Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Godless Wednesday: $5M Grant To Study Afterlife

I'm a big supporter of academic research but this news seems a bit much. The Templeton Foundation has awarded a $5 million grant to University of California at Riverside philosopher John Fisher to study "immortality."
The Immortality Project, as it is called, will solicit research proposals from eminent scientists, philosophers and theologians whose work "will be reviewed by respected leaders in their fields and published in academic and popular journals."
The research will also delve into cultural aspects of the afterlife. For example, there are reports of millions of Americans seeing a tunnel with a bright light at the end. In Japan, reports often find the individual tending a garden.
The professor added that the academic research could include a range of issues, like "heaven and hell: If we are material beings, how can we exist in heaven, where we would not have physical bodies (or not of the sort we have here)?
"There is a lot of interest in near-death experiences. We can carefully catalog them and look into whether there are patterns. There has already been a lot of work on this. Perhaps some cross-cultural studies would be helpful.
"We'll also be open to studying the relationship between beliefs in afterlife and behavior--moral behavior and crime rates."
Really? As my husband tweeted, for just one million dollars, I could do some equally meaningful research about fairies! Hemant Mehta over at  Friendly Atheist has some choice words in reaction to this award:

There’s no evidence of an afterlife and no amount of research is going to change that.

What he said!

1 comment:

Karl said...

the link describes a grant program, with the actual research to be done by others on a competitive basis. That said it is shameful to go on about immortality as if there were evidence for it. The "near death" experience is reasonably well explained by current neuroscience, and even if it weren't it wouldn't say anything about "post mortem survival" (PMS?)


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