Proof Of Heaven (maybe)
The fact that this book was written by a neurosurgeon instantly gives it a credibility that wouldn’t otherwise be there. Eben Alexander has believed for most of his adult life that consciousness is a product of electrical signals in the brain; a purely physical process. He had witnessed NDEs himself and dismissed them in the same manner that countless scientists and physicians before him had, drawing on the reductionist principles that lie at the heart of modern scientific thinking. He admits, with hindsight, this view was formed without any evidence to support it, instead subscribing to the mantra, the faith, that forms the foundation of methodological materialism..every process, every organism or object in this universe has a physical explanation for its existence.
This faith was turned upside down when he experienced an NDE of his own, except this was not strictly an NDE, it was the wandering of his consciousness while he was in a coma. He argues, very convincingly, that while he wasn’t technically dead, his brain was not in a state to generate the conscious experiences that he claimed to have. Many of the elements of his experience were similar in nature to previously reported NDEs, but some of the elements were unique, something that leads Dr. Alexander to conclude that he was meant to have these experiences, and as a result his life’s purpose is now to share what happened to him with the rest of the world.
Like many “believers”, I’m a sucker for this stuff. Ever since I heard about my fathers own NDE, I’ve been intrigued by the subject, and am perhaps more credulous than I should be as a scientist. So I lapped it all up…then I did some searching on google about Dr. Alexander, and that is where very real questions surfaced that spoiled the fuzzy warm feeling. Esquire ran an article on Proof of Heaven in which they had investigated Dr. Alexander’s claims. They interviewed a Dr. Laura Potter, who was the ER physician who had attended to him when he first arrived and was involved with some of his subsequent care. A number of statements she makes contradict his account:
- Dr. Alexander did not, and could not have cried out “God Help Me!”. He was intubated, making speech impossible.
- His coma was induced by drugs, unlike his claim in the book. He was also repeatedly bought back to some form of consciousness, this suggests that it is entirely possible that he hallucinated the entire experience.
- Most troubling of all, he apparently admitted that he had dramatized some parts of the story to enhance the readability of the account.
What does all this mean? Was the whole thing made up? I hope not, and the unusual account of his meeting with God in a dark (physically but not spiritually dark) place was so similar to my own experience, that it made me feel that his story holds water. But that’s me, someone who has had an experience and met credible people, who have had NDEs, but to the skeptic or the inquisitive, the slightest whiff of dishonesty destroys the potential power of the rest.
I personally don’t believe he made it all up, but if he admitted adding things to enhance the readability, exactly how much did he add? This is why he has poisoned the potential well of his account, and not just his account but others too.
This whole field of research needs serious people like Eben Alexander, Sam Parnia, and Pim Van Lommell to contribute to it, but it needs to be done in a manner that is rigorously credible, or they are wasting their time.