Hugh Pickens writes writes: "For millennia, humans have pondered their mortality and whether death is the end of existence or a gateway to an afterlife and millions of Americans have reported near-death or out-of-body experiences while adherents of the world’s major religions believe in an afterlife, from reincarnation to resurrection and immortality. Now the University of California at Riversdie 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 would be the possibility of living forever without ever 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?""