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TODAY   |  July 02, 2013

Writer: ‘Proof of Heaven’ account has holes

The story of Eben Alexander’s near-death experience and his journey to what he says was heaven has sold more than two million copies, but now some of the neurosurgeon author’s story is up for debate in a new Esquire article. NBC’s Erica Hill reports.

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>> and the new york times best seller proof of heaven . it's the story of one man's near death experience and what he says was his journey to heaven . erica hill is here with more.

>> good morning. it's sold more than 2 million copies with a title that promises con for mags of the after life it's no surprise especially when the man telling the story is a neurosurgeon. this morning, though, some of the story is up for debate. he always leaned more toward the scientific than the spiritual until he nearly died four years ago.

>> so much of what i saw on my journey showed me how primitive our science is.

>> that journey is time alexander says he spent in heaven while here on earth he was in a seven day coma. his body fighting off bacterial meningitis.

>> we all want to know did you see god.

>> yes.

>> four years later his account was published as the nonfiction book "proof of heaven ." a title few could ignore.

>> i've been to heaven .

>> it's so liberating because i know that death is a transition.

>> and one that also invited it's share of critics.

>> when you buy a book marketed as a nonfiction book , when that book is called proof of heaven , i think that carries with it certain expectations of accuracy.

>> esquire contributing editor dug into many of alexander 's accounts surrounding his near death experience and spoke with him several times. he said he found december decriscrepancies in the story. there's a dramatic scene in the book where he screamed out god help me.

>> the er physician that treated alexander that day, dr. laura potter, didn't remember him crying out and said she sbi intibateed him which would make it impossible for him to speak. alexander talked to her about talking liberty with the story.

>> there's numerous episodes like that in the book where there's artistic license taken.

>> in response to the esquire article dr. alexander told nbc news i stand by every word in this book and made the message the goal of my life. it is a textbook example of how unsupported assertions and cherry picked information can be assembled at the expense of the truth.

>> we'd all love to know that there's something amazing waiting for us. maybe some day somebody will prove heaven . you can read my article and decide whether or not dr. alexander did.

>> that article, the profit, is in the august issue of esquire but for an advanced link log on to nbc.com.

>> he stands by strongly what he wrote in that book.

>> he does. he's not questioning at all what he says is his account of time in heaven . it's events surrounding it before and after. that's what he is calling into