That was the experience of a reputable neurosurgeon, who taught at Harvard Medical School, while in a coma. He believes he visited heaven. Dr. Alexander’s neuroscience career taught him that near-death experiences are brain-based illusions, but his own journey changed his beliefs. A Christian by name, but not a person who held deep faith, his near death experience opened his eyes to a new reality–the home of God.
In 2008, Dr. Eben Alexander, fell in to a meningitis-induced coma for seven days. From a scientific point of view, the coma made it impossible for him to experience even limited consciousness. But something happened that took him beyond scientific understanding. He experienced the afterlife and chronicled that experience in a new book, Proof of Heaven.
This story caught my eye because it speaks to the possibility of holding deeply religious beliefs as a scientist. If one truly believes that God created all things, then scientific discovery becomes man’s way of learning what God designed. In other words, science will only discover what God has created. A lack of scientific explanation may indicate our limited ability to completely understand the complexity of our Creator.
I am reminded of the story of Job. God shows up during Job’s troubles. He doesn’t enlighten Job but allows Job to know how little he really knows. He reminds Job that his view of the universe is very limited. As author, Philip Yancey notes, we need faith most at the precise moment it seems impossible. Job, through his suffering, learned that God cared about him intimately, and that God rules the world–a message that perhaps Dr. Alexander learned as well.