Heaven is for Real offers answers on near death experiences

Greg Kinnear and Connor Corum in "Heaven Is for Real." (Credit: Sony Pictures)

Greg Kinnear and Connor Corum in “Heaven Is for Real.” (Credit: Sony Pictures)

For those who have heard of near death experiences, the Heaven is for Real movie may offer some insights about this unique phenomenon. Although near death experience stories are often associated with death, that is not always the case. Many believe that what people are experiencing can be explained as nothing more than the body’s neuroscience. Whatever your opinion on the subject, you’ll likely find this film to be fascinating as the story of one young boy’s trip to heaven unfolds.

Heaven is for Real movie

The film Heaven is for Real is based on the real life experiences of Colton Burpo, who at the age of four nearly died from an infection caused by a burst appendix. After his recovery Colton’s parents noticed a change in their son. Colton knew about family members who had died prior to his birth. Most surprising was his revelation of a sister who had died in utero.

How did Colton account for his new found knowledge? He had met his sister in heaven. Colton also described his meeting with Jesus and with his grandfather who had died 30 years before Colton was born.

When he was asked to identify his grandfather from a photo, Colton explained that everyone in heaven is young. Rather than choosing a photo of his grandfather as an older man, Colton made his identification from a photo taken when his grandfather was in his thirties.

Colton’s story is told in the book, Heaven is for Real, by his father Todd Burpo. You can watch a video of Colton and Todd relating their story on the book’s website.

Research on near death experiences

What are people experiencing when they have a near death experience (NDE)? It’s hard for scientists to determine what is going on in someone’s mind, but several studies have been done.

One book that explored near death experiences of children is, “Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the near-Death Experience” by Kenneth Ring and Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino, available on Questia.

“Lessons from the Light” not only recounts many inspiring NDEs from persons of all ages  including very young children  and classes, it also discloses Dr. Ring’s collection of cases where persons journey beyond the Light, as well as the NDEs of blind persons.

According to the authors, “Religious teachings may in time color the experience and influence its interpretation, and television talk shows may sensationalize and even trivialize them through their relentless exploitation of our hunger to know more about these transcendent journeys, but neither of these influences gives rise to these experiences in the first place.”

The book also offers guidance and exercises to help readers gain insight on the process of death and dying.

It’s all neuroscience

Rather than being a mystical phenomenon, other research leads scientists to believe that NDEs are the result of the body’s own neuroscience. Charles Q. Choi explained in his September 12, 2011, article for ScientificAmerican.com, “Peace of Mind: Near-Death Experiences Now Found to Have Scientific Explanations.”

Choi found that about 3 percent of the U.S. population claims to have had an NDE and that overall, reports of the phenomenon date back as far as ancient Greece.

The feeling of being out-of-body has been reported in up to 40 percent of all people. This experience is not only linked to near death but can coincide with the sleep state. Certain drugs, such as the anesthetic ketamine, have also been known to trigger hallucinations and the feeling of floating outside of one’s body.

A common aspect of the NDE is a feeling of traveling through a dark tunnel. According to Choi, “Although the specific causes of this part of near-death experiences remain unclear, tunnel vision can occur when blood and oxygen flow is depleted to the eye, as can happen with the extreme fear and oxygen loss that are both common to dying.”

Whatever your opinion on the existence of heaven and near death experiences is, the ultimate answer may be found in your own experiences. Be sure to check out the resources on Questia to learn more.

As for heaven? Colton Burpo is convinced it is real. According to little Colton, “Heaven is for real and you’re going to like it.”

Read more about topics related to Heaven is for Real, near death experiences and spirituality on Questia. Do you know anyone who has had a near death experience? Tell us in the comments.

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