Immortality Project presents research to public

Courtesy of UCR Today
Courtesy of UCR Today

Lead researchers of The Immortality Project — a collaborative philosophical, scientific and theological project that seeks to explore questions relating to immortality — presented the outlines of their research to the public at the Culver Art Center last Friday. This came amid the project’s capstone conference, closed to the public and open only to scholars, that was held at UCR from May 27-30.

The $5 million dollar grant from the John Temple Foundation stands as the largest grant ever awarded to a humanities professor at UCR. Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Principal Investigator of the project John Martin Fischer and his team seek out questions that include whether and in what form(s) persons survive or could survive bodily death, and whether it is in some sense irrational to desire immortality.

The research conducted on the project culminated in the publishing of a book written by Fischer and the post-doctoral fellow on the project Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin titled “No Proof of Heaven: the Significance of Near-Death Experiences.”

The presentation outlined projects such as Pomona College Biology Professor, Daniel Martinez’s “Identifying and Characterizing the Genes of Immortality in Hydra” and his research in isolating the genes that allow hydras to essentially live forever through the regeneration of their amputated parts.

Another project outlined included Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Dan Demetriou, from the University of Minnesota, Morris and his exploration of “civic immortality.” This idea assesses a person’s’ reputation and standing in the historic memory of a culture as well as their influence on people in that culture. Martin Luther King Jr. was used as an example of a figure that has achieved this kind of civic immortality in the American collective consciousness.

Fischer emphasized the seriousness and legitimacy of near-death experience survivors’ stories due to the transformative and deeply profound nature of what the experiences are saying, “The people who’ve had these experiences are incredibly sincere…and you just have to conclude that they are correct in their experiences…but you also have to try to explain them in a way that does not give up on science and naturalism.”

After the presentation, audience members were allowed to ask the researchers questions in an open forum. One audience member asked the question of whether or not people would change their beliefs if the sensation of a near-death experience was duplicated in a lab as astronauts, fighter pilots and people who have taken lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) to convey the internal feelings of experiencing near death experiences as a result of physical factors.

Fischer answered “Maybe. People really cling to their beliefs and I think one of the ideas is, as human beings we are afraid of death and… people cling tenaciously to supernatural interpretations partly because it’s a way of comforting one’s self in the face of death.”

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  1. The presumptuousness of this research is extraordinary, and insults the mandate of the Templeton Foundation as originally envisaged by its founder. To conclude that people “cling tenaciously to supernatural interpretations” when careful research across the globe has found that NDEs are extremely complex and inexplicably moral and philosophical experiences with ineffable features is simply, ideologically, sly.

  2. Here are some of my thoughts on ‘IMMORTALITY’

    Promoting a quantum leap in human evolution

    Homo Immortalis Omnipotent

    Living in “Infinite Space-Time”! No more “human created secondhand God’s”!

    The function assigned to GOD is now available through understanding
    the Universe we are part of. We will be the Engineers of our own body chemistry, in the Infinity of Space-Time we can live forever.

    Biotechnology will control the “aging process” (we don’t wear out, but are DNA programmed to age), and “involuntary death” will not exist any more.

    Science, Gene Engineering, Nano Technology, Epigenesis, Astrophysics
    etc. and Extra Terrestrial Migration will allow for “Goal Oriented Evolution”, leading to HOMO IMMORTALIS OMNIPOTENT.

    The fact that you are reading this is a good sign.

    Many people know that we all have to die, so anything that may undermine that believe will be avoided.

    If this would be information confirming that there is life after death, which is something many of us deem possible, we would be more inclined to believe it. The reason is, that once we have formed a believe and have been influenced accordingly, we are more reluctant to reevaluate our acceptance of it.

    Since I grew up in a katholik environment I was sure that by following the rules, I would go to heaven and presumable not be dead.

    I am now over seventy years old and have lived and loved on five Continents. With the information and experiences I have been exposed to, I have come to the conclusion, that science will make it possible that we can keep on living here, instead of dying and going to heaven.

    You may be inclined to believe in some form of life in heaven, because that is the opinion of confirmed authorities. I can assure you, that looking for information based on up to date science, leading to youthfulness and the avoidance of death, will not do any harm, but may give you more time to do so.

    You probably ask, what is this about?

    It is like a quantum leap. A move to a new state of being. In the material world it would be like the jump from the atom to a mineral. Or from a multicellular organism to a cerebral animal. Or from a culture that depends on an “idealized self projected image (God)”, to provide protection and escape from annihilation , to a society that uses science and technology to solve the problems of sickness and death.

    The tools that propelled us from primates to “Homo sapiens sapiens”, will now be developed, so we will evolve to Homo Immortalis Omnipotent.

    Of course there will be opposition from institutions that now have the monopoly on “Life after death”. They should not worry, because our need for entertainment will always exist. Even sincere moral and religious disapproval should not divert us from taking this next step in evolution.

    Just like the hydrogen atom did not know that it would become the planet we now live on, even though it already contained the basic code leading to the status quo. We will realize that the abilities that we have assigned to our God’s, are now for us to acquire.

    The only limit is our imagination! Freedom from death now!