Just recently, it was exciting to hear that the John Templeton Foundation awarded a University of California, Riverside, philosophy professor $5M to study the afterlife over a three-year period. This study has been entitled, The Immortality Project. Even though the professor himself doesn’t believe in an afterlife, he does deem the subject worthy of academic research. Not setting out to prove or disprove, if the research is valid, however, in my opinion, they may just find much more than they bargained for. Regardless, it’s exciting to know that this topic is being taken seriously by a large group of inquiring minds, outside of the religious spectrum, to invest this amount of money.
It seems that science and academics once again can no longer turn their heads to the number of out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and near-death experiences (NDEs) being reported today. Just within the last year or so, both a female physician and more recently a male Harvard neurosurgeon, neither believing in the NDE experiences of others, both now have had an NDE. They claim to have been very much aware of themselves in another existence outside of their body where at least one communicated with other beings. Did these experiences, now being reported by respected intellects of our time, inspire the study? Quite possibly. Interesting to note, Dr. Bruce Greyson, a psychiatrist with the University of Virginia Medical School, didn’t believe in NDEs either when he first began his study over 30 years ago and has now written papers and books in support of these experiences.
Could our time period be equated to the of the Age of Enlightenment where intellectual minds of the 18th century, such as Immanuel Kant, began to explore human consciousness through reason, outside of traditional thinking? The word paranormal conjures up all sorts of ideas in people’s minds even though it simply means to look beyond what it typically considered normal. Innovation gives birth to new ideas and requires looking outside of the box regardless of whether it is new technology or an idea that has been handed down through centuries in our philosophies and religions. As humans, we typically fear what we don’t understand. Over 400 years ago, Sir Isaac Newton was accused of delving into the occult when he was trying to help his fellowman understand this “invisible” force of gravity. Could it be that 400 years from today, or even sooner, the afterlife will be better understood? Dr. Michael Persinger, of the Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada, who is performing research on OBEs, has been quoted as saying, “For the last 400 years, the paranormal included what in large part is science today, so that’s the fate of the paranormal, it becomes science and it becomes normal.” In light of new philosophical reasoning, will academics then use empirical knowledge from this study to provide a better understanding of what we call the afterlife? Let’s hope so! And, for certain, I look forward to this report and its findings in 2015.
Albert Einstein speculated, “We still do not know one-thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.”