"Pragmatism,” G. K. Chesterton said, “is a matter of human needs; and one of the first of human needs is to be something more than a pragmatist.” So too, faith is a matter of human desires; and one of the first of human desires is to be in contact with genuine reality. People of faith don’t want to live—or die—in a fool’s paradise. They want the real paradise or nothing. If it should turn out that our belief in the life to come has been an illusion, most of us would rather sink into nonbeing than beguile our final hours with hallucinatory dreams.
We are in a curious and puzzling situation, therefore, in which the hope for immortality is criticized in some circles as unbiblical and sub-Christian, yet affirmed in others as a matter of established empirical fact. A recent, widely publicized case is that of neurosurgeon Eben Alexander, survivor of a harrowing brush with death.