather large view of himself. He often apologizes for this, but kind of arrogance is, nevertheless, ever present. I felt as if he believed someone had elected him to the top post, to sit at the right hand of G-d. His explanations were often too technical or needed to be accepted based on his word or blind faith. Because he is a man of science, he came with good credentials, but the book left me wanting more. I needed some substance and the book felt thin in that department. If people coming out of comas go into psychotic states, hallucinating, why is it not possible for them to go into a psychotic state and also hallucinate entering into it? If scientifically it is impossible when the Neo Cortex is compromised completely, perhaps the science is wrong. Surely we know little enough about the brain and how it works to simply believe that what he experienced was real and not a dream state of some kind. He had been unhappy in prior years. His family life and professional life had suffered. He was adopted and was unsuccessfully searching for his roots, until a recent contact with a sister proved somewhat fruitful, and he learned of other siblings. He learned that his parents had married and he had a sister who had died. Perhaps his NDE was merely wish fulfillment, on his end.When describing his NDE , he speaks of the Realm of The Earthworm’s-Eye View, a place of misery, The Gateway, a place of celestial beauty, where he met the beautiful girl on the butterfly’s wing, and The Core, where he felt communion with a greater being, where he felt close to the Creator, to Om, to G-d, to Jesus. Although he justifies the validity of his experience with claims that these are concepts that are new to him, it seemed doubtful to me, a non-Christian, so how could it not be so to him, even if he was not a religious Christian at that time? Are those concepts not universally reminiscent of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and/or Limbo?Eben realized, as an adoptee, that he had always somehow felt abandoned, unloved and when he thought about his NDE, he wondered why he was the only documented case of a person who had an NDE that had not been aware of who he was, during the experience, and the only one who had not met anyone who had died during his life who would lead him through and comfort him, as others had. Why had his father not come to comfort him, to tell him everything was all right; he had not been able to please him and he wanted his forgiveness. These thoughts reinforced his feelings of abandonment. He began to question the legitimacy of his own experience.When he was still a doubter, in 2008, shortly after his recovery, he went to church and was asked to light an advent candle. Walking up, the music and scenes and sights before him seemed more beautiful than they had in the past, and he was overwhelmed. Since his illness, it would seem that this environment had more meaning for him, and he was brought to tears. The experience evoked memories of his NDE. Eben began to realize that we are so much more than our physical bodies. Still unsure of himself, there was one final act that convinced him he should spread the word about his experience in order to enlighten the world. As a scientist, he believed his word would be more credible than the word of others who had had similar experiences. So when he received a picture of a deceased sister, sent to him by his biological sister he realized she looked oddly familiar. Soon he realized, the last piece of the puzzle had fallen into place. He had met someone he knew. The girl on the butterfly wing in her angelic form was, he believed, his dead sister. He had been reading a book by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in which a young girl relates a NDE to her dad and explains that she met her brother, but she had no brother…her father confessed that a few months before she was born, her brother had died. This revelation about his own dead sibling, gave him renewed hope and faith in his own NDE.Eben believes that consciousness resides some place other than the brain. Paraphrasing, he says, “we live in the dimension of the familiar, but the grander universe is here, now, with us, in a different frequency.” He believes you don’t have to die to access this frequency, “to access the truths behind the veil”, you just have to learn how, but don’t try to hard, for that will defeat you. Meditation is a useful tool. To understand the grander universe, you have to be part of it, become one with it.”Eben himself admits that his experiences are very hard to describe and it is evident in his writing which is unclear, at times. I found that there was too much information, too technical at times, but there were not enough facts to make it credible. He says his experience in the Core was greater than his ability to understand it, to put into words, that he was able to absorb knowledge at a faster rate, immediately understand things that would take months, even years in ordinary time. In this place, time didn’t matter. So, although he couldn’t explain it, are we to accept his explanation and beliefs on blind faith? Why was he chosen to pass on this message? I thought the connections he made could be coincidence rather than providential. He had been scientific in his thinking, but now he was more spiritual.Eben wrote that the Creator allows evil to exist because we have free will, but who is the Creator? He says we are all part of the divine, part of G-d, who is all loving and forgiving. He says the divine is always with us, and our job is to grow toward the divine. If we are all part of this G-d, this OM, then who is it or what is it? I have trouble with blind faith. The book feels too Christian in its concepts to be universally accepted. I believe Eben is being a bit presumptuous when he assumes we can all achieve this divine state. Can Jews or Muslims, or Budhists or Hindus achieve this state without disavowing their own faiths?After his experience, he founded ETERNA, a non-profit organization to serve the greater good, to advance research into spiritually transformative experiences. The organization offers comfort and spiritual guidance to those going through difficult times with illness, etc. (Eben believes that you have to earn your entry into the higher planes of the realm he visited. Perhaps, he wants to earn his own by being G-dlike, good and compassionate.)There simply was no PROOF OF HEAVEN, for me. The pieces fell into place, all too conveniently. However, I encourage other readers to draw their own conclusions. Your own background may alter your view and you may find greater inner peace than I did, when you read about what happened to him from the onset of his illness to the time of his recovery and then also learn a bit about his past. As a physician, he also has checkered history which warrants investigation. Perhaps this is all about Alexander’s need for love, compassion and forgiveness. He believes, from his NDE, he learned that everyone is loved, they have nothing to fear, and they can do no wrong. That is the strongest message he received. That is also his strongest need, so perhaps it was his own wish fulfillment during his coma, rather than an ”other worldly” experience. At the end of the day, though, do we all have to be Christians to have this experience, to attain this afterlife?I have told little about his experiences, so the reader may draw their own conclusions as they read the book.more
Lots of medical jargon that does not help move the story forward. Expected better dialogue and more feeling of his experience rather than explanation to justify the whys of this and that. I enjoyed reading but cannot give it the rating that I would have expected, do I recommend it? I do if the reader doesn't expect the "miracle" story.more
Because there are so many reviews of this book already, I'll make my primary focus one thing: whatever else this book might be, it isn't "proof" of anything.I'm happy for Eben Alexander that he's joined the many people who have had a near-death experience (NDE) that changed their lives for the better. But Alexander is insistent that his wasn't just your average NDE experience. His was special, and can't be explained as a matter of neurochemical processes, because his NDE occurred not only while he was in a coma, but when his cerebral cortex was completely "shut down." He says this was demonstrated by enhanced CT scans and other neurological exams. However, neuroscientists like Dr. Martin Samuels, chair of the neurology department at Brigham and Women's Hospital (affiliated with Harvard and one of Eben Alexander's former employers), respond that there is no way to test whether there was, in fact, such a shutdown. CT scans do not measure brain activity and we do not yet have the scientific expertise to measure all brain activity.In any case, how does Alexander know when his NDE occurred? Well, he doesn't. He never tells us how he knows that his NDE didn't occur when he was going into a coma or coming out of it.Early in the book, Alexander describes a time when he was doing a group skydive and someone made the mistake of opening his parachute when he was below Alexander. Alexander relates that in a matter of microseconds, he reacted with a maneuver that avoided catastrophe. He says that his brain had become, for a moment, super-powered, and that this experience shows that the brain is more extraordinary than we can imagine. Alexander never makes the connection between this experience and his NDE; in other words, it doesn't seem to occur to him that his NDE might have occurred in microseconds in a brain in crisis, or that his brain created the NDE in a way he doesn't imagine. If it did occur to him, he simply rejects that logical possibility.Alexander makes a big deal of the fact that he's a neurosurgeon to support his claim that his NDE is inexplicable by anything other than an actual experience of the divine. But again, he is undone by something else he says at the beginning of the book. He acknowledges that "surgically repairing the brain, while an extraordinarily complex undertaking, is actually no different than fixing any other, highly delicate, electrically charged machine." In other words, Alexander is like a mechanic of the brain. He doesn't have any special knowledge of neuroscience. Dr. Samuels of Brigham and Women's Hospital puts it more bluntly; saying that the fact that Eben Alexander is a neurosurgeon is no more relevant than if he were a plumber.So we're left with the story of a guy with no particular expertise in neuroscience who had a subjective experience and decides that it is, somehow, an objective proof that heaven exists and not something that happened in his brain. Well, I have a problem with that.My problem is NOT that Alexander had a spiritually transformative experience and that he is now a man of solid faith. I have absolutely no quarrel with faith; I have it myself. But don't confuse faith with fact; it's as simple as that.Aside from my problem with the logical underpinnings of the book, my only other particular observation is that I got the feeling that Eben Alexander has a strong psychological need to feel special. He writes extensively about spending years emotionally and spiritually adrift for reasons relating to the fact that he is an adoptee. This seems to have instilled in him a drive to show that he is exceptional and, thus, worthy.He's at pains to tell the reader that he's a skydiver, a top neurosurgeon, has a perfect wife and sons, and even was the most beautiful baby in the hospital when he was born. Everything that happens to him seems to be against lightning-strike odds. He claims his medical crisis was "unprecedented," as were the fact, speed and thoroughness of his recovery from a seven-day coma. As he tells it, even the weather during his week-long coma was extraordinary. So it was no surprise to read that, according to him, his NDE was exceptional. He describes its features as having been different from all other NDEs he's read about. For example, unlike pretty much everybody else, he didn't recognize himself in his NDE and he didn't meet anybody he knew. Of course, the capper in this string of long-odds experiences is that he claims that his experience is one that cannot be explained by biochemistry and will become the basis for breakthrough research in the nature of consciousness. Not surprisingly, he now has a website (which promises a store is coming!) and a foundation (which welcomes people to become members at any one of several pricey levels). His book ended up being more interesting to me as a psychological study than anything else.Those who are interested in reading books about NDEs may find this a worthwhile read, but--with apologies to Dr. Alexander's psyche--there's nothing exceptional here.more
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