What happens after we die? This question has plagued man since the dawn of civilization. Theologians say a spirit ascends to heaven or drowns in the horrors of hell, while atheists say it's eternal darkness. A new study attempts to answer this question.
The University of California Riverside announced that it has accepted a $5 million academic grant from the Templeton Foundation for its Immortality Project. The group, which is based in Philadelphia and researches human meaning and ultimate reality, will allocate $5 million over a three-year period, including $1 million for university professor John Martin Fischer, who will host campus conferences, support post-doctoral students and run a website.
A team of researchers will look into various aspects consisting of out-of-body incidents, near-death experiences and other related reports and phenomena. The three-year study will also ask questions several questions, such as:
- It is irrational to desire immortality?
- Could a belief in immortality affect an individual’s character?
- Would an afterlife existence be boring or monotonous?
- Does death provide a meaning to life?
- Can we learn about the meaning of life from pondering about immortality?
Fischer is the project leader and principal investigator and his team will be composed of Dr. Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin (Postdoc), Jason Gray (Grad Student Researcher and Jayne Gales (Project Manager).
“People have been thinking about immortality throughout history. We have a deep human need to figure out what happens to us after death,” stated Fischer in a press release. “Much of the discussion has been in literature, especially in fantasy and science fiction, and in theology in the context of an afterlife, heaven, hell, purgatory and karma. No one has taken a comprehensive and sustained look at immortality that brings together the science, theology and philosophy.”
Upon completion of the study, Fischer will analyze the team’s discoveries and then write a book titled “Immortality and the Meaning of Death” that will be published by the Oxford University Press.