The Immortality Project seeks to uncover the human experience of the afterlife

Recommended by Alicia Purdy

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, July 30 2012 12:00 p.m. MDT

Our take: Five million dollars has been awarded to The Immortality Project, a research group planning to examine the human perspectives of the afterlife and what role the belief plays in the minds of people. Some of the questions posed will include the following: Does the belief in heaven/hell affect how people behave? Are there structures in the brain that make it natural for humans to believe in an afterlife? Can human consciousness exist outside the body? Philosopher John Martin Fischer, who has professed to have no religious background, will lead the study.

Today from the Department of Perhaps the Most-Awesome Academic Grants: The Templeton Foundation has awarded $5 million to create something called The Immortality Project, a sprawling research venture into the implications of humans expanding expiration dates.

The grant for University of California-Riverside philosopher John Martin Fischer may be one of the countrys biggest investments in looking scientifically at how we view death, what role it plays in our psyches, whether our brains are hard-wired to experience an afterlife.

Part of the project will look at cultural variations in reports of near-death experiences. Americans, for example, consistently report a tunnel and a light at the end. In Japan, reports often find the individual tending a garden.

Read more about exploring the afterlife on The Washington Post.

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