Home » Culture, Intelligent Design, News » Templeton sets out to find the afterlife for $5 million?

Templeton sets out to find the afterlife for $5 million?

According to Michelle Boorstein at the Washington Post, the Templeton Foundation has awarded

… $5 million to create something called The Immortality Project, a sprawling research venture into the implications of human’s expanding expiration dates.

The grant for University of California-Riverside philosopher John Martin Fischer may be one of the country’s 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.

Friends are divided about this. Some say it’s good because it supports a sort of liberal Christianity.

But what if Templeton ends up making the whole idea sound ridiculous? It’s been done. Seances did that in the nineteenth century.

Never mind that there was a lot of fraud involved. Yes, of course, but that doesn’t prove it was all false any more than quack cancer treatments prove that no cancer treatments work. The big problem, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, is that no medium ever uttered an idea or discovered anything that was of permanent interest to humanity.

So it was a backwater when it wasn’t a fraud.

And yes, it tended to discredit the idea of life beyond the grave by making it sound ridiculous. It was considered an embarrassing fact about Canada’s wartime prime minister, Sir William Lyon Mackenzie King, that he consulted mediums.

No one would have considered it embarrassing if he had simply said that he prayed for the souls of the war dead. Atheists may claim that it is a waste of time and fundamentalists may object to praying for souls, but it isn’t, in principle, embarrassing to reasonable people.

Now, an observant Christian or Jew would hardly be surprised by any of this. Consulting those who claim to traffic in the afterlife is considered a sin, and forbidden as such. (There is an interesting case in 1 Samuel.)

So if people try to do it, and it comes to nothing, there is no reason to suppose that that is because there is no life beyond the grave. Rather that those who insist on trying to know things we cannot in principle know and have explicitly been told not to try to know will waste their time and money on the wrong path.

All that said, some people have had near-death experiences, and one outcome has been long term changes in what they consider important. See, for example, The Spiritual Brain. They emphasize relationships more and acquisitions less. Which makes sense.

But we could have assumed that by reason. Reason can tell us that relationships matter more than possessions and that ethical actions are more reliable guides than unethical ones for the good life.

If our weaknesses require us to have it shouted in our ear by an out of body experience, so be it.

Closing yer religion jaw fer the week, the News desk brings to your attention a beautiful old poem by Robert Browning, about a man who had in fact died and been raised to life again, and the way it changed his perspective.

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5 Responses to Templeton sets out to find the afterlife for $5 million?

  1. A few notes on the Near Death Experience (NDE) front. It is surprising how strong this evidence has turned out to be:

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The Extremely ‘Monitored’ Near Death Experience of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560

    The following is on par with Pam Reynolds Near Death Experience. In the following video, Dr. Lloyd Rudy, a pioneer of cardiac surgery, tells stories of two patients who came back to life after being declared dead, and what they told him.

    Famous Cardiac Surgeon’s Stories of Near Death Experiences in Surgery
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL1oDuvQR08

    The Scientific Evidence for Near Death Experiences – Dr Jeffery Long – Melvin Morse M.D. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4454627

    Dr. Jeffery Long: Just how strong is the evidence for a afterlife? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mptGAc3XWPs

    Facts about NDEs – video clip on the site
    Excerpt: In 1982 a Gallup poll estimated that 8 million Americans have had a near-death experience and a more resent study, a US News & World Report in March of 1997, found that 15 million have had the experience.
    http://www.ndelight.org/index......;Itemid=63

    Near death, explained – By Dr. Mario Beauregard research professor Neuroscience Research Center at the University of Montreal. – April 2012
    Excerpt: These findings strongly challenge the mainstream neuroscientific view that mind and consciousness result solely from brain activity. As we have seen, such a view fails to account for how NDErs can experience—while their hearts are stopped—vivid and complex thoughts and acquire veridical information about objects or events remote from their bodies.
    NDE studies also suggest that after physical death, mind and consciousness may continue in a transcendent level of reality that normally is not accessible to our senses and awareness. Needless to say, this view is utterly incompatible with the belief of many materialists that the material world is the only reality.
    http://www.salon.com/2012/04/2.....singleton/

    Blind Woman Can See During Near Death Experience (NDE) – Pim von Lommel – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994599/

    Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper (1997) conducted a study of 31 blind people, many of who reported vision during their Near Death Experiences (NDEs). 21 of these people had had an NDE while the remaining 10 had had an out-of-body experience (OBE), but no NDE. It was found that in the NDE sample, about half had been blind from birth. (of note: This ‘anomaly’ is also found for deaf people who can hear sound during their Near Death Experiences(NDEs).)
    http://findarticles.com/p/arti....._65076875/

  2. This following video interview of a Harvard Neurosurgeon, who had a Near Death Experience (NDE), is very interesting. His NDE was rather unique from typical NDEs in that he had completely lost brain wave function for 7 days while the rest of his body was on life support. As such he had what can be termed a ‘pure consciousness’ NDE that was dramatically different from the ‘typical’ Judeo-Christian NDEs of going through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension, seeing departed relatives, and having a life review.

    A Conversation with Near Death Experiencer Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander III, M.D. with Steve Paulson (Interviewer) – video
    http://www.btci.org/bioethics/...../vid3.html

    A neurosurgeon confronts the non-material nature of consciousness – December 2011
    Excerpted quote: To me one thing that has emerged from my experience and from very rigorous analysis of that experience over several years, talking it over with others that I respect in neuroscience, and really trying to come up with an answer, is that consciousness outside of the brain is a fact. It’s an established fact. And of course, that was a hard place for me to get, coming from being a card-toting reductive materialist over decades. It was very difficult to get to knowing that consciousness, that there’s a soul of us that is not dependent on the brain.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ciousness/

    Neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander’s Near-Death Experience Defies Medical Model of Consciousness – audio interview
    http://www.skeptiko.com/upload.....xander.mp3

    ,,,Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander had a special ‘pure consciousness’ Near Death Experience (NDE) that was very different from ‘typical’ NDEs found in Judeo-Christian cultures. The following video outlines the ‘typical’ NDEs found in Judeo-Christian cultures:

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

    So to add credence to Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander’s ‘special’ Near Death Experience in which he experienced ‘pure consciousness’, it is found that there are two very different types of ‘non-local’ (beyond space and time) quantum entanglement in the human body. One type on non-local quantum entanglement, found in the human body on a massive scale, is associated with DNA and proteins:

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    The other type of non-local Quantum Entanglement/Information found in the human body, the type of quantum entanglement that makes Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander’s ‘pure consciousness’ experience credible, is found in the brain and is much more spread out distance-wise, comparatively speaking, than is the ‘normal’, close quarters, Quantum Entanglement/Information found in DNA and proteins:

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness Of The Brain (& Permanence of Quantum Information)- Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    https://vimeo.com/39982578

    Thus, Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander does indeed have a very credible ‘special’ mechanism to appeal to explain his unique ‘pure consciousness’ NDE while he was in a vegetative ‘comatose’ (i.e. brain death) state, in that it is very reasonable that his mind was ‘quantumly decoupled’, if you will, from his brain allowing to have a ‘pure consciousness’ NDE, whilst his ‘quantum soul’, if you will, remained ‘quantumly entangled’ with his physical/material body thus explaining why he did not go through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension.

    Further note:

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Steve Talbott
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

  3. Well lucky for philosopher John Martin Fischer…

    Back in 2008 I submitted a grant proposal to the Templeton Foundation called “The Mystery of God” project. It offered a method for exploring a literal eternal life and immortality.

    Needless to say, I didn’t get 5mil :(

  4. John W Kelly posted:

    “Back in 2008 I submitted a grant proposal to the Templeton Foundation called “The Mystery of God” project. It offered a method for exploring a literal eternal life and immortality.

    Needless to say, I didn’t get 5mil”

    Why needless to say? Or is it a pointless question?

  5. - “Why needless to say? Or is it a pointless question?” – timothya

    It’s not a pointless question if you believe that ‘Life’ itself is intelligently designed, and that Man is able to acquire the knowledge of that ‘intelligence’, and eventually (inevitably) use the intelligence for his own purpose of conquering Death.

    Judging from the article, it doesn’t sound like the “Immortality” project has much of a focus at all. If it is atheist/materialist belief driven, which it sounds like it is, then an atheist/materialist result will come out of it… i.e. the ‘afterlife’ is all in our heads.

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