Boy who wrote bestseller on visiting heaven retracts his claims

In 2010, a ten-year-old boy, Alex Malarkey (note the name), wrote a book along with his father that described how Alex had gone to heaven after a car accident four years earlier and then came back. The book, originally published by Lifeway and shown below, became a New York Times bestseller along with other “heaven tourism” books like Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo (another young boy) and Proof of Heaven, by neurosurgeon Eben Alexander.  People’s desire to be assured that there really is a wonderful afterlife ensures that these books will earn a lot of dough.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 9.09.58 AM

Here’s the Amazon description, which has not been changed in light of the news that the book is, in fact, a made-up fantasy by Alex:

In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered an horrific car accident. The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex—and medically speaking, it was unlikely that he could survive. “I think that Alex has gone to be with Jesus,” a friend told the stricken dad. But two months later, Alex awoke from a coma with an incredible story to share. Of events at the accident scene and in the hospital while he was unconscious. Of the angels who took him through the gates of heaven itself. Of the unearthly music that sounded just terrible to a six-year-old. And most amazing of all . . . of meeting and talking to Jesus. The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven is the New York Times bestselling true story of an ordinary boy’s most extraordinary journey. As you see heaven and earth through Alex’s eyes, you’ll come away with new insights on miracles, life beyond this world, and the power of a father’s love.

As many readers hastened to inform me, it’s just been reported by the Washington Post, which drew on the Christian site Pulpit and Pen, that young Alex, paralyzed from his accident, has owned up to the story’s being (forgive the pun) complete malarkey. Alex published this retraction in Pulpit and Pen:

“An Open Letter to Lifeway and Other Sellers, Buyers, and Marketers of Heaven Tourism, by the Boy Who Did Not Come Back From Heaven.”

Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short.

I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.

I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.

It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though he committed none of his own) so that you can be forgiven may you learn of Heaven outside of what is written in the Bible…not by reading a work of man. I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough.

In Christ,

Alex Malarkey.”

Well, that’s very brave of Alex. But there were in fact warning signs a while back that the book was bogus. In April of last year, Alex’s mom, Beth, wrote a post on her blog Life’s a Journey saying that the book was a fake and her son’s name was being coopted against his will. (I can’t corroborate that.) In fact, as Pulpit and Pen wrote in an update, Thom Raniel, President of Lifeway, almost certainly knew of the scam but did nothing. There was too much money to be earned.

In light of Alex’s letter, the book has been withdrawn from publication (though it’s still on Amazon). As the Post reports:

This evening, Todd Starowitz, public relations director of Tyndale House, told The Washington Post: “Tyndale has decided to take the book and related ancillary products out of print.”

Since Eben Alexander’s book has also been exposed as a likely fraud, that means that two out of the three Heaven Tourism Books have been shown to be fictions. Any bets that Heaven is for Real is for real?

In a burst of Christian honesty, Pulpit and Pen notes, with unintendended irony:

. . . we are publishing this story because Christian publishers and retailers should have known better. They should have had the spiritual discernment, wisdom, compassion, and intestinal fortitude to not sell a book which contains, along with all books like it, deep theological problems. It also doesn’t help that in what is purported to be a “TRUE STORY”  that there are vivid descriptions like which test the limits of how far we are willing to go outside the realm of scripture and accept as having been from God.“The devil’s mouth is funny looking, with only a few moldy teeth. And I’ve never noticed any ears. His body has a human form, with two bony arms and two bony legs. He has no flesh on his body, only some moldy stuff. His robes are torn and dirty. I don’t know about the color of the skin or robes—it’s all just too scary to concentrate on these things!” 

And then closes its piece this way:

The Bible is enough.

The Bible is sufficient.

Christ is enough.

Christ is sufficient.

We don’t need Christian bookstores to sell us books and resources  that tell us otherwise. We pray that Thom Rainer, Ed Stetzer, other Lifeway executives and all Christian book retailers will take notice of this courageous and Gospel-centered 16 year-old young man, and that everyone reading this will lift him up to the Lord.

Ironic, isn’t it, that that site found the Malarkeys’ book to be dubious but has no problems with the credibility of the Bible itself? For, after all, any rational person reading the Bible might echo Pulpit and Pen by saying, “They should have had the spiritual discernment, wisdom, compassion, and intestinal fortitude to not tout a book which contains, along with all books like it, deep theological problems. It also doesn’t help that in what is purported to be a ‘TRUE STORY’  that there are vivid descriptions like which test the limits of how far we are willing to go . . . ”

Although Alex duped people, he was young and most likely exploited. Now, still a teenager, he has the courage to admit he’s wrong, even though he says he was convinced to do so by scripture. He’s the only one that comes out of this affair looking good—certainly far better than his father and his publishers, who used the boy to make a gazillion dollars.

78 Comments

  1. Michael Scally
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Emails Suggest Lifeway President Knew of Heaven Scam, Chose Not to Act http://pulpitandpen.org/2015/01/15/emails-reveal-lifeway-president-knew-of-heaven-scam-chose-not-to-act/

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      I have to say, it takes some cojones to start throwing slurs like “scam” when you are in the religion and spirituality industry. I mean, come on.

      So I guess there will now be process to certify that authors are “sincerely deluded” … ?

      • Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Ha. Talk about your distinctions without differences. Ridiculous.

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      I love the bit where the complaint is that these books contradict each other and should therefore be regarded as suspect. As if they’ve never noticed that the gospel books of the *bible* contradict each other!

      • Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Theists are virtuosos in the denial/ignoring departments.

        • Posted January 16, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

          It’s especially ironic when they claim that the Gospels are “historically authentic” documents as if that doublethink will erase their numerous contradictions (they can’t even agree on the genealogy of Jesus, how Judas died, etc).

          • R. R. Besch
            Posted January 17, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

            When various theologians like Hal Lindsay talk about the “authenticity of the Bible” they say it has more proofs than other secular things like the life of Julius Caesar etc. And that it has “proven itself” with prophecies. Prophecies designed to fit certain parameters not dates and places etc. So there is plenty of interpretive room to wiggle around.

            Even so any educated Atheist will tell you to read the Bible and analyze it. Not ready from the standpoint of soaking it in like a sponge without only a feeling of reverence an acceptance while your higher brain is shut down.

            • microraptor
              Posted January 17, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

              Also prophecies that may not have been written until after the thing they were supposed to predict was.

            • Posted January 18, 2015 at 1:07 am | Permalink

              Thomas Paine did a pretty good much using the Bible to dispute its own claims in his ‘Age of Reason’. What was especially humorous was that he wrote the first part while he was in jail and when he came out to do the second part, he wrote the he had no idea the Bible was so heinous.

  2. Posted January 16, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    The Bible is enough. Cool.

    I can see “Religion” sections in bookstores nationwide dwindling overnight to a trickle of what they once were, in response to this bold pronouncement.

    • GBJames
      Posted January 16, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      One can hope, I suppose.

    • James Walker
      Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      … or not 😉

      As George Orwell wrote in (I think) _Keep the Aspidistra Flying_, which starts out in a bookshop, “Religion always sells provided it is soppy enough.”

  3. Alex Shuffell
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    The only thing I’m surprised about with this story is that it was openly admitted.

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      On the other hand, it does open the potential for a sequel. The religious love them some stories of repentance and redemption – with a little help Master Malarkey could grow this into a ministry career; not saying that’s what’s afoot, just what the future could hold.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        I can see a film version. I especially like the CGI devil with no arms and moldy stuff. Step right up. Plenty to see here.

        • bacopa
          Posted January 16, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          You’ve probably already seen it. It’s Voldomort as portrayed in the Harry Potter movies. Evidence the kid was under pressure from his dad and just borrowed from HP just to get dad to shut up.

      • Posted January 16, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, this is such a strong effect that sometimes people manufacture falls from grace to create a ministry. Mike Warnke is a good example:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Warnke

        Of course, he was eventually exposed as not actually a former Satanic high priest. I suppose he coulda used that real fall from grace as another vehicle for more “ministry”. But he doubled down instead.

        • Posted January 16, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

          On public access cable about 30 years ago I stumbled on a guy in Freemason garb mid-way into a talk about their beliefs – according to him, fellowship of all mankind, respect for all faiths, good works for the sake of this life and not the hereafter – which caught my attention because he made Freemasonry sound not-crazy and kind of fun. But he lost me with “… and that’s why I left the Freemasons, because it is only through Jesus Christ that …”

          Who doesn’t love a good insider account? I know I get a lot from former Muslims and former Mormons – former Scientologists are the very best! My point being, if a person who at least tries to be skeptical and rational gets such a kick out of the stories of “former” believers, how much more effective must the line be for people whose whole world view depends on being completely credulous about reinforcing information!

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      I’m not all that surprised, to be honest. In all likelihood, Alex’s father was the real driving force behind the book (even Alex’s mother, who is now separated from his father, is against the book). If the book never really was Alex’s idea, perhaps he’s simply reached an age where he feels he’s no longer under his father’s thumb.

      I would be similarly unsurprised to see Colton Burpo do the same in the future.

  4. Posted January 16, 2015 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    We don’t need Christian bookstores to sell us books and resources that tell us otherwise. We pray that Thom Rainer, Ed Stetzer, other Lifeway executives and all Christian book retailers will take notice of this courageous and Gospel-centered 16 year-old young man, and that everyone reading this will lift him up to the Lord.

    “We don’t need Christian bookstores to sell us books and resources” is sufficient.

  5. Steve barrett
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    He’ll probably receive a punch in the nose from Pope ‘Rocco’!

  6. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I like the “heaven tourism” description. I hope bookstores start featuring this category as a sub-section within their existing Religion sections.

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      It’s the one way trip of a lifetime!

    • Robert Bray
      Posted January 16, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      In the 1960s or ‘early-70s (as best I can remember) a rev named Forrest McCullough put out a vinyl record called ‘Flight F-I-N-A-L, a fake-u-mentory about just this one-way tourism to heaven stuff. I just checked, and someone has put up several minutes of this treacly crap on You Tube. If you go to it, note the two breathless comments about how moving, etc., this last voyage (on a supersonic airliner!) was when they listened to it with their families many years before.

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I read this on another site earlier, and I guess I am confused. Are the boy and Pulpit and Pen saying that there is no need for devotional literature, or that it is wrong? That seems like a pretty radical position in light of both Protestant and Catholic practice. I haven’t encountered this position before. If that’s what they are saying, then the logic is that there is also no need for a ministry.

    I am, of course, familiar with the idea of the priesthood of all believers, and the sufficiency of the Bible. I’ve never heard Christian’s denigrate testimony before.

    • horrabin
      Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      I’m sure it’s something they’ll profess as true, but then ignore in practice. “The bible is all we need…and here is my new book explaining this in detail.”

  8. Christopher
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Hmmmm – so no one doubted that little Alex died and then returned from heaven after two months whilst we’ve been waiting over 2000 years for Jesus to fulfill his return trip?

    As in most affairs of humanity – follow the money.

    PS I love those last two paragraphs Jerry, particularly the bit about how Pulpit and Pen may wish to review the Bible! Very good.

  9. Randy Schenck
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    As with religion in general, they did it for all the right reasons. $$MONEY$$

    I did not see where they agreed to refund everyone’s money who bought the thing.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Class action law suit?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 16, 2015 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        I think I’m going to sue Dan Brown. I bought one of his books and now I find it’s NOT TRUE.

        Wish ya luck with the lawsuit… 😉

  10. pk
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Does the scripture give any guidance as to what to do with the money the Malarkey’s earned?

    Meanwhile the Pope is at it again – in Manila – opposing contraception: http://goo.gl/8ihL4q

    • eric
      Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Well, he (Alex) is in a Christover-Reeve style wheelchair for the rest of his life, so I’m guessing all book proceeds so far have been used to cover medical expenses and such.

      That doesn’t make it right by any means. Its wrong if the father manipulated the kid and its wrong if the kid did the manipulation himself. But I don’t think they’re living high on the hog the way a televangelist does with their ill-gotten profits.

      • microraptor
        Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        According to MSN, Alex hasn’t received any of the proceeds from the book. They didn’t say who was getting them, but I’m guessing that they’re going to his father.

    • Jesus Christ
      Posted January 16, 2015 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      So, every time Pope Francis masturbates he kills millions of innocent children.

      There’s a special place in hell for child killers.

      And for Kirk Cameron. Just because.

    • Posted January 18, 2015 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      “He looked beyond. He looked to the peoples of the Earth and saw the destruction of the family because of the lack of children,” Francis said.

      Seven billion fucking people on the planet and not enough children? Only religious logic could come up with a statement like that.

  11. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.

    In which the brave boy contradicts himself.

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      +1

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted January 16, 2015 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        +2

        Also: 2 + 2 = 4. I refute it thus!

  12. Randy Schenck
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    They also made a TV movie from this junk back about 5 years ago. More money

  13. Mike Paps
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.

    Apparently Alex doesn’t realize that God didn’t write the bible with his own hand, men did. Men who, there is no reason to believe, are any more trustworthy than he is.

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      For punishment, I read Gaza Vermes book on the Nativity over Christmas. Even though he went through the contradictions and clearly made up bits, I couldn’t find anything that said “Wait a minute, this might all be fiction.”

      So even “respected” Christian scholars are intellectually dishonest.

  14. Dave
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Kids: Fooling Christians since 1692.

  15. Rick Graham
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Milestone… Neck…

    Three times… He must have meant it. 😉

    Mark 9:42 –
    Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.

    Matthew 18:6 –
    …but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

    Luke 17:2 –
    It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      I think Luke wins on style points. Note how he cleverly inverted the sentence. Matt was just a copycatt.

      • bacopa
        Posted January 16, 2015 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        The structure and brevity are there in the original Greek. The book of Luke is believed to have been written by a native Greek speaker, or someone formally educated in Greece.

  16. eric
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Although Alex duped people, he was young and most likely exploited. Now, still a teenager, he has the courage to admit he’s wrong, even though he says he was convinced to do so by scripture. He’s the only one that comes out of this affair looking good

    I agree. (Assuming he wasn’t manipulated by his father) he made an egregious, money-grubbing lie sometime between being 6 and 10 years old. He owned up to it and tried to stop people from profiting off of it sometime before he was 13. Maybe that’s not the behavior we aspire to see in our fellow human beings (which would be: don’t make the lie in the first place). But I think its far better behavior than what we see from televangelists, political pundits, heck even our elected officials.

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Not to mention the Pope… hey how come you failed to mention Popes?

  17. Keith Cook or more
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    The lad has shown a snippet of independant gumtion from his manipulating father and his collaborators, there is hope for him yet.. not much, but some.

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      But nary a snippet of common sense. It would seem as if he remains deluded.

    • Leigh Jackson
      Posted January 17, 2015 at 5:23 am | Permalink

      I am not so sure. His “confession” reads to me, like those forced out of prisoners by torture and threats. Looks to me like he inhabits a world dominated by fundamentalists.
      Dreadful.

  18. Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Humanity ought to be suspicious of anything that smacks of wishful thinking.

    Also when Dante wrote of his visit to Hell, wasn’t there a circle for those who write books about visits to Heaven?

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Well, Dante himself also wrote about his visit to heaven.

      Of course, Dante never claimed he really went to any of those three places.

      • gluonspring
        Posted January 16, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        Which didn’t prevent his imagery from being soaked up as truth by a lot of believers.

  19. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I assume that this confession of fraud will have just as much effect on the output of extra-biblical Christian malarkey as Marjoe Gortner’s revealing documentary had on Pentacostal money grubbing.

  20. Sastra
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to guess that there are two major motivations here for Christians to reject this book.

    1.) To emphasize faith over reason.

    As many sophisticated theologians have been whining, the desire to set out strong, convincing evidence for the existence of God comes out of the philosophical and scientific mindsets of the ancient Greeks and modern Enlightenment, not the mystical values of the mid-east. Revealed religions are supposed to be accepted on lesser proofs by the faithful. Start making a robust “case for God” and you open yourself, your religion, and divine Truth up to public scrutiny, public debate … and the very real potential for public debunking.

    It can seem if they folks who triumphantly wave NDEs and well-attested miracles at the nonbelievers and gloat that hey, they’ve won are irrational and dogmatic, while the quiet ones who simply admit to having faith and make no show of trying to convince others are more reasonable and open.

    No. It’s actually the other way around, philosophically. Bad evidence meant to persuade skeptics is at least granting that the existence of God can be treated like a hypothesis. It’s starting from the common ground of objective agnosticism.

    Those who are both religious and astute know that this is going to end up being problematic. The skeptics of today are not easy marks.

    2.) To avoid liberalizing Christianity

    As the article said,

    They should have had the spiritual discernment, wisdom, compassion, and intestinal fortitude to not sell a book which contains, along with all books like it, deep theological problems.

    I have not read this book or the other two, but from what I have read about them if this one is anything like the others then it presents Jesus/God as warm, welcoming, and wise in a 21st century framework of what this would be like. Happy happy joy joy, rainbow-farting unicorns, and a benevolent God which helps to console, reassure, and remind the reader that they are loved, deeply loved, just as they are with all their flaws. Don’t worry, my darling. It will all be fine, sweetheart.

    Yeah, right. As we all know this doesn’t come from the Bible. It’s not the Obvious and True Message of Christianity either. Instead it flirts dangerously with ecumenicism and universalism. Books like this one don’t preach, they persuade. They’re attempts at rational and emotional appeals tailored to a worldly, modern audience. They will create worldly, modern Christians.

    Evangelicals more concerned with quality than quantity know that this too is likely to end up being problematic.

    • reasonshark
      Posted January 17, 2015 at 3:37 am | Permalink

      No. It’s actually the other way around, philosophically. Bad evidence meant to persuade skeptics is at least granting that the existence of God can be treated like a hypothesis. It’s starting from the common ground of objective agnosticism.

      Intelligence is stupid; honesty is a lie; smugness is humility.

      I wonder if this is analogous to the cornered animal who, previously having striven to avoid capture, then just turns around and lunges at the cage brazenly. In this case, flight is avoiding logical errors, invention, and all sorts of intellectual pitfalls, whereas the fight is declaring that the very non-rationality or irrationality IS the saving grace.

      It would at least explain why the tactics of believers run the gamut from bad arguments to pretending they’re superior because they don’t need to argue.

  21. Sean
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I guess christianinity didn’t infuse all of these people with too high a level of morality…

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted January 16, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      We are all sinners, brother. Only God can judge…

  22. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Jerry,

    You forgot to include the link to which purchasers of the book can go to get a refund…😜

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      I hope you don’t have a copy :-)). There maybe no refunds

  23. Grania Spingies
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    What sort of scum exploits a six year old child in a wheelchair?

    The mind boggles.

    • trou
      Posted January 16, 2015 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Maybe one that needs to pay the medical bills.
      Remember, we Americans aren’t civilized enough to have comprehensive health care.
      Cudos to him for finding a way to avoid bankruptcy by selling a story the rubes love so much.

    • trou
      Posted January 16, 2015 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      Of course, my comment was pure snark.
      With an added dig at what passes for health care.

  24. Larry Cook
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Once again I’m obviously in the minority here, but I can’t bring myself to let Alex off the hook so quickly and I don’t see any proof here that the father was behind the whole thing. I do have a lot of sympathy for what happened to him in the accident and I understand his desire for attention. I also give him a break for his age and his admission. However, after admitting his lie, I don’t see any real apology to the people he may have hurt nor do I see an apology to the publishers, retailers, editors, etc. or to those who put out their hard earned money to buy the book. Instead, he uses his apology to lecture everyone on what reading material he thinks would benefit you and me. He maligns other books written by men and tells those who market religious books to repent and tell us all that the bible is enough. Where does he think he got enough credibility to lecture anyone about anything much less about the marketing of books. I think he could have said that he’s sorry and will do all he can to make restitution instead of lecturing from the point of view that liars are the real experts about the truth.
    Again, I sympathize with him for his terribly crippling injuries and his youth. I too am disabled (nowhere near as severely) and I too was young once. I’ve never been given a pass for my crimes or mistakes and I would never expect or desire one. Unless there’s evidence that his father is behind the whole thing, I don’t think I’m being overly harsh.

    • Posted January 16, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      @ Larry Cook, it would appear you are being overly harsh. From the tales here, it would appear that dear old dad has all the proceeds and mom and son got nothing (or close to it). So he can’t make restitution of money he doesn’t have.

      Second, since the book was written when he was at most ten years old, and he’s no older than 15 or 16 now, I think it’s hard to nail the kid with too much personal accountability. Besides, Jerry would say he didn’t have a choice anyway 🙂

      • Larry Cook
        Posted January 18, 2015 at 1:58 am | Permalink

        15 or 16 is too young to say “I’m sorry”? He admits he did it because “I thought it would get me attention”. He got his attention, so in that sense he profited. On the other hand, I can picture a little kid waking from a coma telling a story about his wild dreams and his nutty, greedy father egging him on and convincing him that those were no dreams, etc.. If that’s the case, Alex owes no apology. I can see that it’s assumed by most here that’s what happened, I just didn’t read it in anything written outside of this forum. Alex’s mother says he’s being manipulated then Alex fesses up. I understand that, but was he manipulated from the start or did he foster the lie until his recent recant? The father story definitely fits and of course it matches the profile we’ve seen in so many other parental abuse stories, but is it true?

        And gee whiz, GreenPoisonFrog, not having free will does not absolve anyone of personal accountability. At what age do poison frogs hold their children accountable for their behavior? In my world, a child is responsible from the time he learns something is wrong and he knows he can stop himself from doing it. My understanding of free will is that the fact that we can change our behavior based on acquired knowledge does not prove that we have free will. I know I could be wrong. Although I accept our lack of free will because Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris tell me so, it still feels to me like I have it. It hurts my brain to think about it too much though, so as long as I think I’m making choices, I’m going to try to make moral ones that help others rather than hurt them. And I don’t need no stinking bible to tell me that.

  25. Kapelwa Mushala
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    The wide acceptance of the book and similar stories shows just how credulous and gullible this system of faith requires one to be. Honestly? Anyone can fantasize about other worlds or other realms. This exposes the major flaw in the faith system of most of these ‘heaven tourism story’ consumers: they have absolutely no way to discriminate fact and fantasy. I could write an ‘I went to heaven’ story in a matter of days.

  26. rickflick
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me self deception is at the core of the religious life. Indoctrination of children requires a life-long willingness to deceive the self and others. It seems natural that they should easily go along with fraud within a religious framework. At least it should be no surprise.

  27. Rudyard Holmbast
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    If going to heaven and being closer to God are your lifelong goals, shouldn’t the original book have been written as a heart-rending tragedy?

  28. Rudyard Holmbast
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    “People have profited from lies, and continue to.”

    Hahahahahaha, I love how he cuts himself and his family out of this, as if he wrote the book for free.

  29. Filippo
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ll be sure to check out (changes in) the best seller lists in the next NYT book review.

  30. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    If he went to Heaven, how does he know what the Devil looks like?

    • Doug
      Posted January 16, 2015 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      Satan occasionally visits Heaven to chat with God. Job 1:6

    • microraptor
      Posted January 17, 2015 at 1:07 am | Permalink

      He saw Rick Perry on TV.

  31. Dionigi
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Sounds more to me as though he has been indoctrinated by some christian wackos and has been told that he cannot have been to heaven because it does not fit in with their view of how things work. The fact that it was reported 0n a christian website makes this plausible.

  32. Doug
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m waiting for someone to say that this confession is fake, or at least coerced, and insist that the book is true. Human nature being what it is, SOMEone will do it.

  33. R. R. Besch
    Posted January 17, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Curious I missed this pronouncement. Must have been on the back pages on a day I didn’t have the news paper.


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