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University Receives $5 Million Grant To Study Immortality

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the paging-connor-macleod dept.

Science 532

Hugh Pickens writes "Humans have pondered their mortality for millennia. Now the University of California at Riverside reports that it has received a $5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation that will fund research on aspects of immortality, including near-death experiences and the impact of belief in an afterlife on human behavior. 'People have been thinking about immortality throughout history. We have a deep human need to figure out what happens to us after death,' says John Martin Fischer, the principal investigator of The Immortality Project. 'No one has taken a comprehensive and sustained look at immortality that brings together the science, theology and philosophy.' Fischer says he going to investigate two different kinds of immortality. One is the possibility of living forever without dying. The main questions there are whether it's technologically plausible or feasible for us, either by biological enhancement such as those described by Ray Kurzweil, or by some combination of biological enhancement and uploading our minds onto computers in the future. Second would be to investigate the full range of questions about Judeo, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and other Asian religions' conceptions of the afterlife to see if they're theologically and philosophically consistent. 'We'll look at near death experiences both in western cultures and throughout the world and really look at what they're all about and ask the question — do they indicate something about an afterlife or are they kind of just illusions that we're hardwired into?'"

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532 comments

Please consider Mitt Romney (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40881705)

He is not immortal (except perhaps in the future on Mt Rushmore), but please consider Mitt Romney when you vote for president in November. The current administration (Barack Hussein Obama) has instituted failed policies that have driven the unemployment rate to 8.2% and has left millions of your fellow Americans without jobs. On top of that, he has increased the food stamp handouts and welfare roles with the intent to make people dependent on an enormous federal government. He has attempted to destroy our nations economy and is actively hostile to corporations or any people of means, as they do not fit into his 'socialistic vision' for America. Mitt will return our economy to its former vim and vigor, and we can all hope to attain what he has already done. We cannot afford four more years of economic destruction and becoming reliant on Big Brother Government policies. It would be our undoing. Thank you for your consideration.

Re:Please consider Mitt Romney (0, Offtopic)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#40881849)

They should call George Noory from Coast to Coast AM. He talk about it quite often on the air.

Re:Please consider Mitt Romney (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40881919)

They should talk to the niggers, coons, jigaboos, darkies, yard apes, moon crickets, antique farm equipment, and shaved gorillas. Gotta love shaved gorillas.

I mean they went thousands of years without even inventing the fucking wheel. Now they fight each other in tribal warfare known as gang shootings.

They never change. They never civilize. For fuck sake they won't even father their own children. How low is that?!

And have you SEEN the black-run parts of Africa? Warlords, dictators, civil wars, violence, shootings, death, poverty, starvation, more violence...

They NEVER change, ever, not in millineia. They are close to immortal that way.

John Templeton Foundation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882273)

...serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose...

Who says that humans have to have a purpose?? Why can't we and the rest of the universe be here for nothing at all? There's your 'big question' right there.

Fags (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40881715)

Faggots are gay. Be careful because you might catch the gay if you get to close to a faggot.

The Answer for $5M (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40881719)

'People have been thinking about immortality throughout history. We have a deep human need to figure out what happens to us after death,' says John Martin Fischer,

Nothing, You're dead.

Re:The Answer for $5M (0, Flamebait)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40881831)

'People have been thinking about immortality throughout history. We have a deep human need to figure out what happens to us after death,' says John Martin Fischer,

Nothing, You're dead.

Not necessarily. Obviously the religious fairy-tales are just that, i.e. whatever people need to hear to strengthen the meme-infection. But there is room for reincarnation without the religious connotations. Consciousness and life itself are still not understood at all, so there is room for speculation. Obviously, the body (brain) plays a part (for many the dominant part, it seems), but it is not enough to explain what is observable. Still, no need to do "immortality" research, everybody finds out sooner or later what happens. I guess these 5M just show that quite a few rich people live pathetic lives and know it.

Re:The Answer for $5M (2, Insightful)

rthille (8526) | about 2 years ago | (#40882093)

The body (brain) is quite enough to explain what is observable. That doesn't mean we fully understand it, or that we ever will, but consciousness very obviously arises solely out of the brain.

Re:The Answer for $5M (1)

pwngeek (2485940) | about 2 years ago | (#40882151)

Citation?

Re:The Answer for $5M (2, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40882195)

Not at all. The _only_ scientific connection between consciousness, intelligence and the brain is external observation. That is not even enough for a reasonable theory. You should read up on your science.

Re:The Answer for $5M (5, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#40882325)

No, there is experimental data as well. Lobotomies are a result of "change the brain, change the intelligence/personality" experiments. There is direct experimental data, not just external observation.

Re:The Answer for $5M (5, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40882423)

Not any type of proof. If you damage part of a TV set, it stops to exhibit all of its features, for example may stop to display color. That still does not mean the picture is generated in there. So while the brain plays a part like any good interface does, it is not enough to explain the overall thing.

Re:The Answer for $5M (3, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40882357)

The _only_ scientific connection between consciousness, intelligence and the brain is external observation. That is not even enough for a reasonable theory. You should read up on your science.

LOL. By definition of science, external evidence is both the only source of evidence and sufficient for a theory.

Re:The Answer for $5M (0)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40882435)

You seem to forget that quantum theory made that paradigm obsolete.

Re:The Answer for $5M (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882155)

As far as consciousness is concerned, having a body is a prerequisite. What would you be conscious of, without sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, proprioception or memory?

Re:The Answer for $5M (5, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#40882227)

But there is room for reincarnation without the religious connotations.

No, there isn't. Without a mechanism to transfer information outside of the dying brain, it is simply destroyed, and anything else is merely wishful thinking.

Obviously, the body (brain) plays a part (for many the dominant part, it seems), but it is not enough to explain what is observable.

We already know that brain is a biological computer with multiple chemical and electrochemical interfaces to the rest of the body. This is understood very well, and was understood even before people had computers and therefore could not yet compress this explanation into such a short statement. The only things unknown about it are the structure and mechanisms, and it's extremely foolish to claim that it breaks the laws of nature known through Physics and Chemistry.

Any alternative to the above is LESS LIKELY TO BE TRUE than "we are all in The Matrix" or "We are in a dream of a sleeping God" hypotheses, what means that it can not be a part of any realistic philosophy and should be relegated to the realm of fiction. All support for this nonsense comes from superstition and nowhere else.

Re:The Answer for $5M (4, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40882389)

You assume consciousness is an emergent property of the brain. That is a bit like assuming what is shown on a TV screen is generated in there. A good first assumption, but not more than an assumption. The currents state of scientific research is that it is completely unknown what consciousness is and what intelligence is. Both can be described by their effects, but to speculate on where they reside and whether they are generated there is very much premature at this time.

So, no, we do not understand that "the brain is a biological computer". Actually we do understand that human minds can do things that computers cannot do, and that is currently fundamental, i.e. not a question of the power of the computer, but a lack of any implementable theory that could make a computer do these things. I have been following the state of AI research for quite some time (and know some people in it personally), and this is what comes out when you ask people on the side or actually read the papers. Nobody knows how strong/true AI could be built, yet every healthy human being has strong/true Intelligence. (Never mind the BS some researchers publicly say to get funding.) This is actually a rather strong indicator that either the brain is far more than a "computer" or that intelligence and consciousness are not generated solely/fully by the brain.

Re:The Answer for $5M (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882439)

You assume consciousness is an emergent property of the brain.

You're assuming that you're not in the matrix. You're assuming that the flying spaghetti monster doesn't exist. I don't care what absurd things you can come up with; I'll stick to reality.

This is actually a rather strong indicator that either the brain is far more than a "computer" or that intelligence and consciousness are not generated solely/fully by the brain.

No, it's an indicator that it's a different kind of computer than we know how to make at this present point in time.

Re:The Answer for $5M (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 2 years ago | (#40881863)

'People have been thinking about immortality throughout history. We have a deep human need to figure out what happens to us after death,' says John Martin Fischer,

Nothing, You're dead.

Most likely, but this sounds more or less like a grab for grant money.

Re:The Answer for $5M (0)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 2 years ago | (#40881895)

Virtually all the great geniuses of recorded history have believed in an afterlife. Some AC on slashdot confidently states otherwise. Who has more credibility - Isaac Newton or Anonymous Coward on the internet? That is indeed a tough one.

Re:The Answer for $5M (-1, Troll)

Gorobei (127755) | about 2 years ago | (#40881975)

Virtually all the great geniuses of recorded history have believed in an afterlife. Some AC on slashdot confidently states otherwise. Who has more credibility - Isaac Newton or Anonymous Coward on the internet? That is indeed a tough one.

Yeah, so much so that none of them are honored or remembered for their profound insights into the afterlife.

Fuck off, moron.

Re:The Answer for $5M (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882029)

I just got word from Isaac himself: There is afterbirth, but no afterlife. And everything I say is a lie.

Re:The Answer for $5M (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882045)

Virtually all the great geniuses of recorded history have believed in an afterlife. Some AC on slashdot confidently states otherwise. Who has more credibility - Isaac Newton or Anonymous Coward on the internet? That is indeed a tough one.

You miss the point. He's doing some grandiose posturing to show how well-conformed he is to this subculture by loudly rejecting a culture he thinks the group is opposed to. Many Scots show how Scottish they are by competing on how much they hate the English. He thinks he's part of a culture that competes on how much it hates religion. He's just trying to show, in his own misguided way, what a good little conformist he is.

Re:The Answer for $5M (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882235)

Virtually all the great geniuses of recorded history have believed in an afterlife. Some AC on slashdot confidently states otherwise. Who has more credibility - Isaac Newton or Anonymous Coward on the internet? That is indeed a tough one.

You miss the point. He's doing some grandiose posturing to show how well-conformed he is to this subculture by loudly rejecting a culture he thinks the group is opposed to. Many Scots show how Scottish they are by competing on how much they hate the English. He thinks he's part of a culture that competes on how much it hates religion. He's just trying to show, in his own misguided way, what a good little conformist he is.

... or he/she has thought about what the observable reality of people dying is and simply states the fact.
When you die, thats it. No more "life" for you.

Posting an opinion, based on fact or not is common to everyone here. I for one agree with his/her view.

Re:The Answer for $5M (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#40882291)

I was raised in USSR, when/where Atheism was a part of a mainstream culture, and even though I disliked that mainstream culture, it did not inspire me to adopt some bizarre beliefs just to be easier distinguishable from Leonid Brezhnev. I now live in US, where Christianity is one of the foundations of the accepted worldview, that I also dislike. This still does not prevent me from having a burning hatred toward all forms of superstition, including religion in general and all forms of Christianity in particular.

Re:The Answer for $5M (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882073)

Virtually all the great geniuses of recorded history have believed in an afterlife.

In the past, atheism was even less common. God of the gaps and all that.

I don't care of these geniuses one day came to the conclusion that 1 + 1 = 3; you need actual evidence to back up your nonsense.

Re:The Answer for $5M (1)

bob zee (701656) | about 2 years ago | (#40882241)

i sure hope there is something. i don't want to be dead. makes me sad to think about it and then the next thing you know, i am hoping i am dead. why wait? just get it over with. i even have terrible karma. why would i want to keep living?

Re:The Answer for $5M (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#40882355)

Most of the great geniuses of recorded history lived when not professing a belief in an afterlife would get you to that afterlife (or lack thereof) more quickly.

Re:The Answer for $5M (2)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40882427)

Virtually all the great geniuses of recorded history have believed in an afterlife. Some AC on slashdot confidently states otherwise. Who has more credibility - Isaac Newton or Anonymous Coward on the internet?

Neither. This should give you an idea of the state of the art in this area. $5 million isn't going to change things either.

Re:The Answer for $5M (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 2 years ago | (#40881987)

I am just virtually certain that if it becomes available, five million will not begin to cover the price of immortality.

Re:The Answer for $5M (1)

Suffering Bastard (194752) | about 2 years ago | (#40882179)

Nothing, You're dead.

Based on what evidence? I'm going to boldly assume you've never been dead before.

Appropriate typo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40881737)

... nice slip of the keyboard to have "Riversdie" in an article on immortality.

Freudian Slip? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40881739)

"...University of California at Riversdie..."

I vote "illusion!" (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 2 years ago | (#40881747)

Sorry about that.

Ideas of Heaven (1)

PGillingwater (72739) | about 2 years ago | (#40881753)

People yearning for immortality often tell themselves fictions about how they will survive death. I have started a project to record such fictions in the form of a documentary.

I'm still working on it, but here's the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nbJcDiLLxU&feature=plcp

Re:Ideas of Heaven (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882119)

Honestly, this is one of the few times I was hoping to be rickrolled.

Why would they want to study immorality? (2)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about 2 years ago | (#40881755)

I mean, aren't there enough bad people in the world already?
What? Oh, never mind.

Re:Why would they want to study immorality? (4, Insightful)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about 2 years ago | (#40881841)

Already happening. Her name is Henrietta Lacks [wikipedia.org] . She's recently turned 98 and will live forever in various labs around the world.

Re:Why would they want to study immorality? (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about 2 years ago | (#40881931)

Duh, I mean 92 of course.

Re:Why would they want to study immorality? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882239)

Henrietta Lacks only lived for 31 years. Her cancerous tumour might do better, but even that won't live forever.

obligious musical reference (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 2 years ago | (#40881775)

Life? What do you mean life? I ain't gotta life!

Re:obligious musical reference (1)

causality (777677) | about 2 years ago | (#40881933)

Life? What do you mean life? I ain't gotta life!

Megadeth, "Captive Honor", from the album Countdown to Extinction.

Nice reference.

Re:obligious musical reference (1)

bob zee (701656) | about 2 years ago | (#40882275)

your soul better belong to jesus...

Re:obligious musical reference (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40881963)

Good for you! Then you cannot die either!

No Dying! (5, Funny)

mhotchin (791085) | about 2 years ago | (#40881777)

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve it through not dying.
Woody Allen

Re:No Dying! (3, Funny)

Solandri (704621) | about 2 years ago | (#40882233)

Be careful what you wish for [wikipedia.org] .

Good haul for a scam! (4, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40881787)

I predict the only thing that will really happen here is that some "scientists" with questionable ethics burn through 5M! Despite their grand claims, there is zero research need here.

Re:Good haul for a scam! (1)

Skal Tura (595728) | about 2 years ago | (#40881813)

everything, absolutely everything needs research.
Otherwise you wouldn't be making that kind of comments, instead you'd probably be hunting for wild animals to have dinner today.

Re:Good haul for a scam! (2)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40881911)

Ok, then lets research how to waste more money!

Sorry, I am a still somewhat active scientist. These scams just piss me off. You are right, but not this type of research. Should have been more specific.

There is quite a bit respectable research into these questions. Neurologists and quantum physicists are conducting a major part of it. It may yet still take a long time to bring any tangible insights though. The first thing to find out is what makes consciousness appear. Currently we have no clue. Same for intelligence. Bith might not even be something out of this universe. Calling them "extra physical" seems to be the best bet at this time, but we might be able to do better. But not by involving theologists or philosophers.

Re:Good haul for a scam! (1)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#40882149)

The first thing to find out is what makes consciousness appear. Currently we have no clue.

I've never thought that was a particularly interesting question. Imagine you have a computer that is so powerful and has such a comprehensive decision tree that it can simulate what we perceive as conscious behavior to a level indistinguishable from a natural human being. Is it conscious? Does it matter? I can see philosophical value in telling the difference but practically speaking I just don't see where it's relevant. And if there is a quantum mechanical principal that consciousness relies on then that just adds complexity it doesn't make reverse engineering intractable. I do realize that I am doing a bit of conceptual hand-waving with the whole "simulates consciousness" bit but the idea only really breaks down at the level of simulating creativity. In particular creative problem solving. Can a computer ever be capable of designing its own successor without outside help? To me that's the ultimate Turing test.

Re:Good haul for a scam! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882381)

. Imagine you have a computer that is so powerful and has such a comprehensive decision tree that it can simulate what we perceive as conscious behavior to a level indistinguishable from a natural human being. Is it conscious? Does it matter?

This is a common mixup between intelligence and consciousness (something-that-experiences). If we took away all your thoughts, decisions-making ability and intelligence yet left your perception alone, you would be experiencing sights and sounds just as before, you just wouldn't be intelligent, you wouldn't have any thoughts about it and you wouldn't be making any decisions. You would still be just as conscious as before you just wouldn't be able to tell anyone about it or even be able to want to tell anyone about it. You'd seem as conscious as a rock to the outside world and that's why we don't even really know if a rock is conscious. The point of AI isn't to create conscious computers, it's to create smart computers so your point is completely valid - AI has nothing to do with consciousness. The reason consciousness is interesting is that it seems to be mediated by the brain so that it is somehow related to the physical world. Yet physics has no concept of consciousness (an "observer" in Quantum Mechanics need not be conscious so there is no relation there) so there is new physics to discover there and we have not even the slightest clue as to how that physics works. So consciousness is very much important just not in relation to AI.

Re:Good haul for a scam! (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40882295)

Ok, then lets research how to waste more money!

I quite agree here. The infrastructure in this area of research is woefully inadequate. There's not a big enough pool of green jello to dock my solid gold, waste detection yacht in, for example. And we need to research site locations for the pyramids.

Re:Good haul for a scam! (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40882315)

everything, absolutely everything needs research.

Uh huh. Pardon me if I don't sound in the least convinced.

Otherwise you wouldn't be making that kind of comments, instead you'd probably be hunting for wild animals to have dinner today.

Because paying people to derp about immortality for a few years will help us get out of the stone age.

Frankly, I think the research load for immortality is easily handled by blogs and media pundits.

Re:Good haul for a scam! (4, Informative)

twocows (1216842) | about 2 years ago | (#40881887)

I agree. I was really sad when I opened this thread. I was expecting it was something related to the sciences, research into how to give people immortality. That would have been really neat. Instead, this. I groaned out loud when I read the summary.

Re:Good haul for a scam! (0)

Gorobei (127755) | about 2 years ago | (#40882023)

I predict the only thing that will really happen here is that some "scientists" with questionable ethics burn through 5M! Despite their grand claims, there is zero research need here.

Well, it is the Templeton Foundation: their basic goal is to give money to scientists in exchange for publicly supporting woo.

Re:Good haul for a scam! (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40882097)

I predict the only thing that will really happen here is that some "scientists" with questionable ethics burn through 5M! Despite their grand claims, there is zero research need here.

Well, it is the Templeton Foundation: their basic goal is to give money to scientists in exchange for publicly supporting woo.

I was not familiar with them. But their "big questions" are mightily suspicious. Thanks for the hint.

could have saved them a small fortune (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 2 years ago | (#40881805)

If someone would only give me a mere One million dollar grant to tell them if the religious beliefs are valid, I could have taken care of half the task and saved them a good deal of cash.

Re:could have saved them a small fortune (2)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40881953)

Sorry, that type of business is already going well for many. They might not welcome you getting into it as well.

Bullshit. (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 2 years ago | (#40881809)

"including near-death experiences and the impact of belief in an afterlife on human behavior."

Those aren't "aspects of immortality". Those are aspects of religion, mythology, and in some cases -- insanity. What a waste of money.

Re:Bullshit. (2)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40881873)

"including near-death experiences and the impact of belief in an afterlife on human behavior."

Those aren't "aspects of immortality". Those are aspects of religion, mythology, and in some cases -- insanity. What a waste of money.

Indeed. But they are aspects of getting grant money. If you do not mind being unethical.

I find the "near death" nonsense especially fascinating. These people have never heard of one-way situations. As long as you live to tell about it, you have not been dead and know nothing of "the other side", obviously. Kind of like you know nothing about being hit by a bullet when one nearly misses you.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40882457)

Kind of like you know nothing about being hit by a bullet when one nearly misses you.

Hmmm, I think you'd have an idea. Now, if the bullet nearly hit you, then you'd know nothing. ;-)

Immortality... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40881815)

Just imagine it, the Bush boys, Mitt Romney, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sara Palin, Rick Santorum... all of them immortal.

The game of life is rigged (1)

genocism (2577895) | about 2 years ago | (#40881829)

The game of life is rigged such that you can't know the answer. This is true of both atheist and religious alike. For the atheist, you can't prove the presents of nothing. For the religious (and intelligent designers), god doesn't want you to know or he would have provided a doorway to the "afterlife" that didn't require death.

Re:The game of life is rigged (0, Troll)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40881941)

You are confusing "atheist" and "nihilist". An atheist can believe in reincarnation or rebirth and something like an immortal soul without problem. It is just this bizarre "God" notion that atheists have trouble with. Nihilist on th other side truly believe there is nothing of any worth in life.

Your mistake is understandable. One of the many ways religions try to scam people into believing is by telling them that atheists are nihilists.

Now, I just hope solipsism does not have it right, because them I am responsible for this whole mess...

Re:The game of life is rigged (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40881999)

Now, I just hope solipsism does not have it right, because them I am responsible for this whole mess...

Oh, good, I was afraid it was MY fault.

So theology and philosophy are not sciences? (2)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40881845)

Good. I have suspected that a long time. Some areas of philosophy may qualify though.

The Christian afterlife makes sense (-1, Troll)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 years ago | (#40881851)

I'm a man who knows God exists, Jesus loves us all.

The Christian afterlife makes sense that we'll live forever in peace because we're called to love and forgive each other.

If analyzed other religions on the simple idea: Does the afterlife even make sense, you'll see a bunch fall to the wayside.

For example, you cannot have hate or combat in Heaven if the place is supposed to be a place of ultimate fulfillment, for hate is a negative emotion which should be unpleasant to experience. If you do further seeking, you will realize if Heaven is perfect it shouldn't be a place where unwilling servants(slaves) would exist.

It takes just a bit of examination into the claims of certain religions and see that it is logically impossible for those religions to be real. It even makes the most sense that only one God exists and all the rest are man made fantasies.

Re:The Christian afterlife makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882085)

Cool story bro

Re:The Christian afterlife makes sense (1)

kenj0418 (230916) | about 2 years ago | (#40882247)

...if Heaven is perfect...

Then it should also not have any arrogant jerks who think they are right and anyone who believes something they don't is wrong, even though they have absolute 0 evidence to back up their guesses.

So I guess that means you and me both are out. Although considering I don't think the place exists, that's probably more upsetting for you.

Re:The Christian afterlife makes sense (3, Insightful)

grantspassalan (2531078) | about 2 years ago | (#40882361)

This topic cannot really be studied scientifically, because science is limited to the physical human senses. For those who only believe that what is physical, touchable, viewable etc., this is a great waste of time and money. Whether there is life after death can only be grasped by faith.

Jesus Christ came and made the claim that he is God. The people of his day, especially the religious ones were unbelievably upset by this claim. They were torqued out of shape enough to conspire with the Roman governmental authorities to have Jesus executed. Jesus proved his claim to deity by resurrection from the dead. All religions, but one, are human efforts to reach God. There is only one faith that makes an exception to this. That is the Christian gospel where God becomes a human being in order to make it possible for him to confer eternal life to all humans who are simply willing to believe this. God reaches down to man, rather than man reaching up to God.

Anyone who studies the biblical record of the resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ, will realize that Jesus is a physical being, capable of all the normal physical activities normal humans are able to do. There were however also activities which show that Jesus existed not only on the earthly plane, but also a higher spiritual level or dimension. He was no longer subject to time and space in the same way that we are right now. He could materialize in and out of our time–space dimension, which is a technology that most scientists can't even talk about, because they don't believe in any dimensions beyond our own. When he finally ascended into “heaven”, he did not need a thundering rocket, but was quietly lifted up from the earth and disappeared into a cloud. He promised that everyone who believes and trusts him, will at some point in time inhabit a body just like his resurrection body. This body is no longer subject to entropy or decay or death.

Re:The Christian afterlife makes (NO) sense (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882447)

LOL logical. I like how you have thought about and declared that in Heaven you cannot have hate or combat.
That does leave some interesting thoughts on the existence of Hell however.

It would be nice to hear or read of a new chapter to the Bible story where all the souls in Heaven forgave those souls in Hell and they were freed from eternal suffering. Since the populace in Heaven surely harbor no hate for those in Hell. They could all then drink the lemonade of perfection and be fulfilled.

It appears that religious belief in an afterlife brings Nihilist properties to the living and makes NO sense.
The only difference being this notion of "Cosmic Justice", presumably by some named God, in which you are judged on the morals and principles you lived by.

Term limits (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40881859)

Are a good thing.

Waste of Grant Money - Results Already Published (5, Funny)

Swave An deBwoner (907414) | about 2 years ago | (#40881871)

Why are they funding research that's already been published?

Principal Investigator [wikipedia.org]

Results and Discussion [wikipedia.org]

Sex Also! [wikipedia.org]

Re:Waste of Grant Money - Results Already Publishe (2)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#40882305)

I really hope the two people who modded this interesting did so as part of the joke, but I suspect that this is yet another case of mods not even bothering to mouse-over links to sources, let alone read them.

Too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40881909)

This is religious in nature. Why isn't there as much money donated to SENS or anyone else trying to understand aging?

Incompatibility (1, Insightful)

Livius (318358) | about 2 years ago | (#40881929)

A near-death experience is selective oxygen deprivation. It's the opposite of studying what it would take to lengthen a healthy life.

Re:Incompatibility (2)

kenj0418 (230916) | about 2 years ago | (#40882263)

A near-death experience is selective oxygen deprivation.

So is the study methodology to put Fundamentalists in a sealed room and slowly remove the oxygen until they have a vision of some sort? If so, I'd like to volunteer Fred Phelps, and I'd like to know where I can contribute to the grant funding.

Is that all there is? (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about 2 years ago | (#40881935)

Mebbe everyone should just accept that Peggy Lee was right.

I would love to get a grant like that (2)

Monsuco (998964) | about 2 years ago | (#40881951)

Who wouldn't want a grant like that? There's absolutely no possibility of accountability. The notions are so vague and there's so many different views, even among the same religion, about what an afterlife would be like that you can't really be proven wrong. Basically, they weaseled their way into $5 mill with no chance of being asked for results.

Misleading Headline (2, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#40881979)

The headline really should specify that it is a private grant to study immortality. We're bound to get some people coming in here to bitch that the federal government is funding this (because after all even reading the summary is a lot to ask for some).

Re:Misleading Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882309)

The federal government doesn't need to study immortality. They already have the means, but are repressing it because otherwise Social Security would become unsustainable.

Get your conspiracies right.

Re:Misleading Headline (0)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#40882351)

The more we neglect government-funded scientific research and allow wealth to consolidate into just a few hands, the more science will revert to the patronage model in which the few ultra-powerful people make all the decisions, including what research should (not) be conducted.

"...and I enjoyed every minute of it." (4, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 2 years ago | (#40882047)

I don't know who said it--when I heard it it was attributed to Mark Twain but that doesn't seem to be right. At any rate, someone asked a nonbeliever whether he wasn't terrified by the thought of nonexistence after death. He replied, "Not at all. I experienced nonexistence for eons before I was born, and I enjoyed every minute of it."

I wish them luck with their $5 million, but I don't think they'll be any wiser than Omar Khayyam:

With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d-
“I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”

Into this Universe, and Why not knowing,
Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.

No children (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 2 years ago | (#40882069)

Perhaps the biggest impact on society would be if immortality could be achieved (in physical body), the only death would be from severe accident (or incurable disease, which we assume is mostly done away with also at that point). Thus, as long as we are stuck on this planet, having children would have to be severely regulated... to the point that almost nobody should be allowed to have any.

I don't think that is going to be easy for people. Plus, if you live for many hundreds of years, the chances of "accidental" birth are significant, even with birth control... to the point of sterilization being required.

You're looking at it now (1)

jago25_98 (566531) | about 2 years ago | (#40882071)

... assuming the internet shares your definition of a life form.

However... forever is a long time!
So the whole concept seems kind of broken

For the Clinical Cynics (4, Informative)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#40882157)

Well, maybe not; but for those with a moderately open mind, you really should -- before concluding -- examine the works of two people. Dr. Lawrence LeShan [wikipedia.org] and Dr. Daryl J. Bem [wikipedia.org] have done some tremendous work on the subject of ESP. LeShan, in his early years went further, working with some extraordinary people, under genuinely scientific conditions. I simply can't imagine someone reading LeShan's The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist and having anything negative to say.

If ESP ever does prove itself an authentic protocol, then its tendency to allow the mind to accurately observe remote locations could suggest a breach in the presumed dependency of consciousness on the form. I also recommend visiting the CIA's CREST [cia.gov] database and searching amongst the many thousands of Remote Viewing documents that have been released. Despite rational assumption, there's more than redaction lines to look at.

This is a fascinating subject and I am not telling anyone to make any assumptions either way, but please look at quality research that's available before making conclusions.

Top shelf scamming at its best. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882181)

Really now, what kind of fucking fool would donate 5 million to studying immortality? That is the dumbest thing I ever heard of.

Whoever conned out 5 million for this are prime example of a good con artist. Because thats all it is, is a con.

"...illusions that we're hardwired into?" (1)

Suffering Bastard (194752) | about 2 years ago | (#40882209)

Reality is an illusion we are hardwired into.

I for one am glad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882219)

I'm glad that we're spending this cash on immortality instead of cancer or AIDS research. Those ailments have have already been eradicated!

Practical immortality (1)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about 2 years ago | (#40882225)

The main questions there are whether it's technologically plausible or feasible for us, either by biological enhancement such as those described by Ray Kurzweil, or by some combination of biological enhancement and uploading our minds onto computers in the future.

The key to achieving immortality is the liberation of information from the media that contains it. For this reason, genes are "practically" immortal because they survive the death of their host cell. I say "practically" immortal because I doubt whether genes would survive the big crunch or whatever comes after the heat death of the universe.

Some might argue that genes aren't anywhere near immortal because they mutate, thus producing evolution. This assumes a definition of immortality predicated on organic consistency, gods or demons that behave and even look in a consistently recognizable fashion. But why should "immutability" be considered a part of the definition, when we ourselves are NOT the same persons as the babies that were born two to four or more decades ago?

Mentally and physically the person in my baby picture is already dead. But somehow most people would insist that that baby is me!

So genes are already immortal up to the death of the universe or the explosion of the sun, where no Terran species manages to propagate itself across the galaxy. The problem then for the would-be transhumanist is to achieve the immortality of what Freud referred to as the Ego.

And this has already been partly achieved. Through books and other works of the human mind. The transmission isn't perfect, of course, but it should be possible to recreate a tiny bit of the consciousness of a diarist like Anne Frank as she lived during the Nazi domination of Europe.

Now imagine if a modern Anne Frank managed to secretly blog or tweet about her daily, even hourly experiences. A female teenage reader of her blog should be able to experience vicariously the joys and heartaches of Anne Frank, especially if that other girl lives under similar circumstances, with caring family and friends under a repressive government. Now if we extend this thought experiment with the use of wearable audiovisual recording equipment like Google Glass, we can have a practical substitute for the sensory input that produces memory. A person can effectively brainwash herself, or even himself, into becoming Anne Frank.

As memory and perception tends to be selective, we don't need to wear our Google Glasses to the toilet or in bed to record the essential experiences of another person, and to vicariously live that person's life. Omitting the repetitious bedtime/breakfast business should eliminate over half the data storage requirements of a life blog, leaving perhaps only sex as the great unknown.

Misread (1)

pwngeek (2485940) | about 2 years ago | (#40882229)

Anyone else read it as immorality and thought it was a study about Congressman?

Relatively harmless circle jerk (1)

smchris (464899) | about 2 years ago | (#40882289)

$5 million probably isn't enough to set up much serious biology. Maybe better than giving it to the Vatican.

Immortality Episode Introduction Algorithm (1)

gishzida (591028) | about 2 years ago | (#40882297)

1) State alleged facts. GOTO 2
2) Play Evil Laugh GOTO 3
3) Run Flying Police Box Video GOTO 4
4) Queue Dr. Who theme....

If an immortality treatment ever works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882311)

Rest assured, socialized medicine will not cover it. No need to clutter up the place with the hoi palloi. Treatments reserved for the elite only. Good thing you are part of the elite!

Objective vs. Subjective Universe (0)

Suffering Bastard (194752) | about 2 years ago | (#40882329)

This story reflects the fundamental bias of science -- that the Universe is objective. Without that bias science as we know it would be radically different, but that doesn't mean the bias is accurate. There is no evidential reason to make us decide that the Universe is an objective, mechanical place, governed by rules arising from randomness and chaos, or that life evolves solely out of random mechanical mutation. If we take it as read that everything within the Universe arises subjectively, that is, it emanates from consciousness instead of consciousness emanating from matter, then it not only becomes a much more interesting place, but we can better understand phenomenon like the rapid pace of biological evolution, dreams and "paranormal" experiences, as well as physical death and what may or may not proceed it. It also resolves the problem between "God or no-God" -- if matter is energy and energy is consciousness, then an external God cannot exist, and yet "God" becomes pure consciousness, the thing itself that animates all reality.

At this point in the game I don't see why it's so much trouble to simply try switching the bias from objective reality to subjective, from mechanical to conscious. I realize the objective approach is connected to the necessary split that had to occur between religion and science, that science had to distance itself as much from matters of God as it could to avoid persecution, and this led science to dismiss any inherent consciousness to matter. In the end, though, I think we'll find that a subjective Universe is actually a more intuitive bias.

Physical immortality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882335)

What is considered the self has no immortality, it is a veil for that which transcends the need for death as before Abraham was, I am.
Physical immortality would ultimately depend on a steady state universe as you would need to not have to go through the singularity if it is a closed system.
If not closed light departs from light at the speed of light and everything escapes, including intellectual debatable ideas about immortality. No mind, beyond the beyond of beyond, random thought.

Idiots. Uploading your brain is NOT immortality (1)

Latinhypercube (935707) | about 2 years ago | (#40882413)

Kurzweil et al are Idiots.
Uploading your brain is NOT immortality
Uploading your brain just makes a copy. You still die in your rotting corpse.,
PS. wtf has theology hocus pocus got to do with science or immortality

i dea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40882417)

useful information!thanks for that
Mua ban nha gia re [nhatnghe.org]

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