The Trouble with Colton Burpo

Discussion in 'Critical Discussions Among Proponents and Skeptics' started by Anonymou5, Apr 23, 2014.

  1. Anonymou5

    Anonymou5 New

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    I ignored this book/story when I first heard about it because I thought ok cool another NDE story. I don't really care about NDE's and trips to heaven. I care about OBE's and veridical evidence associated with them. Someones claims about what they saw in the afterlife don't provide any value to me. I have no idea what you really experienced so how can I take a position on that?

    With that being said, Colton Burpo's story is troubling. It's troubling in such a way that I can't quite put a finger on what's wrong with it. There are so many things about it that just scream BS, but it's hard to come to a definitive conclusion on just exactly why it's BS.

    You'd think as someone that is open to the afterlife being a real thing as I am I would be defending this story to no end, but it's just difficult to not sneer at it.

    Let me start with the obvious, and you've heard it a thousand times with this case, but I'll get it out of the way before I get to the meat of it.

    1. His dad is an evangelical pastor.
    2. In case you haven't noticed the "Heaven is for Real" brand is making quite a bit of money. Quite a bit.

    Logically speaking, those 2 things don't prevent something from being true. NDE's happen to people, and children of people of many different professions. That it happened to a son of a pastor really isn't that big of a deal to me, as it is to debunkers.

    That it made money, is a bigger deal, but doesn't say anything about whether an NDE occurred or not. The money making might just be reason enough to keep telling the story.

    Those 2 things don't bother me too much.

    These are the things that bother me.

    1. Colton visits heaven, and it's exactly like what you would expect a son of a pastor would say it's like. Angel's, halo's, wings, rainbows, pearly gates, etc, they're all there.

    2. His dad fights alongside Jesus, and good people, in Armageddon against Satan and the monsters. (Spoiler: Jesus wins).

    3. Angels in heaven have swords. At all times, just in case satan and the demons show up at a moments notice.

    4. It took years for the full story to come out of Colton. It wasn't like he sat down one day and told his mom and dad everything. No, as he grew older, the story became bigger.

    But most troubling of all is this; Colton never died.

    I know skeptics always say that NDE'rs never actually died or they would still be dead, thus their NDE was some sort of hallucination. (Surprisingly non-NDE'rs who come back to life and report nothing actually did die. What a surprise huh?)

    Yet in this case, it really is true. Colton NEVER died. He wasn't even near death. He had surgery, was sedated, and then woke up. No momentary flatline, no "oh crap his vitals are getting bad, hurry up before things go to shit" panic.

    None of that, just surgery.

    So you'd think ok maybe the kid really did just have some dream about Jesus and angels and that's that. It wouldn't be too surprising. When I was a kid I had a dream that I was in Jesus' house somewhere in heaven (I assumed), sitting at the table with all his apostles, when Jesus turned to me and said "Welcome to the family". I woke up that day very happy about having seen Jesus.

    So I could see dismissing it as just some kid's story, but then there's the part about meeting his dead sister, and his long dead great granddad. Throw in the part about him seeing his Dad yelling at God in the pre-op room, and his mom on the phone, and now you have a head scratcher.

    So on the one hand you have a very generic description of Christian heaven where God the father is so big "he can hold the whole world in his hands", "Jesus loves you so much", and "heaven is like earth but without sin", to "I saw my dad in a room doing something no one knew about, and oh yea I met people I had no idea existed before this".

    The generic heaven would make this story not even worth paying attention to, but the OBE and meeting dead relatives this kid supposedly knew nothing about makes this story quite not add up.

    If Colton really witnessed events he had no way of knowing about via an OBE, really met "Pop" who never knew anything about, and met his miscarried sister whom he allegedly knew nothing about I think we would have a pretty interesting NDE to really look in to. I could even see looking past the generic christian heaven if those things were true, because that would be quite impressive.

    But like I said, the kid never died.

    So what gives?

    It seems to me that there is some sort of fraud being perpetrated here. Either by Colton, the dad, or both. Either on purpose, or by digging a hole too deep to climb out of. Here is why I believe that.

    Colton told the story over several years. The story became exaggerated. There was never a time soon after the alleged NDE that colton told the whole story in one take. It was told in bits and pieces over time. And now, he says he can't remember all of it.

    Colton over time explained that he met Jesus' cousin, John the baptist. He met Samson, King David, the Archangels Gabriel, and Michael, and the literally a ghost - Holy Ghost.

    Unless his dad the pastor said "Well Colton, you know how you went to heaven and all that? Well I've decided you no longer have to go to church, read the bible, or attend sunday school. You've learned it all already", it really seems like Colton added as he learned cool new religious stuff.

    No, Colton kept attending sunday school. Kept learning about people like King David, Samson, Jesus' cousin, etc. He kept learning that Jesus sit's at the right hand of the father, and God sits on a throne. It seems that as he told the story he incorporated all these things he started learning.

    Unless we accept that at 3 years old he already knew all those things (the trinity, sin, the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus, the archangels Michael and Gabriel, Armageddon, etc). If he already knew all that at 3 years old then I would be quite impressed. The only other alternative is that he really did learn all these things during his 3 minute not-even-near-death NDE, or he added to his story as he learned more stuff.

    Maybe Colton had a legitimate OBE, but subsequently told a story his pastor Dad responded to. Or Maybe his dad is making the OBE and miscarriage part up. Maybe the whole thing is made up.

    I have no idea.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
  2. Iyace

    Iyace Member

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    I expect a lot of these veridical experiences ( even ndes where someone is not dead ) can be explained by psi ( if psi exists ). For instance, we find that in a ganzfeld and sleep state, psi studies seem to out-perform free-choice studies. It would then be logical to assume that if consciousness continued in states of sensory deprivation like being subdued, it would be enhanced.
     
  3. Anonymou5

    Anonymou5 New

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    I've thought about the possibility of veridical experiences being some sort of telepathy type thing. I'm not opposed to that.

    However in the Colton Burpo case it would still imply some sort of fraud. Maybe the kid genuinely had some sort of OBE via whatever mechanism an OBE occurs, but the trip to heaven thing where he meets dead relatives isn't explained by psi.
     
  4. Iyace

    Iyace Member

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    That part seems fabricated to me.
     
  5. Anonymou5

    Anonymou5 New

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    I updated my OP, but yea I agree.

    This Colton Burpo case just has so many loose ends that it's hard to figure out which part is made up and which isn't if the whole thing isn't just an outright lie.

    I think it really does a disservice to NDE research.
     
    Sciborg_S_Patel likes this.
  6. Sounds completely unreliable to me.

    Ideally anyone connected to NDE research is steering clear of this one.
     
  7. Will

    Will New

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    I'm not that familiar with this case, but on cursory look - I don't know if "fraud" is an appropriate accusation. It seems more likely that the kid did have some sort of experience, his parents interpreted it as a religion-confirming NDE, and they innocently influenced each other in a ping-pong cycle over the years.
     
  8. perandre

    perandre Member

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    Could it be that your skepticism is based on the Christian content, and that the story would be easier to accept if it didn't portray Biblical material? Having read a lot of nderf stories, I can only say that there is a lot of "biblical" sounding stuff in them, and that alone shouldn't be a reason to completely disregard it. That said, it's definitely one of the richer ones.
     
  9. Anonymou5

    Anonymou5 New

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    No it's most certainly not that. I don't have anything personally against Christianity. There is no part of me that is anti-Christian.

    I am well aware of NDE's that come from a Christian perspective. For example Howard Storm's NDE come immediately to mind.

    What I have a problem with is that this kid's version of heaven is exactly what you would expect a kid would think heaven is like. Never mind that his mom is a youth minister. As someone that has taught sunday school before, trust me, a quick glance at sunday school curriculum, and you too could have co-wrote "Heaven is for Real".

    For example; Colton claims that Jesus sits on the right hand of God. This is something that is common knowledge for any church goer. Even the ones that quietly snooze in back pews.

    However what Colton doesn't know is that sitting "at the right hand of God" is not a literal thing. It's a designation of power establishing Jesus as the messiah. Establishing Jesus as God's equal.

    So of course a kid describing heaven would indeed say that Jesus literally sits at the right hand of God because they're too young to understand ancient hebrew literature.

    When he describes God as being this massive being who literally is so big that he can hold the whole world in his hands I am not surprised to hear that. Growing up attending sunday school services that was a common song we sang.


    Why isn't it more likely that this kid just continued creating this story as he learned knew things and like a child is inclined to do, failed to properly understand them?

    Here is an interview he recently did on Hannity. He says he can't remember what him and Jesus talked about because "God has not allowed" him to remember. Maybe so, or maybe it's because lies are hard to keep track of.
     
  10. Anonymou5

    Anonymou5 New

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    I don't think the kid is committing fraud. I think he told a story that his dad overreacted to. I think perhaps there was a genuine OBE, or else the dad made that part up to prop up the story. Everything after that I think was just fabricated over the years.
     
  11. Angels with wings sounds suspicious to me as IIRC that was a historical artifact added onto Christian cryptozoology during the Renaissance?
     
  12. Craig Weiler

    Craig Weiler Associate

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    I'm not familiar with the story because it carries no interest for me. Armed Angels in Heaven fighting evil? That sounds a lot more like a brutal fascist dictatorship waging war to distract the population from internal problems. Evil itself is nothing more than a right wing fantasy. There are individuals who behave in an evil fashion, but are generally not evil themselves, just incredibly selfish and ego/fear driven and lack empathy. Or are mentally imbalanced.
     
  13. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    I'd take issue with your conclusion. I think what you say is true of selfish, egotistical people, but there is another stage of delight in cruelty which is authentically evil. Few people pass onto this stage, so our concerns are quite rightly with the banal stupidity of the mass of humanity. That shouldn't blind us to the reality of creative, informed, self-aware and unbounded wickedness some humans steep themselves in.

    Back to the main point, I'm wary of NDEs that reflect religious stereotypes exactly. That said, there are a sufficient number of credible near-death testimonies which do contain recognisable Christian features. How they fit the pantheon, or what they mean, I don't know. One compelling IANDS account I heard recently stated he was bombarded with knowledge, part of which was religions were completely mistaken and totally correct. (!) I wouldn't be surprised.
     
  14. Craig Weiler

    Craig Weiler Associate

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    I would say that people who delight in cruelty are mentally ill.
     
  15. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    Is this a way of absolving that person from having to accept responsibility for their actions?
     
  16. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Well sadly public executions still draw large audiences of excited people. Are they all mentally ill?

    David
     
  17. Craig Weiler

    Craig Weiler Associate

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    These are two different questions. "Are intentionally cruel people mentally ill?" is not the same as "Should we hold them accountable?"
    I would argue that a person that is intentionally cruel is criminally insane. That is to say, they are a danger to those around them and should not have free access to society.

    Would people act the same if there were four executions a day? Every day? No. They would get bored and move on with their lives. It's an indication that public executions are more of an unusual spectacle than a desire for cruelty. These are also situations where a person has supposedly had due process and found guilty. It's quite different in that respect.
     
  18. tim

    tim New

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    I just think the kid had some sort of experience but what that was, who knows ? The tour guide tales of heaven don't interest me and that's one of the reasons why I don't read NDERF which I think Jeff Long needs to tighten up and stop collecting more and more possible NDE's.

    We need to stick to the serious research that deals only with verified periods of cardiac arrest and listen to the experiences of those people . If they then concur that angels have swords and Satan roams around the outskirts of paradise looking for a fight then .....I think I might get a bit worried ...
     
  19. chuck.drake

    chuck.drake Guest

    So Eben Alexander can exist as an earthworm and ride on the wing of a butterfly. But a toddler whose family life is seeped in evangelistic christianity maybe sees armies of angels and it is beyond the pale.
     
  20. tim

    tim New

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    Not sure if that's directed at me, Chuck ? Don't think he said he was an earthworm, just that "that" was the how it felt.

    You think that angels have swords ? I mean I don't know... do they cut off the heads of satan's angels with them ? What's your best guess ? I'll wait and see myself ,,,,,
     

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