I’ve written about this topic a few times outside of this blog. And while I’ve received more positive responses than negative ones, the negative ones have tended to be VERY nasty.
Before I get to the topic I referred to above, CERTAIN folks who, for whatever reasons, continue reading my stuff—you know who you are—need to understand that I REALLY don’t give a rat’s butt whether you hate me OR disagree with me.
I began this blog in January 2003 as a way for this retiree—teetering on the precipice of terminal boredom—to express my opinions relative to myriad topics.
And as has always been the case, people may read it or not, and they are always free to agree or disagree with my points. But regardless, I’m not going to stop writing as long as I have the ability to THINK and TYPE.
And now back to that topic. I was visiting with my brother yesterday—as I’ve explained here before, he’s in lung cancer’s end stage. He’s still with us, although his morphine dosage keeps him asleep much of the time.
But in one of his increasingly rarer moments of lucidity, he asked me out of the blue whether or not I believe in heaven and hell, but he drifted off into a prolonged sleep before I could answer him.
Perhaps it’s just as well; while I know what I believe, I’m not sure how to answer that question for a man on his deathbed. Besides, it’s NOT what I believe that matters; it’s what HE believes.
But his question has haunted me since he asked it; so for what it’s worth, let me give it a shot here. It’s going to upset the absoluters, but hell, there’s always Valium!
Several months ago, an article appeared in Newsweek. It was written by Dr. Eben Alexander, a brain surgeon. The article was titled The Science of Heaven, and it chronicled his recently published book, Proof of Heaven.
Essentially, the article outlined Dr. Alexander’s recollections following his near-death experience and how it convinced him of an afterlife. Click the link above if you want to read about it.
It was an interesting article… interesting enough to entice me to purchase his book for a closer look. The book was every bit as interesting as the article was.
At the outset, I want readers to know that I do not question his account of what happened during his near death experience—nor do I question the doctor’s sincerity, intellect, or emotional IQ.
And even more important, I’m light-years from the smarts required for ABSOLUTELY ruling out an afterlife, let alone for ruling out the existence of God. However, as well written as his accounts were, I’m still not convinced that either exists.
I have yet to speak with a single neurosurgeon—seven of them so far—who believes that Dr. Alexander actually experienced HEAVEN. As well, not one of the four neuroscientists I talked to (PhDs ALL of them) believes it, either.
On top of this, I’ve spent no less than 50-hours researching the subject. And when I combine my own research results with what the neurosurgeons and neuroscientists told me about what Dr. Alexander experienced, I agree with their conclusions.
Hallucinations have been with the human race since it dawned centuries ago. They’ve always come in a range of flavors from exhilaratingly pleasant to horribly unpleasant. But whatever the flavor, they’re always hallucinations.
From my research, I don’t believe that Dr. Alexander was comatose. He seems to have experienced toxemia that affected a select part of his brain—primary synaptic transmission—while the association areas of his brain continued functioning normally; thus producing dreamlike situations.
None of those I spoke to questioned Dr. Alexander’s descriptive accuracy. According to my experts, this is a common occurrence whenever patients appear to be unconscious, but are simultaneously “feeling” things.
Doctors, medical or otherwise, can be just as wrong as anyone else—and yes, this includes SURGEONS. Nor is there any question that I, as the weakest technical link in this matter, MOST CERTAINLY could be wrong.
But the thing that truly blows my mind about this entire affair is the hate-filled vitriol aimed at those—me included—who questioned Dr. Alexander’s claims. And please note; I’ve emailed Dr. Alexander and he’s not among the hissy fitters.
Here’s the thing. Given all the research available on the topic, medical science can prove, with a scientific certainty, that synaptic transmission toxemia, accompanied by simultaneous dreamlike scenarios, mimics unconsciousness accompanied by the ability to “feel” things.
But there is NO scientific proof that life after death is a reality, let alone that it will continue for eternity in places called heaven or hell. It doesn’t mean that it’s all doctrinal baloney, only that there is no proof that it ISN’T.
Faith is what people BELIEVE, not what they KNOW. Science has taught me that there is no reason to fear death because, once we’re gone, we’ll simply no longer exist. It won’t be eternally traumatic because we’ll have no idea that we’ve died or that we ever lived in the first place.
But, on the other hand, I’m an agnostic, NOT an atheist. And as a heathen-ass scientist, I know there’s no such thing as an ABSOLUTELY sure thing, which is precisely why I do not dissuade believers from praying for my sin-oozing old butt. So let us pray!