Stairway to Heaven: Proof Of God?

Stairway to Heaven: Proof Of God?

From time to time I come across a list of: Suspects for the Mothman, or what UFOs might be, or Who is visiting us from distant solar systems. Typically I find those lists to fall apart under even minimal scrutiny.

Today’s list is all about Heaven, and a little bit about Hell.

From an article titled 10 Scientists Who Claim to Have Proof about the Existence of God from
Drilling to Hell

According to legend, in 1989 a team of Russian scientists who were operating under the direction of Dr. Azzacove drilled a hole that was nine miles deep in an unnamed place in Siberia before breaking through into a cavity. Intrigued by this unexpected discovery, they lowered an extremely heat tolerant microphone, along with other sensory equipment, into the well. They listened and recorded (purportedly) the tormented screams of desperate people. The second surprise was the high temperature that they discovered at the earth’s center, which was over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The conclusion was that they had opened a hole into Hell.

The story was first published in 1990 by the Finnish newspaper Ammennusatia, a journal published by a group of Christians from Leväsjoki, a town in Western Finland.

Any account that starts with “According to legend…” does not belong in a list of supposed proofs, especially not when the Website Truth or Fiction did a little digging into this story and found several people associated with it. You can find the full article Here, but the relevant part is this:

Background on the Drilling to Hell story
By Rich Buhler

However, there was still the Norwegian man, Age Rendalen, who had told the story of the ominous, bat-like creature emerging from the drill-hole. The article in the Trinity Broadcasting Network newsletter said he lived near Oslo, so we called directory assistance and found him in about 45 seconds. I talked with him on the phone myself:

‘Are you the one who sent information to a Christian television network in the United States about scientists drilling into hell?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ he said without hesitation.

‘Well,’ I continued, ‘Do you have any way of knowing whether it is true?’

‘Yes I do,’ he replied.

‘Tell me about it,’ I asked.

‘None of it is true,’ he said. ‘I fabricated every word of it!’

Rendalen went on to explain that he had visited the US a few weeks earlier and had seen the host of a Christian television program enthusiastically relating the Drilling to Hell story. He told me: ‘I couldn’t believe that the hosts really thought the story was true and that they would broadcast it without apparently having checked it out.’

Like Steve Miller says, “You know you got to go through hell before you get to heaven.” Which brings us to one man’s “proof” that heaven exists. A While ago, Xavier brought us the story of Dr. Eben Alexander III.

Eben Alexander III

In 2008, Eben Alexander III, a Harvard neurosurgeon, suffered a very ferocious E coli meningitis infection which attacked his brain and plunged him deep into a week-long coma. Brain scans showed that his entire cortex – the parts of the brain that give us consciousness, thought, memory, and understanding – was not functioning. Doctors gave him little chance to live and told his family that if he did survive he’d probably be brain-damaged for the rest of his life. Against all odds, Mr. Alexander woke up a week after being stricken.

Deep in a coma, his brain was infected so badly that only the most primitive parts were working. He claimed that he experienced something extraordinary: a journey to Heaven.

In his autobiographical book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, he asserts that he left his body and had a near death experience.

Alexander’s attending physician does not agree. From Wikipedia:

In a wide-ranging investigation of Alexander’s story and medical background, Esquire magazine reported (August 2013 issue) that prior to the publication of Proof of Heaven, Alexander had been terminated or suspended from multiple hospital positions, and had been the subject of several malpractice lawsuits, including at least two involving the alteration of medical records to cover up a medical error. The magazine also found what it claimed were discrepancies with regard to Alexander’s version of events in the book. Among the discrepancies, according to an account of the Esquire article in Forbes, was that “Alexander writes that he slipped into the coma as a result of severe bacterial meningitis and had no higher brain activity, while a doctor who cared for him says the coma was medically induced and the patient was conscious, though hallucinating.”

And you can read that Esquire article in full.

This one is purely for fun, and I can see no other reason to have included it in this list. I recall a version of this going around when I was in college back in the ’80’s.

Urban Legend

According to urban legend, the following is an actual question given on a University of Washington Chemistry midterm.

The answer by one student was so “profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So, we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added. This gives two possibilities.

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Theresa during my freshman year that “It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,” and we take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Theresa kept shouting, “Oh my God.”

Of course, this student received an A+.

By God’s Own Hand

In 1725, Professor Johann Bartholomeus Adam Beringer, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Würzburg, found many pieces of limestone carved into the shapes of lizards, frogs, spiders on their webs, a fish-faced bird, suns, and stars on Mount Eibelstadt, Germany. Some of them were bearing inscriptions such as the Hebrew name of God in Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew characters. These pieces with peculiar forms, in his opinion, were stones carved by God himself while experimenting with the types of life that He thought to create.

Beringer also proposed several possible explanations for the supposed fossils, in addition to his own preferred interpretation that while some few of these stones might be dead animals (fossils), most were just “capricious fabrications of God.” He also considered the possibility that they were the carvings of prehistoric pagans, but he had to rule this out since pagans would not know the name of God. However, this evidence of sculpting only convinced him more strongly that the chisel was wielded by the hand of God.

Well, aside from the fact that this is clearly only Beringer’s opinion, and hardly a scientific analysis, it was also a hoax revealed in its own day as can be read at

Beringer believed them to be fossils, and because some of them also bore the name of God in Hebrew, suggested that they might be of divine origin. In fact, he was the victim of a hoax, perpetrated on him by his colleagues ex-Jesuit J. Ignatz Roderick, Professor of Geography and Mathematics, and Johann Georg von Eckhart, privy counselor and university librarian. Upon discovering the truth, Beringer took his hoaxers to court, and the scandal that followed left all three of them in disgrace.

Pascal’s Wager

Pascal’s Wager is an argument in apologetic philosophy which was devised by the seventeenth-century French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623–1662). It posits that humans all bet with their lives either that God exists or does not exist. Given the possibility that God actually does exist and assuming the infinite gain or loss associated with belief in God or with unbelief, a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.).

The philosophy uses the following logic:
1. God is, or He is not.
2. A Game is being played where heads or tails will turn up.
3. According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
4. You must wager. (It’s not optional.)
5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.

Does this really prove anything, or merely offer one person’s cost/benefit analysis that you are better off believing the same as him as is rampant in religion. Essentially Apologetic Philosophy was an attempt to rationalize a continued belief in religion while critical thinking and reason were beginning to erode the underpinnings of faith and the teachings of the church.

Moreland defines what he calls philosophical apologetics as “a philosophical activity which has as its goal (or perhaps as its result) the increasing or maintaining of the epistemic justification of a Christian world view in whole or in part.”

Today we call it grasping at straws.

Euler’s Formula

There is a famous legend inspired by Euler’s arguments with secular philosophers over religion, which is set during Euler’s second stint at the St. Petersburg academy. The French philosopher Denis Diderot was visiting Russia on Catherine the Great’s invitation. However, the Empress was alarmed that the philosopher’s arguments for atheism were influencing members of her court, so Euler was asked to confront the Frenchman. Diderot was informed that a learned mathematician had produced a proof of the existence of God; he agreed to view the proof as it was presented in court. Euler appeared, advanced toward Diderot, and in a tone of perfect conviction announced the following non-sequitur: “Sir, \frac{a+b^n}{n}=x, hence God exists—reply!” Diderot, to whom (says the story) all mathematics was gibberish, stood dumbstruck as peals of laughter erupted from the court. Embarrassed, he asked to leave Russia, a request that was graciously granted by the Empress. However amusing the anecdote may be, it is apocryphal, given that Diderot himself did research in mathematics.

“Apocryphal,” a nice way of saying it’s a lie.

Kurt Friedrich Gödel

Kurt Friedrich Gödel was an Austrian, and later American, logician, mathematician, and philosopher. Considered, along with Aristotle and Frege, to be one of the most significant logicians in human history, Gödel made an immense impact upon scientific and philosophical thinking in the 20th century.

When Gödel died in 1978, he left behind a tantalizing theory based on principles of modal logic, a type of formal logic that, narrowly defined, involves the use of the expressions “necessarily” and “possibly,” according to Stanford University. So the theorem says that God, or a supreme being, is that for which no greater can be conceived. God exists in the understanding. If God exists in the understanding, we could imagine Him to be greater by existing in reality. Therefore, God must exist.

Gödel’s offering hardly comes from an objective viewpoint and offers an argument based upon his conclusion. Rationalizing what he already believes.

He believed firmly in an afterlife, stating: “Of course this supposes that there are many relationships which today’s science and received wisdom haven’t any inkling of. But I am convinced of this [the afterlife], independently of any theology.” It is “possible today to perceive, by pure reasoning” that it “is entirely consistent with known facts.” “If the world is rationally constructed and has meaning, then there must be such a thing [as an afterlife].”

Human Genome

During an interview by CNN in April 2007 in Rockville, Maryland, Francis S. Collins M.D. & Ph.D., the director of the Human Genome Project, reaffirms that information embedded in DNA proves the existence of God.

And it is just a coincidence that Collins could be seen to be following in the footsteps of such notables as L Ron Hubbard, and Joseph Smith and Brigham Young in creating a new religion with his book The Language of God.

The book proposes the name “BioLogos” as a new term for theistic evolution. “BioLogos” is also the name of a science-and-faith organization founded by Francis Collins in November 2007.

“BioLogos” expresses the belief that God is the source of all life and that life expresses the will of God. BioLogos represents the view that science and faith co-exist in harmony.[6]

BioLogos rests on the following premises:

The universe was created by God, approximately 14 billion years ago.
The properties of the universe appear to have been precisely tuned for life.
While the precise mechanism of the origin of life on earth remains unknown, it is possible that the development of living organisms was part of God’s original creation plan.
Once life began, no special further interventions by God were required.
Humans are part of this process, sharing a common ancestor with the great apes.
Humans are unique in ways that defy evolutionary explanations and point to our spiritual nature. This includes the existence of the knowledge of right and wrong and the search for God.

Collins’ arguments are less than convincing, and merely express his belief, not an objective analysis

The July 17 Publishers Weekly review reads: “This marvelous book combines a personal account of Collins’s faith and experiences as a genetics researcher with discussions of more general topics of science and spirituality, especially centering around evolution.” Robert K. Eberle summarizes his opinion of the book: “The Language of God is well written, and in many places quite thoughtful, but unless one is predisposed to the idea of theistic evolution, most will probably find the book unconvincing on this front.”

Antireligious activist and neuroscientist Sam Harris criticized Collins’s waterfall argument with a comparison to the myth of Romulus and Remus, argued that Collins’s treatment of the evolution of altruism should have considered kin selection and exaptation, and challenged Collins’s theodicy by arguing that rationalists should ask whether evidence suggests the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God rather than whether it is compatible with it.

Euler? Euler?

In October 2013, two scientists, Christoph Benzmüller of Berlin’s Free University and his colleague, Bruno Woltzenlogel Paleo of the Technical University in Vienna, formalized a theorem regarding the existence of God that was penned by the Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel.

But unsurprisingly, there is a rather significant caveat to that claim. In fact, what the researchers in question say they have actually proven is a theorem which was put forward by the renowned Gödel, and the real news isn’t about a Supreme Being, but rather what can now be achieved in scientific fields using superior technology. The mathematicians say that their proof of Gödel’s axioms has more to do with demonstrating how superior technology can help bring about new achievements in science.

So,  not even intended as a statement about god or heaven, yet included in this list.


While those lines don’t mention accurate statements about the existence of Heaven or Hell, we don’t want to miss the opportunity to mention this article about near-death experiences.

A scientific study has revealed that near-death experiences such as seeing a bright light, travelling through a tunnel, or the sensation of leaving your own body are more vivid than any other memory.

According to Dr. Steven Laureys, a Belgian neurologist who heads the Coma Science Group at the university hospital in the city of Liege (Belgium), has spoken to many patients over the years who have awakened from a coma and told him about Memories that are “journeys” they have been on during the near-death experience.

Memories which are formed under intense stress are often the most vivid. I have been literally within inches of certain death on more than one occasion and can give extremely vivid accounts of those experiences. It is no mystery why NDEs should have such an impact, especially on people who may already believe. It is also well documented that pilots undergoing high-gee maneuvers, or simulations report  remarkably similar events as those who report NDEs. More a function of brain chemistry than divine revelation.

So it would seem if you are willing to believe, then believe, but none of these arguments can honestly offer rational or objective evidence for the existence of heaven or god.
Or even this one…

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul.
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last.
When all is one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.

And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.

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Henry Paterson