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Proof of Heaven? Quite Naturally...

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PostSubject: Proof of Heaven? Quite Naturally... Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:47 pm

A few weeks ago the cover of Newsweek featured an article by Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who previews what he refers to in his forthcoming book as "proof of Heaven." In his piece, Alexander argues that heaven exists because he had the experience of heaven without the biological capacity for producing experiences "himself." "Him" here refers to his body and, specifically of course, his brain: He was, the proof goes, in a coma while he had his experience of the divine.

There are a number of missing or weak links in what Dr. Alexander calls "proof of" -- but surely means "evidence for" -- the existence of Heaven. Sam Harris recently detailed one of the most important things missing from Alexander's case: evidence that his premise (experience at the time of no brain activity) is likely. That is, evidence that all brain activity actually ceased during his coma, that his heavenly experience occurred while he was in a coma, and that Alexander knows how likely those things are. I think Harris offers a convincing case that Alexander is greatly inflating each of these sets of odds.

But if we really want to know if heaven exists based on Alexander's account, there's something else we want to uncover, beyond the answer to the question how likely is it that brain activity actually explained Alexander's experience (the answer to which I'll assume everyone can agree is at least greater than 0 percent, particularly since Alexander is now very much alive). Those of us truly serious about evaluating Alexander's proof also need to know how likely is it that Alexander would think of the divine as an explanation for his unexpected and incredibly salient experience, whether or not it was actually the case. That is, we would want to know if Alexander is biased in his perception of the source of his experience.



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