Immortality: UC Riverside Gets $5M to Study What Happens After We Die?

Immortality: UC Riverside Gets $5M to Study What Happens After We Die?

Does immortality exist? What happens after we die? Is it the “end?” Or, does our consciousness survive our physical death?

Paradise: Ascent of the Blessed

These are the questions that human beings have been asking for eons.

Tales of people pronounced clinically dead who say they not only witnessed an after life but, knew what was going on around them in the emergency room during the time they were “dead,” are plentiful.

Encounters with love ones who “appear” to the ones they left behind and relay messages such as, “Don’t worry. I’m okay,” abound.

Stories of  mediums relaying private information to the grieving family, only family members would know – are routine occurrences.

How is all of this possible?

Is it real or mass delusion? I’d love to know….

There are a handful of scientists examining the possibility that consciousness survives death but, not many.

The subject is “taboo” in orthodox scientific circles. In some institutions the notion of studying it is akin to career suicide. I have my suspicions that many scientists would love to know the answers to these questions but, hide their interest from colleagues for fear of losing professional credibility, career advancement and even research funding.

The sad thing about the attitude from the scientific community is that it is completely counter-intuitive to what we believe scientific study and exploration is about.  Shouldn’t science have an open mind about exploring new frontiers? Why not allow your colleagues to study this topic without “burning them at the stake?”

The Emperor Has No Clothes

Out of fear of reprisal, the emperor’s subjects agreed that he was wearing clothes – when of course, he wasn’t. The fear instilled in modern day scientists about crossing this line and looking into the study of what happens after death has a majority of scientists agreeing with the “emperor” too.

When Galileo said the astronomers of his day were wrong and that the Earth revolved around the Sun, rather than the other way round, he was pronounced a heretic of the church and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. With the attitude that much of modern day academia has about the study of what happens after death, it doesn’t look as if the scientific community is any more progressive than the Church was 400 years ago.

That is why I was pleased to learn that philosophy professor John Martin Fischer, of the University of California Riverside, received a $5 million dollar grant from the Templeton Foundation to study topics related to immortality such as, near-death experiences and what result the  belief in an life-after-death has on our behavior.

The grant is funding a project titled, “The Immortality Project.” The three year project will focus on scientific studies regarding the questions surrounding the afterlife and immortality.

The Immortality Project will endeavor to answer these questions:

— Whether and in what form a person could survive bodily death.
— Whether the information in our brains could be uploaded into a computer to allow one to exist there in perpetuity.
— How a person’s beliefs about immortality influence their behavior, attitudes, and character.

“One of the main goals I have is just to try and understand more about what we value and what we care about in our own finite lives,” Fischer said. “By studying pictures and conceptualizations of immortality — in religion and in literature and science fiction — we can come to figure out something about the meaning of our own finite lives.”

(Excerpt from the Southern California Public Radio News – read the full article here.)

Read more articles about this historic grant here:

$5 Million Grant Awarded by Private Foundation to Study Immortality

We Talk to The Philosopher Being Given $5 Million to Study Immortality

$5 million to research afterlife: Challenging the academic stigma

This is really an exciting time to be alive. Of course, there is the possibility that studies will prove the afterlife is just a beautiful story too. Either way, I’m sure what we learn is going to be fascinating. I’m keeping an open mind.

What are you beliefs about studying immortality? Do you believe it is of benefit to the living to know whether an afterlife exists? How would knowing, one way or the other, impact your life?

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