Neurosurgeon Dr Eben Alexander’s bestselling and controversial Proof of Heaven (published last October) describes experiences while in a coma induced by bacterial meningitis. According to science he should not have experienced anything because his cerebral cortex would have shut down. In short, theoretically, his claims to experiences of the beyond offer a challenge to materialist notions of mind and brain apart from which “consciousness” cannot exist. Sceptics like neuroscientist Sam Harris have dismissed Alexander’s evidence wholesale and as plain unscientific (For the crux of the argument see:
It is of course easy to dismiss Eben’s and all NDE experiences if one denies the existence (for which others would claim evidence) of any soul/subtle body/aura/body electric, or just “consciousness”, able to detach from the body at death and other times during life.
The longstanding doyen of NDE studies, Raymond Moody, has hailed Alexander’s evidence as exceptional and remarkable, but is it? Meanwhile some Christians have oddly, or just ignorantly, claimed the account contains nothing against received doctrine. If anything it might be said to challenge it and most belief systems on most points as regards the hereafter (it is overall perhaps closest to Buddhism in not demonstrating any clear notion of self even while it has a notion of deity Buddhism denies ). What we do have to reckon is that if the soul exists and can experience visions, then there can be visions both true and false just as there are good and bad dreams.
With the conflicting viewpoints in mind I composed the following skit. Readers of poetry should be sure to tune in on May 12th for some more poetry,longer and more substantial than the following and anything but skittish, namely THE HELL PASSAGE.
DR EBEN GOES TO HEAVEN
Doctor Eben went up to heaven
Not quite on a ladder of light.
First stop was a blackness of slime
Where, caught like a worm in a hole,
He remained an indefinite time.
There the filth of that place made its bubble,
And its stench wafted fully its smell
While faces made menace through gloom
And, like maybe a heartbeat, the world
Struck a rhythmic mechanical boom.
Then light in the darkness shone out
Grew and spun to the form of a tunnel.
Through this Eben rose from his swamp
To find gardens and people like earth’s,
But also a woman or angel for guide
With whom he was able to ride
Through celestial scenes and then fly
On butterfly wings up to God.
She or It was a genderless god
Who uttered no words he could hear
His guide gave the sense: it was love
Since at core that is all that exists
(Though it’s evil gives growth and free will!).
God was most like a kind of bright void
Or again like a dazzling dark
And it seemed that God’s name might be OM …
(OMNI something wouldn’t God need to be?)
Eben learned, given practice and time,
To bounce like a ball up and down
Between heavenly gate and earth’s muck
Till at last the gate was tight shut. He regretted
Returning to earth, to terrestrial limits and strife
It’s not like his home, nor like any real thing
Where bliss is denied with the purpose of life…
….Or….where truth is obscured…..so say….
Dr Eben went down to hell
It was obvious from the very smell.
Sulphurous Satan was back at his tricks
Transforming to light within the Styx.
But New York needed its special story
It wants no heavens of average glory
Publishing circles came for the kill
It’s heresy sells and not God’s will.
However, beware all gross deception
Which teaches nothing of God’s election
Nor lets the God whose name is Word
Speak anything that can be heard.
And makes of God who’s infinite light
A force of being much less bright
Indeed a dazzle of darkness, scarcely more
For a soul to see than a muddy floor.
To test all the spirits was sage advice
Too often a vision is merest device
For fiendish minds to spread confusion
Misleading the masses about salvation.
Beware of angels with information
“You can’t do wrong”, else what’s temptation?
While too much love without condition
Belongs with the flatteries of perdition.
Like claims from God there’s no separation,
Half true in its way since all damnation
Is existence through God, but only as fire
Nothing else to support either love or desire.
Moreover the idea’s plain infernal
That love’s the absolute universal
When selves won’t recall their personal being
To love and relate with any meaning.
Both easier and more hard than this
Are death and soul’s entry into bliss.
Let visions agree, doubt odd revelation
Such merely serve truth’s deprivation.
[A lot of people seem to have been reading this Dr Eben poem and if you enjoyed it, fine, but it is basically a skit. There is more serious and accomplished poetry that I hope you might think worth looking at and/or supporting here or on Twitter etc in other, subsequent posts]
 The Styx in myth and Dante’s Inferno is the river that separates the world of the living from Hades or Hell. Traditionally it is “the river of hate” – Whether or not it’s near a river, Eben’s wormhole is declared to be a region of menacing faces. The devil transforms to an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14).
 Allusion to “the big six” of publishing of which Eben’s publisher (Simon and Schuster) is one while another is HarperCollins, or Heresy Central itself for the range of serious distortions or denials of Christianity it regularly promotes. However the poet has personal issues going way back as regards the dealings of Schuster and Harper over prose rather than poetic material.
 1 Tim 6:16 …”[God]…..who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see”. The epistle’s author means the Creator, God the Father, not the Son, the Word who can be seen including as light”. Though they may have heard God, not even believers will have seen the Creator prior to the Last Things, unless possibly as an image within vision only, but not directly.
 1 Joh 4:1, “….do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God”.
 The Eben experience has many unique features. It’s hardly the “run-of-the-mill near-death experience literature” that Peter Sanford of Britain’s The Guardian had it, which is why for NDE researcher Raymond Moody it so remarkable and supposedly impressive. However, without suggesting all NDEs are true or that consistency is truth’s sole criterion in the matter, there is a certain level of agreement among a fair percentage of NDEs which cannot be ignored in assessment.