After reading an article and viewing a video on ABC News, I though this topic would be an interesting topic for discussion.
Dr. Eben Alexander, a Harvard neurosurgeon, had a close brush with death about four years ago.
If you remember from a previous “Practical Science” article, E. coli is usually a very beneficial type of bacteria indeed. It helps us gather nutrients from our food and also aids in the digestive process.
Bacteria, however, have the ability to evolve very rapidly, sometimes resulting in mutations that make them virulent, or highly infective.
In bacterial meningitis, a virulent strain of E. coli enters the central nervous system and ultimately reaches the brain, wreaking havoc.
The brain begins to swell because of inflammation due to our own immune response. This, coupled with lower blood pressure due to the infection, makes it much harder for oxygenated blood to enter the brain.
This results in the death of brain cells and possibly, death of the organism.
Dr. Alexander is a lucky man; he survived the bacterial onslaught after a weeklong coma. Brain scans showed that his entire cerebral cortex, the parts of the brain that are linked with consciousness, thought, memory, and understanding, were not functioning at all.
Nurses at Alexander’s bedside stated that when pulling his eyelids back to shine light to elicit some response, his eyes were just off and cocked to one side.
There was nobody home.
The doctors working on Alexander said he would most likely not survive, and if he did, he would have brain damage for the rest of his life.
What is interesting about his experience is that he claims he had an amazing journey to “Heaven”.
Alexander states that his journey started in some kind of underworld where there were root-like objects. He stated that this place was dark and murky.
He also remembers that he had no consciousness of his body or his mortal life but felt only his own awareness.
Alexander stated that he was in this underworld for what felt likes years.
Next, a white light rescued Alexander from the darkness.
He states that this light was beautiful and had a melody. Upon entering the light, he saw a valley full with flowers and unexplainable complexity.
Alexander was accompanied by a young woman who flew with him on his journey on a butterfly wing. She had a message for him to take back.
This message was not spoken in word, but in thought.
According to Alexander, she said, “You are loved; you are cherished; there's nothing you have to fear; there's nothing you can do wrong."
Alexander said that God was there and appeared to him as an orb of brilliant light. He understood that it was a vast presence of love – all of eternity and all of conscious existence.
After his recovery, Alexander, who was adopted, was shown a picture of this biological family.
After staring at the picture, Alexander saw his guardian angel – his sister who he had never seen before and who had died a few years prior.
Many believe that Alexander just experienced a hallucination. His mind was under the influence of a devastating disease after all.
Alexander states that he knows that the events happened and that they happened outside of his body.
Alexander, unlike most other people that claim to have had near-death experiences, had a weapon on his side – years of neurological and scientific experience.
Alexander states that in this infection, his brain was drained of energy to a point where he couldn’t have remembered anything.
He states that his cortex was totally inactive and incapable of producing dreams, thought, or anything of the sort.
Alexander isn’t affected by the thoughts of his skeptics because he states that he himself was one as well.
Dr. Alexander wrote a book about his experiences entitled “Proof of Heaven.”
Is this enough ‘proof?’
First, I would like to state that I, as previously mentioned in a previous article of “Practical Science,” believe that there is more unknown than there is known.
That being said, I believe that an afterlife, a higher form of consciousness, and God, are all possibilities in this truly amazing thing we call the universe.
I have friends, family, and acquaintances that are on both sides of the coin - Some are believers and some are non-believers. I respect both viewpoints equally.
I would like to believe Dr. Alexander’s claim and, in fact, I do.
Sure, It’s always possible that he is making all of this up to sell a book, but I really feel he is sincere.
There is one thing however, that I cannot get out of my head.
The brain itself is the ‘final medical frontier’. It is really a mystery to us at this point in the game.
I understand that Dr. Alexander’s cortex was totally inactive during his experience, but there is still so much we do not understand about the brain itself.
Could it be possible that the infection made his brain go haywire?
I think its possible.
It seems clear, barring a very selfish desire to make money by exploiting people’s faith and hope, that the events described by Alexander did indeed happen. However, where it happened remains to be understood.
Honestly, we will probably never know, but I think it is important to wonder about and discuss this truly spectacular experience.
Tell me what you think about this in the Comments.
Was it a brain malfunction or an actual trip into the afterlife?
Think about it.