Eben-Alexander

Tom Hardy Interview by Little White Lies

In one swift motion Hardy drops the mag and spins a full 90 degrees. We’re now inches apart. Nose-to-nose. As if the elongated S-shaped sofa we’re sharing has coiled violently, forcing us to invade each other’s personal space. “I really don’t appreciate you asking me a question like that,” Hardy growls. His fierce, penetrating eyes are fixed in an unblinking stare. “Have you ever had a near-death experience?” he asks. “I’m speaking from experiential hindsight and I can tell you it’s not something to be taken lightly. If you want to talk to me about death you’ve got to come from that place. It’s like asking someone, ‘How many people have you killed?’ You understand what I’m saying?” Sensing Hardy is on the verge of cutting the interview short (or something worse) LWLies extends an olive branch, making it absolutely clear we’re not here to unsettle or antagonise him. He sits back, takes a moment to collect himself and gestures for a change of subject. But almost immediately Hardy jolts forward again. “I’m sorry, man… You’ve just touched on a spot that’s very sensitive. You have no idea how close to something I am right now in my personal life. No fucking idea. It’s not your fault, I understand that, but you’ve really struck a nerve.

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Does Heaven Exist?

According to a Yahoo poll, 74% of the people who participated believe heaven exists.  Now, I’m not going to talk about this from a neuroscientific perspective; the much more eloquent and qualified Sam Harris has already done that.  However, I will speak of this from another perspective–a human perspective.  Dr. Eben Alexander has two sons and a wife–plenty good reason to fabricate such a story with money in mind.  Any good father would think of his family after a near-death experience.  Yes, he’s a successful neurosurgeon; surely he doesn’t need the money…right?  Neurosurgeons earn anywhere between 250,000 and 700,000 annually.  That may sound like a lot, but had he passed away, they would have likely received his pension, annuity, etc.  Perhaps that creeps over a million or so, but when someone faces death, what may seem like enough isn’t enough.  I find it more probable that he invented this story in order to write a book and profit off the gullibility of religious zealots–specifically Christians.  However, there’s another problem with his story:

Although I considered myself a faithful Christian, I was so more in name than in actual belief. I didn’t begrudge those who wanted to believe that Jesus was more than simply a good man who had suffered at the hands of the world. I sympathized deeply with those who wanted to believe that there was a God somewhere out there who loved us unconditionally. In fact, I envied such people the security that those beliefs no doubt provided. But as a scientist, I simply knew better than to believe them myself.

A lukewarm Christian?  A skeptic?  One can’t be too certain after reading that.  If what he’s saying is true, how did he enter heaven?  Doesn’t god spit out the lukewarm (Revelation 3:16)?  Aren’t them who disown Jesus disowned before the father and his angels (Luke 12:8,9)?  What about his vision?  He was on a butterfly wing.  He saw arcs of light and called them “angels”.  Why didn’t he see cherubim (also known as the four living creatures) (Ezekiel 1:5-10; Revelation 4:8) and seraphim (Isaiah 6:2-4)?  Why didn’t he see thrones?  Why didn’t he see the 24 elders (Revelation 4)?  What about the son sitting at the right hand of the father?  His version of heaven doesn’t even sound like the Christian version–like the versions purportedly put forth by Isaiah, Ezekiel and John!  Yet they believe him.  Here’s what I gather from all of this:  1) a man will do anything to ensure that his family is secure 2) people forget theology because they’re so desperate for an afterlife and proof of its existence.  Does heaven exist?  He may want it to exist; you may want that too, but the fact remains, heaven is the epitome of wishful thinking.

Love is, without a doubt, the basis of everything. Not some abstract, hard-to-fathom kind of love but the day-to-day kind that everyone knows-the kind of love we feel when we look at our spouse and our children, or even our animals. In its purest and most powerful form, this love is not jealous or selfish, but unconditional
— 

Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander

Check back tomorrow for my review of this novel!

When Tomorrow Starts Without Me

Poem by David M. Romano in 1993

I read this in “Proof of Heaven” by Eben Alexander.

By David Romano
(copyrighted 1993)

When tomorrow starts without me
And I’m not there to see;
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me.

I wish so much you wouldn’t cry
The way you did today;
While thinking of the many things
We didn’t get to say.

I know how much you love me …
As much as I love you;
And each time that you think of me,
I know you’ll miss me too.

But when tomorrow starts without me
Please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name
And took me by the hand.

She said my place was ready
In heaven far above;
And that I’d have to leave behind,
All those I dearly love.

But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye;
For all my life, I’d always thought
I didn’t want to die.

I had so much to live for,
So much yet to do;
It seemed almost impossible,
That I was leaving you.

I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad;
I thought of all the love we shared,
And all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday
Just even for awhile,
I’d say goodbye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile.

But then I fully realized
That this could never be;
For emptiness and memories
Would take the place of me.

And when I thought of worldly things
I might miss come tomorrow;
I thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow.

But when I walked through heaven’s gates
I felt so much at home;
When God looked down and smiled at me
From His great golden throne.

He said, “This is eternity
And all I’ve promised you;
Today your life on earth is past,
But here it all starts anew.”

“I promise no tomorrow,
But today will always last;
And since each day’s the same day,
There’s no longing for the past.”

“But you have been so faithful,
So trusting and so true;
Though at times you did do things,
You knew you shouldn’t do.”

“But you have been forgiven
And now at last you’re free;
So won’t you take my hand

And share my life with me?”
So when tomorrow starts without me,
Don’t think we’re far apart …
For every time you think of me,
I’m right here … in your heart.

It is the responsibility of scientists never to suppress knowledge, no matter how awkward that knowledge is, no matter how it may bother those in power. We are not smart enough to decide which pieces of knowledge are permissible and which are not. —CARL SAGAN (1934
Love.
Love is, without a doubt, the basis of everything. Not some abstract, hard-to-fathom kind of love but the day-to-day kind that everyone knows-the kind of love we feel when we look at our spouse and our children, or even or animals. In its purest and most powerful form, this love is not jealous or selfish, but unconditional. this is the reality of realities, the incomprehensibly glorious truth of truths that lives and breathes at the core of everything that exists or that ever will exist, and no remotely accurate understanding of who and what we are can be achieved by anyone who does no know it, and embody it in all of their actions.
Not much of scientific insight? well, I beg to differ. I’m back from that placed, and nothing could convince me that this is not only the single most important emotional truth in the universe, but also the single most important scientific truth as well.
—  Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey Into the Afterlife, Eben Alexander

The “Proof of Heaven” Author’s Near-Death Experience Has Now Been Claimed To Be Thoroughly Debunked By Science

A book called Proof of Heaven is bound to provoke eye rolls, but its author, Eben Alexander, had space in a Newsweek story and on shows like of Fox & Friends to detail his claims. Read into those endorsements — and nearly 15 million copies sold — whatever you will, but in a big new Esquire feature, Luke Dittrich pokes large holes in Alexander’s story, bringing into question the author’s qualification as a neurosurgeon (which is supposed to legitimize his claim) and the accuracy of his best-selling journey. 

In his book, Alexander claims that when he was in a coma caused by E. coli bacterial meningitis, he went to heaven. Of course, Dittrich’s piece is not the first time that Alexander’s text has come into question. In April, Michael Shermer at Scientific Americanexplained how the author’s “evidence is proof of hallucination, not heaven.” But Dittrich calls into question not what Alexander experienced so much how he did. While Dittrich looks at legal troubles Alexander had during his time practicing neurosurgery, perhaps the most damning piece of testimony comes from a doctor who was on duty in the ER when Alexander arrived in 2008. Dr. Laura Potter explains that she “had to make the decision to just place him in a chemically induced coma.” But that’s not how Alexander tells it, according to the Esquire investigation:

In Proof of Heaven, Alexander writes that he spent seven days in “a coma caused by a rare case of E. coli bacterial meningitis.” There is no indication in the book that it was Laura Potter, and not bacterial meningitis, that induced his coma, or that the physicians in the ICU maintained his coma in the days that followed through the use of anesthetics. Alexander also writes that during his week in the ICU he was present “in body alone,” that the bacterial assault had left him with an “all-but-destroyed brain.” He notes that by conventional scientific understanding, “if you don’t have a working brain, you can’t be conscious,” and a key point of his argument for the reality of the realms he claims to have visited is that his memories could not have been hallucinations, since he didn’t possess a brain capable of creating even a hallucinatory conscious experience.

I ask Potter whether the manic, agitated state that Alexander exhibited whenever they weaned him off his anesthetics during his first days of coma would meet her definition of conscious.

“Yes,” she says. “Conscious but delirious.”


In interviews in the piece, Alexander asks Esquire‘s Dittrich not to bring up the discrepancies in his story. The neurosurgeon-turned-author’s Twitter account has been silent this morning, but he told the Today show that he stood by “every word” in the book and denounced the magazine story as “cynical” and “cherry-picked.”

Read the rest of Dittrich’s story, which is behind a small paywall, here.

Heaven isn’t an abstraction; it isn’t a dreamscape cooked up from empty, wishful thinking. It is a place as real as the room or the airplane or the beach or the library where you are right now. It has objects in it. Trees, fields, people, animals—even…actual cities. But the rules of how things work there—the laws of heaven’s physics, if you will—are different from ours. The one rule we need to remember from here, however, is that we end up, in the end, where we belong, and we are led by the amount of love we have in us, for love is the essence of heaven.
—  Eben Alexander, M.D., The Map of Heaven
Love is, without a doubt, the basis of everything. Not some abstract, hard-to-fathom kind of love but the day-to-day kind that everyone knows-the kind of love we feel when we look at our spouse and our children, or even our animals. In its purest and most powerful form, this love is not jealous or selfish, but unconditional. This is the reality of realities, the incomprehensibly glorious truth of truths that lives and breathes at the core of everything that exists or will ever exist, and no remotely accurate understanding of who and what we are can be achieved by anyone who does not know it, and embody it in all of their actions.
—  Eben Alexander