Questions about personal immortality are central existential concerns that know no geographical or cultural bounds.
Such questions include:
- whether and in what form(s) persons survive or could survive bodily death
- whether and to what extent persons’ beliefs about immortality influence their behavior, attitudes, and character
- why and how persons are (at least pre-reflectively) disposed to believe in post-mortem survival
- whether it is in some sense irrational to desire immortality
- and more besides.
Recently the scientific, philosophical and theological communities have paid serious attention to these themes. Interest in these issues is reflected in the popular press as well. Such interest in the project themes inside and outside the academy signals the present time as an auspicious one to launch a unified, organized, and open-minded project that will
(1) stimulate research from across the disciplines in attempt to make progress on these themes
(2) disseminate this research to an especially receptive public.
As project leader, John Martin Fischer, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Riverside, seeks to foster such progress primarily by issuing requests for research proposals to fund scientific, philosophical, and theological projects that advance understanding of immortality and belief in immortality, and of how each of these is relevant to the way we live our lives at present.
In addition, the project will include public events and popular-level publications, including essay prizes, aimed at raising awareness of ways in which this topic can be understood and further investigated through careful empirical, philosophical, and theological means. A translation component is intended to provide German-language scholars with more resources for investigating some of the issues above.