Do you expect, hope for, believe in, want, believe you already have or fear immortality?
Whatever your views on the subject -- and surely everyone has some kind of view on it -- you may be interested to know that scholars are busy studying many aspects of this subject under the auspices of what's called (no surprise) The Immortality Project.
Will this study last, well, forever? Probably not, but it recently received an additional $100,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation to support the research being led by a philosophy professor, John Martin Fischer, at the University of California-Riverside.
What questions does this research seek to answer? The website lists these:
- 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
(I'm not sure how I might answer each of those but I am going to hang on to the "pre-reflectively" wording to use in all kinds of situations in which what I'm hearing from others clearly hasn't been thought through very well.)
As a Christian, I can tell you that lots of Christians don't grasp very well traditional teachings about immortality. Traditional, orthodox (lower-case o) Christianity does not teach that each human has an immortal soul. That's an old Greek idea. Christianity, instead, holds to the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. And in this case the term body means the whole person, body, soul, spirit, though we acknowledge there is much mystery about what that really means.
Traditional Christianity insists that only God is immortal, not us.
At any rate, I just wanted to alert you to this research and to suggest that if you have any post-reflective comments about it you can e-mail them to me. The pre-reflective ones you can post on Facebook, as usual.
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GOD STILL HANGING AROUND SCHOOLS
Fifty years after the U.S. Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer in public schools, "God and faith are probably present in more ways now than ever in public schools, say law and religion experts and activists." That's the word from this report by The Christian Science Monitor. Does that match with what you hear from some folks who say God has been tossed out of public schools? No. Imagine that.