Written by Jason Petersen and Evan Osborne
Recently, the internet has been abuzz about a young man named Alex Malarkey. Malarkey told a story that involved dying and going to heaven, but has recently advised the public that his story was not true.[acp footnote]1[/acp] Let it be said that we should not hold animosity towards Malarkey for fabricating this tale. Malarkey has done the right thing by coming out and telling us that he did not indeed go to heaven. In fact, one can learn a valuable lesson from Malarkey. We have no epistemological grounds to put our faith in the experience of others.
The Problem of Experience
Experience is personal. This means that one can only have their own experience but not the experience of others. One cannot know another’s experience because it would necessitate that the person would have to have the experience themselves. Therefore, when one tells us of an experience that they have, we have no way of knowing if they truly had that experience, nor do we know if the experience has been properly interpreted. Just the same, when Alex Malarkey stated that he saw heaven, there was no epistemologically acceptable way to validate his story.
The Bible Says that No One Has Seen Heaven
In John 3:13, we have direct indication from the lips of Jesus that no man has ever ascended into heaven. If such a statement is true, that would mean that, except for bodily death itself, from which there is no return (Hebrews 9:27)[acp footnote]2[/acp], no one would have such direct access into heaven. Thus, such a near-death experience as Malarkey’s would be questionable to begin with, and, as his confession states, fraudulent.
As Christians, The Bible should be our ultimate authority. Since The Bible teaches that no one returns from death until the resurrection,[acp footnote]3[/acp] we should not be concerned with the story being found fraudulent. If we take on the authority of The Bible, we already know that any stories regarding seeing the after life after a near-death experience is false. Therefore, the lack of a near-death of experience is of no consequence in regards to the truth of Christianity.
1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/15/alex-malarkey-boy-who-came-back-from-heaven_n_6483432.html –The authors will not tell this boy’s story here. If one wishes to learn more about Malarkey, then he should consult other articles.
2. By stating that in physical death “there is no return,” what is meant is not that death is the end of all human existence. The point being made in this statement is that there is no return from death in this earthly body, as the reality of the physical resurrection of the dead is a truth clearly taught in Scripture (1 Corinthians 15; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8; Philippians 3:21).
3. There are more things that can be said on this, but the authors kept this article short for the sake of brevity.