Heaven is for Real is a Book of bullcrap by Pastor Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent.  It tells a true story fictional propaganda about how his three-year-old son, Colton, goes to Heaven.  So-called, "proof," is provided by the fact that Colton supposedly, "met," his sister who had been miscarried in Heaven.  We must assume imagine Colton never heard his parents or any other adults talking about the miscarriage.

Plot summary

Colton is the three-year-old son of a pastor, who has been brainwashed by his Christian parents.  Despite their praying, Colton's appendix bursts, and he needs emergency surgery to get rid of it.  When they cart him away to the operating room, he screams and screams.  His dad, Todd (who wrote this book with Sarah Palin's ghost writer-surprise, surprise), goes into a private room and yells at God.  Of course, in reality he's yelling at nobody and making himself feel worse, but his religion is his problem, not ours. Incidentally if there were a God Todd would have reason to yell, Why should an innocent young child be tormented like that?

Colton survives, but four months later he begins to tell Todd and Todd decides that Colton went to Heaven.  The only evidence he has is from a four-year-old talking about something that happened when he was three.  At that age Children can have difficulty telling fantasy from reality and adult prompting can influence what the child thinks he/she (in this case he) remembers. False memories can happen at any age [1] and young children are particularly susceptible. Sam Harris believes false memories may be involved in this and other near death experiences. [2]

But according to Colton and Todd:

  • Colton was carried to Heaven by Jesus and some angels.  At one point, Colton sat on Jesus's lap and the angels sang songs to them.
  • Colton met God, his miscarried sister, John the Baptist, and his great-grandfather who has been dead for thirty years.
  • Jesus wore a white robe with a purple sash.  Colton says he has, "markers," on his hands and feet. He also rides a rainbow-colored horse. Has Colton seen colorful horses on TV?
  • Colton says he "left his body."  He could see his dad yelling at God in the little room, his mom making phone calls, and the doctors operating on him.
  • Colton did, "homework," in Heaven.
  • In Heaven, everybody has wings.  The one exception is Jesus, who moves, 'like an elevator."
  • At one point, Todd has to do a funeral. When Colton finds out what a funeral is, he keeps demanding to know if the guy was Christian and that if he isn't Christian, he'll go to Hell. We mustn't forget of course that Jesus lovers us all. (I bet if Jesus said that Non-Christians still went to heaven, Colton would have had a huge tantrum due the fundamentalist lies his dad had believed and taught him.)
  • Ironically, Colton also says that, "Jesus loves all children." So does Jesus love all children or does Jesus only love Christian children?

Harris notes that the child's experience contradicts the near death experience of a neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander, who wrote yet another profitable best seller about the near death experience.

Unsurprisingly, the two books offer incompatible views of what life is like beyond the prison of the brain. (As colorful as his account is, Alexander neglects to tell us that Jesus rides a rainbow-colored horse or that the souls of dead children must still do homework in heaven.) [2]

After Colton's near-death experience, his parents got $23,000 in medical bills, and Colton told them that Jesus said that they needed to pay the doctor because he, "fixed me." That's right, when a family just suffered the stress and perhaps the money problems that go with a family member being seriously ill they must pay the doctors. Colton's Family were lucky, they managed a best selling book that almost certainly paid all their medical costs. Most people who face massive medical bills aren't so lucky, In the USA uncovered medical costs are a frequent cause of bankruptcy and Homelessness. The United States badly needs Universal Health Care.

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Counter Argument

Plenty of people have come up with stories like this before. Colton could certainly have been hallucinating. The fact that he, "met," his dead great-grandfather could be totally misremembered. There is such a thing as an illusion of memory,[3] which could force Colton to "remember" that he saw his dead great-grandfather in a Hallucination he had when he actually overheard his parents talking about the great-grandfather. After all, he was only three, and utterly brainwashed. Studies have shown that the hallucinations of kids often have a lot to do with the way they're brought up [4]

It should also be remembered that there is an incentive for Pastor Todd Burpo, Colton's father, to Lie about Colton's experiences. Pastors make Money off of people donating to the church. Writing this book could strengthen the Faith of the attendants of his church and cause more people to attend his church. Therefore, writing the book means more donations, and more income for him. Todd Burpo also profits off of sales of his book. One should always remember that people who would be better off if they were to lie to you are not to be trusted. We don't know if Tod or Colton are lying but either or both could be.

There actually are many different versions of Heaven and different people who report Near Death Experiences give different accounts.  So many of these stories are wrong because they can't co-exist. Chances are that all of them are wrong.


The book became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. That goes to show that more and more people are becoming credulous because of Christian books.

Picture Book

In order to make thousands of dollars in additional profit while brainwashing thousands more young people, Todd and his wife, Sonja, have released a picture book version. It has a lame forward from Todd and Sonja about how children need somebody to teach them about Jesus. On the second page, it says, "Did you know that Heaven is just like the Bible tells us? It is wonderful and it is for real."

Think about it like this: imagine a children's book where on the second page, the words are, "Did you know that Salt is very good to eat? It is wonderful, and it is healthy." Now of course, maybe a few people believe that; but it probably isn't true, and nobody would ever publish a book for a five-year-old like that or give that book to their kids. The only difference between these two statements is that a lot more people believe the former, and it is a lot less likely to be true.