Proof of Heaven is the sort of book I almost never read, but I’m glad I made an exception. I don’t really follow the whole Near Death Experience, is-there-or-isn’t-there-an-afterlife debate. I’ve come to believe there is more to life than life, but I don’t think about it much. Life itself seems a pretty urgent business and I want to pay attention to it before it’s gone. If there’s nothing afterwards, I’ll never know. If there is, I’ve got an excellent lawyer.
But a friend gave me the book for Christmas. I started it, and found it weirdly compelling. As you’ve probably heard, it’s Dr. Eben Alexander’s memoir of how he, a neurosurgeon, went into a coma and saw the next world. According to Alexander, who should know, he was so brain dead at the time it happened that it’s virtually impossible for this to have been any kind of a dream or hallucination. And as the experience went on for days, there is a lot of detail, including some stuff that struck me as convincing. Nothing he sees on the Other Side is particularly startling. It’s all in line with the instincts of the best sort of faith. We’re loved; we’re forgiven. Oh, and there are angels. I’ve never been so sure about angels, but apparently there they are. Dogs too. I’d be very disappointed if there were no dogs.
Now as one of my novel characters once remarked: There’s a reasonable explanation for everything and that’s the one some people choose to believe. One of the things I liked best about the book is that Alexander is honest enough to allow us into some of the darker places in his psychology. If you want to construct a psychological explanation for his Near Death Event you can. And he even gives several “scientific” explanations of greater or lesser plausibility — the best being that the whole experience was basically the dream he had when his brain was rebooting.
All the same, I found the book oddly believable. It’s not pious or treacly like so many books about faith experiences are. And even though the doc gets pretty new age and woo-woo by the time he’s finished, it wasn’t alienating if you kept an open mind. It stuck with me for several days after I finished it.
So while no one can offer you a guarantee, I would say this book constitutes a piece of circumstantial evidence for the defense of heaven. Which makes for an interesting read, even if you decide to dismiss it.
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