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"This Must Be Heaven": My response to a recent Newsweek cover story...
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THIS is a Newsweek cover story!?!?! 
My wife subscribed to Newsweek when the neighbor kid was selling subscriptions for his school or cub scouts or something. I about lost it  when I came home and found this bit of propaganda tripe sitting on the table. Good thing my kids didn't see it...they're so impressionable.
If I facepalmed as hard as this article deserved, I'd probably shut down my cortex...
+Sam Harris , with phrases like "...we know nothing about how such a miracle of emergence might occur.", you're just begging to be taken out of context.

I can see the headlines now: "Prominent atheist admits that science can't explain consciousness".
I saw a long interview on one of the major network news programs with Mary C. Neal MD who also claims to have had an afterlife experience stemming from a kayaking accident. It was hard to watch. She wrote a book with the cringe-inducing title, To Heaven and Back. The stories from all these people are the same. There is nothing about them that exposes some new understanding about the possibility or probability of an afterlife, but because the claims are being made by highly educated, (somewhat) respected professionals in their fields, they are given a full media platform from which to share their deluded BS. I am sure it can't hurt book sales that they have some appearance of credibility. I mean, why would a doctor lie about angels? Kills me.
Such a painful article, Newsweek is such a joke for publishing this, appropriately characterized, "tripe."
Actually, the admission of Harris that he doesn't claim consciousness for neuroscience, redeems him completely to my eyes, I love him for saying that -

For the rest, the funniest to note about the standards of proof hereby heralded by Newsweek, is that even the Bible discounts isolated witnesses.
+Boris Borcic : of course it does, but WE understand what he's saying. Just let some theist journalist with a sixth-grade reading level look at it and see what he understands.
+Boris Borcic : "...the admission of Harris that he doesn't claim consciousness for neuroscience, redeems him completely to my eyes..."

"...of course it does, but WE understand what he's saying."
It's always worth remembering the Carl Sagan Standard: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
Media literacy is very lacking around the world. Some don't know a tabloid when they see one and say every thing they see and hear is true.
I'll put $100 on this guy showing up on 60 Minutes this season.  I think it is important that the hype and hysteria that surrounds this steaming pile of woo is thoroughly and conclusively combatted.  
Bet Newseeek sells lots...and that's really all they are interested in!
Most are out to look for a buck with out a fight that would cause them to struggle for status, and firing people feeding families working for them.
Many don't do research and claim to have no time to do it. Then there are those that claim to do research but only look to confirm bias beliefs, and not even consider an open-mind of view from others. Skepticims are sadly lacking in the parts of the world of fear and brainwash.
Keep up the good work, Mr. Harris!
Small correction: E.Coli doesn't cause meningitis.
I'm the man that believes there is no heaven, no GOD no nothing but there is still a little part of me that hopes beyond hope that I go there because I don't want to think of eternal nothingness when I die. I think if you believe there is more then great, that is your choice but until science proves it I'm still going to believe its not there.
So much more eloquent than my review which was simply "bullshit".
I liked the part where he said "higher-order brain function".
That article is a joke. What about the "angels" part!!. It really cracked me up. Just another wishful thinking story that wants to be classified as serious science by the disappointing Newsweek magazine.
So does +Sam Harris ever actually interact here, or does he simply use G+ as a broadcast medium? Because if so, I think he's missing out on a lot of the value social media can offer.
This will bring sales from a populous committed and addicted to "being told what they want to be told"- This will sell well. Will it be read? Newsweek has gone they way of the Enquirer. This is a follow-up on the Muslim hating. Christian Loving. What's next? Bigfoot?
Experiences like this should be used to debunk religious stories. We can prove that "seeing" god is simply a delusion. Given that time is a very relative experience it would be fare to say that the memories are created just prior to or after brain function lapses.
Idiocy isn't belief in the possibility that there is more to life than we know. Idiocy is being "certain" that there isn't.
+Keith Kimball That was my impression as well. Consciousness as we know it is completely contained within the brain, and we know the brain can be influenced by chemicals. Death is a drastic chemical change within the brain, so one could reason that as the brain shuts down in death, consciousness and sense of time become skewed. What could be only seconds could feel like "eternity," and if a person had "lived well," those seconds could be pleasant. If a person were regretful of their decisions in life, those seconds could be "hell." It would be great if we all joined a collective consciousness in the skies, but honestly, I think it would be even better if we used whatever time we have here to just be good to each other for the sake of making life pleasant.
Zach G.
It makes me sick the anti god propaganda people push on comments. God loves all of you. It pisses me off that you hold your children back by denying God in there lives. I will pray for your souls. God bless 
+zach gaitten  *their

It's not so much denying god in their lives, it's protecting them from one doctrine that's pushed upon them everywhere. Christians complain of being "opressed." Maybe you'll be lucky enough to have a christian president someday. Wait, maybe 42 in a row! 

God is on currency, in our pledge, in our schools, and plastered on billboards. Maybe a child should grow up learning their own way. If they want to believe in the christian god, they can. The bible says that his creation declares his name. If that's true, who are you to interpret the message to them? 
+Craig Froehle , Harris also has a Twitter account, which I follow. Naturally he has his own website, where he posted the article you just read. He is also very, VERY ubiquitous on YouTube and does tons of talks and lectures and debates around the world. Oh, and he writes books LOL! And tons of articles in various publication printed and online. I've read...

"The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason"
"Letter To a Christian Nation"
"The Moral Landscape"

His latest is "Free Will" but I hadn't read it yet. I just got my paws on a copy of Peter Whybrow's "American Mania: When More Is Not Enough". Still need to finish Susan Jacoby's "The Age Of American Unreason". And Darwin's "The Origin of Species". Dang. >_<
+zach gaitten and +Rich Curtis , at latest count, the percentage of Americans referring to themselves as non-religious has risen to 20, compared to 15 percent just 5 years ago. It's generational and, I suspect, due to their being far more educated and globally acculturated compared to their grandparents or even their parents.  Many younger Americans increasingly don't seem to think having a religious belief is so important in their lives anymore.

Non-religious on the rise | Salon

It's also intriguing to see that the number of young men entering priesthood is falling too.

As priest numbers fall, even Catholic Spain is not immune to a crisis of faith | The Independent UK
+Darwin Hawke  I have heard that, actually. It's quite refreshing to hear that people are starting to make their own decisions rather than follow a belief based on tradition. 

I don't have a problem with religion. It gives some people what they need to get through the day. But it definitely needs to stay a personal matter and nothing more. 
+Rich Curtis , I've always thought religious beliefs or things like shamanism or nature god/goddess worship were forms of psychology and therapy before the science was established.
+zach gaitten I'm getting tired of all the religious zealots that feel compelled to comment on Atheistic posts. It's even worse on the Dalia Lama's posts. Perhaps I should start following christian posts and return the favor. Didn't Jesus teach you any manners?
+Sam Harris any chance newsweek gives you the same platform to disect all of these claims? 
+Sam Harris +Vik Arya , how possible would it be for Newsweek to allow Dr. Harris a platform, considering the magazine is quite a conservative mainstream publication?
Please explain the cell and its origens evolution is the greatest theory .the grandest of lies
Humanity is comforted by just making shit up. It's childish but that's humanity for you.
I haven't read Sam's reply on this, but i have read the article.

I don't think his account occurred during his cortex was completely shut down, but rather when it was re-activating. How like most of us remembering our dreams that occurred later part of our sleep (which usually nearer in the morning). 
Newsweek must be completely desperate. Great response. I got a chuckle from this quote...

"His experience sounds so much like a DMT trip that we are not only in the right ballpark, we are talking about the stitching on the same ball."

Thank you Sam for standing up for reason, and for an honest evaluation of the human experience. 
When I read "this must be heaven" I gagged a little bit then the words "no, it's Iowa" popped in to my head. Field of Dreams FTW.
Try Hemi-sync if you want to experience something phenomenal for yourself.

Forget about the post-PC era, when can we get to post-religion???
Give something a name, like "consciousness" or "god", it does mean that it exists in the Scientific sense... What cannot be measured/parametrized/quantified/analyzed cannot be discussed with any objectivity.

I personally believe in God, but I know it is blind faith. Still, I require and I need no proof. This is because, most importantly, I do expect this to change anything in the real world. Being spiritual is one thing. But it is a subjective state of mind that remains meaningless in the "real", objective sense.

No one can claim "knowledge" outside Scientific Truth... And even then, doubt is the rule... This uncomfortable for most.
Which heaven? Virgins or harps? 
If there is a heaven, I'm gonna kick gods ass for making me exist in this pathetic planet. Almost like slavery...brings me here n forces me to choose between him or hell.
I missed the bit where God told him to go back to Earth and oppose raising corporate taxes. Such minor political messages are common in divine hallucinations according to Demon Haunted World.
It's not virgins ("huri"), +Mike Elgan , it's sweet wild raisins ("hur") ... Like Hebrew script, Arabic script has no vowels, the "i" was added later on. True. Check it out.
Newsweak needs to change the spelling of its name.
It's not likely to be talking about virgins, +Antonio Giovinazzo ... Consider another example, verse 67 of the Surat Al-Nahl says that "skr" is good. You'd think they added vowel to make it "sukar", or sugar. But they added vowels to make it "sakar", or drunkeness. Cheers :)
you are lucking very good 9453315858
+George Nasr Taking denial of (the possibility of) Omniscience as starting point, the most effective is to give God's name to the knowledge horizon - what rather changes the "theological" status of ambiguity - and of curiosity as well.
its pathetic that his book is named "Proof of heaven" when his only argument is "guys, im a scientist! .. A SCIENTIST! GUYS?!"
Not even, +Boris Borcic , otherwise dogma sets in, "à la Galileo", and stops further progress beyond that horizon. Let's just agree that, while we like to name and define things, some of our names/definitions are virtual with no other "real" meaning than to make us feel good.

Kinda like Fährvegnügen or Häâğęn-Ďåśż ...

If Ğőď has a sense of humour, he/she/it will forgive us, if not... Well, we'll never really know till we get "there", for those who choose to believe there's a "there" there. For the others, they'll never care... So it does not matter in this world, which is the only one we think we know, and we'll discovering, unhindered by "virtual" truth and the associated litterature.
+George Nasr The point about the horizon is that it has rich properties, foremost among them that its locus is (mobile and thus) contingent (and observer or subject-state dependent). Faith in omniscience amounts to the deluded inference that this property of the horizon's locus being contingent must extend to the horizon's very existence. 
i like it that the comments of each one of them is inspiring me to think about myself and the universe. So when we enter into this topic we will get great unbelieveable and controvercial views and iam quiet sure about it ok 
+Abraham Biu The difference between New York and Heaven is huge in terms of the availability of first hand witnesses, which indeed explains why, to the contrary of Heaven, nobody would dare deny the existence of New York seriously. Further, since you speak of New York, the notion that the promise of Heaven is instrumental to the choices of suicide terrorists, be it right or wrong, disallows taking the belief in Heaven as a purely personal issue.
Each heaven story is different in belief as also same for hell in religion.
Even how to get there and if there is multipal places of afterlife ...even purgatory is up for debate.
Though it be after life and the brain being dead there would be no way that we would have memories. The part of how different it would be to not remember loved ones and not even have the same functions as one would with a brain. So then we would have no pain or pleasure for those are constructs of learning and would be useless after death +Abraham Biu  .
+Antonio Giovinazzo , I understood it this way. I just to say that those ancient books are more philosophy than truth, and should be read in the context and language of the time. The same words may have different meanings; consider "an eye for an eye". Far from being a validation of #Vendetta , it would have been viewed as a brutally "egalitarian" concept for nomadic semitic tribes with a brutal slave-owning societal structure and an ethos of pillaging/raiding. In our societal context, the same words carry on a different meaning, as simpletons take them litterally.
His experiance was clearly heartfelt, he's a lucky guy

Sam Harris. As far as I can see, one of the great thinkers of our time- but more than that- a great communicator of those ideas. Now, of course I believe that because we agree about 85% of the time, if not 90%. I will have true faith and hope for our future when a guy like Sam could conceivably be president. When will we put the smart guys at the wheel?
i was so glad to find your article because i felt the exact same way and posted Eben's article on my FB page the day before and just said that he didn't see Jesus in his vision.  then, i found your article and posted it.  thanks :)  plus, now i get to read your books!
You don't need to have experienced psychedelic drugs to experience time desynchronization during sleep. Saying that "my brain was not active long enough to have an experience of such length" is not a good argument. I have often fallen asleep while looking at a clock, have a dream that seems to last an hour, and wake up and see that only a few minutes have elapsed. I have often wondered how far this desynchronization of time can our brain muster. Would it be possible, for example, for the brain to have a dream that never ends just before you die?  If we could choose what to "dream", can you imagine spending eternity in a self-made heaven? Or hell?
I once hit my head really hard and saw stars, I must have been travelling in space. 
I'm sure that the mind can experience all kinds of phenomena as a result of chemical changes in the brain, which can happen during a coma or when dying, but that doesn't mean that you will experience anything when you're actually dead.
Nor does it mean you won't. Science is only equipped to measure so much, and what happens post mortem doesn't fall into that category. There are some things we just don't know.
Ahhhhhhh.... DMT! You should have a go, Sam. McKenna does well, but, we need more great interlocutors like yourself to get involved and help us to make sense of it. 
+Rolando Perez Exactly this. Just last night I fell asleep 3 times within about an hour and had 3 dreams each longer than what seemed like hours.
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