Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into 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 tha...

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Title:Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife
Author:Eben Alexander
Rating:
ISBN:1451695195
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:196 pages

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife Reviews

  • Stephen O'grady
    Nov 11, 2012

    For those like myself that struggle with their faith and what happens to us when we pass, this book gives a compelling view from a scientist and a self proclaimed skeptic. As a scientist, I feel today's religions use their dogma to control morality. When something doesn't fit into their belief system they want you go along just "because."

    This book explores the idea of the afterlife in a secular way and challenges the neuroscience doctrinal assertions that completely dismiss near death experience

    For those like myself that struggle with their faith and what happens to us when we pass, this book gives a compelling view from a scientist and a self proclaimed skeptic. As a scientist, I feel today's religions use their dogma to control morality. When something doesn't fit into their belief system they want you go along just "because."

    This book explores the idea of the afterlife in a secular way and challenges the neuroscience doctrinal assertions that completely dismiss near death experiences (NDE), literally, as a figments of imagination. Critics of this book point to its lack of discussion about what happen to the author, Dr Eben Alexander, during the NDE event itself. I personally appreciated how he provided a more thorough context to the afterlife debate.

    NDE's have been recorded for 100's of years but more frequently during the advent of modern medicine where many lives have been saved after they were thought to be lost. What Dr Alexander provides is a unique perspective of the NDE from both a neurosurgeon who has treated patients and as the patient himself that has come back from a brush with death. He discusses how he had to reconcile his own preconceptions about NDEs and how he has been able to reflect upon his experience as a scientist. He touches on some very deep philosophical theories dealing with parallel universes, theories that have been approached scientifically from the particle physics community to explain the "theory of everything." Overall, this is a quick and thought provoking read not draped in over done religious rhetoric.

  • Lora
    Nov 26, 2012

    This was a hard book to get through because the author tried to prove through scientific method throughout that his experience was real. Important, but not your typical NDE book. I thought it had some invaluable insights to life and purpose. "How do we get closer to this genuine spiritual self? By manifesting love and compassion. Why? Because love and compassion are far more than the abstractions many of us believe them to be. They are real. They are concrete. And they make up the very fabric of

    This was a hard book to get through because the author tried to prove through scientific method throughout that his experience was real. Important, but not your typical NDE book. I thought it had some invaluable insights to life and purpose. "How do we get closer to this genuine spiritual self? By manifesting love and compassion. Why? Because love and compassion are far more than the abstractions many of us believe them to be. They are real. They are concrete. And they make up the very fabric of the spiritual realm." pg. 85. "One of the biggest mistakes people make when they think about God is to imagine God as impersonal. Yes, God is behind the numbers, the perfection of the universe that science measures and struggles to understand. But...Om is "human" as well-even MORE human than you and I are. Om understands and sympathizes with our human situation more porfoundly and personally than we can even imagine because Om knows what we have forgotten and undertands the terrible burden it is to live with amnesia of the Divine for even a moment." pg. 85-56. "Ultimately, none of us are orphans. We are all in the position I was, in that we have OTHER FAMILY: beings who are watching and looking out for us-beings we have momentarily forgotten, but who, if we open ourselves to their presence, are waiting to help us navigate our time here on earth. None of us are ever unloved. Each and every one of us is deeply known and cared for by a Creator who cherishes us beyond any ability we have to comprehend. That knowledge must no longer remain a secret." pgs. 95-96. Well stated and vitally important--if we can just keep that in perspective!

  • John Woltjer
    Nov 29, 2012

    For reason's unknown, I have been fascinated by questions of mortality since I was a teenager. Deeply skeptical of religion, I have always had a profound felt sense that we are a part of something vastly greater than we can even imagine. It seems absolutely absurd to me that all of this that we are engaged in is the result of some cosmic accident and that the Universe is simply random and ultimately meaningless. But, we live in a scientific age where if you cannot label something and test it it

    For reason's unknown, I have been fascinated by questions of mortality since I was a teenager. Deeply skeptical of religion, I have always had a profound felt sense that we are a part of something vastly greater than we can even imagine. It seems absolutely absurd to me that all of this that we are engaged in is the result of some cosmic accident and that the Universe is simply random and ultimately meaningless. But, we live in a scientific age where if you cannot label something and test it it isn't real. So, our intuition must just be largely ignored because it is too subjective and untestable. My understanding of what has opened us up more and more to metaphysics is that it has emerged from the shadows since the revolutions in quantum mechanics, the study of the subatomic universe, where cause and effect and all other Newtonian laws have been shattered. Since objectivity has been shown to be impossible, given the indivisible nature of fundamental reality, the limits of science have been severely circumscribed. So, when a hard bitten scientist like Eben Alexander, the author of this book, finds himself in an after death realm that was to him as real--no MORE real than the life he was untethered from for 7 days, it gives more credence to the view that there are vast, other dimensions beyond our own. It is why I read books like this despite the skepticism of the larger scientific community (after all, what else could they do but protest?) I also read, My Stroke of Insight, by the Harvard Brain researcher, Jill Bolte Taylor a few years ago. Both books are fascinating treatises on the possibilities that exist beyond our three dimensional reality here on earth. Dr Alexander's book goes well beyond Jill Bolte Taylor's, in that she recognizes that she had a profound experience beyond the reality she had constructed as a brain researcher, an experience that fundamentally altered her sense of existence but one which she was much more circumspect about defining. What Dr. Alexander does is to assert his absolute, unshakeable belief that he experienced a much more profound reality that was much more than the mere misfirings of neurons in an unconscious brain. He is absolutely certain that he entered a realm that is just as "real" as the one we exist in on this plane.

    Well worth reading, but be willing to suspend your disbelief!

  • Nancy
    Jan 03, 2013

    This book should be called "A Doctor's Description of His Illness and How His Body looked to Everyone Else". Oops, guess that is too long - sort of like the book, too long. I actually was going to give the book one star, but Dr. Alexander went to a lot of effort to tell us about him and his illness and to interview people who told him what his body looked like while he was ill. The little discussion there was of the NDE (or up to the point when I decided to put the book down because life is too

    This book should be called "A Doctor's Description of His Illness and How His Body looked to Everyone Else". Oops, guess that is too long - sort of like the book, too long. I actually was going to give the book one star, but Dr. Alexander went to a lot of effort to tell us about him and his illness and to interview people who told him what his body looked like while he was ill. The little discussion there was of the NDE (or up to the point when I decided to put the book down because life is too short), was rather nightmarish. If he was inspired to become a better person after his serious illness, it was because he got a glimpse of hell. Heck, what he saw is making me try to be a better person. Having read Dr. Kubler-Ross, Dr. Mary C. Neal and Betty J. Eadie's books, among other accounts, and knowing people who have had NDEs, Dr. Alexander's book just does not offer "Proof of Heaven". Don't waste your time - life is too short - and don't waste your money - there are better books out there to spend it on.

  • Jeremy
    Jan 29, 2013

    I might have rated Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife three stars had the author replaced the title with the subtitle. If you’re looking for proof of heaven or just an insightful and critical exploration of NDEs, you are better off moving on.

    Proof is one neurosurgeon's personal account of heaven, or rather, a heavenly experience. What it's not is a scientifically rigorous and groundbreaking paper on the actuality of heaven.

    Alexander offers a montage of his experiences

    I might have rated Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife three stars had the author replaced the title with the subtitle. If you’re looking for proof of heaven or just an insightful and critical exploration of NDEs, you are better off moving on.

    Proof is one neurosurgeon's personal account of heaven, or rather, a heavenly experience. What it's not is a scientifically rigorous and groundbreaking paper on the actuality of heaven.

    Alexander offers a montage of his experiences in the afterlife and the ordeal his friends and family endured, waiting and praying for seven days as he seemed to be all but surely slipping away under a prolonged coma brought on by E. Coli meningitis.

    Many readers are taken by the seeming improbability of Alexander surviving what he did, and even more by his experience when his brain was apparently turned off. Indeed, the doctor’s recovery was a miracle—but is it proof of heaven?

    A regular reader of topics in neurology and consciousness, I am open to the possibility of Near Death Experiences, or NDEs, provided they are buttressed with some evidence. Call me naïve, but I thought a medical doctor would have been eager to provide some.

    After all, Alexander makes much of his credentials and accolades before he delves into his recollection of his NDE, repeatedly making bold claims about the creator and the afterlife. One suspects that by taking this approach, he is trying to fool readers into thinking the claims advanced in his book are scientific—and he repeatedly asserts they are. But there is little scientific inquiry here. Hell, there isn't even an insightful discussion of NDEs.

    Instead, what we get is an interesting story and a great deal of evangelizing—though one that would, in keeping with a would-be bestseller about the afterlife, bear the metaphysical shading to please virtually any religious or spiritual person.

    Another problem with the book is an inconsistency in how Alexander describes the afterlife: though he tells us that human words can’t begin to describe heaven, he then proceeds to describe it as blissful and, well, heavenly--replete with villagers, sparkling streams and waterfalls, butterflies, blossoming flowers and angel-like beings.

    He writes that his insights were immediate but not immaterial or abstract. And yet a few pages later, we're told he experienced the “infinite vastness of the Creator."

    Alexander’s NDE is markedly different than the usual NDE. He did not pass through a dark tunnel or recognize deceased loved ones. In fact, he had no sense of self. He describes it as being similar to the most primitive state of being--murky and dark and full of strange, pulse-like pounding.

    Things only come into relief when he enters the “Gateway” and, finally, the “Core,” where things are more vivid and peaceful and epiphanies await.

    From the premise that his awe-inspiring experience is scientific proof, he piles on a series of large claims about the real world. We’re told that it is permeated with unconditional and very tangible love – the “single most important scientific truth” about the world. Never mind that this is not at all scientific. (there is something called falsifiability that Dr. Alexander might want to look up in an intro philosophy of science textbook.)

    In case the reader might have forgotten that this is a medical doctor who is preaching a unique NDE gospel, Alexander paints his pre-NDE self as a skeptic and a scientific materialist who perfunctorily occasioned church. He assures us that though he is now a confident bearer of good news about the supernatural, he nevertheless dutifully revisited his experience as a scientist. One by one, he knocks down the potential scientific (materialistic) explanations for his experience: not a psychedelic vision induced by drugs; not a byproduct of “rapid eye movement” sleep; not a “DMT dump” in which the brain floods itself with a substance that can bring on intense psychedelic states.

    He rejects the possibility of a “reboot phenomenon” under which the brain creates a montage from disjointed memories and thoughts left over from the cortex before it shuts down.

    These explanations are all impossible, he writes, because the meningitis shut down his neocortex (though he suggests repeatedly that it was being destroyed)

    It seems, however, that Dr. Alexander quizzical mind didn't query one aspect of his experience: whether doctors closely monitored his brain while he was 'comatose.' We don’t get quotes from the doctors about this—and quotes from people abound in this book.

    What many skeptics have noted is that Dr. Alexnader doesn’t consider the possibility that his experience might have occurred as he surfaced from his coma. We all have dreams that feel like hours and discover upon awakening that they spanned only a few minutes. The scientific literature on NDE describes some long experiences that occurred within as little as 30 seconds. It’s possible that this otherworldly experience occurred shortly after his neocortex became active. But that’s something the former scientific skeptic oddly overlooks.

    Moreover, if Dr. Alexander wanted to prove his scientific veracity, why didn’t he submit his evidence in a paper for peer review in the scientific community and share that with us in the book?

    He hints that he was eager to share his discovery with the world. Or maybe he’s not trying to convince the skeptics but reassure and confirm the beliefs of the buying public.

    While well-written and sometimes poignant, the book reads like part Chicken Soup for the Soul and part creed screed. Dr. Alexander blasts scientific materialism and argues that by rejecting it, we can get in touch with our spiritual selves through love and compassion. But I don’t see how love and compassion are empty without God. After all, even if our brains are nothing more than electrical-chemical signals in an all-too-biological machine, that does not negate the real subjective experience of the “machine” (a inexact comparison he and other neurosurgeons toss around too readily, because machines are not conscious and self-aware).

    I wanted to be swayed: to reconsider my position on NDEs. That didn’t happen with “Proof of Heaven.”

  • Carolina Montague
    Apr 13, 2013

    This nonfiction book about a neurosurgeon who suffers from a severe infection of the brain - so severe that it shuts down his neo-cortex and he drops into a deep coma - is one of the best Near Death Experience books I've ever read.

    The author was an agnostic physician with expertise in the brain and consciousness. He started with a strong position that all consciousness is centered in brain function. If the brain stops functioning, you are dead and there is no coming back. He was skeptical of cl

    This nonfiction book about a neurosurgeon who suffers from a severe infection of the brain - so severe that it shuts down his neo-cortex and he drops into a deep coma - is one of the best Near Death Experience books I've ever read.

    The author was an agnostic physician with expertise in the brain and consciousness. He started with a strong position that all consciousness is centered in brain function. If the brain stops functioning, you are dead and there is no coming back. He was skeptical of claims of NDEs because he knew how the drugs doctors used to bring patients back affected the brain. But when his brain completely shut down, he experienced a very deep entry into Oneness, and was miraculously brought back to life, not by medical intervention - they had given up and were ready to pull the plug - but by Divine intervention. He struggled to reconcile what he knew as a physician and neurosurgeon with his experiences when his brain was completely "off-line".

    The experiences he had were alternately horrifying and exquisitely transcendent. The account loops around to another miracle: the discovery of who his guide was in the world beyond physical existence. He did not recognize his guide until a series of events brought her identity to him.

    I highly recommend this book

  • Joe
    Apr 24, 2013

    very cleverly written and marketed trash. Those who want to believe are going to believe regardless, but all the "convincing" arguments he makes can easily be discredited:

    1) It's implied that being a neurosurgeon somehow makes his experience more valid than that of say a teacher, or fireman, or even a bum on the street. Nonsense -- it does not make him an expert on the "afterlife"

    2) The way he sequences events in the book strongly imply that he experienced these "out-of-body" events while his br

    very cleverly written and marketed trash. Those who want to believe are going to believe regardless, but all the "convincing" arguments he makes can easily be discredited:

    1) It's implied that being a neurosurgeon somehow makes his experience more valid than that of say a teacher, or fireman, or even a bum on the street. Nonsense -- it does not make him an expert on the "afterlife"

    2) The way he sequences events in the book strongly imply that he experienced these "out-of-body" events while his brain was effectively "dead". First of all, his brain was not in any way "dead" -- it was receiving oxygenated blood the entire time, which means neurons were alive, active, and firing, or he would truly have been brain-dead in a matter of minutes. And in the end, how does he know that he did not "dream" these events as his body was coming out of the coma in the last day or hours, or even minutes? He also implies that his brain suddenly came alive like a light switch when his eyes popped open -- more nonsense -- the human body (and brain) doesn't work that way. And how did these out-of-body experiences make it into his "dead" brain to begin with?

    3) floating on "big, puffy, pink-white clouds" ? Ya, that one's imaginative -- what artist's depiction of "heaven" has not involved floating on clouds? You really think heaven is floating on clouds? Seriously? I would have been more likely to believe an underwater world, or perhaps floating in the gaseous red-orange upper layers of Jupiter.

    4) a beautiful golden-haired girl with "high cheekbones" and deep blue eyes -- that one's a great touch -- what red-blooded American male hasn't had that vision? Had this been an Arab muslim, she no doubt would have been merely 1 of 72 very virginal dark-haired women with opal eyes (and high cheekbones). Or how about a gay guy? Would he have seen a very beautiful young boy (with high cheekbones) ? oh, but wait: gay people don't make it into heaven, or, if they do, they are quickly "straightened out" !

    It should also be noted that his wife has an MFA in writing, and that he has probably already made more money on this book, than he has in his no doubt extremely lucrative profession as a neurosurgeon.

  • Cathleen
    Apr 28, 2013

    I will acknowledge that I am rating and reviewing this little less than halfway through. Full bias disclosure: I will also readily acknowledge that from the moment I heard about Alexander's account, I desperately wanted to read it—and believe it. The reason is simple: The snippets to which I'd been exposed in interviews and reviews so closely mirrored an experience with my late husband less than a week before his actual death and a full two years before this book's publication. His eyes were clo

    I will acknowledge that I am rating and reviewing this little less than halfway through. Full bias disclosure: I will also readily acknowledge that from the moment I heard about Alexander's account, I desperately wanted to read it—and believe it. The reason is simple: The snippets to which I'd been exposed in interviews and reviews so closely mirrored an experience with my late husband less than a week before his actual death and a full two years before this book's publication. His eyes were closed and he was unresponsive for mere minutes, but when they opened with a look of awe, wonder and yet, pure love and serenity, I smiled and said, "Where were you?" and his immediate response was, "Heaven, I hope. It was beautiful. Love is all and all is love." And to my joyful tears, "And you are love, so you will always be with me." I already believed in an afterlife. I still do. Scientific or spiritual arguments won't change that. I also believe that in my human form I can't possibly know what it will be. But I do admit to seeking validation — and comfort — that what I imagine to be true just may be. And that one day I will be reunited with my love. As other reviewers have said, neither believers nor nonbelievers will be swayed by Alexander's account. Personally, I do find it more compelling that he, as a scientist, was not just skeptical, but absolutely dismissive of an afterlife before his experience. And just as this book is just one man's story, mine is just one woman's hope.

  • Cristael Bengtson
    May 18, 2013

    I am a Near Death Experiencer. I was really excited when I ran across Dr. Eben Alexander's book on his Near Death Experience. I spent last night and most of today reading his book.

    I am happy that someone with Dr. Alexander's years of experience and qualifications has told his story of one of the deepest and longest and most significant NDE's I've ever read about or heard of.

    Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon who has worked at some of the finest hospitals in the country. He has also been a teacher a

    I am a Near Death Experiencer. I was really excited when I ran across Dr. Eben Alexander's book on his Near Death Experience. I spent last night and most of today reading his book.

    I am happy that someone with Dr. Alexander's years of experience and qualifications has told his story of one of the deepest and longest and most significant NDE's I've ever read about or heard of.

    Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon who has worked at some of the finest hospitals in the country. He has also been a teacher at Harvard Medical School. He is a professional who understands the workings of the brain from the viewpoint of a surgeon and a scientist. This is a man who carefully analyzes and considers all points of view before presenting his thoughts on his own NDE.

    What I see in this book is a portrait of an NDE'r who is a top professional in the field of brain surgery, a strong family man, and a man of integrity and good sense.

    I particularly liked his honesty in dealing with his battles with depression, and his sense of rejection stemming from his having been an adopted child. To my mind, his honesty and his vulnerability help to give this book integrity.

    It is very encouraging to all us NDE'rs who are out there, working to spread the word about what has happened to us, to find this kind of corroboration of both the reality and the value of our experiences. Thank you, Dr. Alexander.

  • Jane Wither
    Jul 01, 2013

    I wanted to like this book but there were so many signs of improbability to the story I just couldn't do it. By the end of the book I was sure that the author and his editors were selling snake oil.

    Alexander tried very hard to distance himself from religion and new age spirituality in the beginning of his book so he could seem more credible once he starts telling his outlandish story. "Believe me. I'm a Neurologist. I know the brain better than you." "Believe me. I wasn't religious before." "Be

    I wanted to like this book but there were so many signs of improbability to the story I just couldn't do it. By the end of the book I was sure that the author and his editors were selling snake oil.

    Alexander tried very hard to distance himself from religion and new age spirituality in the beginning of his book so he could seem more credible once he starts telling his outlandish story. "Believe me. I'm a Neurologist. I know the brain better than you." "Believe me. I wasn't religious before." "Believe me. I was a skeptic of the highest order so if I can be convinced it must be true."

    He claimed not to be religious yet one of the first people to his bedside is the Rector of their church. A close friend obviously as only the closest of friends and family stay by you at the hospital through such a trauma. His wife describes their close friend Sylvia as a psychic. Another close friend of his wife, Susan Reintjes, is, according to the author an intuitive. A description that he calls a "fact" that never got in the way of his feelings about her. Contrary to what he says in his book he was clearly influenced by religion before his so called NDE and he was receptive or at least tolerant of New Age thinking.

    The book is called "Proof of Heaven" yet there was no evidence or proof provided. It was a story. An accounting of one person's experience. Who's to say these experiences happened while he was in a coma? Why couldn't these experiences have happened once he became conscious and was experiencing his post-coma psychosis? He briefly refers to a "reboot phenomenon" in his list of possible scientific explanations at the end of the book but dismisses it as "most unlikely" without any explanation of why it would be unlikely.

    The revelation about his birth sister toward the end made his book feel more like a novel with an unexpected twist at the end of the story. I certainly felt manipulated there. Perhaps it was not Dr. Alexander but his editors who insisted on the "plot twist" but regardless it was a blatant manipulation purely for entertainment value. This writing technique certainly leads me to call into question his intention for the book and weakens his claim that his experience was a valid scientific observation and proof of the afterlife.

    If I was skeptical when I finished the book, I was certain when I visited his website (

    ). Dr. Alexander isn't wasting any opportunity to make more money from his story. You can buy an "All is Well" bracelet from Etsy for $70 memorializing his first words out of the coma. You can go on an exclusive 5 star retreat in Greece with Dr. Alexander where in addition to "experiential" and informative presentations some speakers will be offering individual "healing sessions" no doubt for a hefty additional fee. If that's not enough for you, you can buy Dr. Alexander's four 90 minute Video Meditation Learning Sessions for $59!

    He is a slick speaker too... just watch his many interviews. He has a well-rehearsed shtick that seems very contrived.

    To be clear I'm not weighing in on whether NDEs really happen or whether there is, in fact, an after life. What I am weighing in on is Dr. Alexander's integrity as an author. He is not being completely honest about who he is and what his motivations are. Reader beware.